Last December 25, I invited both my parents and my in-laws to have Christmas Dinner in my house.
On top of the food my mom brought from Iloilo, my brother also made crown roast and ratatouille.
In the middle of dinner, while we were waiting for the roast, I gave gifts and Christmas cards to my parents and my in-laws. Then, I asked that they open their gifts at the same time. I wanted to show that I love and treat both sets equally.
The following day, papa told me that I need to serve food to my husband and my in-laws. He added that I should serve them the way my mom served my grandparents.
My mom then shared that she would give my ama sponge baths when she was sick and she would always be their "alalay" when they would go out of town every weekend. She said that while they were alive, she served my grandparents more than their own children ever did.
Papa told me that now that I am married, I belong to my husband's family. They, on the other hand, will be at the mercy of my brother's future wife. He said, "Hopefully, she will take care of us the same way as you took care of us."
Hmmm...this is where my values do not align with my parents.
I think theirs is a very traditional Chinese way.
I have done many focus group discussions among Filipina moms and wives. Filipina women are very strong matriachs. I know that usual tensions are the following:
1. Transfer of financial support
2. Mother-in-law (MIL)feels wife doesn't take care of her son very well
3. Daughter-in-law (DIL) feels MIL is meddling too much
4. Both MIL and DIL competing for affection
Given what I know, I feel that my role as a daughter-in-law is to ensure that I don't take husband away from his family and to show his parents that I take care of him very well.
I tell my husband to spend time with his mother, just the two of them. My MIL had a very difficult pregnancy. My husband took 3 years to make! The least he can do is to maintain that bond with his mother even after he is married. Sometimes, when boys fall inlove, they can only focus on one woman.
I tell him to visit his family even when I'm not with him. But ofcourse, I join him when we visit during Sundays, albeit not regularly.
If I hear my husband sound frustrated at his parents, I remind him to respect and understand them.
I remind my husband to buy them gifts or take them out for their birthdays.
The way I see, I should not take the place of my husband and his sisters because parents want to feel love from their own children.
I also do not expect my husband to take care of my parents. In fact, when my parents visit from Iloilo, I do not drag him with us. Sure he drives us around but when we get to the mall, I tell him that he doesn't need to tag along. I also want to bond with my own parents and share my life with them, not worrying if my husband will get offended.
If we visit Iloilo, I actually don't mind of my husband doesn't join us all the time because he won't understand the conversation anyway.
But still, he joins us. And still, I join them even if when his family talks in Fookien, all I hear are "crickets".
I think my role as a daughter-in-law is to give my in-laws peace of mind that their son is in good hands. It is also my role TO HELP him take care of them someday.
However, I do not intend to replace my husband because the love of one's old child is really different. Likewise, my husband's role as a son-in-law is also the same. It is not his duty to support my parents. He can only allow and help me take care of them.
No one should ever lose a daughter in marriage...regardless if the culture is matriarchal or patriarchal. Both parents earn a son and a daughter respectively.