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Anyone here with a German wife?

(18 Posts)
Maninadirndl Fri 29-May-09 02:15:25

I am a Brit married to a German lady and we live in Bavaria south of Munich. I've lived here eight years now. We have two kids a son 3 and a dsughter 5. I've found it quite difficult to adapt here tbh to the German ways.

Anyone else in the same boat?

kidsRTW Tue 23-Jun-09 09:27:39

I grew up in Germany and now live in the UK so am not quite your target group but I know exactly what you are up against!!
When I briefly returned to Germany after living in the US and Asia I just couldn't fit in any more and struggled so badly that I had to get back into the anglosaxon environment. I could never go back and wouldn't have wanted my children to grow up there.
I could go on for hours about this but what are you particularly struggling with?
And btw, south of Munich you havn't chosen the easiest area to integrate into....

Maninadirndl Tue 23-Jun-09 10:33:23

South of Munich - yep that's true. It's not easy here.

What I am struggling with is the attitude of people here, so narrow minded and negative. This is one of the richest states in Germany and I have lived around poor people with more optimism than the locals here who are so pessimistic.

kidsRTW Wed 24-Jun-09 21:47:32

Yes, interesting you mention the rich / poor divide. That was probably one thing I couldn't cope with after living in Asia. My main problem was the narrowmindedness and righteousness along the lines of 'we are right' 'we are better / the best' and non integration of diverse cultures. I also perceived a lot more hypocrisy than here where I feel a lot more accepted and at home.
Do you see yourself staying and coping long term at all?

Maninadirndl Thu 25-Jun-09 10:52:23

Germans have a very narrow definition of "normal" whereas Britain is a diverse country where eccentricity is much more accepted.

I don't have much choice where I live tbh. I am 42 and won't find another job easily now, I have bought a house here which I love in fact, so will be here a while yet.

Its a question of getting out which I can't fo much yet. Just takes time I now realise. Like my parents who had little choice in the post war years you just have to get on with it.

kidsRTW Thu 25-Jun-09 22:08:23

I disagree with that - nobody has any choice over your life but yourself and you don't sound very happy where you are.
And, hey, the age thing is just such a German comment!!! the recession is a problem wherever you go, of course, and it depends even more on the field you work in. I happen to be exactly the same age group and I feel very free to move and get another job - it is a UK mindset (if you remember back) that flexibility is viewed positively.
In fact, that was the trigger for me to move from Germany to the UK - the Germans didn't want to give me a job delayed by 6 months whilst I travelled the world whereas the UK folks were keen on the added personal experience and just wanted postcards from the trip!!
the same thing goes with regards to the 'house for life' attitude. My German friends can't get over the fact how easily houses get bought and sold here!
At the risk of offending you (not meant like that at all!!)but are you already a bit more German than you realise??

Maninadirndl Thu 25-Jun-09 23:05:17

I was just watching Travel Channel in Berlin and it struck me that Berlin is like another planet compared to Bavaria! Seems like the opposite side to the coin!

I had a phase in ym life when I got into art and Berlin interests me. I am still a nature fan but I'm open minded to appreciate artistic statements.

Not offended at all. German comments come straight from the heart and I am used to them! Good comment, au contraire. It may be that a part of me has to de-Germanise and rediscover its roots!

kidsRTW Fri 26-Jun-09 14:57:18

You are right - and it has always been so, even when it was divided. The 'Berliner Schnauze' is the expression of a virtually different culture. Possibly together with Hamburg the only place I could cope with in Germany!
I just think it is important to see where you are and want to be. It is hard breaking out of conventions - believe me, I fall outside many here but guess the difference is that my surroundings seem to indulge me - but well worth it. The pressure is just so much stronger on your side of the channel! Ironic, I think, that a lot of Germans perceive the British as so buttoned up and formal!
BTW, that constant knocking of everything here that I still get from some German aquaintances really gets my back up!

Maninadirndl Fri 26-Jun-09 20:21:28

Something recently clicked with me about Germany, about how there is a contrast between the secure feeling you are "Supposed" to have, and the reality here which is anal Germans when they live here.

A Jamaican once told me Germans change when they leave their rule hell and go abroad. They become nice.

Sometimes I tuned into thast security feeling briefly and really relaxed, I tend to reflect the over emotional people around me and become like them, flying off the handle at small things like the ones I know here do. But instead you have to find a sort of state of grace within the chaos.

I hope the above doesnt sound like I smoked a spliff, but its true! Oh for one of those... I used to smoke high quality home grown in Saudi in secret.....

kidsRTW Mon 29-Jun-09 19:15:31

i really had to chuckle there - supposedly I have then become nice through moving abroad? guess that's not too far off the truth, though, - I found it quite hard in Germany to reisit the pettiness and fighting about being right as opposed to assessing who has got the most common sense!
wherever you live does change and influence you no doubt. I had to get away from the US before I forgot any sense of global issues and ecology, from Asia before I started bribing people and am still feeling quite well balanced in the UK. Saudi? Not sure, my taster of Iran, however interesting, was plenty. And as for the spliff, quite easy to get 5 mins down the road from my work.....
But seriously, I think Germany has some mind - narrowing effect. What do you think you will want to do about it? And does your family know about your doubts?

Maninadirndl Wed 01-Jul-09 08:54:10

kids - not so much nice as more chilled I am sure - sorry if I offended. When visitors to Germany first come here they say "Oh its so clean!" yet they don't appreciate behind the mentality which means that "Ordnung muss sein" at all times, lies a mind that can't handle disorder. If something is dirty or untidy they clean whatever it is feverishly till it shines again.

They live by time. In Lenggries in the Alps I was cutting the grass one morning at the inlaws second home and my FiL told me I had to finish the grass by 12 noon as it was forbidden to cut the grass after that on weekdays. This living by the clock is so oppressive. There's no room for spontaneity.

kidsRTW Wed 01-Jul-09 20:57:54

The usual jokes about the 'Bundesleitergesetz' and 'Rasenmaeherverordnung' (or similar, the fact you can't mow your lawn after 9pm or so, why would I want to do that, anyway?) apply here. I remember my mum being mortified at me hanging washing out on a Sunday!
Interestingly my kids - who obviously spend time in germany occasionally - have independently summed it up: 'There is a rule for everything!'
Saying all that, though, you simply seem less settled than I ever was in any country I lived in. Time to move on?
BTW - is your family settled and happy?

Maninadirndl Thu 02-Jul-09 09:30:10

Yes they are, but I think it just takes a long time. I have no career anymore since I stopped working 4 years ago and it seems Germans view anyone over 40 as scrap value.

I'd move back to Britain tomorrow if I could but there are no jobs where I come from - it's poor in north Wales.

My wife hates working and is always thinking its so easy for me at home. We have a lovely place and are continually making it pretty so we'd lose a lot. What I miss are people and humour, Germany doesn't seem to have that.

kidsRTW Thu 02-Jul-09 19:24:54

Phew, sounds complicated! I also guess the German expectation of a proper 'Hausfrau / -mann' has its own rules and norms. I couldn't cope with that.
The very realistic option of always working as kids are in school til 4 and there being after school care etc has made the UK even more attractive for me. Germany has the irritating expectation of a parent - mostly the mother - being at home and the school system doesn't help, not even mentioning the few hours of Kindergarten until they are virtually in their teens! How do you manage??
And the humor - yes, I just love that here!
Even though I appreciate that the gras is always greener on the other side of the fence I can't hear much positive about your choice of country - any suggestions?

HopeForTheBestExpectTheWorst Thu 02-Jul-09 19:42:43

"What I miss are people and humour, Germany doesn't seem to have that. "

Do you have any German friends? Are you in any way a part of your local community? Do you keep in touch with your work colleagues? Are you involved in your children's school activities? How do you get on with your wife's family?

All of what you've said about living in Germany is - in my opinion - correct, but there is also so much that is great about being here. Wherever you go, there are going to be things which you don't like or don't get along with.

How can you see it being so nice and clean here as something negative? Would you rather there was rubbish and graffiti everywhere? Empty cans and bottles thrown away by teenage drinkers? Would you rather be woken up at 6am by the sound of your neighbour drilling just because they can? Would you like to have to negotiate the pc-gone-mad policies of your children's schools? Would you like to have a working day which means you hardly ever get to see your children before they go to bed? Would you like to never be able to go out to eat with your children anywhere except McDonald's or Pizza Hut, because children are just not made welcome?

I could go on and on, because, as I said before, there are good and bad things about any country. Obviously, if you have the choice and you don't like where you are, then you just pack up and go.
But you've made it clear that you're here to stay - in which case, you need to start seeing things differently and maybe appreciating the good where you are, otherwise you are likely to get very depressed indeed.

Maninadirndl Fri 03-Jul-09 08:40:47

Hope - I read through this thread and realised it does sound like a moan. That's a fault of mine for not relaying the good side, but the problem is when I do I get accused of showing off. I wrote on some other thread that I had an Austrian tile stove - and got panned like I was the most middle class thing on earth - the funny bit is that its not even a pretty one!

I reckon the best bits about Germany are the not so obvious ones which hit you in the face like a drunk on a Friday night when back in Britain. Shall I list the best bits here which I didnt list? Don't for gods sake accuse me of showing off...

In laws? Right if you really must know I am quite proud of being in a family which can trace its history back to the sameline as our Royal Family. My Mil was born in a castle in north Bavaria. My wifes grandfather was a very famous doctor in Munich in his day - one of the founding fathers of neurology. I get on quite well with my inlaws. I speak fluent German and they treat me well now.

Here also is freedom from idiot drunken teenagers with nothing to do (I think it does exist in Germany of course but not in my immediate environs). Freedom from drug abuse - yes I tried them when younger in UK but the stuff was of awful quality and made me feel ill. Kids shouldnt get hold of them so easily. The "quiet" rules I really appreciate, especially on Sunday when it is lovely and peaceful and the shops are shut which for shopworkers can only be a good thing. Britain is too Americanised in that regard.

Food: the Germans eat too much meat imho but their bakeries are the best in the world. Austzria and Switzerland also have fantastic bread you can eat of millions of different flavours. My Saturday morning is spent cycling to a friendly local "bäkerei" to order my tasty "semmel". Once you've eaten fresh semmel you would dump your hovis in the bin!

Gardening: I happen to live in an extreme climate. Winters here are icy cold. However my town is the sunniest in Germany. I can grow grapes and jops well here - they both grow like weedsd on my balconsý which we had renewed and drape geraniums over it as the farmhouses do.

Fitness. A Brit mate of mine who just moved here said how beautifuzl German women are. There are very few fat women here. That's because the Germans are crazy with "making sport" - weekends they are in the Alps, cycling walking in summer and skiing in wonter. Everyone has a pair of skis in their garage, its not some snob sport like in Britain.

Right I hope that is enough to show that I appreciate where I live too. You've tossed a coin and got heads today. Tomorrow it might be tails and I moan again! There are plus and minus points everywhere. I hope I have redressed the balance back in favour....

kidsRTW Fri 03-Jul-09 14:53:09

I agree on a lot of your points, Hopeforthebest, but certainly I feel much more accepted with my tribe of kids in tow in the UK than in Germany!
A lot of the behaviours you point out I think are internationally needed issues of common sense, but I also resent having (pc?) rules about all sorts of stuff.
Guess Bavaria is just not representative - havn't we known that for years??
My main point is that there is good and bad aspects everywhere and that it is very sad if anyone isn't happy with their choice.
Dirndl - how much do you think you adaptation problems are due to the role reversal?

WidowWadman Sat 25-Jul-09 22:51:13

"What I miss are people and humour, Germany doesn't seem to have that. "

I beg to differ. We Germans have a sense of humour. We take humour very seriously. It is no laughing matter!

(I'm German, having lived in Yorkshire for 4 years now and don't have any plans to go back to Germany ever, but I still love it as the home I grew up)

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