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|On new acquaintances & their value on birth order
Hi! I just recently got married, and a lot of my spouse's friends actually live out of either our state or the entire country itself.
One time I did get to meet up w/ a good acquaintance of his, visiting briefly from overseas. My husband told me beforehand that they were never really that close since the person is a few years older, but since their families were neighbors for a long time, he tends to stay cordial w/ them.
He also told me he was not sure whether he was the oldest son or what not. They're from a rather traditional Asian culture, and since I'm of Asian extraction myself I just wanted to know so I don't offend him needlessly.
Anyhow, the conversation w/ the acquaintance was going great till my spouse brought up some funny childhood incident (it's really innocent even by Asian standards, suffice it to say), but apparently my spouse's memory hasn't been that great (he has lived here in the US for a long while, after all!), and the acquaintance just coldly told us that the incident actually involved his younger brother, and not him, and he was aloof w/ us afterwards even though we sincerely apologized and tried to steer the chat to another topic.
Well, I just then thought that the guy just doesn't like being confused w/ someone else (especially w/ a younger sibling, perhaps), but I do quietly think that he should have fairly cut us some slack since it was all an honest mistake, my husband has been away from their area for a long while, I myself have never really been there, and we were trying to be gracious hosts.
Anyhow, my question is whether there was anything else we could have done for this situation not to have been so awkward.
Of course, this does remind us that we should be careful with our past details on people next time since some people may just be that sensitively-raised, but apart from preventive measures, I was wondering if there were other things we could have done during & after such unintentionally awkward instances to sort things out diplomatically.
I also rather wonder if his indignant reaction is justified in good manners & common sense or not.
Just wondering, and I look forward to your insightful response! ;-)
Clarification/Follow-up by rhonacristyl on 02/05/03 9:50 am:
Thank you for your sincere help and congratulations on our new marriage, bal317!
As it happens, yes, we did politely apologize for the faux pas and used some light-hearted humor to steer the relationships towards newer & better shared experiences.
Like what you had said, though, there are just some people who take their personal memory-handling & position in the family far more seriously, so sometimes even after trying to be polite & constructive about this, they still tend to act very offended or cold at the moment(i.e. hinting that "Well, you did not find these details important enough for you, so maybe I should not continue to keep you important in my life & mind too from now on.").
The good news is that most people who may have been initially offended tend to just get over it, and we all just have to be careful when dealing with them again.
Also, regarding you recommendation about using my new spouse-status to weed out detailed information that my own spouse is not sure of: I tried that once while meeting a 2nd cousin of sorts of my husband, asking "So, how exactly again are you and my husband related? Are your parents related to my father-in-law or mother-in-law?"
That sort of backfired since the cousin then turned to my husband and asked for some details to possibly confirm his understanding of their relationship, and when my spouse was faltering, the cousin just got irritated and said "What's the matter with you? Did we not grow up together?", something to that effect.
Unfortunately for my husband his family comes from a Asian culture where knowledge of family heritage is highly valued, to the point that they don't even care to understand or acknowledge that my spouse's past medical condition, plus his many years of being very busy here in the US, may have dulled his memory a bit.
Their seeming disregard for the full context of my husband's life is something we feel we should be very offended at in a way, but like what you implied, if we are ever to make the most out of life, we should just look forward to newer & better shared experiences more rather than be exclusively tied down to the past.
If certain people out there are not like you or me in wanting to move forward, then I suppose my husband and I can do better for our sanity & self-esteem to concentrate our efforts more on people who are a lot less anal or narrow-minded in their outlook when it comes to sustaining satisfying and understanding relationships.
Thanks again for the constructive reply, bal317, and I hope to run into you again sometime on Answerway soon! :-)
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