The book “Culture Shock Philippines” says in the opening chapter that “when day-to-day social exchanges FAIL TO MEET THEIR EXPECTATIONS some people become FRUSTRATED and ANTAGONISTIC”.
Keeping score day in and day out between two diverse cultures and backgrounds can give rise to a large amount of frustration.
What is frustration in a mixed-relationship? As the above mentioned book says, it is the clash between your EXPECTATIONS and the REALITY of living day after day with an “alien” culture.
The main source of frustration for a Westerner who lives with a Filipina is, as I have abundantly mentioned in my previous posts, accepting the idea that he didn’t just marry a woman but the entire extended family.
I think that the EASY WAY OUT of frustration is PARTING WITH THE IDEA THAT YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD FIT INTO YOUR MODEL OF THE WORLD or, in other words, LETTING GO OF ANY EXPECTATIONS. People and their culture are THE WAY THEY ARE and, as “Culture Shock Philippines” says, it doesn’t make any sense to “BASH THE HABITAT THAT YOU YOURSELF HAVE CHOSEN TO INHABIT”.
When you enter an interracial intimate relationship (or any intimate relationship for that matter) WITHOUT a set of EXPECTATIONS people WON’T FAIL TO MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS and, as a result, you experience THE LEAST AMOUNT of FRUSTRATION. One of the keys to healthy relationships is ACCEPTING people the way they are. No expectations equals no frustration.
When the reality you experience in your intimate relationship doesn’t match your expectations you have two choices: bridge the gap between your expectations and the reality, which, in the case of a mixed-relationship with a Filipina, means getting your wife to leave the Filipino kin-group culture behind and your in-laws to accept the boundaries you have set, or let go of your expectations and learn to CELEBRATE the cultural differences as interesting and as an opportunity to push past the limitations of the “protective shell” of your own culture and embrace a different model of the world.
You don’t have to completely surrender to your spouse’s culture either and build a compound you share with the entire big family, this might not be practical, you don’t always have to go that far. My experience has taught me that all it took me was a change in attitude toward my wife’s extended family, removing the mental roadblocks that I erected at the beginning of my relationship and that had kept me for years from seeing the beauty in a different model of the world and then my wife’s attitude and her family’s attitude toward me changed. Now, although I am sharing my house with my mother in law, my wife and I have managed to strike a healthy balance between our need for intimacy as a couple and giving time and attention to the extended family. Because I’ve removed my old mental patterns of jealousy and control, we now enjoy the BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.
If we insist that the basic things we have been acting on and have been comforted by, for as long as we can remember, be, all of a sudden, accepted and embraced by people who come from an environment in which the kin-group culture has been deeply entrenched for centuries we will keep desperately groping for a bridge.
I’ve chosen ACCEPTANCE over MANIPULATION and, as a result, my relationship has grown beyond measure and I’ve become a better human being.