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Meeting the In-laws

Hoyu

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I can honestly say that one of the most interesting things I have ever done in my life was to meet my mother-in-law and father-in-law. Upon our first meeting I had very little understanding of Japanese culture, language and etiquette (kind of like the movie 窶廴r. Baseball窶?. My fiancテゥ was already arranged to marry someone else. So in introducing me to her family, she was making it official that we were to be married instead. While my mother-in-law appeared to be ok with it, my father-in-law obviously was not.

We had a Buddhist wedding at a Shin temple in the states, but my wife窶冱 family was not in attendance. After the fact, my father-in-law sent my mother-in-law to talk my wife into getting an annulment. To make a long story short, it took five years and another visit to Japan before my father-in-law would even speak to us. We have been married over eight years now, and have become a very close-nit family.

Has anyone else here had a similar experience?

I would like to utilize this thread to discuss any related topics.
 

Maciamo

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I didn't have any father-in-law to object to my marriage. My wife's family is limited to her mother and grandmother. Her mother has never objected, but the grandmother wasn't too warm, probably because I was not Japanese - and didn't speak Japanese at that time. I feel that she didn't have much to say anyway. She had apparently completely accepted me after just a few months. She realised that I have more Japanese tastes (food, kimonos...) and am far more interested in Japanese traditional culture and history than my wife or her mother. I guess that's not the only reason, but it helps.
 

thomas

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My situation was quite similar to Maciamo's. No shuuto to object, my wife's mother in favour of our marriage (she remarried and moved abroad soon afterwards herself), while grandma and aunts (all of them teachers) reserved, but not opposed. After they got used to the idea of having a foreigner in their family, they were nothing but kind and supportive.
 

Hoyu

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"You've got a hole in your swing!" - (reference: Mr. Baseball)

After we had been married a short while, it appears that just about everyone in my wife's immediate family came to our aide. The mother-in-law was the first to voice her approval when returning home to explain to my father-in-law that we would not be getting an annulment, and furthermore she had come to accept our union. Then my brother-in-law and sister-in-law came to visit and enjoyed staying with us for a while there in Hawaii. Even my father-in-law's mother eventually joined us as an advocate, attempting to get my father-in-law to meet with us when we were visiting in their hometown, in Japan. But he never relented... until almost exactly five years to the date of our marriage, he emailed me. Soon thereafter, he brought the whole family from Japan to stay in my home. We had the formal meeting, I apologized for going against his wishes and he apologized for letting five years pass before he finally contacted us. We were drinking margaritas, and at some point we both simply broke out in tears... hugging one another. As you might imagine, it was quite a moving experience.

So... I know I am really going out on a limb here... but... could it be that this phenomenon is primarily symptomatic of Japanese fathers whose daughters end up marrying gaijin?
 

brewdude

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dinner with the out-laws

I was nervous as hell about asking my future father-in-law if I could marry his daughter. My nihongo blows and his English is pretty slim. Shigeko (my soon to be wife) was to tell me when a good time to ask her dad was. for about 2 weeks after I asked her she kept putting me off about dinner at her parents. I was worried..Shi%$# i thought...they don't like gaijin.

Then one day she said she got tired of waiting for the right moment and just told her parents. They seem cool with it. Right now they are having a blast planning a trip to California for the American half of the wedding.
 

thomas

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Persistence pays off! ;)

Good luck to both of you!
 

Hoyu

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brewdude

Originally posted by brewdude

I was nervous as hell about asking my future father-in-law if I could marry his daughter. My nihongo blows and his English is pretty slim. Shigeko (my soon to be wife) was to tell me when a good time to ask her dad was. for about 2 weeks after I asked her she kept putting me off about dinner at her parents. I was worried..Shi%$# i thought...they don't like gaijin.

Then one day she said she got tired of waiting for the right moment and just told her parents. They seem cool with it. Right now they are having a blast planning a trip to California for the American half of the wedding.
Woah-ish... So... let me get this straight... Shigeko-san just told her parents that you two were getting married? And you have never formally asked her father for her hand? I won't speak to you as if you are totally clueless, as I am sure you are not, but you definitely need to fix this ASAP (IMHO). There should be a formal meeting between you and your father-in-law-to-be, where the both of you should discuss your intentions in detail. Having your wife there as an interpreter is no disrespect to either of you, and his opportunity to see her face as you speak will give him the confidence all fathers need to completely be prepared to give his little girls hand to you. [my advice is a grain of salt my friend... throw it over your shoulder if you think it does not apply.]

And when you say "American half of the wedding" I assume you mean that there will be two weddings. One in the USA and the other in Japan? On this level I'm not really one to speak, because we eloped in Hawaii. Neither side of the family attended the wedding. We had a traditional Jodo Shinshu (Buddhist) wedding at a temple. Her family has been Jodo Shinshu for multiple generations on back, and I have been a student of that particular tradition for almost a decade now.

In retrospect (8 years into our marriage), what we did then was necessary for us to remain together. My father-in-law's strict forbiddance of the union, and the student visa situation for my wife in Hawaii, made it necessary for us to literally jump right into it. There was no opportunity for months of advance planning, but we have a wonderful "ohana" family in Hawaii who helped us with pulling everything together, and an incredibly insightful and determined Jodo Shinshu minister who has stuck by us all these years.

Upon our anniversary this year, my wife has stated her determination to have both my family and her family join us in a renewal of our vows in Paris, France (for our 10th year anniversary). Her rational was that we would never feel comfortable in my families Baptist church in the USA, nor would we feel comfortable (nor possibly allowed) to renew in a Shinto wedding in Japan. My wife and I are Zen/Shin Buddhist, and we both really love Europe. So her idea to have both of our families join us there for a Buddhist renewal-wedding seems ideal.
 

brewdude

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Kakuzen san

Thank you for your advice, but things are well in hand. I am over at her parents place for dinner about once a month or so. Her Mom is helping with the Shinto ceremony plans in Japan. Both parents are bugging me to teach them some English for when they meet my parents. I have really lucked out. It is funny though. Last week they wanted me to teach them to say "thank you for letting your son take our daughter." They made poor Shigeko san translate that to me and we started a discussion of how in Japanese families when a daughter is married she seems to become the responsibility of the husbands family, and in AMerica the 2 families are supposed to become one big happy group of in-laws ( or out laws as the case may be).

I will let you how the wedding plans work out. ( The darn Shinto Shrine is about to break the bank - they want 30 mon, and that is on a Butsu Metsu day)
 
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