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ASK ELLIE: Parents and pandemic pressures on marriage

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Prejudice, and distrust from family members can destroy a cross-cultural relationship, if you let it. - 123RF Stock Photo

Q – My husband and I dated for four years. We were both born here but had grown up in different cultures.

We married last October and thought our life together was charmed, having found a nice, well-located (though small and expensive) apartment.

Huge changes have since affected our relationship, due to the pandemic!

I work in the health field, and heard about a mystery virus worrying scientists, back in November. My husband, a technology worker, was sure I was overreacting. We even argued about it.

Then, when the reality of the coronavirus' dangerous spread became apparent, my parents' initial disapproval of my choosing someone from a very different background, resurfaced harshly.

They saw him as 'the outsider' who wasn't taking COVID-19 seriously, when they were scared.

Once the lockdown started, my husband was fully on board with the rules, but my parents still don't act comfortably or fully trusting around him.

I've been forced to fight their prejudices along with the virus.

Meanwhile, I'm more exposed to potential infection due to my work, while my husband's working at home all day, so it's like we're from two different planets crowded into this small space.

Any suggestions, how we can put cultural differences aside and best handle our stressed relationship?

Differences in Difficult Times

A – Hold onto the strong feelings of love and trust that convinced you during dating and early marriage, to share your life with someone whom you already knew your parents would be quick to judge.

That's often the nature of cross-cultural commitments: A couple bravely accepts the challenges, and outsiders make upsetting comments based on their long-held biases.

Ignore them – even your parents, when they raise unfounded criticisms of your husband.

Remember, this is a time of discomfort, frustration, anxiety, and stress for everyone, due to the uncertainties presented by COVID-19.

Lots of couples feel the strain, concern for the health of loved ones and yourselves, for whether jobs will last, how to afford mortgages/rents, etc.

Focus on what matters most. Since you've written me about your relationship, start there, strengthening your bond with your husband by supporting him in the face of baseless and racist or other discriminatory comments.

Readers' commentary regarding weight discrimination being prevalent today:

When dealing with children's weight gain, reassure the children that they're beautiful and loved just as they are.

Certainly, show them a way forward with encouragement for exercise and a healthy diet.But NEVER say that what they eat makes them good or bad.

I was a plump young girl, very active, when at 12, my mother took me to buy a coat. The saleslady said aloud, that style is for a slimmer build.î We had to look at a different rack, which meant the "fat" clothes.

I learned "something" was wrong with me despite that I was healthy. This is an enormous problem which can and does frequently jettison major events in life.

The work forcefavours the good looking and slim ones. The clothes industry produces far nicer things for the slim in both men's and women's wear.

The high school years are a nightmare for fat girls. Entrance to the professions favour the slim.This weight discrimination causes so many problems in life that it should be taken seriously and brought to the forefront.

Today, I'm a smart woman who definitely needs to keep active, and eat a healthy well-balanced diet. But I wasted so much of my life worrying about my weight.î

FEEDBACK Regarding the cabin-renting family annoyed by other renters who ignored the rules for social distancing (July 21):

Reader ñ I don't agree that cabin renters should approach those who clearly violating public health requirements during this time.

They've already made it clear they don't care about others. Approaching them could be uncomfortable and possibly ruin what should be a great family vacation.

Renters are required to endorse the rules regarding numbers of people allowed to stay in one cabin and social distancing at the beach.

If disobeying, the town is responsible for endorsing the rules.

Having been involved in two funerals recently, its difficult to decide which loved ones are allowed to attend, feelings get hurt and arguments arise.

Our families were deeply grateful for the authorities helping with enforcement.

Ellie - I'm sorry for your loss. A funeral is a far more sensitive situation. However, calling authorities on holidaying renters could bring a nasty response.

NOTE: In Monday, Aug. 10’s column, I left unchanged a letter writer’s description of her distanced brother as “the black sheep” of the family. I greatly regret this linking of undesirable behaviour with colour, especially as so many people today — usually including me — are recognizing and trying to change these hurtful and oppressive sayings and attitudes. – Ellie

Ellie's tip of the day

Prejudice, and distrust from family members can destroy a cross-cultural relationship, if you let it.


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Ellie Tesher
Ellie Tesher

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