Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Asian American relationships article online at East West

"Show me the love", the article I wrote about Asian American couples, has just been published online at East West.

This story assignment came about after Anita, the editor, mentioned Lac Su's memoir, I Love Yous Are for White People. In Asian families, we don't say those three little words very often. So Anita and I wondered how that translated into romantic relationships.

I'd be curious to hear what you think. Could you relate to these couples? Or, did these experiences seem different from your own?


Jean said...

This is excellently written and should be in a magazine. It is an eye opening subject for many people, and yet, for two Caucasions (my husband and me), I see the same conflicts your Asian American couples have, due to the way *we* were raised. Odd,eh? I have a "bubble of space" around me and so does my husband! Our children, on the other hand, do not, because we both subconciously made a decision to raise them with the physical warmth we had craved and didn't get enough of. Our families were both from the Northeast, and expressed love in a very delicate manner, "Good job" or "I am proud of you" were kisses and hugs in my family, and in Jim's. Our family pets got the physical affection WE wanted but did't know we wanted. We were too young to realize!

Thanks Naomi, you have given me something to think about! I appreciate your always excellent writing!

Naomi said...

Thanks, Jean! It's interesting that you raise your kids with the affection you both wished you had growing up. Is that truly subconscious? I wonder if the Northeast has its own cultural/regional style of expressing affection.

On a side note, your observation about pets is really insightful. Papaya always seeks affection; she likes to be touching you with her chin, forehead, paw, etc., even while she's sleeping. She must not be Asian. Or from the Northeast. ;)

Jean said...

I don't want to bore your readers, but the group Jim and I both come from is sort of WASP-Y, although we are Catholic. My Mother was Episcopalian as was his. And so, although his father is Catholic and mine was as well, the strong Episcopalian effect was solidly etrenched within our homes, even though our dads took us to church every week.
Yes, you are correct. That IS a Northeastern "way of life", along with (in the old days) a lot of heavy drinking, a lot of exercise and TONS of dogs--not cats! It must be cultural. Jim and I only came to this same conclusion consciously about a WEEK ago. We both think, a lot, about many things, but we had to be dragged to the well on this one, to enlighten us ! Thanks again for an affecting, thought provoking article!

jean! xox

ps: Papa! such a cutie!

Bill Zuback said...

I agree with the comments that Jean talks about. My family has always been close but we never really started to say I love you to one another until my dad was sick in the hospital and almost died at the age of 57. Our love was/is shown with witty sarcasm and more subtle accolades. My wife and I express our love for our kids much differently than our parents,although the sarcasm is front and center. I have to say that since my son has become an adult him and I don't say "I Love You" much anymore but he and my wife still do? Naomi, I enjoyed listening to the Milwaukee interviews you conducted while I waited to capture the couples photographs. Once the article was published I completely enjoyed how you formulated the article but was also struck by (in my opinion) how the portraits really reflect accurately the couples upbringing and lifestyles. Great Job Naomi. Would love to work with you on another story.

Naomi said...

I think there are generational differences in how we express love as well as differences in how parents express it to their children vs. to each other. Every family seems to have their own "culture," too (which includes their religious practices).

And sarcasm can definitely be a form of affection. (I think people sometimes show their dislike or distrust of one another when they're overly polite.) Sarcasm is a way of showing acceptance, esp. for people with a shared history.

Bill, it was great working with you, too. The photos really did capture the differences in the couples. I wish I had your talent for photography!

Sarah Yost said...

My parents have both been very affectionate with me. I am also very affectionate. Touching, kissing, hugging my family gives me great pleasure. However, my husband and daughter don't love it. Being physically affectionate is how I want to express my love, but it's not always what they want so it's a lesson to me to meet them where they are and to love them for who they are.

Naomi said...

Another good point: that people within relationships have different ways of expressing affection. It sounds like you make this work (does it ever get complicated, though?).