Frustrated in the middle
It’s frustrating to hear family feuds when you’re miles away. Since you cannot see what is really happening, It’s totally your call to judge and process the situation based on the information given i.e. emotion-laden complaints which are innately rich in subjectivity. Oh, you ought to be really careful not to take sides. The impact is heavy on me. I take it seriously and think and paint many times over. Honestly I don’t know how the protagonists back home really think about it. Was it just a momentary annoyance? Or was it a serious issue that could crack the whole family in a matter of time? I’ve been having some nasty headaches since last Friday. Usually my mum doesn’t talk about things in details but my sister gives me a ‘volcanic summary’ every now and then, just to keep me in the loop.
This is what I’ve been informed.
The family dynamic has changed a lot since my brother got married a couple of years ago and their first child was born last year. It’s because my sister-in-law (SIL) and my family had very different expectations from one another from the start. There has been a string of episodes that my parents or my sister simply didn’t understand why. Since my sister is very close to my parents and influential to them, they find my SIL’s behaviours unacceptable. If I take what I hear at face value, she comes across as an immature and spoiled kid who only claims her rights ‘extensively’ but forfeits obligations. On many occasions, she wants (or requires) financial and physical help from my parents or my sister but doesn’t seem to give the respect and treatment that they deserve. Rather, she takes it for granted and resents that my parents can’t give her more.
I’m frustrated. I need to act as a middleman as if I didn’t know anything about it. I just listen to them and cheer them up. I don’t want to be seen on one particular side but I don’t upset my mum and sister either. I get on well with my SIL. She seems quite comfortable chatting with me. I think it’s because we have got no real conflict of interests and I’m way too far away, almost like a stranger.
But one thing I’m clear about is that marriage in Korea has a serious flaw in the system. Once you’re married, you are an adult. You marry somebody you love and you do not expect your parents to financially contribute along the way. If they do, you’re grateful but they are not obligated to do so. It goes the same to the parents. You have to let go of your children when they marry. You respect them as adults and don’t put your child in a position to choose between you and his or her spouse.