This could perhaps be in the relationships forum, the marriage forum or the culture forum. But this is probably the broadest audience. In many ways I can understand the issues I’m going to outline and anticipate some of the replies, but I’d like to air them.
I am recently married, although we’ve been together for several years. Her family are from the mid-south of Taiwan. I’ve visited several times a year and they’re nice. Their English may be a little better than my Chinese but our conversations are not fluent. But I like them and their home is a nice place to be. Her dad doesn’t speak much, a couple of times when we visited, it was around an hour before he came downstairs to say hello. The first time I visited I think he went out jogging as my now wife came to pick me up from the station on her scooter. That’s his character and it’s kinda cool that he sees no need for fussing around.
When we got married, my parents, brother, sister, uncle and aunt visited from the UK. They helped out with some of the cost here and paid for the reception in the UK. (They’re not minted btw, retired lecturer and social worker). The wedding here involved the usual necessities such as photos, cookies etc. Her parents were in Taipei less than 24 hours. At Chinese New Year, my parents sent them a card from the UK. Showing an interest. I wouldn’t expect anything comparable to happen in reverse. Fair enough. This is just background information really.
My problem, which may be a matter of like it or lump it, is money paid to parents. Chinese New Year is one thing. $5000 per parent, fair enough, that’s the tradition. We live in Taiwan. However my wife, who has three credit card bills (supported her when she was a student) pays $5000 to them every month. Probably quite normal. They worked very hard when she was young - probably 7 days per week, at work and bringing extra home. They bought a house in cash which they’d saved while living in a tied property. So now they have no mortgage or rent. He is around 50 and chooses not to work (although previously this may have been partially down to looking after his now deceased mother) while the mum still works. So we have maybe NT$400k of debt between us, much of it due to the wedding or my wife’s studying. I’m on about 50k per month and my wife a little under 40k, which is relatively comfortable even after monthly payments, but the faster debts are paid off, the better.
I just can’t help feeling that while her dad chooses not to work, with no housing costs, that $5000 every month would be far better placed paying off our debt, which of course we are paying interest on. Helping out the in-laws if they were in need would feel very different.
In societies, things have to come around, go around. I’ve been here long enough to understand red envelopes work like that. Any system that didn’t ultimately balance out would fall apart. But I feel there is little coming in the other direction, whether it be help, visiting Taipei (never other than wedding), recognition or interest in my traditions such as Christmas or birthdays. They do welcome and accept me at their home however, but I’d like to see them in Taipei, to see our home. etc.
Someone asked me if my wife had brothers or older sisters. It is relevant, I suppose. She’s the oldest of four sisters. But I don’t really want to be looking forward to the parents death as a way of things balancing out and having said that, I have no idea what would happen then, 30 or more years hence. We’d prefer not to be in Taiwan by then anyway.
I think most of the arguments have already gone through my head, and I expect I’ll have to accept them, but it would be nice to hear what you think. I hope I don’t sound selfish/ ungrateful or culturally ignorant/insensitive.