Local Fame Causing Marital Issues

Gee Jazz Band,
Gee Jazz Band, (Photo credit: Pierre Marcel)

Ohh People, People, People… if it isn’t one thing it’s another thing…. yeah.. Houston, we got a problem.

Last night was a local BBQ  gathering at the country club by the pool.  There were all kinds of food stuffs, wine was flowing and even a jazz band was playing.   Right up my alley…. My kind of gathering.. I was in my zone.

Michael and I arrived a little early because the host was my good friend and we got in free.  I first saw our little group of regular friends and we were all standing around because there wasn’t really a free table for all of us; about eight.

Anywho, one of my friends found a table but there was a long guy sitting at it.   But out of all my manly guy friends and husband no one wanted to go over and asked him if we could use the table.   I told them … Don’t take his table include him in the mix, we can just meet him and join him at the table; he is all alone for Pete’s sake.    They were all… you go, no you go.…. So finally .. I said… I will go.

I went over made friends with the guy and then we all came over and sat with him at the table like friends and included him in our group.

That is how I am. My personality is sometimes bigger than life so when I see the person that is a wall flower and I make a point in including them in the gathering.  I guess that comes from just being the minority in an all white high school and feeling alone sometimes. I always want to save the underdog.

The more people came, the more they wanted to talk to me and just connect with me in some way.  Some foreigners from Italy came in… and they spotted me and headed straight for me.  I don’t speak Italian… however, my Spanish kicked in and we were rambling on like best friends… I introduced them to my group… and then some Ukrainians came.. I added them…. to the mix…Jazz band was on break .. I got them to come over and mix with us…. until we had a large group laughing drinking and having a good time.   With me in the middle, of course, leading the conversations.

It seems no matter where I go…. or who I am with I end up the leader of the group in some way.  Everyone waits for me to show them or lead them into what to do next.  It is crazy how that always happens… Like I have a sign over my head that said… Follow me I know the way, my Children.

While everyone was drinking, eating and being merry…. I looked around for my husband; as I always do in these kinds of gatherings.   I saw him sitting in a corner playing a game on his Iphone.   The biggest Wall Flower of the bunch.

Yes, my husband is very shy with crowds of people and with people he doesn’t know.   He tends to close himself off and just wander away from the group.  Leaving me there to banter and mingle with the others.

We are opposites…….I am the life of the party and he is the one that would rather be home watching soccer on tv.   I really didn’t realize it was so bad, until last night.   He is always quiet with new people around but usually we only meet one of two at a time and then he gets to know them and everything is fine.    But put those same people in a big group with other people… and we lose him.

I am really not sure how to deal with it.    I have spoken to him and asked him WHY?.. the answer I get is a little confusing for me….. He says…“He feels everyone is higher than him…. and the conversations are over his head…. even when you speak…. Your level of conversation is too high for me to follow”   This shocked me… because .. I honestly don’t feel we are talking about anything soo intellectual .. when we are discussing how spicy the beef is…what song the band is playing and just laughing and kind of making fun of each other…. but he felt that we were over his head.    Now mind you, I try to include Michael in every discussion… I give him lead ins on topics I know he is familiar with, but… he just doesn’t take the bait.   He tells me that in his heart he feels he is not the same as they.

Some of you might think it is an age thing.. Michael is 14 years younger than me…. but NO.. all of the guys in our group.. are Michael’s age or younger.  Only two of them are my age and they are still a couple of years younger.   Some of you might think they do different work….NO again… actually .. I am the only teacher… they do trade and manufacturing the same as Michael does. So, he knows more than I do when it comes to that field.

I have come to the conclusion that it is Michael’s low self-esteem that is the cause of this.   He feels they are wealthier than he is  and they have more than he does material wise… so he feels he is beneath them.

They never talk down to him and they always try to include him in everything… we never discuss how much one person has or the other person.   That is not my style.   But in Michael’s mind… As long has he isn’t wealthy, he is beneath them in his mind.  Michael has the impression that just because someone has a certain kind of car or a certain brand of clothes they are very wealthy.   I have learned from life in American it just means they have more debt.   In china, they do everything they can to show the wealth on the outside, even if they are eating only white rice at home for dinner every night.    Also, in China.. most of the younger people who are driving expensive cars and such were given this by their parents;who in fact saved their whole life to give their kids all their money.

Michael’s parents as poor farmers were unable to save money for him, nor buy him a house or a car like other men his age.  So… herein lies the under current of the issue with Michael’s self-esteem.   His parents didn’t give him the jump he needed to keep up with the others his age in China.  Thus he has some hidden bitterness against his parents and others that did get the help as most Men his age in the same situation have.

This is a problem that lies in many, many Chinese local men that come from a farming family and didn’t get the big pay off from the manufacturing boom.   Their mindset is that they are poor, they will always be poor… and their level is to low and they are not to hang around the rich.    That is not their place.   Michael feels he is not in his place…. and he doesn’t belong there.

Here lies a big problem….. I feel my place is where ever I want to go… and I will make it my place… and I will make you include me whether you wanted too or not.     The more local fame I get, the more people invite me to these swanky places, dinners, wine tastings, etc.   I still go to all the back street cafes, and wave at the garbage people on the street and joke and laugh with the Rickshaw guys….to me.. people are people. There are no levels in my mind.. only friendships… no matter the country you come from or the money you have…..   I am like water…. go with the flow.   Michael not so much.

So… came the heated discussion on what to do about this…. I am determined to take him with me on my rise to the top… and he is fighting and screaming along the way.   I want him to see that he is just as great as anyone else…. and he doesn’t have to have millions of rmb or drive a Benz to be included.   He refuses to listen to me.

How can I have a good time mixing and mingling with everyone when I know Michael is sitting in a corner bored out of his mind.   Ladies we all know what happens when the man gets tired of getting bored…… then he says…. it is time to go….. then you are arguing about when to leave…. I am the main attraction at most of these things… and he always wants to leave after an hour or so. Then we have a party argument.… you know the one when you’re smiling at each other… but under your breath fighting… yep.. that happens to us all the time.

What to do?  

Michael works 7 days a week, 13 or more hours a day… so I don’t get to see him very often…so when we get invited to these gathers it is the only time I have to do something with him together… and usually afterwards.. he has to leave again to check the factory… so If I don’t spend this time with him…. maybe i will only see him in bed or before he leaves for work.

Quality time is about non existant these days, since the new factory opened. He feels we will have all kinds of time together when we are old…. his views on somethings are just so warped in my mind sometimes.

He says he makes the time for the gatherings so I don’t have to go alone… but he doesn’t understand that if he doesn’t participate in the gathering with me… it is like I am  alone.

He liked it better when I didn’t know anyone and I just sat at home all the time waiting for him to come home from work.   However…. that is not my kind of personality.. I am not a housewife kind of person…. sooo…. we need to figure a way to make all this work out.  My local fame.. keeps me sane in China… or I would go crazy with boredom… so I can’t give it up.. and I cant keep it from growing . .. it gets bigger and bigger every year. But it is starting to make Michael a little crazy…he didn’t really sign up for this fame and doesn’t like the attention.

They say love conquers all…and we have dealt with some crazy stuff in our marriage so far….I am sure we can get thru this too……I guess…. we will see.. won’t we.

until next time…..

19 thoughts on “Local Fame Causing Marital Issues

  1. yangxifu

    I think if he is an introvert including him more will only make him more miserable. Its better to meet half way, in that maybe you can organize ur social life a bit around him, instead of including him, but include him when there are more people he knows? And make some time for just the 2 of you? This way he gets more time, with u, doesnt need to drag himself to social events he finds uncomfortable, and u get to spend quality time with him and ur other friends. I dont think the issue is just poverty or language. Introverts feel drained of energy in social situations. If he is one (and he sounds like one) the more and merrier the crowd the more drained he must feel. My bf is also an introvert and he was positively shaking and sick when we went dancing once. I love to dance. So it is sad. But if u meet mid way it can become easier for both of u.

  2. Kiki

    This has to be a cultural thing. I see it sooo much in Asian cultures. I am from Houston, TX, I am African American, and I grew up in a black neighborhood with people from all economic levels. Houston is probably more diverse than LA or new York, truly every culture resides in our large metropolis. Growing up, my Asian friends-mostly Vietnamese, Filipino, and Chinese-were always so conscious of whose parent drove luxury cars, name brands, our parents progressions etc… My father was a doctor and my Asian friends were always more impressed with this. At birthday parties they were also far more humble when accepting gifts, where American children expect gifts. My last boyfriend was Japanese and his attitude was almost communist. By that I mean he was ambitious, but not completive. He was complacent about his salary and station in life. When his family, who are not professionals but nice people, met my family the attitude was as if they were meeting royalty. His friends also behaved this way, kind of accepting that richer people deserve more attention and praise.
    I hope no one find this offensive, and I am aware that I am stereotyping and there are always exceptions. But most Asian countries are socialist or communist and it shows in the attitudes of its citizens…sometimes…

  3. Terri

    Of course, @Robert, foreigners living in China know what it’s like to be the only person who doesn’t speak the dominate language. Not everyone here speaks English, and Chinese people usually feel more comfortable speaking Chinese to one another, even when you’re around. You’re harping on this language issue, but you’re on the wrong path.

    I don’t know about this situation, Jo. Honestly, some people are not social butterflies. I think a compromise is in order. Meet in the middle. Because if he’s not comfortable, including him more won’t help.

    There are ways that Chinese people are different than Americans. Their views on life, wealth, family etc. are all different. And there are ways that two people just differ from one another. We just have to do our best to accommodate them, I think.

  4. Mira

    Go back to basics by this l mean take him back to the place you first met, he approached you so there is confidence and self belief, tell him how he made you feel through that date and through the phone conversations you had previous, tell him those simple things is what you enjoy and what makes him special, unique and what you love about him ,

    Be positive and reinforce the good qualities he has.

    He has achieved a lot with the little he had and over time he will achieve more,the one’s who started with little but achieved something are the ones who are respected and remembered

  5. itsmichellechu

    Even if the conversations are not centered around politics or physics, I’ve found that a lot of my Chinese friends (and my Chinese husband) have a hard time making small talk or just chatting with strangers. I can relate to you in a sense, because my husband doesn’t like being around big groups of people either. In fact, he won’t even come to big gatherings of people he doesn’t know (like Michael goes to with you). It used to bother me but I found a compromise: as long as he came to dinners and hangouts with a few of my closer friends, he’s off the hook for big gatherings of strangers. I hope you guys are able to find something that works for both of you 🙂

  6. I can totally relate with Michael. With my sons father I was always dragged out places and sat in a corner (figuratively) while he talked to everyone.
    Now in my current situation I feel poor all the time because my new beau has more money than I’ve ever dreamed of being able to have. He says he grew up poor, his father even sold blood to get him through school. He says he’s not rich. I’ve been poor (I honestly would probably be happier on a farm somewhere) my whole life. I never went to a white school (besides elementary where I was picked on for being fat), I’ve never been to a fancy social gathering. I’ve done rich people’s nails and sold them tons of beauty crap, that’s about s much as I can handle, then go home and talk about the obnoxious things they say and do, and the ridiculous ways they can act.
    I want to cry for Michael because I know exactly how he must feel.
    As a female I would just say ‘you go without me,’ but as a male he feels he must go with you. I understand your wanting to spend time with him, but maybe since you have more free time than him, those are the times to do you ‘I’m famous’ things and when he has time to spend he probably just wants to hang out with you because he loves you.

    I think I want to disclose that this “everybody’s a person” thing isn’t like an American thing. I think its easier for people who had it easier to see everyone as equals. Somewhere like middle class.
    I think most -not all- poor people and rich people only see the differences and fear each other. I feel dirt poor around middle class people. Imagine my horror when my “rich” girlfriend took me to eat at the cheesecake factory. In the rich shopping center where they have those $500+ brands.
    It got so bad I was shaking. $8 for a piece of cheesecake? Of course I got the cheapest things because that’s what I always do. She was like just get whatever. I felt bad for her just buying me lunch.
    She’s one of the ‘everybody’s a person’ people. Outgoing and all. I’m just a poor kid from the ghetto. Like Kelly (tales from Hebei) when she went to that fancy hotel.
    Anyone who might have more money than you is intimidating. Especially for a poor shy person . It doesn’t matter what likes and traits and jobs you have in common. Middle class and upper class doesn’t understand being poor, actually poor. I can’t even get along with those people because they think they’re poor, or they think they live modestly.
    I’d like to see them make $50 last two weeks for gas and food for a family of three.

    1. I understand what your saying .. However, I didnt come from a rich or middle class family either.. I was raised poor on welfare by my grandmother…. i ate syrup sandwiches, and picked greens in the woods so we could have something to eat… I know the feeling… but… I also know my mind… and my motivation to not stay that way… I dont put myself in a box, or a class….. I strive to educate myself anyway I can… and to improve myself any way I can… and I believe everyone should do that .. no matter if they are rich or poor….. I worked my arse off to get where I am today…. and was a single parent of two kids…. i have been beaten, held at gun point and robbed…. but you know what…. I am still standing strong… and I am just trying to get my husband to understand that he doesnt have feel trapped or less than he is … but your right.. because I dont think like that .. it is hard for me to understand… and hard for him to understand me.

      I may have more free time than him… however, my free time and his dont intersect very often… and usually it is at those times when we get invited to dinners and such. Maybe it is better if I dont take him… but… I dont want him to feel I am on a different level than him …or different class… i want to show him .. that he can fit in.. by just being himself.

      1. I agree that it would be great if he could, but if he’s anything like me (and I hope not because it sucks) nothing will change and he’ll always be a wallflower, with me it got to the point where people would ask why I was rude or whatever, but they never directly came to ask ME, just whoever I was with. Maybe get the people to go to Michael instead of forcing him to mingle?

        I hope I can turn my life around like you, for my son’s sake. Being poor as a child you don’t notice so much. Being poor as an adult if your kid gets in the garbage you think he’s practicing for when you lose your apartment. (Lol) at the same time, poor is what I’m used to so I’m afraid of even ‘comfortable’ financially. And when suitors pay for dinner I think they’re out to get me, lol.

  7. Beth

    I think you hit on a big part of the issue here regarding Michael’s feelings of discomfort among wealthier people. Also I’d like to add that introverts and extroverts sometimes see the world very differently. I’m an introvert like Michael (I assume) is, and sometimes it’s not that I don’t want to be social it’s just that certain social situations are overwhelming and/or tiring. Introverts don’t need as much social interaction as extroverts do. Because we “charge our batteries” by being alone whereas extroverts “charge up” by being with people. So Michael may feel a little tired out at these events.

    Maybe you two could compromise somehow, like you will spend some quality time at home with him, and he will go out with you sometimes? Or if he is feeling extra tired, you could go to the social event alone, but then come home early to spend some time with him?

    I am a foreigner in China too so I understand somewhat the social class issues he faces but I also think a large factor is the introversion/extroversion thing which can be somewhat of a conflict when people in a couple are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but it is by no means insurmountable! I’m confident you two can handle it.

  8. John Lee

    I understand Michael problem, I think that each group is different, he feel different because the group you are in is different society, he would be out of place, I sometime feel this way, the rich hang with their group, the middle class hang with their group, the poor have their own group, is harder to express yourself or you scare that you might say something stupid then they would laugh at you, I have seen other folks who tell me this, that why I understand his problem

  9. Robert

    Well, it’s a bit confusing as in the example you mentioned they were Italians and Ukrainians.

    I also find it confusing that you live in China but they speak English to include you yet you think that your husband, living in China, can follow the conversation in English, even though you live in China and others think they need to switch to English.

    Really, it’s impossible now to comment as on the one hand you say you keep up with the conversation in Chinese but then again they switch to English.

    How about in the future they just always speak Chinese seeing it’s China. Perhaps then your husband would feel more at home – language-wise. I suppose if they switch to English because of you I can see how you’d be the centre of things…

    In any case I think you can’t ignore the language factor. The question I suppose is how are things when all the conversation is in Chinese? Do you then end up being left out? Do speakers inevitably switch to English at some points to include you? If that’s the case you probably dominate the conversation.

    Again, he himself says the level of conversation is too high to follow. This could definitely be a linguistic problem. I bet this isn’t a problem when the conversation is in Chinese.

    1. Robert.. I thinking you are kind of missing the point. I live in china… most of the conversation is usually in Chinese.. because most of my friends here are Chinese.. the Italian couple and the Ukraine couple.. we just met that night, that was a one time event. I am talking the usual friends we hang out with and the usual gatherings we go to. My chinese isnt has high as Michael’s english… therefore… after they speak in chinese.. someone translate for me… so I understand the just of it. That doesnt make me the center of attention that gives me some respect because I cant understand everything being said.

      Michael and understand me just fine when I speak english. Like I said… the conversations arent about physics or politics… it is just normal party banter. The fact of the matter is .. he feels because they are rich and he is poor .. he doesnt fit. It has nothing to do with language… Michael talks to foreigners everyday at work to do business.

      It is the mindset that is the problem…. be it Chinese or English language.. he doesnt feel he belongs there. Trust me it isnt language… if anyone would have a problem with language it would be me… because they speak the local language that I cant understand.

  10. Robert

    So was the conversation in English or Chinese?

    How often do you lead the group in a Chinese language conversation?

    If the conversation was in English then the ‘over my head’ bit is nothing to do with content, but language. I’m only guessing but I suspect that like many other second-language speakers of English, to hear your husband speak English he sounds completely fluent, but the reality is that in a social situation he has huge problems really following the conversation. It’s a huge step going from being functional one on one to being functional in a language when people are speaking all around you and you have to block out distractions and still interact.

    Or perhaps all this occurred in Chinese? If so then I’m obviously completely wrong. If not then I suggest that my reasoning might be close to the truth.

    1. they conversation are in both english and chinese…. they speak english only to include me.. so I can understand better. They are all Chinese people…. except for the few foreigners I mention… I am the one that has to use my Chinese skills to keep up with the conversations. So..language is not an issue… since Michael also speaks english as well as the other chinese people there. I am usually the only foreigner in the group.

      1. To be honest the language that was spoken, is not, the issue. It’s Michael’s insecurity about certain issues. I know how he feels. I’ve gotten more social since I’ve gotten older. I’m from New York City (Born and raised in Harlem) and while my family isn’t dirt poor, we weren’t rich folks either. Despite this, I grew up culturally rich. I was exposed to the arts, theater and growing up in Harlem, I grew up on Jazz and trips to the Studio Museum in Harlem.

        The two of you may have to find some kind of middle ground. While I can be shy, I do like going out with friends and dancing. Michael seems more like a home body and working all the hours he works, it must be difficult for the two of you to find quality time to spend together. I like being home, but being indoors watching television, or sleeping is not my thing. As a New Yorker, I’m out and about quite a bit.

        Maybe the two of you can find something that the both of you enjoy, and do it together?

      2. Robert

        Before I can judge whether your statement that the language isn’t an issue is valid… I need to know… do you actually genuinely function socially yourself in a foreign language environment?

        My German is extremely good but I still find it quite hard when I’m in Germany to really mix in any group that isn’t really small. Everyone’s dismissed the language issue, but I suspect that no-one has any idea of what it’s like to have to function in a large group in a language that isn’t their native tongue. It’s NOT easy… and most English speakers have got no idea about this. One on one is really easy but as soon as you get in a group, with people talking over the top of each other and you don’t have the option of asking people to repeat what they said… well, there is nothing more difficult to cope with.

        1. @Robert…. I am telling you .. language isnt the issue for him…. that is the issue for ME. I am the one that isnt Fluent in Chinese, I am the one that doesnt understand the local language…. I am the one that has to communicate in basic very basic chinese when I am alone. I am the one that is more dependent on him.

          In my city of about a million, Robert there are very , very few foreigners…I am the only american that stays here full time… and there are only about 3 or 4 more from Germany and France that stay here all the time. Most are just passing through for a brief time. I have people speaking local language and Chinese around me all the time… the environment is that I am usually the only foreigner in the group at most time. My husband has no problem at all understanding the language … it is his language… they only switch to English when they notice that I am lost… and my husband speaks english very well… he even translates for me some of the times.. when the groups get to talking to fast.

          Also…. these dinner parties and gatherings .. are not with hundreds of people.. the most there has been… was maybe 30 people. At this BBQ party there were even less than that… with only 5 foreigners .. myself included.

          I am usually the token foreigner at any meeting, gathering or dinner… So… NO.. my husband doesnt have a problem with language in his own country.. with his own people…

          I AM THE ONE….. so I know it is not easy… i came to China with no Chinese at all…. so if it was a language issue… it would be my language issue. The situtation is …. isnt introvert and extrovert either… because when My husband is around people that he feels he is equal to.. or high class than… he has no problem speaking in english or Chinese…. because he feels he is higher….. This is a problem with him thinking he is not on the same class level as these people.

What do you think about this?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s