Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life, Love and you guessed it.....Money (PART 1)

A little dose of truth........

I've been so damn unhappy in my relationship with Sung Hyun for the past (well......) long time.

Reverse culture shock coupled with living in my parents (water logged) basement (don't read this wrong: we really do appreciate the support from my parents) with an added heaping tablespoon of varying cultural expectations equals one unhappy Jennifer.

Sung Hyun and I worked so damn hard to get to Canada. We (read: I) prepared all the immigration paperwork ourselves. Then, while Sung Hyun went to work during the day and attended welding school in Korea at night I loaded myself up with work. Working 1 full time job wasn't enough for me so when everyone else was calling it a day, I was out gallivanting around Seoul going from one job to the next. Most nights I was happy to be home by 11pm. I purposely made myself busy so that I wouldn't have to go home to an empty house.

This distance apart from my husband was toxic to our relationship. We were newly married and the 'honeymoon phase' that couples experience was non existent. This was a far cry from the fairy tale start to our relationship.

I was angry. I was upset. I was confused. I couldn't understand how Korean women could deal with having their husbands gone for so many freakin' hours in the day. I wanted my relationship with Sung Hyun back.

We decided to come to Canada -- so he could have a life, so WE could have a life.

In the mean time I got all wrapped up in the preparation. I thought the best way that I could contribute to our successful future in Canada was financially. And although I was probably right in thinking this, it soon dominated my way of life. It didn't take long for my addictive personality to take over and make work the most important thing in my life. But I know now that this was the start to my unhealthy relationship with money. I put so much value on money as playing such a critical role in our successful transition back to Canada that I forgot about the small important things. To me, at the time, making money was my contribution to the relationship. And in doing so, I made a lot of sacrifices in the process.

I should have known better.

And then I became bitter. I was upset that I was perceived as the wealthy foreigner from within my Korean family. Sung Hyun boasted to his family about me making as much as $120 an hour. I was outraged. I thought they didn't have any right to know my personal finances, especially since they came at such a high cost (the highest being my relationship with Sung Hyun). I was pissed that more financial expectations were placed on me to be the breadwinner in a highly male dominated society, where the man's job was to earn the money. And then there was the added pressure of being the only one responsible for paying my MIL's rent/ pocket money -- a duty (bestowed upon my husband since he was the only male) that I took over so that my husband could stay afloat. Working full time for his BIL didn't even cover the part time welding classes he was taking at night. The real blow came when my husband left Korea without the full amount of his pension --to be paid out by his employer. The reasons for not receiving this money remain unknown but are quite obvious -- the funds are not available; he simply couldn't pay. What remains unsettling and less obvious to me however, is the way that this situation was handled. A simple apology and I'm so sorry but we don't have the money would have sufficed, but in a culture that is so heavily dosed with 'saving face', instead we got a lot of broken promises and lies. And betrayal from a family member has been the hardest pill to swallow.

To be continued.........

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing and looking forward to your next post to understand more. Hang in there!

Amyable said...

I'm a Korean American living in CA since I was 9 y.o. My husband is from England and we married about 2 years after he moved to CA. Before and after we've married, I financially support my parents. My husband has no issues with it. Perhaps it is because I work and earn enough to be able to support my parents (my husband and I earn about the same amount of money). It could also be that we are very financially comfortable ourselves. (Although I would guess it has more to do with our attitudes towards money and our shared philosophy on family.) Nevertheless, it has never even been a negative topic of conversation let alone an argument between my husband and I. While the concept of giving money to parents every month is a foreign concept to my husband, he knew about it before we married and therefore, is completely accepting of it.

Why am I here??? said...

You're welcome anonymous! Our story has a happy ending.

Thanks for sharing Amyable. It's so great that both you and your husband have never had any issues with money and that he has accepted and supported sending money home to your parents (and I think it's great that you still do it). Do you have any brothers btw? Have you had any issues with dividing up financial responsibility among siblings? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it's amazing what you've had to put up with. It's one thing to give your own mother/family your hard-earned money, but the reality is, it's much harder to do the same for your MIL/husband's family. You are much more generous than I could ever be. I hope your husband realizes what a gem he has, and that not many women would be willing to do what you do.

Amyable said...

I'm the oldest of 3 girls. I have always led the way in financial contribution to my parents and my sisters follow suit based on their own financial situation. Basically, all of us contribute to best our ability. None of us are married to a Korean and none of have issues with our husbands on giving money to our parents.

asiangarden said...

Uhg! Wow...let's just say I cannot relate! I wish I could! But I have always worked for my hubby and his family since we met, so they have paid my salary,and I was never bragged about, wish I was though! But I can see how you would start to have bad feelings or resentment build up. No matter what anyone says, I think it's really nice to be a girl and have a guy take care of us.
I am going to try and do something besides having babies in the next few years, so who knows? I might end up paying pocket money.....by the way I can relate to the family and business don't mix....oh yeah

Why am I here??? said...

Hey Amyable, I applaud you for your willingness to help your family. I think that's great that your husband (and sisters husbands) do the same. In my post it may have sounded that I do not want to do the same. It's quite the opposite, in fact. Kinda wishing his 5 older sisters would follow suit.

Thanks anony!

Sante said...

I just have to mentioned that as a husband who's also married to a Canadian, revealing how much my wife makes to my own family is not easily acceptable at least my case. We are from where men take care of money and finantially support the family (kids/wife) for their own good. So my understanding of my own culture doesn't actually match your situation where you're perceived as ..... too bad.. newayz, hope things work out better for you. for the pension, to be entitled to get that, you husb needs to register as Korean who lives outta Korea it took sometime for me to get that legalized-then the blance should be paid.. (I think that's right process.. as I recently got mine back)

Anonymous said...

Wow...candid. Thanks for sharing!