Monday, May 07, 2007

Useful Tips for Harrowing Confrontations

I noticed that someone's actually found our blog by Googling for phrases like "interracial engagement and Korean parents," so I thought I'd put out some tips that helped me through the rough phase of our engagement, which I began writing about here. There are five parts total in that series, so be sure to read it if you are going through a similar situation.

If you can't think of anything to say, just stay quiet.
A lot of times, I found myself with lots of thoughts swirling and swishing around in my head. It is very important for you not to speak incorrectly here. Choose your words very carefully by staying quiet until you are absolutely sure of what to say. Sometimes it's good to let the silence speak, and for you to speak when asked to speak.

Stand your ground.
It might seem impossibly hard, but stand your ground. I don't know for certain, but it seems that things will not get much easier for you if you give in to your parents' will. (You should not always be defiant towards your parents...but sometimes you must do what you feel is right) I stood my ground, even while my mom was saying she didn't want to live anymore if I went through with this or that. My parents are now very warm and welcoming of Harmony. You can get through it; just stand firm!

I should mention that it doesn't seem to be all too uncommon for Korean mothers to get so very emotional and dramatic when it comes to matters dealing with their son(s). I heard that one of my mom's sister's mother-in-law said stuff about not wanting to live anymore unless she had a grandson (this particular aunt had already had 3 girls). We've seen similar destructive threats on Korean dramas. Even in the Bible is a very similar sort of sentiment expressed, in Genesis 27:46:

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, "I'm disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living."

Try to find if the two stories match.
Often in Korean families, the dad, mom, and children sort of function like microcosm of a military organization. The dad is the head general/admiral, the kids are the enlisted personnel and grunts, and the mom represents the officers, who generally function as the go-between or liaison. Sometimes what the dad says will get passed on through mom, and not through direct communication. In the context of a harrowing confrontation, it helps to make sure Mom is accurately representing Dad's feelings on the matter. In our case, I had gotten some conflicting reports from Mom and Dad, i.e. my dad had said this and that, but my mom was reporting that he was actually feeling that and this. Luckily for me, I had my sister, who is much more of a confidant to my mom, and had been around the house more often during this period.

Know that adults are not above manipulation.
I won't go into detail here, but just keep it in mind. Parents are people, through and through.

Things will get better.
You will get through this tough situation, but, like I said above, you must hold your ground. I felt extreme stress during that whole period. There were times where I realized the weight of the situation and wished that the parental conflict could've been a bad dream that I could wake out of. I could barely remember a harder period of my life. But we prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and we got through it. We got counseling, both through church elders and professional counselors. Harmony's parents were quite supportive, and that helped. You could also seek spiritual support from church elders or other spiritual people in your congregation. It always helps to know that spiritual people are praying for your situation. What they say to you might not be too useful at the time, but we can both attest that it can still be helpful.

My parents came around pretty quickly. It was on the order of months. Others might take longer. Not to scare anyone, but I've heard of some who didn't come around until a grandchild was born. But I have not yet personally heard of any parents who never spoke to their kid again.

Things will look much better on the other side.
After having gone through extremely tough times during engagement, you might be able to look back with your spouse and say, "Whatever problems we go through, at least we're married now."

I know this post might not even be helpful to anyone until much later, but even if you find this months or years from original posting date, feel free to comment. We get e-mail notification of all comments on our blog, so it won't go unnoticed. Or find my e-mail address in my profile, if you want to talk privately. I do not claim to be an expert on these matters...not by a long shot. But Harmony and I have personally experienced it, and would be happy to offer what advice we can.

Related Posts:

0 have poured out their souls in electronic text: