Last week I wrote about the often unpredictable behavior of my crazy Chinese mother-in-law. In the comments I was also asked how her husband is dealing with it all and I have here something like an answer.
All the general info about him I wrote already down in two other posts About Father-in-law and The Love for Table Tennis. For the ones who don’t want to read it all I give you some short summary. He is in his mid fifties, loves to play table tennis, eats tons of sweets, as an OCD when it comes to cleaning and is able to eat about double the amount of food for lunch and dinner than the rest of the family combined. In the post About Father-in-law I wrote that he is working as a driver in one of the city’s bureaus. This is no longer true as the whole department has been shut down by the government to safe some money. Now he is unemployed and bored as hell every day at home. For him it is not about being unemployed and not earning money but that he has too much time on his hands out of nowhere. Worst of all for him is that he is whole day home and so is his wife!
Wheras MIL is a very strong person he is more the weak one. He easily gives in when his wife has something to complain about and most of the times I think he is doing so in order to escape the endless annoyance of MIL by making her think she won once again and shuts up. I know this might sound mean but once you heard one of her charades you will understand. Come to think of, his wife always has something to complain about him but usually it is actually something she did wrong herself. She pushes down by accident some vase? His fault because he placed it there and so on. So how can he partially escape the madness called his wife? He plays with his phone some weird farming games or does so on the computer whenever he is not cleaning the apartment or watching sports on TV. The good thing for him is that MIL loves shopping and goes dancing and thus is often gone for many peaceful hours. I think he is always looking forward when MIL stays with us for three months…
Though he is very invisible when going around as his wife wants to be the center of everything he still shows his presence when needed. When we need something he goes off and gets it for us in an instant. When we want to cross the street he will go ahead and wave to the cars to let us through. When he sees my wife looking at something in the shop window he will immediately gives her money (though my wife always takes the money she returns it before flying back to Europe without anything spent). He is very caring but sometimes way too much as he gets afraid that something is not good enough. Everytime before buying something he will carefully check the item he wants to buy to make sure that everything is 100% fine. When going out to eat he will clean each cup, bowl and the chopsticks. At home he is cleaning the apartment twice a day, each time done three times. Because he is so worried all the time that everything works fine he has high blood pressure and from is former afro hairstyle nothing is left.
Of course we want to give him sometimes some nice presents but that is a futile effort. Not only does he not want anything but when he actually gets something from us he will store it safely away because he wants to wear/ use the old things first until they are broken. During MIL’s days as a model she often got some nice clothes and also gave him some. These days are over twenty years ago and still the clothes he received are originally packed and stored in his closet. Few years ago we bought him a new shaving machine, it took over a year until he used it and only because MIL threw away his old one as even threatening him that she will give the shaver to me would make him use it. In the end all I can say about FIL is that he is a very reliable person who prefers to stick to the background and is thus the exact opposite of MIL.
Do you also have a more quiet person in the family who is always there when you need her/him?
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30 thoughts on “The Silent One”
What a hugh constrast compare to his wife! Has your MIL always been high-octane?
I actually don’t know but at least according to my wife she has been like that at least ever since my wife’s first memories
He seems to have developed the perfect method for dealing with MIL. Invisibility is his defense!
He learned ho to deal with her after at least 30 years of marriage! (I actually don’t know how long they have been married but I guess somewhen in their twenties and now they are both over fifty….
They said that opposites attract, so I guess this is the perfect example. Can you imagine how quiet it is for him when your MIL visits you? Maybe he even throws a little party for himself, so he has a reason to clean! 😉
I really think he enjoys every second when MIL is its us. I have no doubt he watches whole day sports and cleans in between to keep himself busy
Ha great old picture with the afro! Nice to hear about your father in law, who has been overshadowed by the MIL for long. Too bad he’s quiet compared to her, but perhaps the dynamic works in that relationship… Everyone is different
I never have much to write about him as he is just so much in the shadows of everything. I really wonder how he was able to live so many years with her as three months are putting my nerves to their limits :p
Haha finally a story about FIL. Poor guy, he seems like a sweet soul that’s quite brow-beaten by MIL…but there seem to be a lot of couples around with this kind of dynamic. It must work somehow?
He has my deepest respect for being able to survive with her for so many years! FIL must have a strong mind In order to deal with her every day and not go insane 🙂
My PILs do the same thing with new clothes and presents! They store everything and then wait until… I don’t know when to use it. I brought my PIL a bottle of Spanish brandy two years ago and I think he put it somewhere because he didn’t want to “use” it up… But come on, man! I can bring you more bottles every time I go back to Spain!
Perhaps they want to save them for their next lives? FIL got enough clothes by now for several people…
“The Silent One” What an appropriate name for FIL. He sounds like the kind of man who has a very good heart and is always looking out for others. Now without a job, I often wonder how he can sustain MIL financially…but I’m sure that is not a problem. I don’t blame him for not using the new things – if the old thing still works, why not use it. But of course, sometimes why not use the new one because it has more features 😀
In my Chinese-Malaysian family, everyone is never really silent but violently outspoken. It seems everyone likes to talk loudly and have their opinions and stories be heard, the opposite of FIL. Is he a soft speaker?
He is a very soft speaker but uses the xi’an dialect as it sounds more “manly”. Financially my in laws build up enough to have no worries till the end of their days as long as they don’t suddenly want to buy some apartments etc.
It is nice to have such a reliable person as MIL is pretty much the exact opposite. When he says he will do something he will do it. With his wife it’s the opposite, when she says she will do something it might happen or most likely not at all…
He might sound manly, but it sounds like MIL isn’t scared by this manliness tone. I suppose with MIL, when she says she will do something, it’s always a big surprise what actually happens.
I thought FIL would fill his spare time with table tennis now that he is not working.
There is only so much table tennis he can play a day plus most people he plays with either still work or are busy elsewhere.
With MIL everything is a big surprise 🙂
Nawww, he sounds like such a sweetheart! In my family, we’re all rather loud, no silent ones around:) PS: I LOVE that impressive hairstyle of FIL in his younger days:)
Is old hairstyle is well received among the readers. Sadly these days he has less hairs than his grandson.
In my family everyone is more quiet so when I met MIL for the first time it took a while to get used to all the noise she is making especially at night when she is snoring louder than a passing by freight train
Extremes of one another… Seems like they make a healthy balance then, right?? His mannerisms are honestly not very different to a lot of parents we know amongst our friends 😉
Yeah it seems they fit together though these differences always create a lot of tension (due to MIL).
I’ve got the feeling that a lot of couple have such similarities and I am soooooo happy that my wife and I are different even though ihave many traits in common with FIL
Your FIL probably does have some personal interests but he’s forgotten them as a parent.
It would be great that you 2 go for coffee or tea at a café maybe once or twice a wk. Treat him (might be easier than presents) and maybe with Nathan. Does he bike or like walking? He might actually appreciate this if you suggest this in a low-key way. Think about doing some easy stuff with him since he’s isolated. Unless he has some pals. (My father was never interested in hanging out with a regular set of guys.)
YEs, of course, I mentioned my father. I think your MIL was a bit spoiled as an attention-getting model in her youth and now she’s hanging onto other methods (without her realizing) to look “good” and correct.
My father always had a milder temperament than my mother. He provided the counterbalance to my mother’s anger. I believe he could gently exert his “control’ because he spoke English and hence, my mother relied on him for a lot of stuff. So it evened out in terms of “control” in their relationship.
Unlike your in-laws, my mother was a picture bride: so she knew and clearly acknowledged even when he was alive, that she was incredibly lucky to have married a kind man.
He and mother were naturally neat people. So his neatness and organized way of doing things was natural and also complemented sharing housework during his retirement.
I associate a strong marriage as one with a lot of communication and discussion between the partners. THis my parents demonstrated a great deal to us.
It is pretty hard to do anything nice with my father-in-law as he always refuses to go anywhere with us. He also does not spend much time with his friends except when he goes to place table tennis few times a week.
My mother-in-law got pretty spoiled during her modeling years and she also somehow developed a weird sense on how a marriage should be/ she has to be treated like a queen by her husband etc…
I dont know if there is even a lot of communication between the two as I only see them talking when he has supposedly done something wrong again
I think someone should half-joke to her, that she is lucky to have married a guy like him –attentive and considerate of her.
Actually my wife said it few times to her but she is just making this Pfft sound then
Sad. Your wife should then just look after her father’s wishes. Or pay more attention in small ways to his needs. It’s not hard. I’m certain he appreciates pleasant chat with his daughter –any time.
My wife tries already her best to give him little nice things when she is in China however talking is not his most favorite thing to do I think. For now he seems to enjoy the most to spend time with his grandson
I know my mother wasn’t quite like that…even she barrelled along with her own loud opinion. I will be publishing something how this is demonstrated…where she did respectfully appreciated his opinion.
So.. the man behind the MIL…
Yeah, he likes to be invisible around other people…especially his wife