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Kathie

Question:

Hi Janice,

Since arriving in 2007, I have been having a hard time adapting to my French husband’s family. They have very different customs and traditions, and expect me to embrace them wholeheartedly. Unfortunately that is not a two-way street. They refuse to try macaroni cheese and claim it’s not real food! And this is just one example.

I love my husband, but his family is just too rude and weird at times! We have had so many fights over this issue that it is causing a severe strain on our marriage.

by Kathie on 15 Apr 2010
Janice Barnett

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Answer:

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we all joined in to celebrate diversity in all its rich colours? The thing is, you can’t make them want to celebrate your culture, which may seem very unfair, but could be down to a host of reasons that have nothing to do with a desire, on their part, to upset you.

Many older people are set in their ways, many French do not travel outside France (some don’t even leave their village) and they may have a small town mentality.

Whilst you can’t control their actions (rude, weird or otherwise) you can control your responses to them. How often you see them is also within your control. Are there any American recipes that can be modified to include French ingredients? The French love squashes so perhaps a pumpkin pie or soup would go down well. Find a younger relative on the French side who may be willing to collaborate on a meal with you and do something together?

Invite new friends, who will appreciate broadening their horizons, round for macaroni cheese. Join up with expats in your area for ‘cultural’ evenings.

You do not mention what your husband is doing to bridge the gap between you and the rest of his family. Rather than attack his family, explain what it is you want (and have a long, hard think about what it is that you truly want) and how you feel and work out a joint plan of action.

by Janice Barnett on 15 Apr 2010

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