I Guess We Grew Up Differently?

Family - Saigon/HCMC: Jan. 25, 2016

When you are dating or married to someone from another culture, it is inevitable that your habits will butt heads at some point. But over time you learn to accept these clashes, and though they can sometimes be unfortunate they are often hilarious. As veterans of the Vietnamese-Western relationship, David Perry, creator of “The Vietnamese Wife, Western Husband Club” and I both know this very well! So we put our heads together to come up with a few hilarious examples. Do any of these apply to you?


Example 1: The question of “free stuff”

Let’s say you and your partner go out and try a new high-rated restaurant, and next to that incredible “something” is a whole load of free stuff. For David and his wife Jenny, this is best explained with napkins and condiments, but for my boyfriend Nguyen and I this applies mainly to tissues and lemons. If we go out to eat, the meal is improved tenfold with the presence of free face wipes and lemon quarters, and we invariably return home with our pockets stuffed.


Example 2: The question of meds

Got a headache? Ok, take something that is tried and tested, or… visit your local dusty drug house for something you’ve never heard of. It seems illogical to distrust an internationally recognized pill of choice and opt for a bag of random chemicals instead, but to Nguyen it is always safer to stick with what he knows. Fair enough right?


Example 3: The question of clutter

Cardboard boxes, beautifully designed or not, are for one purpose only: to package things, right? As it turns out they can be very well utilised as household furnishings. In my house this concept applies to yogurt containers and empty egg cartons - if I am not diligent, my table slowly fills up with towers of carefully rinsed plastic containers. When I ask Nguyen he tells me, very mysteriously, that he wants to use them for “something”. But the fact remains that, though the towers of plastic are always rising, they are never used for anything except the collection of dust.

At the end of the day our culture clashes play a big part in binding us with our partners. I think it’s cute when my partner does something totally illogical, and for me, the key is to laugh. But it’s easier for me, as I’m the stranger in a strange country. Back in New York, it can be less funny for David, especially as his partner’s cultural idiosyncrasies affect his entire world. So for therapy, he makes cartoons and laughs it off with others.