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Translation Frustration

My husband and I love, love, love to travel. We take 2 trips per year, always by ourselves for our anniversary and then sometimes with my family for the other ones.

We would travel regardless of my family but they love to travel as much as I do and we enjoy traveling together very much. My husband’s family has expressed hurt feelings that we have never taken a trip with them. This surprised me because none of them travel often and also traveling takes some planning and not a single one of them are good at planning.

My husband has decided that we will take a family cruise this year. His thought is that this way no one has to be the hostess and with a large group we can be together as much or as little as we like, separating during the day to do activities we enjoy but eating together in the evening.

I think this is a fantastic way for a large family to travel and I think this would be a lot of fun.

Now to the problem. My husband’s family is from another country. Although they have all lived in the U.S for close to 20 years and speak English fluently on a daily basis, when they are together they speak in their native tongue. I understand why but this often leaves me feeling like an outsider and frustrated. My husband, try as he might, always forgets to translate as they speak and I have to constantly nudge him. I finally gave up on that and often just sit with a large group of people feeling like I’m just listening to noise. I’m learning the language but it is extremely difficult and I only catch words here and there and can’t follow the conversation.

They have even done this in my home, which is very rude in my opinion, and my husband had to keep reminding them to speak English. He feels comfortable doing this in our home but not anywhere else. (I need to add he is the youngest and quite shy).

When I think of spending a week of my hard earned money and time sitting there in a huge group not knowing what’s going on, I can hardly stand the thought. How miserable I would be!! As it is now I only have to put up with it a few hours at a time.

I have asked my husband if I could invite my family along so I would have someone to talk to and he thinks his family would be upset by that because we would be intruding on their family time. I explained why and he understands but thinks it would cause tension.

I only get to travel twice per year and I am not willing to give up one of those trips to be cut off from communication.

Any advice for how to approach this? 0425-17

{ 114 comments }
{ 114 comments… add one }
  • keloe February 22, 2018, 6:46 am

    As a translator, I can tell you that the idea of spending my vacation translating conversations between a group of people (who, presumably, do not take turns in speaking) for the benefit of one comes close to a vision of hell. Simultaneous interpreting is the most taxing form of translation, and even if it is not a conference, when you have to do it word for word and it’s enough to summarise what is said, it’s still a tremendous mental effort. And that’s for people who are trained for it. So please don’t blame your husband for not having the will or energy to do it all the time (presumably he’s not a trained interpreter).

    Also, larger groups do tend to lapse into their own shared language and nothing can be done about it. Plenty of my relatives speak good English but still, at some mixed-language event, I would probably aske them where the toilet is, what time do they want to go home or how did their kid’s school test go yesterday, I would ask in our own language. It’s just how it works – we grew up speaking this language to each other and any other way seems unnatural. However, if a cousin was having a conversation in English with someone, I would join in in English.

    I don’t really have a solution for you. I would probably invite some of my family to come along and sell it as inter-family bonding time. Why shouldn’t they all get to know each other better, after all? Maybe if there are more English-speakers in the group, your husband’s family will also find it easier to remember sticking to English? (As I said, if a cousin was having a conversation in English, I would not switch to another language).

    • crella February 22, 2018, 7:31 pm

      It is a huge effort! Whenever my parents came here, my mother and mother-in-law would talk their heads off to each other and I would do all the translating. You’re on your toes the entire time, can’t participate in the conversation yourself, it really isn’t fun to do it for a long time.

      My husband and I haven’t spoken English as the dominant language in our home in a couple of decades, so in a mixed-language group if I need to tell him something or ask him a quick question, I use Japanese, he ‘gets it’ faster and the issue, whatever it is, is settled with far quicker than if I had to keep repeating English in a crowded setting, where it’s harder for him to hear. However, in conversation in groups, at parties etc, we go with the majority language in the room. DH wouldn’t expect all my American/Canadian/Thai/Singaporean group friends at a party speak Japanese because he’s there.

      I don’t know how long the OP has been married to her DH, but even if she can’t speak, some listening training would do her a world of good. It’s bound to be frustrating, but once you get past the awkward stage where you can understand 80% or more of conversation, but you’re still too slow to jump in and participate yourself (separate skills….) it will be much more enjoyable for you to spend time with family. The effort will be worth it.

  • Anon February 22, 2018, 6:53 am

    Have you tried being more proactive? Why leave it to your husband to remind them? What if you were to say, “Oh sorry, what was that?” “What are you guys talking about?” “oh, are you talking about dinner last night, I thought it was great!”

    I think it would be hard to break them of this habit, because it is probably very comfortable for them to speak in their native language. Instead of the big group conversation (which seems like a lost cause), could you try to develop one-on-one relationships with some of the family members and engage in conversations with individuals?

    I appreciate the tough spot you are in. I understand your husband’s desire to have to bonding time with his family, especially in light of how much time he spends traveling with yours. But I also completely empathize with how alienating (and boring!) it would be to essentially be cut off from conversation. I’m not sure there is a perfect solution, except being persistent in a friendly way, and bringing some good books. I would do this once for your husband and then reevaluate if you ever want to again.

  • Aleko February 22, 2018, 6:58 am

    It sounds as though the husband is too cowed by his family to stand up to them – maybe with good reason, if theirs is a culture in which seniority counts for a lot. And they are guilt-tripping (or outright rebuking) him for only holidaying with his in-laws and not with them. While it’s easy enough to say “A cruise she and her husband have organised and invited them on isn’t just ‘their family time’ but his and hers too, and he should be able to tell them that’ he clearly is in a difficult situation.

    OP doesn’t say if she and her husband have ever hosted both families together. Does her husband know the two groups don’t get on together, or is he just not prepared to risk it? Does he *know* his family would be upset by having OP’s relatives along, or is he just fearing the worst?

    My thinking is that unless they know for a fact the two groups don’t get on, the husband or OP herself should suggest to his parents, or whoever is both sympathetic and senior in his family, that both families should be invited: they might, contrary to his fears, be perfectly happy with that. If they say they reject that idea, he should point out to them how miserable and exhausting it would be for OP to spend every evening straining to catch one word in 20 of the conversation, and try to extract a promise that the family will all work to include OP in.

    If they outright refuse to do that, I’d suggest that OP just waves them off on their cruise and books herself a vacation, *not* with her own family – that would definitely give a hostile message – but sometime for herself like a water-colour painting course.

  • Marie February 22, 2018, 7:10 am

    I wonder, you had several anniversaries and trips with your husband, and I assume you knew him a while before marrying him: why is the language still such a big issue? How much effort has been put in that after a couple of years, there is still not a conversational level in the language?

    Your husband speaks the language, so you have someone to talk to and practice around you every day of the week. Even if it’s a very difficult language like Chinese, having such little skill after a few years sounds to me like you don’t feel like really learning the language. Quite possibly because it’s not an nessecity because the family speaks English, but learning your spouse’s language would be a no-brainer for me.
    That is your choice to make, but I wouldn’t expect a whole family to adapt just for you (even if they’re fluent, your own is always easier). They are also on vacation to relax. I’d say: start practicing. If you commit to it, you’ll at least be able to follow a conversation,.

    • Rachael February 22, 2018, 3:21 pm

      I don’t think that saying the OP doesn’t feel like really learning the language.
      I have a hard time conjugating verbs in other languages. My brain isn’t wired that way.

      I have had many school lessons in German and Spanish. Tried Rosetta Stone, DuoLingo and have had friends try to teach me. It just doesn’t register with me.
      I have always wanted to learn a foreign language, but have determined that it isn’t in the cards.

      Please don’t give the OP a hard time.

    • Kry February 22, 2018, 6:31 pm

      I would disagree about learning a new language being ‘not being interested in learning’.
      I was married to a Chinese man and no matter how hard I tried, I could not speak past basic phrases. Definitely not enough to hold a conversation.
      Some people just can’t learn new language easily.

    • Miss-E February 22, 2018, 9:02 pm

      That’s mighty presumptive of you. With no knowledge of the OP or her life you’ve decided she doesn’t really care to communicate with her in-law family?

    • NostalgicGal February 22, 2018, 11:53 pm

      I speak more than one language, and after some years am trying to master one more. Being a lot older it is harder, plus. I am 16 months in and have a vocabulary of 3-4k words. This still doesn’t mean I’m very good at it!!!! When it is spoken around me I have difficulty catching the words (and my hearing is good) and I must think then translate my answer and pronounce it. And I am still having some problems on pronunciation, sometimes it ‘works’ sometimes it ‘doesn’t’ and it can wonk in and out in the same conversation. AGGREVATING. So I am slow. I am busting my keyster off with ‘listening practice’ and ‘total immersion practice’ and still. Conversational in two years?????? hahahahahahhahahahaha And it’s not even Chinese, Japanese, Hmong, Arabic or Icelandic. Don’t berate the OP, I’m sure they’ve been trying for years.

      As for the OP, trying to make friends enough of a few of his family that would understand, some of the younger members, perhaps, and. Cruises have a LOT of activities and excursions. I’d make sure to try to find and sign up for a lot of them. With or without the other family. Sure, if they want to come, FINE! If not, make the vacation have some high spots despite the rest. I’m sure they’re not going to sit around all day every day and talk in a cluster, and expect OP and DH to spend their whole waking time sitting in a group and talking. By making friends with a few, encouraging them to come on the excursion or whatever (cooking lessons, etc) will show that OP isn’t trying to avoid them but interact. Interacting more with what’s going on on the cruise, I bet that the crew will be speaking English and thus force the family members to stay more in English….

      • crella February 23, 2018, 5:42 pm

        I agree that conversational in two years is a stretch. If I recall correctly, two years in is just about where you can understand 70-80% of the conversation around you, but by the time you line up the words you want to say, the conversation has moved on without you! It takes longer than that for the breakthrough stage where you no longer have to translate in your head before you speak. I think three years or so, and that’s immersed. Going to language lessons and reverting to your native language outside the classroom? It will take a lot longer.

    • Dee February 23, 2018, 1:38 am

      You’re assuming the OP’s first/native language is English; it’s entirely possible HER family has its own language, and English is the second one. If the OP is supposed to learn hubby’s language then he would need to learn hers, and depending on how linguistically-talented either of them are it would be so unnecessarily complicated.

      In any case, the language they all have in common is English, so why shouldn’t that be good enough? No one is trying to stop the in-laws from speaking their native language amongst themselves, just to use the common English around the OP. That’s the crux of this issue, and the one that suggests the in-laws aren’t as welcoming of OP as they could be, which is to say, they aren’t welcoming at all. And spending an entire cruise with a large family that actually doesn’t want you there is a recipe for frustration, not enjoyment.

    • THE OP February 23, 2018, 2:48 am

      I don’t pick up languages easily. His language is not common. There are no classes you can take and it’s not offered through Rosetta Stone (which would be preferable because of my learning style). This isn’t just like picking up Spanish. I’m doing the best I can but I doubt I will ever be fluent or even close.

      • NostalgicGal February 23, 2018, 10:19 am

        You have my condolences. The one I am trying to master IS Spanish because where I live now about a quarter of the population speaks it. I know it is aggrevating to be the person on the outside, but hopefully by keeping at it, you can both learn something and get some of your inlaws to remember to use and stick to using English for your sake. It is something that hopefully both sides learn in time. If you have children and raise them bilingual, it will help your learning as well, trust me it will. Raising children bilingual takes some work but it gives those children some advantages for learning so young.

      • cattlekid February 24, 2018, 8:06 pm

        You have my complete sympathy. My husband’s family also speaks a language that is not offered in classes or Rosetta Stone (maybe it’s even the same language?) They are very similar in that they revert to their native tongue whenever they are together even though many of them were born in the States or have lived here most of their lives.

        If it were me, I would decline the trip, if you feel like you must go, I would find lots of things to do on your own. If they’re like my husband’s family, they won’t even know you are gone.

    • Marie February 23, 2018, 10:20 am

      You guys have a point. I do am biased because of where I come from. I am from the Netherlands, where everyone speaks at least two languages very well (Dutch and English), and is conversational in three or four (French, German and/or Spanish). Especially the last third and fourth languages we have to learn over 4 years, with 2 hours of class each week and some homework.
      It’s very difficult for me to see why someone can’t master a languages with so much time to practice and a sparring partner. Whenever I wanted to practice my English (also learned in high school with 2 hours of class each week and not as a second language), I would agree with my friends on “English only” days, where we’d hold every conversation in English, even if we didn’t know the words. That starts out very frustrating, but you’re forced to learn.

      If OP is still reading: we still don’t know which language you are talking about, can you mention it or might your inlaws recognize themselves on the internet?

      • Dee February 23, 2018, 2:19 pm

        I don’t know OP’s ethnic background so I’ll only speak from my experience, but in our country, most people have a native language spoken amongst elders/at home, plus English at school, plus mandatory French that they will never, ever use and can’t practise among the population, since almost none of it is French. In your case, Marie, all your peers are in the same boat, start from the same place. For us, each ethnic group knows its own customs and language, and then the common English, then the bits of pieces of languages at their friend’s homes, then the forced French. It’s such a piecemeal education that only English gets any real focus.

        English is my language since my parents were forced to learn it when they were in school, and I know a very little bit of my family’s native language, a few words in quite a few other languages, and even less French, despite 3 years of forced lessons in elementary and high school. I am partially fluent in another language as I studied it, voluntarily, in high school, and as my kids studied it throughout their childhood, too.

        My husband’s family is from Holland and he didn’t know enough English when he started school that he was transferred to an outlying school to attend an ESL class. This despite his family being in our country for over 10 years at that point, and he being the 6th child to attend public school here. He’s forgotten all his Dutch and Fries, and knows none of the French he was forced to study in school, and was quite illiterate, in English, when he left high school. Such is the result of a piecemeal language focus in a country that has far, far too many ethic groups to assume one commonality.

      • Aleko February 24, 2018, 4:52 am

        It’s difficult for you to see, precisely *because* you come from a country where everyone starts learning foreign languages from an early age, when the brain is still “plastic”. If you have done that, not only are you experienced in language-learning techniques but at a subconscious level your brain has all the necessary wiring ready to take on further languages if necessary. As my father (born a German-speaker, who had to become fluent in French, English, Swahili and Italian before he was out of his teens, and picked up Dutch later) says, ‘The first three languages are the hardest.” But if you have been monolingual into adulthood, just getting your head around the concept of a radically different grammatical structure populated with totally different words is quite a big ask.

        – And, talking of ‘radically/totally different’, keep in mind that of the four foreign languages Dutch schoolchildren routinely learn, two are very close indeed to your own, and the other two aren’t that far away – they all have the same basic structure and plenty of cognate vocabulary. Even someone who speaks all of them might struggle with tonal languages such as Mandarin or agglutinative languages such as Georgian!

  • T-Belle February 22, 2018, 7:33 am

    I do believe you should invite your family along on the cruise, and hopefully it won’t cause too much tension with your husband’s family and they thinking it’s an intrusion on their family time. Which is sort of ironic on how they seem to exclude you from that time, even in your own home.

  • Dominic February 22, 2018, 7:46 am

    We are cruisers, and have gone as part of a large or small group, and what OP’s husband has proposed is a good way to travel together without overdoing it. You might do an excursion together at a particular port stop, and probably have your evening meals together, but otherwise you can be on your own or together as much (or as little) as desired. I am bilingual and my husband is not, so we have dealt with this in a small way ourselves. I try very hard not to leave him out of the conversation, and he is more assertive about reminding others to speak English in mixed company.

    What I hope for OP is that they can enjoy their time together, OP and husband, and possibly with select members of his family who will speak English with them. There will be large group times, and that may be frustrating, but OP can try to keep those to a minimum, and perhaps enlist an ally or several to talk with in English at the group gatherings. And maybe also find one or two family members willing to help with learning the language and make this “immersion learning.”

    Spend the week as best you can, and don’t let it ruin your vacation. Find ways to divide up the group and socialize. And if all else fails, drag your husband off for some “us” time, or, failing that, find some cruise friends and enjoy spending some time with them. If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em!

  • YooHoo February 22, 2018, 8:15 am

    1. During group time, try speaking directly, in English, to a single person, in an attempt to create a one-on-one conversation. Have a few genuine questions you’d like to ask them–How’s your son doing in school? How is your job? etc. It’s kind of a divide and conquer strategy. Hopefully, they will engage with you in English and you’ll have a nice interaction.

    2. Take advantage of planned activities on the ship; try hard to recruit relatives to do them with you. Funny contests, dance lessons, towel folding sessions, off-ship excursions, museum visits, etc. If you want to be really saavy, match a relative you want to interact with to an activity that the whole group might not care about. If you are willing to go with Aunt Myrtle to the stamp museum, you might end up having a pleasant afternoon with her, in English. If you form closer bonds with individuals, they might be more conscious of using English with you, later.

    3. Try to make some obvious “family time” and some obvious “alone/with husband time.” If you are present, engaged, and friendly during group activities, this will be a nice memory for everyone. Also, it might “buy” you some time alone—it won’t seem like you don’t want to interact with your husband’s family, since you obviously interacted during other times.

    • THE OP February 23, 2018, 2:51 am

      This is great advice. Thank you!

    • Marozia February 23, 2018, 7:42 am

      I think that sounds a brilliant idea.
      Give it a try, OP, it might surprise you.

  • NicoleDSK February 22, 2018, 8:20 am

    I am in a similar situation. My family speaks French and English, his speaks German. While they all speak English they naturally default to their own language when speaking amongst themselves.

    I have learned enough German to follow along if I pay attention. This is what you must do. It is your responsibility as the only one who doesn’t speak the language to adspt. Sucks, but they are always going to do this amongst themselves.

    So invest in rosetta stone and/or classes. Even knowig just enoygh to get the general gist of the conversation will make a big difference.

    And get people off by themselves and speak English then.

  • Kamatari February 22, 2018, 8:28 am

    Honestly, I would tell DH to go with his family and I would go visit my family since we couldn’t compromise. I refuse to spend time with people who make me feel alienated. Or, perhaps you invite a close friend instead? That way, they aren’t family but you still have someone.

    What I don’t understand is, how are you considered part of the family if they don’t bother to include you in conversation? Even to the point where they have to be constantly reminded to speak English in your own home! How are you supposed to connect with them if not even one person in the large group wants to communicate with you? I would have been very upset at my husband for telling me that bringing along a family member would be intruding on “family time”. How is it “family time” if I have to be on vacation by myself since no one in the family allows me to be apart of the conversation?

    I used to have this happen at work where I was a minority (I am white) but the majority is Hispanic/ other Caribbean. When I would sit with my Spanish friends, they would always end up speaking Spanish, then complain that I was always reading a book/playing on my phone instead of socializing with them. I like to see my being around other people similar to the Sims filling up their social bar, so for me just being around other people and not engaging with them fills it up (my favorite socialization activity when I was younger was to go to Barnes and Nobles/Borders, gets some books and coffee, and just sit for a few hours). I really didn’t mind them speaking Spanish around me at all, it just annoyed me that they would complain about me being on my phone.

  • kgg February 22, 2018, 8:40 am

    To the OP, why do you have to remind your husband to translate? Why can’t you just ask them to explain what they’re saying in English? If you’ve spent the entirety of your marriage depending on your husband to translate, then it’s very possible that they’ve just gotten used to that. If you interject and ask for them to explain something to you in English, maybe they’ll talk in English more often?

    That said, if you feel like they have been purposely excluding you, that is another story, and a conversation to have with your husband. The beauty about a cruise is that, if both families come, they don’t have to spend every moment together.

  • DaDancingPsych February 22, 2018, 8:44 am

    I can understand why the OP would be upset. It is frustrating to be in a large group and not feel included or even not know what is going on. His family should be making efforts to include you, but I also understand how that can be overlooked. (I rarely see my family, so when we get together it gets loud and exciting. It takes conscious thought to think about outsiders.)

    However, it sounds like this trip may be important to husband and family unity. This is one of those things where I would “suck it up” this one time. It may not turn out to be my all-time favorite trip, but I would do my best to enjoy what I can of it. The OP mentions that the family will not be spending every single minute together, so it sounds like just dinners may be the issue. I would do my best to make it through the situation.

    Also, I have found that when a large group is carrying on and I am not feeling included that it is best to engage a smaller audience. I might turn to the person next to me and start a smaller conversation. (I would do this in either English or since the OP is attempting to learn the language, I might do my best to use this opportunity to practice.) I think I have the capability and responsibility to create my own joy in a situation. If I approach the situation determined to have a poor time, I likely will. However, if I make an effort to have a good time, I usually do.

  • AS February 22, 2018, 8:44 am

    Ah, families who wouldn’t accommodate a person who can’t speak the language. I can give them a pass if they don’t know any common language, but it’s not fair if they know, but just won’t speak. I recently went to my first cousin’s wedding, with my American husband who tries hard, but doesn’t understand my native tongue yet. My aunt and uncle (MOG and FOG) and cousins spoke to him in English. But there were always people (mostly the older crowd) who’d give this judgemental attitude that he hasn’t learned the language yet! One of my aunts who was estranged (for good reasons) pointedly came and spoke to me or anyone in my language while hubby was right next to me. It was annoying, and my dad was getting irritated with the aunt, as well as the judgemental people, that he’d often head over to “rescue” hubby.
    On the other hand, a dear aunt of mine,
    (who passed away a few years ago) was not very conversant in English. She knew, but lacked practice. But she’d actually rack her brains to have a conversation with my husband when we met her, in a combination of English and sign-language! (Sign language was necessary because this lady was a fidgety person who spoke very fast 😉 ). And he reciprocated too.

    With big family groups, I can see the conversation sub-consciously move to the native tongue though. Why is your husband (or his family) against your family joining too? You are going on a cruise, not a cabin on the hills. The cruise will have a lot of people, and it is not as if other families will not be there. Your family could just be another family vacationing on the cruise. It is not as if his family needs you as a captive audience at all times! Your husband should try telling them that you tend to feel left out when huge family groups start speaking in the native tongue, and hence having some of your relatives should make you feel less left-out. Or make them all promise to speak in English around you.

    And finally, maybe you should invite his parents to some vacations together. They may not be good with planning like your parents, but that doesn’t mean that you should exclude them if they want to go with you, while your parents and you go together often. You’ll be planning for yourselves, so why not tell them the plans, and the costs, and see if they are fine with. Also, are they really bad at planning? Or do they not plan to your satisfaction?

  • BellyJean February 22, 2018, 8:59 am

    Can you bring a close friend on the trip, and then wander off with that friend during “personal time”? There needs to be some give and take – it can’t just be “you must sit there, all alone and isolated”. Then, why bother going. You can enjoy yourself more on your own at home.
    It can be incredibly lonely, frustrating and depressing not being able to join in the conversation 24/7, especially when the entire group is not even trying to be inclusive.
    (also – aces that you’re learning the language)

  • cleosia February 22, 2018, 9:05 am

    This idea is a little late for this trip but for future meetings with his family, why don’t you spring a surprise on them and learn their language (without telling anyone, not even your husband) that you’re doing it. At least at a conversational level. After you have some skill in the language, you can also involve your in-laws with helping you polish your skills. They’ll probably be thrilled that you mad the effort.

    Too bad this didn’t occur to you after you got married. Not saying you did anything wrong it’s just that I came from a situation of hostile in-laws and having them able to talk around me like that would have been bad. There was already too much whispering in the kitchen with my husband when we were first married so I have a defensive view of in-law relationships.

    For now, if it were me, I’d be inclined to keep asking them to repeat it in English. It will probably become frustrating to them to have to say it twice and they may start automatically speaking in English, at least after a little, polite nudge from you. I’d always been taught that it was rude to speak in another language when some of the people in the conversation can’t speak it, at your home or otherwise.

    • HelenB February 22, 2018, 6:06 pm

      The OP does say ” I’m learning the language but it is extremely difficult and I only catch words here and there and can’t follow the conversation.”

      Not everyone can learn other languages easily, especially as adults.

  • Annonn February 22, 2018, 9:20 am

    The situation seems to really stink, but my advice, suck it up, take the trip and be done. If you do this once, then maybe you won’t have to in the future. If they constantly talk in their native tongue together, you can’t change that. Like you said, if you are on a cruise, you only really have to spend dinner with them, and you can enjoy the rest of the time. I see where your husbands family would be upset if you invited yours, so keep it separate (trust me from experience). It is unfortunate they don’t see the rudeness of their actions in speaking where you can’t understand, and I see how it can be boring and frustrating…….BUT, if it is a week, and only hopefully at dinner time, go on the trip, enjoy yourself as much as you can, and maybe interrupt them occasionally to ask a question and make them answer in English.
    Best of luck, and try to enjoy the trip!!! AND if they should want to travel again in the future, you put your foot down that IF you and your husband choose to do so, they will include you in the conversation by speaking English when you are around!

  • Wild Irish Rose February 22, 2018, 9:21 am

    Why don’t you ask one of his family members to teach you a little bit of their language? Just a few phrases to start with, and if this family member is willing, perhaps he or she could coach you along during conversations so you can follow them.

    By doing this, you will indicate a bigger interest in his family and in being connected with them. You will probably also cultivate a close relationship with whatever family member(s) help(s) you. And if you have children, you will teach them the importance of knowing something about both cultures and both sides of the family.

    Enjoy your trip!

  • Bada February 22, 2018, 9:27 am

    At least on a cruise there’s a lot of potential for getting to know strangers and interacting with them. You wouldn’t necessarily have to spend as much time with your husband’s family as you would on a traditional vacation. (So maybe it’s the best of a bad situation?)

  • bap February 22, 2018, 9:28 am

    My immediate first thought relates to something the admin stated a few days ago; take control of the situation in an overly-enthusiastic way. Let them know how excited you are to spend time with them and to finally be able to learn more of the language. Show obvious and intentional interest in everything they say (in public, of course). Ask LOTS of questions for the translation and help in speaking. If they even ask/answer a question in their language with you around, get big-eyed and ask for the translation, then try to repeat the question/answer in their language. If they are in a conversation, lean forward and study the speaker making it obvious you are trying really hard to understand. When they pause for breath, offer your translation (right or wrong, it doesn’t matter) and ask for explanation/correction. While I’m not positive all of this will be e-hell approved, I feel you will either gain points with them for trying to learn, or they’ll get tired of it and change to English when you’re around. And who knows, you might actually pick up a little bit more. Or they might decided it’s too trying to travel with you. Win-Win

  • Dawn February 22, 2018, 9:36 am

    Invite your family. It’s a cruise ship and your husband isn’t the boss of who gets to come. If his family complains, YOU tell them why. Your family was invited so someone would talk to you. His family leaving you out of conversations (in your own HOME?!?!) is beyond rude.

    And his being too shy to not tell his family, his OWN family, that they’re being rude? Please. There’s a gracious way to say, “Hey, everyone, let’s speak English, okay? When we speak ________, we exclude my wife. I don’t want her to feel left out.”

    And OP, it would be nice for your husband if you learned his native language. And good for you, too.

    -Dawn

    • Dyan February 22, 2018, 2:36 pm

      Dawn you hit the nail on the head…100% right…I posted the same thing

  • Wheeling February 22, 2018, 9:40 am

    I’m trying to figure out why the family doesn’t take turns talking to you one on one in English.

    I think you need to insist to your husband that you are not interested in being ignored on a cruise. Since his family seems to be incapable of including you, you will either be inviting someone to talk to, or he is welcome to offer his own suggestion.

  • C.K. February 22, 2018, 9:51 am

    Perhaps if you brought along one close friend or family member-sister, cousin, your mom or best friend-it would go over better. You would have someone to converse with without overtaking his family dynamics.

  • Michelle February 22, 2018, 10:03 am

    I have to agree that this is quite frustrating. How do you think the family would respond if you politely interrupted and say something along the lines of “Excuse me, could you please speak English so that I may follow along with the conversation”? I would try that a few times and if they continued to speak in their native tongue, I would just excuse myself and go find something interesting to do elsewhere on the boat. If asked why you left the table/room, I would say either a) I couldn’t follow the conversation since I don’t fully understand the language or b) I needed to work on my tan/I needed a massage (insert whatever fun activity you participated in). Option a is the absolute truth and option b is to point out that you are being left out and you chose to do something you can enjoy.

    I really think your husband should “put his foot down” so to speak, but if doesn’t, then I say you should have fun on your vacation doing things enjoy. Join them for breakfast *or* lunch *or* dinner but until/unless they started including me in the conversation, I would not sit at a table being ignored on my vacation.

    • THE OP February 23, 2018, 3:00 am

      The exact scenario you described has happened. They were speaking in their native language for an extended amount of time in my own home. It was very animated with many talking at once and it honestly would have been impossible to translate anyway. I finally went upstairs and played with the kids (who are American and will talk to me). Then they got all upset wondering where I disappeared to. My husband put his foot down and said when we are in our own home we must speak in English. He can’t do that in anyone else’S home but he did that one time in ours. I am learning the language but I will never be fluent.

      • Michelle February 23, 2018, 8:53 am

        Since you tried and they still refuse to include you, I would plan to do all the other activities on the boat and/or invite some family or close friends. If your husband (or anyone else) moans about “family time”, tell them until you are treated like family, you will not spend your vacation time being excluded.

        I don’t understand why your husband can’t/didn’t speak up on the cruise!! It’s not anyone’s home, it is supposed to be “family vacation time” but you were excluded. I am assuming from the submission date that the cruise has already come & gone, so if any more of this “family time” is planned with his family in the future, I would go with either the option someone mentioned upthread about letting him go have “family time” with his family, while you go visit your family. I couldn’t imagine dragging my husband along on a family vacation, only for him to sit there miserable and upset because he couldn’t join the conversation. Your husband may be the youngest and shy, but he needs to man up, so to speak, and demand that you be included in conversations.

        I apologize if that sounds harsh, I am sitting here imagining how frustrating and lonely it must be to go on a family vacation and not actually be treated like family.

  • Katana February 22, 2018, 10:14 am

    They clearly exclude you with their language barriers and don’t want their family time encroached upon? That’s a bit rich! I think your husband needs to stop catering to them so much and consider your feelings.

  • Kay_L February 22, 2018, 10:48 am

    I would refuse to go. Maybe say that we can do a trip like that at some future date when we can take more than two vacations in a year.

    Because it’s obvious that what he means here by “family” is putting them first and you last. Not ok.

    Nearly 20 years ago, I refused to go to my husband’s family’s reunion. They had it at a place that was very hard to get to and that would have cost us more money than we had to get there and back. We live 1800 miles east of them and they didn’t consider our ability to get there at all.

    So we didn’t go. I made the decision and my husband agreed.

    His family wasn’t too happy about it. But, I have never regretted not going.

    And I couldn’t get any reliable information on the accommodations.

  • ladyv21454 February 22, 2018, 10:49 am

    Since your husband appears to be unwilling to put his foot down with his parents, I’d suggest one of two things:
    1. Let him take the cruise with his family, and you do something with yours.
    2. Whenever the family starts talking in their language, get up and leave. If they ask you why, be honest and tell them that you feel very shut out when they only speak in their own language.

    I don’t necessarily thing it’s automatically rude if people speak in their native language in front of others – especially if it’s a private conversation. But if you’re part of a group, and there’s ONE person in the group that doesn’t understand the language, that IS rude.

    (Side note: it sounds like Husband comes from a culture that puts a lot of emphasis on respecting one’s elders – which may make it difficult for him to stand up to them.)

    • keloe February 22, 2018, 2:39 pm

      As a non-English speaker in a family that became multilingual (various members moved to other countries and took up with locals) I can tell you – it’s hard. As a group, they will tend to lapse into their own language, whatever it is, because it is natural to them. My parents and my cousins speak good English and we do make an effort in English speakers are present, but it just feels unnatural. We did not grow up speaking English to each other and it feels wrong. Fake. Plus, not everyone is exactly on the same level, so they will again switch to native if they have trouble expressing something. Even if English dominates, if a side conversation starts, people will default to our native language. That’s how human brain works.
      It is much easier to engage one or two people in a smaller conversation, than expect a large group to consistently stick to what is to them a second language.

    • THE OP February 23, 2018, 3:02 am

      Yes about elders. You cannot even look your elders in the eyes. He has stood up to them once about speaking English in our own home and that took a lot for him to do.

  • shoegal February 22, 2018, 10:57 am

    I would think your husband would have a better understanding of where you are coming from. You might as well go on a vacation by yourself with no one to communicate with for an entire week. I’m sure his family isn’t intentionally trying to exclude you since it would be easy to slip back into their native language when they are all together but it is still rude nonetheless. Isn’t he at all willing to discuss this with his family to make sure they make a concerted effort to speak English in your presence? You also say that the trip would involve spending perhaps only evening meals together. If you should only have to spend a small portion of the day together and in that situation maybe it won’t be too bad. I’m sure you can understand that your husband regularly travels with your family and it would be nice if you could suck it up this one time for his.

  • Ivy February 22, 2018, 11:26 am

    The design of the cruise is as you yourself said that you “can be together as much or as little as we like”. So why does it bother you so much that they will be talking in the other language among themselves? You can always go do your own thing, or even ask your husband to join you for some alone time.

    Think about it – if they weren’t coming along you would be in the same situation – by yourself or with your husband, no?

    The only unavoidable time I guess is at dinner, since my understanding is on cruises you have to sit at the same table. But if you sit next to your husband, or intentionally start an English conversation with a friendly family member, again problem mostly solved.

    I would suggest bite the bullet in the name of keeping the family happy, after all this is the only trip you have taken with them so far. Not a big sacrifice.

    In the interest of disclosure I am also an immigrant and while speaking perfect English, among friends it’s normal for us to chat in our native language, and yes, we do occasionally exclude a spouse that way. But while you are absolutely right to complain about exclusions during the regular visits, this cruise seems worth the sacrifice.

    • Tanya February 22, 2018, 6:54 pm

      This is where I land too. I doubt his family are deliberately excluding you OP: but I do bet it’s a relief to be able to chat in your native language no matter how long you’ve known English and how much you use it day-to-day. Start a conversation in English with someone sitting near you. And long term, learn the language. But I’d also suck it up for this cruise. Let them – and your husband – have the family trip they’re looking forward to.

    • Reaver February 23, 2018, 4:37 pm

      Because they will be sharing meals together, she doesn’t want to be stuck at the dinner table, them all chatting eagerly, and leaving her out, which has happened in her OWN HOME.

  • mark February 22, 2018, 11:32 am

    Man this is tough. I don’t think you should event your family, but I would ask why it is just your husband asking his family to speak english to you? Why don’t you ask them, I would probably make a pain of myself.

    Also corner some of his family members and talk to them one-on-one. Interact with them, ask them about their outfit, job, home etc. Don’t let yourself get cut out. Since you are on a cruise, pick one of them and go get lunch together on the boat. Etc,

    (I guess by the date this event may have already happened.)

  • Harry's Mom February 22, 2018, 11:49 am

    How miserable I would be!! As it is now I only have to put up with it a few hours at a time.

    Good grief! Please try and relax. As you stated earlier, you will STILL only be around them for a few hours at a time. Not to mention that these people are from your HUSBAND’S side of the family, which makes them your family as well. For your husband’s sake, grow up and try to enjoy yourself, you might just find that you actually like these people.

    • THE OP February 23, 2018, 3:06 am

      Ummm, hi. So you’ve made quite a few assumptions. Let me clear them up for you. I love my husband’s family as if they are my own flesh and blood. I would take a bullet for any of them, no joke. They have loved me and accepted me and are the sweetest people. My frustration over being excluded doesn’t equal me not liking his family.

    • Michelle February 23, 2018, 9:00 am

      OP never said she didn’t like them, only it’s hard to follow a conversation in their native language. She also stated the she has tried to learn their native language and it’s not going very well.

  • staceyizme February 22, 2018, 11:52 am

    I don’t get it, OP: you loved him enough to marry him, you’ve been married for 20 years and you also love to travel, so you apparently have more than a passing familiarity with other cultures. Why haven’t you learned to speak his language? It’s fine if you don’t want to, at least in the sense that it’s your personal choice. But get off the high horse here- they don’t owe you the accommodation that you think they do in that they aren’t obligated to speak your native language whenever you grace them with your presence. You shouldn’t be trying so hard to control outcomes. Learn their language or learn to live with the fact that you will sometimes be in company where you cannot understand what is being said. (But recognize that you are the one who has declined the option of learning another language and that you are in a position to remedy that at least to some extent, probably even to the point of having a passable command prior to any trips this year if you put your energies into learning rather than into trying to force your husband’s family to endlessly accommodate you).

    • staceyizme February 22, 2018, 11:54 am

      sorry, looks like 20 years refers to the length of time they’ve been in the US, not the length of the marriage- but if you’ve been married for a few years, it’s the same basic scenario…

      • Aliciaspinnet February 23, 2018, 3:11 am

        This is very familiar to me! I know in the case of my husband and his family, it’s not done with malicious intent, it’s often done subconsciously. In fact I’ve had my husband turn to me after a long conversation with his family and ask me what I think, only for me to have to point out that he wasn’t actually speaking English. I do try and put up with it, as I understand why it happens, but it does make me feel like an outsider. So I do sympathise.

        I think the best thing to do is have a talk with your husband and explain how you feel. There’s going to have to be some compromise here, and there’s probably going to be times when you just have to suck it up and put up with it. And by all means keep working on learning the language, although getting to a level where you can comfortably converse with a fluent speaker (especially one who isn’t thinking and is speaking quickly) isn’t easy. But you need your husband to meet you somewhere in the middle too, whether that’s putting more effort into translating, compromising on you bringing one friend or family member, or talking to family members at the start of the cruise and asking them to make an effort to include you (perhaps if there are some younger family members he might be able to appeal to them directly, as I’m guessing he might be from a culture which places high value on respect for seniority which might prevent him from talking to older members about this).

        • Aliciaspinnet February 23, 2018, 3:12 am

          Oops, I don’t know why that’s replying to staceyizme, it was meant as a general comment.

    • HelenB February 22, 2018, 6:11 pm

      She said ” I’m learning the language but it is extremely difficult and I only catch words here and there and can’t follow the conversation.” So she was trying. Maybe she didn’t have time enough to spend taking more classes/more intense classes. Maybe it’s just really hard for her to learn new languages. But she’s not declining the option of learning another language.

    • THE OP February 23, 2018, 3:14 am

      His language is not a common one. It is tribal and very few even know how to write it (only 2 in his family can write). There are no classes, no online courses, no apps to learn it. This isn’t like picking up Spanish. I’ve learned quite a bit but will never be fluent. They immigrated to my country and learned my language, not the other way around. I cannot control them and am not trying to. They can speak all day long in their language. I simply ask that they speak English when I am hosting in my home. Nothing high horse about that. The thing I can control is how much time I choose to spend with a family, whom I love, that choose to exclude me for hours on end. Spending a week of vacation feeling isolated and excluded is not something I want to do. And I doubt you would either. For the record, we have been married for 2 years, not 20.

    • bellini February 23, 2018, 8:21 pm

      You haven’t read the entry or the followup comments by the OP very closely, have you?
      Pretty much none of what you have included in your comment was mentioned by the OP.

  • Livvy17 February 22, 2018, 12:14 pm

    Op, I think your hubby is right, it would be rude to invite other family (especially as they travel with you frequently, and his family doesn’t), or have him continually carp about speaking English. Therefore, I would suggest a few other things: One, that when the group chat starts, you try to “peel off” one or two family members into a separate-but-related conversation if possible, so you won’t be sitting there by yourself feeling isolated. (I know what you mean, I travel to Japan for business and have found myself in a similar fix many times). I don’t think you can get the whole group to speak English, but you can get a few people to keep you company. Two, you might discuss with your husband the possibility of bringing a friend (or one sister, etc.) as a designated companion. Then, when group chat happens, you can either excuse yourself graciously, to let the family “catch up”, and have someone to share some time with, without keeping your husband from his family. Five, you could cram like crazy to try and get to some basic conversational level, and look at this as an opportunity to learn / practice. (Maybe try going a few months at home only speaking hubby’s language?)

    I can see both sides of this – they want to catch up with their son, and since they’ve heard such great stories from him about vacations with your family that they got a bit jealous. Any majority naturally falls back into the language that most of them use, they’re not trying purposefully to be rude, it’s just hard to remember, and it’s wonderfully relaxing to speak a million-miles-an-hour with your family in your native tongue. So, I think the idea would be to try to make sure you can have a good time, even if this happens. Hopefully they won’t be put out if you slip away during these times (unless they’re all speaking English). Enlist hubby to explain that you don’t want to intrude on family time, or make them feel that they have to speak English all the time. I can’t see where they wouldn’t think of that as thoughtful and considerate.

    • Livvy17 February 22, 2018, 12:15 pm

      Five= Finally! I didn’t skip 3 or 4! lol.

  • Dyan February 22, 2018, 12:37 pm

    I think invite who you want…if your family shows up GOOD…if his family does not like it oh well..it is a holiday..enjoy

    • Michelle February 23, 2018, 9:03 am

      Agreed. They say the want a “family vacation” with OP + husband but they can’t even bother to include OP in the conversation!

  • Maribel February 22, 2018, 12:38 pm

    I think this is one that you may have to politely take up for yourself with the senior family members separately. Point out to them that you’re trying to learn the language but you’re not quite up to par and ask that they speak English during the family meal time. They don’t mean to be rude, they probably don’t even think about it, they just do it. So it may mean more that one request.

  • Devin February 22, 2018, 12:41 pm

    Have you communicated your frustrations with your husband? Does he know how ‘outside’ you feel when he doesn’t translate or ask his family to speak in the language you all speak? Have you expressed your interest in learning their language to the family? Why would having all families together on a cruise ship cause tensions? I get that your husband wants one vacation with his family since you travel with yours every year, but why is not merrier? I feel like there is a lot missing from this post, but really you just need to communicate with your husband. If he made a point to stop and translate for you every time, I have a feeling the family would make more of an effort to speak English in front of you. If he doesn’t care if you feel included, we’ll thats a whole other issue. If you told the family in small groups you’d love to learn their language and would they mind giving you small lessons when you have one on one time, they might make an effort to include you in group conversations. The barrier is communicating, so you need to really make the effort on your side to communicate as well.
    Also, you started the post with ‘it’s a fantastic idea and will be so fun’ and end with ‘it will be so miserable’. I think your allowing yourself to focus on only the negative when What you’re planning will be mostly a really fun event that could help you bond with your husbands family.

  • Lois February 22, 2018, 12:49 pm

    The letter writer needs to speak up for herself. The family speaks English. If they move to native language in her presence, she needs to politely say “gee, I’m sorry I didn’t understand that, could you repeat in English for me?” repeat as many times as necessary. Then start a conversation in English on a topic of your chosing. Repeat as often as necessary.

    Also, ask them to teach you some of their language and practice with them. That will make them more likely to assist you. Repeat as necessary. Lots of opportunities for words on a cruise.

  • Lisa February 22, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Why can’t you jokingly tell them that you would love to be part of the discussion but that you’re having a hard time learning the language? And ask them also for help learning said language? I bet they would be delighted to do so. You’ve been a part of their family for a long time. There’s no reason you can’t speak up for yourself. But I would do it in a nice way, not a frustrated or unkind way. It’s very likely your husband has never really conveyed how this affects you, given how shy he apparently is.

  • Adelaide February 22, 2018, 12:56 pm

    I think your husband and his family forfeit the right to demand your time and attention in such a time/money consuming way when they insist on speaking in a language you can’t understand at every gathering. You or your husband need to tell them that you would be happy to take this cruise, but you aren’t willing to take it without your family when you know it’s going to be so isolating.

    • keloe February 22, 2018, 2:43 pm

      It’s their native language. It’s their natural way of communication. Believe me, it’s hard to speak to family members in a language other than you grew up speaking to them. However proficient you are, your brain rebels.
      Unless there are other reasons to believe they are doing this as a deliberate slight, treating this as an insult will not do much good.

      I’m starting to see there are many monolingual people here.

      • Adelaide February 23, 2018, 2:07 pm

        I never said that OP should treat it as an insult, or that anyone is doing it on purpose. I said that the OP shouldn’t have to sacrifice that much time and money on a cruise when she knows that the outcome is that she’s going to feel excluded. The fact that it’s their native language, natural way of communication, etc. doesn’t change the fact that OP doesn’t speak that language and it would be quite a time/money sacrifice to do the cruise with just her husband’s family.

        I also think it’s quite presumptuous and narrow-minded to assume that everyone who thinks along those same lines is monolingual. I personally speak English, Russian, and I’m working on Polish. But that doesn’t mean I want to take a week-long cruise where the only people I know speak only Polish.

      • EchoGirl February 24, 2018, 1:37 am

        Seconding that. Though I’m not sure it’s 100% about monolingualism. I’ve noticed that a lot of people have a tendency to assume other people are doing things *at* them (and not just family…I’ve heard people say this about distant acquaintances and even strangers). That’s not to say the family members’ behavior isn’t rude and hurtful, it clearly is! But that doesn’t mean they all got together and decided to exclude OP by not speaking English, or that they’re refusing to do so to spite her. OP has indicated the relationship is otherwise good. This reads as carelessness, not malice.

        • Adelaide February 24, 2018, 4:13 pm

          I never said it was about malice. I said that the outcome is the OP would feel isolated by virtue of being unable to understand everyone.

          • EchoGirl February 25, 2018, 1:57 pm

            Maybe I misunderstood. The way you said they “insist” on speaking their language implied, to me at least, some level of deliberate intent.

  • AMC February 22, 2018, 1:03 pm

    Wait, so his family complains that you never include them in your travels, but they’d supposedly be miffed if you include your family too? That sounds like a double-standard to me. Your husband claims that bringing along additional family will cause tension, but he’s oblivious to that fact that there already *is* tension caused by his wife feeling excluded from his family. Why does your husband seem to care more about his family’s comfort than about yours?
    The practical solution here is for you to separate yourself from the group and find things to do on your own during the trip. There’s no shortage of organized activities and entertainment available on most cruises. On my last cruise, my favorite activity was lounging by the pool with a margarita and reading a book.

    • Miss-E February 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

      She takes a trip with her family every year and has never taken one with her in-laws so they are feeling left out. They want a solo trip with them, just like the kind her family has gotten for years, that doesn’t seem like such a crazy demand.

      • Michelle February 23, 2018, 9:05 am

        No, it doesn’t seem like a crazy demand, but it’s crazy they want this trip/vacation but don’t bother to include her in their conversations.

  • Lerah99 February 22, 2018, 1:26 pm

    You travel twice a year and it sounds like you’ve done this for several years.
    You often take your family but you’ve never taken your husband’s family.

    I think you’re going to need to suck it up if you don’t want to make your in-laws feel even more slighted.

    It is rude that they don’t speak English around you.
    The best suggestion I have for that is to be outgoing and initiate conversations with them.

    When you say to your Father In Law “Hey, how is that hobby you love going?” he’s going to respond in English.

    When you ask your Sister In Law “How’s little Suzie enjoying 2nd grade?” she’s going to respond in English.

    As you actively participate in the conversation, they will speak in English.
    The more you fall back and stop talking, the more likely they will be to revert to their primary language.

  • Dee February 22, 2018, 1:31 pm

    This is a husband problem, not an in-law problem. The first time the in-laws started talking in their native language in front of you, hubby should have said, “Please use English when wifey is here, so she is not left out.” If that didn’t work, then he should have gone round to say his good-byes as you both head to the door. And repeat every visit. Now that this habit is cemented, it’s not possible to expect they will stop with this behaviour for one cruise.

    Do not go on the cruise. If hubby wants to repair the damage in some way, such as family visits where he stops tolerating the rudeness, then maybe a cruise is in your collective futures. But if the family attends this one, you are superfluous. If it was me, I’d have a much better time on my own, at home.

    And if hubby still wants to go on the cruise without you, well, you have the answer to a question you were, perhaps, afraid to ask. In that case, I’d be consulting with a lawyer, just to see what my options are, since it would be clear my partner chooses his family over me, and I sure wouldn’t want to be blindsided with that fact at a critical time in the future.

  • Ami February 22, 2018, 1:31 pm

    Bring a book and get it out and read it while they talk. It may be that they don’t even mind – it is very hard to talk in a foreign language to your heart-language family members in order to accommodate one family member. You are right, it is the polite thing to do, but it doesn’t mean that they will want to do it. Doing something else (suduko, read, crossword) while they talk will drive home the point, without confrontation, that you can’t understand and maybe someone will try harder to make you feel included.

  • Gena February 22, 2018, 2:10 pm

    I would handle this myself instead of relying on DH, who is likely not to be by your side the entire time of the vacation.

    Everytime someone says something in the other language, ask them politely to repeat themselves in your language. I’d start this now, not wait for vacation.

  • Heather February 22, 2018, 3:34 pm

    To me, this feels like a problem that really isn’t one. Your in-laws want to spend time with you, but when they are all in a group, they tend to revert back to their native language. Big deal. My in-laws spoke another language, one with a different alphabet and difficult to learn. They lived in another country, so when they came to visit, they stayed at least a month at a time. At one point in time, two of them were living with us. I can honestly say that I never once felt left out… even when I didn’t understand; even when there was much chattering in another language by a bigger group; many times in my own home. These people wanted to be with us. They were warm and inviting, helpful, carried their own weight. Most of the time I let it wash over me, or I did something on my own (seems to me there’s a lot of stuff to do on a cruise ship… that you could also do with your husband or on your own). Sometimes, they realized it, and we all laughed. I think my point is that I wasn’t looking for examples of how I had been isolated… so I didn’t find any.

  • Mechtilde February 22, 2018, 3:37 pm

    I know it’s tough when you are first learning a language, I’ve done the whole smile and nod thing whilst not understanding a word of what people were saying often enough myself. It is worth it though, and total immersion really does make a difference.

    I’d say just go with it and things will start to get easier.

  • deddeddie February 22, 2018, 3:45 pm

    I have family members whose first language is other than English.

    Their English is near-perfect to others, but even after many years, it is often an effort to express what they want to say in English. They think in their native tongue, and translate to English, sometimes losing the intended connotation in translation.

    Other posters are blaming DH for not putting his foot down by forcing his family to accommodate his wife at all times. I disagree. When they are talking to each other, it is rude to ask them to translate *everything*.

    I imagine that when they travel with her family, there are times that DH doesn’t understand the background of a childhood story or joke and to ask for a detailed background on everything is just disruptive.

    I agree with other posters who say to engage a person or small group in English, but she should also be prepared to let them have their own family time that doesn’t include her. A cruise is a great place to do this because there’s so much to do separately from the whole big group.

    • Michelle February 23, 2018, 9:09 am

      I don’t think the family should accommodate OP at all times, but when she sitting with them at dinner, they should include her in the conversation since they wanted to have a vacation with her and her husband.

  • MMargaret February 22, 2018, 4:16 pm

    Hey, life is too precious for a vacation you have to suffer through while you’re treated like a piece of furniture. Your request to have your family along is a brilliant compromise. I’d stand up for that one for sure.

  • Yolanda February 22, 2018, 4:40 pm

    OP and husband have traveled with her family for years and is now upset his family has the nerve to want to travel with them. Sounds like alienation of affection. I’m willing to bet they spend all major holidays and such with OP’s family but OP does her best to not spend time with husband’s family. And if hubby dare insists on doing since, OP throws a fit, blocks the effort, sulk, passive-aggressively resists, etc… Hubby probably does not even particularly like all the in-law time but is not the type to rock the boat. OP, on the other hand, us up in arms because now that she may actually have to give a little. What a brat.

    • ladyv21454 February 23, 2018, 9:50 am

      The OP states elsewhere in the thread that she is very close to her husband’s family – so I’d say pretty much all of your assumptions are incorrect.

      • THE OP February 23, 2018, 12:16 pm

        Correct. ALL of your assumptions are incorrect. So much so that I sing bother dignifying you with an explanation.

        • Yolanda February 23, 2018, 3:04 pm

          So close that you won’t spend a vacation with them without bringing your family along? I don’t doubt your in-laws didn’t show up because your family was invited – not exactly the family time your in-laws we’re hoping for.

          • Jennifer February 26, 2018, 1:06 pm

            The in-laws want family time but won’t communicate with the OP. How is that reasonable?

    • crella February 23, 2018, 5:51 pm

      I have no idea where you got all that, Yolanda.

    • bellini February 23, 2018, 8:23 pm

      Wow. So much projection.

  • Elizabeth February 22, 2018, 4:41 pm

    I am in this same situation and just returned from an extended weekend vacation with a large group of my husband’s friends, from another culture. We have been married 10 years so I have gone through all the emotions and strategies discussed here. First of all, insisting that everyone speak English simply for one person’s benefit simply isn’t going to work. It isn’t intentional, it isn’t rude, but it is what is most comfortable for them and it simply happens. It’s part of their bond, as you know. What is rude is if the family members refuse to speak to you in English at all. Also, it’s not feasible for your husband to translate all week long, as that would be a full time job and he wouldn’t have any time to relax and enjoy his family.

    Second, all this advice about how you have to learn the language if you truly love someone is a bit ridiculous. Depends on the language, and the need, and your personal language learning aptitude. I feel bad occasionally that I haven’t learned my husband’s language but it’s an obscure language that has no classes or books or tapes available, so I would have to be taught one-on-one by a native speaker, and being a native speaker does not necessarily make someone a gifted language teacher. I do know some words, and have a perfect opportunity now to expand my vocabulary since my toddler daughter is learning it now. Also, it takes a long long long time to become fluent in another language, so if it’s only a few dinners where you feel excluded, it might not be worth it to you to invest in learning the language, especially if the family members can communicate with you already in English.

    Strategies? I like the somewhat gauche insertion into a conversation, like “Oh, are you talking about your nephew’s soccer game?” when you hear a few words that you understand. Or specifically addressing one person one-on-one, depending on their level of participation in the group discussion. It’s nice to develop some strategies with your husband ahead of time, like asking him to occasionally include you if a family member brings up a relevant topic. You could pretend to be interested in learning the language and get a few tips from a chosen family member, as a way to show your interest and develop a bond, but they might not want to spend their vacation as a serious language tutor. The cruise probably won’t be all family time, so come up with some activities you can do separately or with a few people. Or suggest something that is less language dependent and more activity oriented, like swimming or bingo.

    Take some time to think through exactly what kinds of behavior bother you, and how to deal with it effectively. For example, is it that your husband is ignoring you in these group conversations? Maybe focus less on getting him to translate every word, but find other ways to feel included such as him holding your hand or getting you a drink or occasionally bringing you into the conversation, or updating you afterwards on any really interesting news. Also talk to him about whether he feels comfortable if you excuse yourself after a certain length of time. I find I can be gracious for a while, but then we can go separate ways; my husband used to think I was snubbing him and his friends but now we are all comfortable with it.

    As for whether or not you want to spend your time and money vacationing with your in-laws, that is a separate question! It sounds like this might be the year for it if you’ve already done it several years with your family in the past and if your husband and his family are suggesting it. One way to look at it is that your husband has gone on vacation with your family and presumably been part of activities and conversations that don’t necessarily include him, even if they are in a language he can understand, like reminiscing about summer camp with your cousins.

    • THE OP February 23, 2018, 12:18 pm

      Elizabeth your kind and thoughtful response was a breath of fresh air. Thank you for your words of wisdom. I’m going to print it out and think on it. Thank you for your insight!

  • saucygirl February 22, 2018, 4:52 pm

    the competition of the in laws! we travel all the time as well, and have brought my mom a few times. its great cause she shares a room with our daughter and gives my husband and i time to ourselves. she also generally goes along with whatever we decide. my husbands parents have commented numerous times that they would like to travel with us as well. the problem though is my mil is not at all healthy, and can’t walk more then half a block. she also doesn’t like eating any food that isn’t bland, and only likes to shop. one of these issues is bad enough, but all three equal a vacation that is nothing like how we vacation.

    but they are family too. so we went on one trip with them. we carefully picked one that would work with their obstacles (like how you picked the cruise), and we insisted on her getting a wheel chair (it was a fight, but it was important to the trip so we stuck to our guns, which may be what you have to do by asking them repeatedly what they are talking about and to speak english), and we all had a good time. Not great enough that they or us want to do again often, but not bad enough that we felt that we had wasted our time and money.

    cause thats what you do for family that aren’t actually horrible. you deal with the minor issues. and keep a well charged phone with a book or podcasts on it, and try to talk one on one with people.

    I also live in an area where the vast majority speak multiple languages and constantly have convos in their first language, leaving me out. I will just randomly say stuff, like “that is exactly what I thought”, or “i was going to say that!” or “i heard it differently”, and then they will laugh and update me and speak english for at least 5 minutes before reverting back. but if you do it enough, nicely enough, the periods of english may get longer and longer. good luck!

  • Jessica February 22, 2018, 6:38 pm

    I completely understand where OP is coming from. My grandpa remarried a woman from Mexico, and she speaks English fluently so communication has never been a problem. But there have been several occasions over the years where her very large family has traveled to the US to visit, and then my family is invited to join them at a gathering of some sort. Naturally, they end up conversing in Spanish. They will talk to us in English when they greet us and when conversation is initiated between us, but you can’t just jump in an existing conversation because chances are it’s in Spanish and we have no idea what they’re saying except for a few words here and there. I always feel a little isolated and then I worry her family thinks I don’t want to spend time with them because I’m keeping to myself or mostly chatting with my family. Luckily I’m usually with my parents and other family members so I do have someone to talk to.

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