From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

What Every (Pinay) Daughter-in-law Must Consider

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Most 며느리 (daughters-in-law) in Korea regard their parents-in-law (especially mothers-in-law) with contempt… as if they are the meanest, most despicable people on the face of the earth.

It’s not surprising to hear complaints such as:  “They always criticize me!”~~~ “They never appreciate what I do.”~~~ “They make my life miserable!” The grumbling is endless, and yet nothing is done to solve the problem.

Now what exactly is the problem? Some Filipinas who marry Koreans think that the problem lies solely with the in-laws. They refuse to consider that perhaps there is something wrong with them, too, which is why they are always criticized and constantly being scrutinized.

I am not an expert on “in-law relationships”, but I would like to speak my mind on what mistakes we  Filipina 며느리들 sometimes make in terms of dealing with our 시부모님 (parents-in-law).

STOP BELLYACHING!

Before we came to Korea, we were informed about Korean culture when we attended the two-day CFO seminar. We were told what to expect from our married life and how difficult parents-in-law can be. No one told us that the life of a 주부(housewife) is going to be easy. When we decided to marry a Korean, we knew from the very beginning that we would most probably live with our husband’s parents. Some lucky foreign housewives, however, don’t have to. Either way, “the in-laws” will always be around, just like a piece of furniture in the house that you can’t get rid of because it’s too damn important to the family. ~~~ So stop complaining and ACCEPT IT… YOU’RE STUCK WITH THEM FOR AS LONG AS THEY LIVE. Whining to your husband about his parents will only aggravate the situation. Instead of antagonizing his parents, talk to him… ask him what you should do to please them.

RESPECT BEGETS RESPECT.

If we want our in-laws to respect who we are, we should respect them in spite of their unpleasantness. It’s not enough that we bow to them, use honorifics, and try to sound pleasant all the time, even when we are actually thinking of screaming all our anger out. RESPECTING OUR IN-LAWS MEANS NOT BAD-MOUTHING THEM, CALLING THEM NAMES OR TALKING ABOUT THEM BEHIND THEIR BACKS. Using your homepage to curse them or telling your friends how horrible your parents-in-law are (no matter how true) is not only RUDE AND IRRESPONSIBLE, but it also tells a lot about YOUR CHARACTER.

BE A GOOD GIRL.

In the Philippines, most Filipinas are well-mannered. I don’t know why when we come to other countries like Korea, SOME OF US become the “bad girls” that our parents warned us not to be. There are but a few married Filipinas who act as if they’re still single. (I don’t want to be too specific on this, but if you have seen a married Filipina you recognize, holding hands with a Filipino or exchanging words of affection with another man in her FB homepage, you’d know exactly what I can’t bring myself to say.) How can you expect your in-laws to trust you when in actuality, you can’t be trusted?

YOUR HUSBAND IS NOT A LIVING ATM MACHINE!

In a mall, while I was shopping with my husband, I overheard two Filipinas. (I know, eavesdropping is nasty, but I couldn’t help it.) One of the women was buying a really expensive MCM bag. It appeared that she didn’t have enough cash to buy it, but she was willing to use her husband’s 신용 카드 (credit card). The other woman commented: Baka magalit si ___ nyan. (Your husband might be angry with you.) The reply was: Hindi ah, mabait yun. Nanay lang niya ang kontrabida! (Of course not, my husband is kind. His Mom is the villain!)

They filled the shop with their girly laughter. I also thought it was funny at first, until I  realized that those women, with all the shopping bags they were carrying, couldn’t have been merely “eye shopping” (window shopping in Konglish), they were shopping like there’s no tomorrow.

If you’re a woman, shopping is not a sin. If you’re a housewife, you deserve to treat yourself for all your hard work once in a while, but puh-lease… DON’T OVERDO IT. Your husband might not say a word about your spending too much, but your in-laws will. You don’t want them to carp at you all the time, right? Then show them that you are responsible. My father-in-law used to lecture me about how important it is for Koreans to “save money”, so when the wife spends too much on clothes and other “less important things”, the in-laws don’t favor it.

OBEY, OBEY, AND THEN DO WHAT YOU WANT.

Just because we are bombarded with house chores, it doesn’t mean that we are being treated as “katulong” (housemaids). Even if our mothers-in-law do not oblige us to wash the dishes, do the laundry, clean the house, cook, etc., we’d still end up doing the housework, because in Korea, it is not common for a family to hire an “ate” (house helper). Even our own mothers-in-law had to do all the cleaning for their husbands and sons before we came along. Korean housewives in Korea do the same thing.

Wash. Clean. Cook. Do everything your 시어머니 (mother-in-law) tells you to do. After that, you could sit on a sofa and watch TV for the rest of the day, go out and get some fresh air if you don’t want to be with your in-laws the whole time, or do as you please… as long as you don’t go overboard. ^^

LEARN:

KOREAN LANGUAGE… so you can communicate well with your parents-in-law. Most of them can’t or won’t speak with their foreign daughters-in-law in English or any other language besides Korean.

My first Korean Language lessons…

YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW’S COOKING… and her ways around the kitchen… so that she knows you can cook her son’s favorite dishes and take care of him the way she does.

My very first kimchi shige (kimchi stew) that didn’t turn out so bad… my father-in-law always requests I cook it for dinner. ^^

WHAT TO DO ON ALL THE IMPORTANT DATES… 추석 (Thanksgiving), 설날 (New Year); whether your in-laws celebrate their birthdays following the Lunar or Gregorian calendar. As a 며느리, you should know that such occasions are NOT simple celebrations we only have to attend, they’re the days when we ought to work harder: help in the kitchen, help with the cooking, help with the serving.

Just this year, my 시아버지 (father-in-law) had his 61st birthday, one of the most important years of a Korean man’s life when he gets to have a big birthday bash. We are three 며느리들 in my husband’s family, so we were expected to prepare everything with our 시어머니. On his birthday last year, I woke up very early to cook 미역국 (Korean birthday soup made from the sea vegetable miyeok) for him, and I did the same thing for my 시어머니. Simple gestures like this help soften your in-laws hearts towards you.

Being a foreign housewife, it is our duty to embrace our husband’s culture and learn his family’s ways, but by fulfilling our duties alone, we can never survive life in Korea. We should be more tolerant of the challenges we face everyday, and our greatest challenge is how to get along with our parents-in-law. They may be harsh sometimes, but if they see that we are exerting effort to build a good relationship with them, we can win not only their respect and trust, but their love as well.

Enjoying the night  in the 노래방 (karaoke) with my husband and my in-laws

28 thoughts on “What Every (Pinay) Daughter-in-law Must Consider

  1. Appreciste thee recommendation. Ꮃill try іt oᥙt.

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  2. I am a producer with Discovery Studios and am doing some research for a show about people living with their parents or inlaws as newlyweds. I’d love to talk with you about your experience. Please call or email me 323-308-2520 amberlee_mucha@discovery.com

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  3. One, I think there is a difference between venting and talking behind someone’s else back. We all vent at one stage or another, it does not somehow we don’t have “character” by doing it

    Two, I kind of wonder whether you are afraid to be 100 honest about your feeling towards your laws, after all, you live with them and is still under their mercy?

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  4. This article is really helpful pati mga comments! I’m married to a Korean for almost 3 years now but I’ve never met my in-laws. Dito lang kmi sa Pinas kasi we’re both working here at it’s comfortable naman. Plus we have 3 kids na to raise so puro work kami. Pero I know he has been missing his country kaya we are planning to visit Korea for a month or two this April 2013 and I’m starting to worry na😦
    So I’ve been researching about Pinays experiences dyan. For now, naappreciate ko mother-in-law ko, almost monthly sya nagpapadala ng mga ban chan na gawa nya and sends clothes and toys to our kids. Meron ba kayong suggestions na pwedeng maappreciate ng mother-in-law ko na product from the Philippines? Dried Mango lang naiisip ko. hahaha! Suggestions would help! I plan on sending her food and small things din para she’ll start to appreciate me and hopefully won’t give me a hard time when I visit them next year. Thanks girls!🙂

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  5. I am happy for you, Rose, nalampasan mo na ang “dramatic” episode ng pagiging 며느리 sa Korea. Tama ka, hindi lang natin dala ang sarili natin kapag naninirahan tayo abroad, we also carry the name of our family and our country… kaya dapat we know how to behave properly and adjust to a different kind of life in another country. Ako, di pa ako masyado fluent sa Korean, pero nakakausap ko pa rin ang mga in-laws ko and napagsisilbihan sila… not to the point na parang katulong na ako… di naman ganon. May mga pagkukulang din tayo minsan bilang 며느리, diba? Pero as long as andyan ang respeto sa mga in-laws and pagmamalasakit sa kanila, we can have a good relationship with them. Most of all, pag nakikita nila na pinagsisilbihan din natin ang ating asawa and talagang mahal natin siya, higit nila tayong ma-a-appreciate.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Marami kang ma-i-inspire na Pinay na pasaway. ^^

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  6. hi ate chrissa…goodmorning..super agree ako sa lahat ng sinabi mo actually 4 years ago hindi rin kami mag kasundo ng mother-in-law ko. that time i was 20 years old (korean age).ang asawa ko ay bunso sa lalake at kami ang mag kasama sa bahay. dati lagi ko sinasabi sa mga friends ko dito na “KONTRA BIDA” ung mother in law ko.pero dumating din kasi ako sa puntong (nung nag 2 years na ako dito sa korea) nasawa na sa pakiki pag talo kaya kina usap ko si ommoni na kung hindi nya ako pag kakatiwalaan at mag patuloy ang away namin baka mag hiwalay kami ng anak nya ng dahil sa kanya. hindi ko rin naman sila masisi kasi napaka bata ko pa that time.kaya kung ano ano na iisip nilang hindi maganda sa akin ginawa ko nag aral ako ng hanggul para mag ka intindihan kami. ngayon sobrang ok na kami tapos na pa tunayan ko pa na love nila ako nung ma confined ako sa hospital last year. umiyak si ommoni sabay sabi ” ayyygooo…ako na lang mag kasakit huwag ka na matanda na rin ako” kaya sobrang na touch ako imagine magagawa nyang ipag palit buhay nya sa buhay ko.,.kaya nung mag karoon ako ng time na mag heart to heart talk kami ni ommoni nag THANK YOU at nag SORRY ( CHAL MOT HE SO ) ako hindi naman ako lumalaban or sumasagot ng hindi maganda ky ommoni nung time na nag aaway kami kaso nag sasalita ako ng hindi maganda sa mga friends ko about sa kanya…kaya ngayon sobrang swerte ko sa mga in laws ko dahil alam namin sa bawat isa na mahal namin isat isa at pamilya kami nag bunga din ang pag pre pray ko at syempre ung makuha ang tiwala nila.naniniwala kasi ako pag nakuha mo na tiwala nila susunod na doon ung respeto,at pag mamahal…talagang pinag trabahuhan ko ung makuha kaya nga sa prayer’s ko lagi sila kasama na bigyan pa ng mahabang buhay na makasama ko at ng apo nila… kya sa mga kababayan ko lalo s tulad ko alamin muna ang problema then dun tayo gumawa ng paraan para ma solve kasi kahit mag mataasan pa kayo ang mas nahihirapan ang “ASAWA” natin. kya nga nakaka lungkot isipin may mga korean’s na ang baba ng tingin satin mga pinoy minsan ito rin nagiging dahilan para mag karoon ng wall sa mga in laws or ibang korean’s..kaya tandaan po sana natin

    PAG LABAS NATIN NG PINAS HINDI LANG NATIN DALA ANG SARILI NATIN KUNDI DALA DALA NA NATIN ANG BUONG LAHI O PAG KA PINOY NATIN KAYA KUNG ANO MAN GAGAWIN NATIN MABUTI MAN O MASAMA MAG RE REFLECT ITO SA LAHAT NG MGA PINOY.

    sorry sa haba ng comment ko ate chrissa i really like your blog. may the Lord give you and the rest of your family of a GOOD HEALTH.

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  7. Well.. Glad to say I’m earning my own money and never asked for any support from my husband..^^

    Honestly, after reading ur blog and also comparing other filipino spouses’ life in Korea, it made me realize that the reason why some of them are having quite uncomfortable relationship with in-laws is because their in-laws thought that southeast asian spouses are just extra baggage and even before marrying their son they didn’t even receive a dime. This applies to the very traditional Korean in-laws.

    When I was on the period of discussing our engagement, I almost got a heart attack due to the demanding engagement culture they have.. If a man provides the apartment, the woman must provide the furnishings.. Then, I had to buy gifts to his family including the relatives.. Lucky me, my husband didn’t decide to get a new place and instead I moved into his place, left my comfy apartment in Gangnam to be with the man I love, and just change his old appliances to a new one and re-design the interior.. Saved some cash but still had to pay for the gifts which was really pricey coz there were a lot of relatives..

    They know I’m a foreigner, but I still had to follow the Korean culture.. I thought it’s too much coz it wasn’t like this in Philippine way.. But, my husband promised me that he’ll pay everything for our Philippine wedding since I followed the Korean style..

    To make my long story short: IF YOU WANT TO MARRY A KOREAN AND MAKE HIS PARENTS ACCEPT YOU WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN, SPEND MORE THAN $10,000..

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  8. Kudos to you, Krizzy. ^^

    I used to buy my in-laws gifts even when there were no special occasions, but now since hubby and I are saving, we buy them gifts only during Chuseok, Seollal, Parents’ Day and their birthdays.

    Splurging your in-laws with gifts is a good way to please them, but if you don’t earn your own money, it might be another ‘issue’.

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  9. I love this post.. I totally agree on everything.. Luckily, I made great relationship to my in-laws before entering into their lives in my own way. We all know that Koreans are known for being materialistic especially the women, so I splurge my mom-in-law with all those branded stuff like Loui V, SKII, and others.. And my dad-in-law with Daks coz he’s so into Korean brands.. Before the wedding, I followed their culture of giving gifts to my husbands family and his relatives. I spent half of my savings to spoil them so that they won’t bother me later.. It was an effective plan..^^

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  10. You’re right..I must be thankful for what I have right now..it’s part of the training for the future..Thanks again..I keep on thanking you..kasi talaga timely..pagkabasang pagkabasa ko, ayon..I’ll include you in my prayer..I’ll always follow your blogs too..안녕…

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  11. Natutuwa naman ako sa enthusiasm and optimism mo. Keep it up, JM Park… and sana mas dumami pa ang Pinay na tulad mo na hindi puro bad experiences ang naibabahagi sa buhay nila dito sa Korea.

    May mga Pinay housewives kasi talaga na nahihirapan makisama sa mga in-laws… sana kung anuman ang differences nila ay maayos din. There is a solution to every problem naman.

    Thanks for sharing a little about your life in SK. ^^

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  12. Thanks for the reply..just wanna share na din..nagtuturo ako ng English sa Manila and I met my husband in my workplace..then we got married after 8 months..we’ve been married for more than one year..and I arrived here in KOrea last year..sobrang mababait ung parents nya..ang husband ko wla pang stable job since nagstay sya s pinas ng 1 year..nag-aaral lng ako by myself..they can’t send me in any hagwon for my korean classes..kasi sbi nila it’s dangerous dw..so auo nmn magdemand..ksi especialy mga in-laws ko..they believe on my skills..pero sympre..mahirap p din..but can’t complain..maayos naman ang situation ko dito..kaya lng ako parang napag-isip ng iba..dahil sigruo part pa din ng adjustment at the same time di kasi ako laki s loob ng bahay..i mean, lagi ako nsa labas..work work..then this coming Sunday maglalabor ung sister-in-law ko..so mother-in-law ko ang mag-aalaga..she’s been teaching me how to cook etc..all bout housechores..then lately..parang napansin ko lahat ng work dito s house ako na..so aun..nawalan ako ng gana mag-aral..but naisip ko..may asawa na kasi ako..then inisip ko na lang ung mga korean dramas na parang same din s situation ko..so im trying to accept it until now..di nmn ako nagpapakasenyorita..meron naman akong initiative but siguro di lang ako sanay na utusan..hmm…thanks..you’re right..we’ve chosen this life..God bless you too..by the way..I emailed u on you fb..ako ung JM park..thanks..

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  13. Lahat naman tayo halos ganito ang feeling pag umpisa… ibang-iba talaga ang lifestyle ng Pinay sa mga Koreana dito na married na. Nakaka-miss din ang walang iniintindi na in-laws noong single pa tayo… but this is the life we have chosen when we decided to marry a Korean. God bless sa ating lahat. Aja! Aja! =)

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  14. Hi…Ito ung sagot sa mga iniisip ko..this is so true..though I’m lucky with my open-minded parents-in-law..ako lang ung nag-iisip ng di maganda..siguro it’s part of my adjustment here in Korea..and sobrang layo ng lifestyle ko from Pinas to here as married..thanks for the blog..

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  15. Dionne, you are very smart!

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  16. Good for you, Jeny Kim. ^^ I’m sure ginawa mo lahat para sila makasundo. ^^

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  17. your right,,^_^ noong una talagang nahirapan aq sa ugli ng m-law q
    pero ngayon love na niya aq pero hindi pa rin nawawala yung tsasuri
    nila ,,,,,,

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  18. thanks,,for posting this article,,i really like it,

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  19. That would be the best solution, Dionne D. Mardoń… but it isn’t easy for some Korean men, especially those who are not financially stable, to have their own house right away. This is why they stay with their parents.

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  20. I think the best way to avoid all these hullabaloos is to have your own house with your husband (and) kids. In this way, there will be no arguments, no disasters, and you will feel better freedom without being reprimanded in whatever they want you to do or act.

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  21. oo nga eh..kpag willing at nageenjoy k naman s gngawa m, ang dali lang mgadjust s culture and tradition..^^

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  22. Yup, SWEETLONS… ang problem with in-laws ay universal issue, kahit saang parte ng mundo may mga daughters-in-law and parents-in-law who don’t get along. Ang ibang myonuri kayang tiisin, ang iba hindi… and usually yung mga hindi nakakatiis, sila yung tipong nagrerebelde and talagang lumalaban ng sabayan, which in my opinion is very wrong. YOU CAN’T FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE.

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  23. I did the same thing noong bago pa lang ako dito. I used to have a note with me every time my Omonim taught me how to cook. Back then, lagi ako pumapalpak sa mga Korean recipes, but now kering-keri ko na. ^^ Talagang if there’s a will, there’s a way, ano? =)

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  24. ganyan naman talaga gawain ng mga myonuri d2 f nakapag asawa ka ng korean di lang naman mga foreingners nahihirapan kundi pati mga korean nagttis sa ugali ng mga byenan d2 ang iba kc puro lang pa hmmmm hahahha kala nila omg hehe

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  25. nice article! sana bago mag-asawa ng korean ang mga pinay, alamin muna nila ung culture and tradition ng mga korean kc tlgang malaking adjustment ang ggawin mo…pero kung willing k nman n pagaralan, sobrang dali lang mkipagsabayan s culture nila…aq nga eh lag ngluluto mother-in-law q, nandyan kgad aq sa tabi nya, may hawak n note pra gayahin ung mga secret ingredients nya…sbi p ng hubby q, ung luto ko dw kpareho sa luto ng mama nya…hihi..nkktaba ng puso…almost 5 years nrin aq dito s korea…super happy and contented sa buhay ko dito.. ^_^)Y

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  26. Salamat, Jen. Sana ay maintindihan ng iba kung ano talaga ang pinupunto ko dito. It seems like this post stirred the emotions of other Pinays who have read it.

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  27. This is true. Thanks for posting this one. Great article!

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