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need help getting over differences - Update post #18: We're separated

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
hopefully this is more concise! Here is the problem, from MY perspective:

1. DP and I have different ideas about how a household should be run. The main difference is that I think we should invite people over & plan visits with them; he thinks they should just stop by whenever it is convenient for them, with little or no notice. I think this is related to our different cultural backgrounds; both of his parents are Mexican and I am American w/ Northern European descent.

2. He doesn't understand why I can't just 'go with the flow' and be welcoming to his family whenever they come over- I don't have a job so I must have nothing to do all day (except take care of an infant around the clock). When she was a newborn, he was also unable to understand why I complained of not having enough time & energy to get the housework done- again, I supposedly don't have much to do. I am rude, he says, when things don't go my way.

3. I have obviously offended the family by requesting that only the grandparents hold the baby for the first several weeks (which they went against as soon as I was in another room) and that they wash their hands. Also for the past few months I have been trying to continue our routine (which sometimes means baby & I go to the bedroom to nurse or nap) even during their visits.

4. DP insists that he has had no input and that he's done everything my way. Yet, all of his family's visits are still unplanned. I want to invite them over for dinner and he refuses. He says that would be hypocritical since I treat them like dirt. He repeatedly puts me in the same situation and wants me to act differently. I hope to make the situation more agreeable for everyone and actually be prepared & in a good mood when they come by.

5. We've tried talking about this multiple times recently and he always becomes sarcastic & upset. Paraphrasing: He says my way of doing things is only appropriate for me because I don't have any family or friends who want to visit me or the baby. He has an outside life and has never planned things ahead and doesn't see a need to. What I see as a potential compromise, he sees as my way. He is clearly resentful, and so am I at times (see a few examples of why below).

6. I am unable to communicate with his mother and though DP may translate my POV, he is openly against me when doing so, so I don't have much chance of not coming off as an asshole. Everyone involved contributes expectations and actions which reinforce this problem and I want to stop the cycle!! I have tried to be easy-going but I never get credit for it and it's usually a huge backfire, putting me in very uncomfortable situations.

Has anyone been here? Is there hope?

the long, ranty version:

Well, here it goes. I fear for my relationship with my partner of almost two years. We have a beautiful daughter, almost eight months old, and just last month we were enjoying her together and appreciating that she's giving us a little more time to ourselves these days. But for the past week he has refused to speak to me other than when necessary or to show any warmth whatsoever. This seemed to be the direct result of an incident that happened on Sunday, which reflects the problem that we have had to deal with repeatedly: fundamental differences in our backgrounds & boundaries. We have had a lot of issues with this, have been able to get over it for a while but then it comes back up as strong as ever and it's clear we have made very little progress. I really hope we can work things out. Background: We are both from Chicago. His parents are both from central Mexico and mine are both from middle America (for several generations, w/ mixed European heritage).

The situation is this. In my family, people call before they come to your house to visit, and even set it up days in advance. In his, they don't, though they might call instead of buzzing if it is, say, after ten. You would think we would be able to mediate this, but it is seriously killing us. There are more differences that go along with it. In my family, a new mother is allowed uninterrupted bonding time with her baby and when family members do hold the baby, they don't kiss its face. In his family, everyone wants to hold the baby (I had someone I hadn't met before ask me to hold her when she was <two days old) and they will only wash their hands unprompted if the baby is still in the hospital. Thankfully we are past the newborn stage, but it was very stressful for me to try to make my feelings & needs known with my "partner" openly opposing me. Obviously we don't have the ideal spousal bond. The above differences between our families our related, I believe, to their respective cultural backgrounds. A third difference I believe is unrelated: In my family, we follow standard food hygiene, the kind you might find on a poster in a restaurant kitchen. In his family, raw meat is left out, food left out in the sun all day is still considered good, & the same leftovers are reheated several times. This was probably the first source of tension. When I was pregnant, that kinda stuff made me gag. I didn't say anything but according to my partner my disdain was obvious.

When I was in labor he left work early, met up with his brother and they showed up with a case of beer. When that brother finally left, he must have spread the word because soon their mother called and asked to come by (with her two middle school aged sons) and he said sure, come by! I hid until they left and then asked him, is this how it's going to be when I have a new baby, I can't have any privacy or predictability? I made it clear that his family is welcome to come over but I would like things to be planned ahead. He made it clear that he has an open door policy and they can come by any time they want. And that is where we are stuck. He won't even allow me to invite his mother & youngest brothers to dinner, which I admittedly want to do to reduce their unannounced visits. He says I have made them feel unwelcome & I treat his whole family like germs or scum.

Of course there have been countless other incidents. A month or so ago his father brought the youngest (middle school aged) boys over and one of them was acutely ill. He was wearing a jacket and shivering, threw up while he was here, and his face was a horrible color. This was just a "we were in the neighborhood" drop-in. I was very proud of myself for keeping my cool and being polite. We didn't really speak about it until a few days later, and my p became completely unreasonable and furious when I tried to say that it would have been best for the sick boy and for our family's health if they had stayed home.
More often, it is his mother that visits (either with the young boys or without), and she has a very lively voice that has woken up the baby countless times. About two months ago she brought over a sister (one of her eleven siblings) and insisted on opening the door to the room where the baby was sleeping, just so they could have a look. Of course the baby was already awake from the noise and they were very pleased to get her out of the bed and bounce her around for about fifteen minutes (this is after 10 pm). Then she came to me and said, I'm so sorry, she was already awake! No shit!
It was almost worse when she was younger because they came by more often. Baby and I would usually be nursing in bed and when he came in the bedroom she would stop and look up. So he would say ok she's done nursing and scoop her up and take her away to put her straight in grandma's arms. She would be rocked and bounced to contentment but then two hours later I invariably got back a wet, hungry, cranky baby!

So last Sunday his mother and the boys rang the buzzer unannounced right around baby's bedtime. We were already in a quiet, low-light & low-energy mode. I took the baby to the bedroom door (not far from the entrance) to greet them and the first thing his mother said, after hello, was that the baby looked sleepy. When they moved on to the living room I closed the bedroom door. I was changing her diaper when my p came in and said to bring her out when I was done. I said I don't think that's a good idea, she gets excited by visitors... he wouldn't hear any of it and rudely insisted that she be brought out. I said okay, this time I will. But baby wanted to nurse and then she fell asleep on the boob, at 8pm, exactly like she is supposed to. And he has been PISSED at me ever since! We talked about it on Thursday and he wouldn't get out of his smartass mode, which makes it impossible to actually communicate. I said, you shouldn't be angry at me because the baby fell asleep and he said, "I told you to bring her out BEFORE she fell asleep." I said, all I did was feed my baby when she was hungry and he counters "oh because you never feed her, she's starving!" So obviously that went nowhere fast.

I don't know what to do. His oldest brother lives with us and he has a very bachelor lifestyle so we've butted heads a bit. Mu summary of that is, he leaves dirty dishes (not even rinsed) out for days but complains that I leave clean diapers on the table where I fold them. I heard them talking about me early in the week and it was really hurtful. They co-own the condo we are living in so when it comes down to it I have no say. I have been spring cleaning my ass off all week long and haven't received even the slightest acknowledgement. Luckily that is rewarding in itself and that's how I've kept my sanity this last week with no companionship and the knowledge that I am being financially supported by someone who resents me.

There are so many more pieces to this puzzle but perhaps you can lend some helpful advice from what I've said. I hope I haven't said anything offensive. I know I am judgmental at times, but there are things I can't help but notice- I'm a little OCD (using the term in its casual/non-medical sense). And I am a first time mom who is just trying to do what's best for her baby. I want a say in what happens in my household, but my partner refuses to set guidelines, preferring to just go with what feels right at any given time. I respect that method for many things in life, but we obviously have a problem. So we could really use help communicating. We were planning to move into an apartment (just us and the baby) in May and I was so excited about that, but now we are totally unsure of what is going to happen.

Add-on: P says he does not plan things, never has, doesn't see a reason to, etc. and that there is obviously no compatibility with my wishes to have things planned ahead of time, if even if I relax that expectation. This has come up before... he is often a reasonable person but when it comes to these tough discussions he refuses to see a "middle ground" as acceptable or even possible. What are we to do?
post #2 of 21
Hugs to you mama!
It sounds like your relationship has going through a rocky period. I know from personal experience it's hard to have a partner/spouse coming from a different background and experiences. My dh is German/French. In his family, his mother did EVERYTHING for the kids and for her husband (she didn't work and had a maid to help her with cleaning), and his father was the undisputed 'head' of the family.
This has been very hard for me to deal with, as I am working full-time (to pay for family visits and to put money aside to buy a house one day soon) but dh expects me to do all the cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, organising, finances, washing (you get the picture). He also expects me to somehow find the energy to seduce him in the evenings. He takes care of the computer side, and works hard (with great results) at his job. He HAS been pretty lenient with regards to the house being messy and chaotic, but he does complain from time to time. I am fortunate to have in-laws that live far enough away to not be intrusive (because my MIL would be my undoing if we lived closer to her - as it is she lives on a different continent).
My situation is not the same as yours, but dh and I do have a lot of differences and difficulty communicating sometimes (we speak together in German which isn't my native tongue...but when I'm really upset I speak in English and he understands). We have come close to separating several times, especially now that we have the added stress of two small children's needs.
Is there a family member on your p's side that you are close enough to to at least confide in? An aunt, cousin, close friend? Perhaps she (because it's usually another woman) can help with some sort of mediation? Are you religious? A priest or other trusted spiritual leader can also be a great person to talk to (alone or together). Another approach might be to spend some time with your MIL. Alone - Just you, MIL, and the baby. If they make visits unannounced, could you do the same at her house? Bring the baby by (because then YOU can choose a time when she's NOT hungry or tired) and allow her grandmother to bond with her. Mention that you hope that when she's eating more solid foods that you would love it if she could watch the baby. Ask her if she would have time to come by at a certain day at a certain hour because you would love her help holding the baby while you clean house or make dinner (and then ask her to stay).
It's important to talk to your p. It's great that you're telling him how you feel. Having a child can be a HUGE adjustment for the first year. I remember my dh and I having huge arguments because my MIL had a lot of negative comments about my parenting values (bfing, co-sleeping, etc.). We still sometimes have arguments about that. Have you ever thought about asking your MIL to watch your baby while you and your husband do something as a couple (if she's gotten into a rhythm and can be left for a couple of hours while she sleeps)? That can do wonders for young parents. If you're hesitant about leaving your baby for a couple of hours, the nice weather has come. Could you and your hubby take a walk around the neighbourhood while MIL is with baby or even just stay at home at have some cuddling time behind closed doors? Having time just the two of you could help reconnect. The first couple of times you shouldn't bring up the family situation, just cuddle, talk about the world, and whatever interested you both before having a child. The important thing is to reconnect as a couple - and to find your similarities and bond.
If this doesn't work, you might want to try the mediation route.
I wish you luck whatever you decide and just know there are others who have also hit snags in their relationships because of differences in values/cultures.
Please keep us updated on the situation!!
post #3 of 21
I'm sorry you're having such a rough time. Just wanted to suggest cross-posting to the Parents as Partners forum ... a lot of mamas here have experience with navigating similar differences even when not of differing cultural backgrounds.
post #4 of 21
you know, ive kinda been there, to some extent, and i just had to let go... made life a lot easier for me and i guess for my husband too...
in my culture it is considered bad luck to buy stuff for the baby ahead of time ... but i did agree to a baby shower and at least we didnt have to buy almost anything for the baby...
my husbands family also like to hold th e baby and pass him around, and as much as i HATED it, i just let them do it. the only time i flipped out was when baby got overstimulated and cried for a long time...
my family is far away, and its all my husband's family here, so im outnumbered ... i appreciate all their help and just dont want to seem ungrateful... so far my letting go off these things didnt cause anything bad happen (except that one time), so i dont regret it.
i did impose some rules - like washing hands, or sticking to our schedule - that seemed to me more reasonable, but then some things - like not letting people hold him, i knew at the beginning won't work out, so i didnt even try...
maybe if you let go off some this stuff (i KNOW it can be very hard), they'll be more understanding of some of your other requests...
post #5 of 21
Well, I am Mexican and I can tell you without a doubt that your problems with your husband are not *all* cultural. When he married you, he chose to have a multicultural family. You and his daughter are his primary family and he has to be responsible to you first, before accomodating extended family.

My DH's family (Lebanese, not Mexican) does the surprise drop-in also, for the most part it's OK with me b/c I'm used to it and I generally like having the break in the day (plus, my in-laws help me with dishes/clean-up or whatever needs doing when they drop-in). But if it's ever not, then I go in my bedroom and close the door, and he explains that I'm sleeping/not feeling well/whatever seems appropriate at the moment. They, in turn, don't stay long when that happens.

I suggest you get yourselves into counseling as soon as you can. If he won't go, then you go on your own.

First babies have a way of bringing these issues to the forefront. Your need for a call-ahead is just as valid as his desire to have his home open for drop-ins. But really, the biggest issue is that you both need to be able to hear each other and be willing to compromise.
post #6 of 21

I'm sorry that you're going through this.
I have no sound advice to offer because if I were in your situation, I would've gone ballistic.
The one thing though that I feel is very important for your P to understand are the health issues, namely, the kissing, washing of hands and sick visitors.
I mean, come on, these things should not be set aside just to give way to cultural norms.
I am coming from a culture that likes to hug, kiss and pinch (yes, pinch as in "the baby's so cute I just want to pinch him/her") the baby. I have had to draw the line on that one.
post #7 of 21
I've had similar cultural strugles with my dh and ils. What really helped me was doing a lot of reading and research on my dh's culture. I was able to understand why his family does the things they do. I had a mil who would drop by unannounced including at 7:30 in the morning when my ds and I were still asleep. She'd use her key to get in, then come to my room and wake us up. My dh didn't want to ask her to stop but finally I found a solution. I unplugged the door bell and had my dh put another lock on the door so she couldn't just let herself in. Dh finally agreed to tell his mom that's she's welcome to stop by anytime after 9 am but not before.

My inlaws also leave meat out for extended time periods. I personally believe they have conditioned their bodies to tolerate it and their good gut bacterial must be unbelievable. I've never seen my dh or my kids get sick from eating food that's been out all day or even over night. I think many people who have been raised as hygein freak American's (myself included) have a distorted few of how food should be handled.

It's hard when you're adjusting to life with a babe and all the sudden cultural differences you had never considered pre-kid are forced to the front of your marriage.
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the support and advice! There has been less tension today, I think he is just sick of giving me the cold shoulder! I decided that his not wanting to invite them for dinner (while encouraging unplanned visits) is not something I need to be subjected to, and I should work toward improving the situation even if he won't. I called his mom myself and invited her to dinner on the day of her choice this week. She said she would call me back as soon as she got home and didn't; I hope I hear from her in the next few days (or at least before the next time she drops by, LoL). I am planning to make fajitas & looking forward to it!
Unfortunately my partner is not committed to his daughter & I in the same way that a married man is. Obviously she is his blood, and I consider the three of us a (small, new) family, but he is still more focused on his previous life. Or more accurately, what he still has of his previous life! He has made tremendous strides, namely lifestyle changes, to be a better father and I appreciate that.
I can't help but feel that every so often, he speaks to someone who infuses him with obstinacy (probably not the best word?). We have good happy times and then out of nowhere he'll say things that are obviously straight out of someone else's mouth! He might insist upon something that wasn't at all important before. And that's always the beginning of a rough patch.
I really appreciate the suggestions & what others have shared. I sort of feel like this is a major hurdle (possibly the biggest we've dealt with yet! - it is linked to everything, from our roots to our future and all that lies between); but I also think it's something we won't ever fully resolve. Unfortunately I get the feeling we will be fighting about this same thing, in one way or another, for probably a minimum of several years!
post #9 of 21
LMAO @ the "shortened" version. Reads like my "short" versions.

One thing about #2- not that this explanation ever got through MY husband's thick skull- but people who have lived in extended-family societies do not GET that one person always has that baby, and if you are ALONE, that means, that person is YOU. And there is no cousin to do the washing, grandmother to cook a stew, and little girl to start peeling potatoes once she gets home from work.

I probably did not express it right to my own husband, but somehow your husband needs it explained that a SAHM is not the same as a stay-at-home flock of womenfolk.

I have to say that it sounds like you guys are both hitting your limits of "this is an absolute non-negotiable" and unfortunately they are crashing against each other. Counseling is probably in order- ideally someone who has dealt with multi-cultural issues.

FWIW, my in-laws stopped by uninvited all the time. It was just the done thing. It was unheard of not to just go when you want. It might be good for you, rather than ask them to stay away, to find a way to get out of the house and rest somewhere else when you need to be refreshed.

Re: washing hands- how old was the baby? Honestly, you mentioned OCD in the non-medical way and I have to say, I think that sounds extreme. Plenty of people have their babies held by many relatives in the first week.

I would call his mom back before a few days. From what you write, it sounds like your family is not super... well... overbearing, I guess is how you would put it, close is how some would put it. We are not Mexican but in my family, to wait a few DAYS before checking on a call-back would basically be equivalent to saying: "I don't really care whether you call back, I was just calling for formality". Not that that would be rude, but if that was not the message you wanted to communicate, it might be best to check in on her again. Remember, these people come over whenever they want- they may seem forceful but they probably also read your lack of force as cold and uninviting. It is great that you invited them over but you need to make it clear that you are not trying to tell them when they can come, but rather, that you want to see them and improve relations with them.

I have to say that I seriously doubt that they are going to stop coming by unannounced, though. The best thing for that would be to make a huge effort when they do come, and then take a four or five hour block each day when you don't answer the phone or the door, OR when you go out of the house to relax elsewhere, and just somehow communicate that that is your baby's main rest time.

My inlaws also leave meat out for extended time periods.
This is actually due to a factual error made by many immigrants. If they live overseas they may be getting FRESH MEAT which in fact can be left out for extended time periods. If they live here, they may be under the false impression that that meat is relatively fresh, NOT that it has already been left out probably for as long as possible during processing and refrigerated for up to as long as possible, and that they have zero leeway in terms of how long they can keep it out.

Rather than try to tell them about germs, we need to explain to them about our food supply! The meat they usually buy is not fresh, and if it is (killed that day at an ethnic butcher's or local butcher's), we can relax.
post #10 of 21

I've had many of the same issues with my dh, and I can't tell you how many times I wanted to write a post just like yours. Except that the only time I used to get on the computer was while I was breastfeeding and it would have been hard to write so much one-handed.

I haven't read all the pp, but it looks like you've gotten some good advice. I just wanted to add that my dh has really changed in the last several months. He has come to see that he, dd and I are his first priority now, that he has this new family that doesn't necessarily replace his old one, but which is now more important. I think it just took him a while to get used to this idea because of how close he is with his family and because of how much emphasis is placed on family obligations in his culture (he is southern Italian; we live in Italy. He has also come to the conclusion that it is just easiest to do what works best for us even if it's different from how his family does things, or interferes with obligations to them. (Here I'm talking about things like feeding, naptimes, bedtimes, etc. So there may still be hope that your dp will come around, understand that you and your lo come first. He may stll be able to cut the apron strings! Well, loosen them a little, but that's better than nothing, right?

Another thing, about the unannounced visits. We are pretty fortunate because we live an hour away from most of dh's family. But there is one in-law who lives in our town, unfortunately she is also the most intrusive and overbearing member of his family. She always comes by unannounced. But she has started coming by less because I make her visits uninteresting. I am not rude to her at all, but I don't really engage her in conversation. So she gets bored. It is also finally sinking in that dd needs to follow her routine or else she gets very fussy and difficult. I really never thought this would
ever happen, judging from how insistent this person was with her visits. So again, give it time. You are very different from your in-laws and they need lots of time to get used to you.

All that said, dh still spends more time and energy on the in-laws than I think he should; he hasn't prioritized us quite as much as I'd like, but I can live with how it is now. It's a compromise. And there are fewer unannounced visits and I should add that sometimes they even annoy dh now!

So, I don't have any real advice but can offer some encouragement and hope that you'll be able to find a compromise that makes you a little happier.

Good luck!
post #11 of 21
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
One thing about #2- not that this explanation ever got through MY husband's thick skull- but people who have lived in extended-family societies do not GET that one person always has that baby, and if you are ALONE, that means, that person is YOU. And there is no cousin to do the washing, grandmother to cook a stew, and little girl to start peeling potatoes once she gets home from work.
I kind of wonder if we shoot ourselves in the foot on this one a little bit though. I'm really big on privacy and personal space and quiet time, so I've definitely been there, but ...... I kind of wonder if sometimes when we're busy being big on privacy and personal space if we're not in a way actively rejecting having that flock of womenfolk. If family are wanting to drop by and be waited on hand and foot, that's one thing ... but if they're wanting to drop by and really be family and have us drop by and really be family and have our work and responsibilities tied up with one another to be social and support one another and make the work easier ... I don't know. I look back at the bubble I put around myself with my in-laws when we were living practically on top of one another, and do regret it. Had I sacrificed some of my space and formalities I'd have had an in on being a part of an intimate community. And when I compare my experience of being an isolated SAHM with theirs of being an intimate community of mutual caregivers ... I know they could have driven me up the wall in some respects, but at the same time I really could have used and still could use some of that.
post #12 of 21
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
I kind of wonder if we shoot ourselves in the foot on this one a little bit though. I'm really big on privacy and personal space and quiet time, so I've definitely been there, but ...... I kind of wonder if sometimes when we're busy being big on privacy and personal space if we're not in a way actively rejecting having that flock of womenfolk. If family are wanting to drop by and be waited on hand and foot, that's one thing ... but if they're wanting to drop by and really be family and have us drop by and really be family and have our work and responsibilities tied up with one another to be social and support one another and make the work easier ... I don't know. I look back at the bubble I put around myself with my in-laws when we were living practically on top of one another, and do regret it. Had I sacrificed some of my space and formalities I'd have had an in on being a part of an intimate community. And when I compare my experience of being an isolated SAHM with theirs of being an intimate community of mutual caregivers ... I know they could have driven me up the wall in some respects, but at the same time I really could have used and still could use some of that.
Oh, absolutely. But at the same time, unless the OP wants to go ahead and have her ILs move in (doesn't sound like it and I'm not going to suggest it), her partner just needs to accept the different reality, you know? There are definite advantages and disadvantages and for example, my family does seem to be more... communal, shall we say? than the OP's family, so I have to say that I see it a bit differently. BUT- to each her own and she and her partner need to work out what it means for HER to be a SAHP in HER cultural context.
post #13 of 21
I've also married a DH from a different culture. To sum it up, I've had to chose my battles carefully, and learned to let a lot of things go.
post #14 of 21
OP. That's a tough situation.

How old is your babe now? It sounds to me like you have a lot of resentment about things that happened during the newborn period. I'm wondering if you feel that it is serving you well to hold on to that? Not to say that you don't have any valid concerns, but I suspect you might get further with your partner by letting go of some past events and focusing on how you would like to compromise moving forward.

It sounds like you would like your partner to acknowledge a) that some of his family's norms are very difficult for you and require a lot of adjustment and b) you put a great deal of effort into adjusting as much as you can, and would like a little bit of compromise extended your way, too.
post #15 of 21
Also, regarding this point:

Originally Posted by lucifugous View Post
6. I am unable to communicate with his mother and though DP may translate
Are you saying that you don't speak her language*? IMHO, if you intend to build a family with this man, it's absolutely worth getting yourself some language lessons. (I.e. Get a book/CD package, and perhaps also ask your DP's mother to help you learn?) Consider that your child(ren) will probably speak the language -- even if you aren't at their level of fluency, it's nice to know what they are saying!

*I don't want to make assumptions here -- I would guess Spanish, but it's also possible that it's another language, hence my vagueness above. If it is Spanish, though, IME, as languages go, it's an incredibly easy language to learn, most Mexican accents are very easy to understand, and there are tons of resources readily available. Check your public library.
post #16 of 21
exactly, I too would suggest DIRECT communication with your MIL even if it means you have to study a little (on top of having a new baby to take care of ...and marital problems to deal with ...) especially as your child/future children are going to learn and speak that language ....

.... I banged my head in the wall for YEARS (... like 9 years ?) thinking that my DH would convey my meaning to his own mother regarding how things go when we spend time together ... was trying for compromises, was not feeling respected at all etc .... it's only recently that I resigned myself to the fact that it won't happen, my dh is open to my culture up to a certain level but obviously not at all on that sort of subject ... I've been explaining the same things for years and he just doesn't get it at all, ... it's just so alien to him what I'm talking about .... (like he can't belive I'm talking for real ...)

& it's only now that I deal directly with the ILS that we are making a little progress ...

as previous posters say, choose your battles , I know it's not easy at all to let go on some points when feeling like you're hitting crisis upon crisis and your maximum tolerance level is continually trampled ....

obstinacy .... that's something I've got to deal with and how infuriating to get a definitive feeling that your partner's reaction in one instance was only marginaly related the the actual situation on that day .... rather like an automatism aquired in the past with other people who had nothing to do with you ...

and good luck in finding your own creative way of dealing with your situation !
post #17 of 21
I could be totally off-base here... but I'm wondering, if you are a person who loves structure and routine, almost to the point of OCD, and you fell in love with a laid-back, take-life-as-it-comes type of guy, I'm wondering if maybe that wasn't part of the attraction for you at the beginning? If so, I understand how babies change things, but I also feel for your partner if you initially appreciated this aspect of him/his culture and now are fighting it.

As I said, I could be way off-base, so I hope I'm not being offensive.

Even though I am American, my personality is more like your partner's so I think I feel for him in this situation. Routines, naptimes, washing hands before holding the baby, etc etc... these are not in fact necessary to raising a healthy and happy child. If they were, half the world would be screwed up right now, LOL! They may be necessary to *your* health and happiness, and your needs are absolutely valid -- but they are not necessarily important for your baby. I think that is an important distinction to make. It's the difference between saying to your partner "I have a need for structure" as opposed to "you/your mother are hurting our baby by waking her up". The latter is going to make your partner a lot more defensive, you know?

I do understand where you are coming from, I really do... in our case, dh and I had several culture-related fights about child-rearing and the one I really put my foot down on was personal space. He comes from a culture where grownups show love by tickling, pinching, caressing, kissing etc -- even a strangers child! -- and our dd hated it. She has very strong personal boundaries, she has since she was a baby. So I fought for him and his relatives to respect her boundaries, which was a concept completely foreign to them. But at the same time, I explained to dd that this was a cultural issue and the reason people wanted to do those things to her was to show love. I want her to understand and respect his culture and much as mine. I don't think that his culture is necessarily wrong... just a poor match for her needs in that one area.

As other pp have said, the only way to resolve this is compromise, which means neither of you are going to get exactly what you want. Since he is so defensive and currently unwilling to compromise, can you figure out why? Is it because he is immature and not wanting to change or put his family first? Or does he maybe feel that you are disrespecting his culture? If its the former, there's really not much you can do... but if it is the latter, maybe you can re-connect with the parts of his culture that you love and that attracted you to him in the first place? Really let him know how much you appreciate those things, to help him understand that you aren't down on all aspects of his culture?

BTW, I think you are terribly brave for cooking Mexican food for his parents!! I have tried cooking Vietnamese food for dh's friends and all I get is advice on how to do it better, it totally destroys my self-confidence . Finally we agreed that whenever we have his friends over we'd just do American barbecue!
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 

We are separated. Emoticons can not express...

Well the you-know-what sorta hit the fan yesterday and I am staying with my mom. Between him and his brother, the condo is an extremely hostile place right now so I had to get out. I still hope there is some way we can end up in our own place soon. But it was really his insistence in pursuing his "other options" (going to look at apartments without me!) that catalyzed this split.
My mom was visiting and offered to give him a ride to see this place (would've been 2 hours on public transit) and he seemed fine with that.. and then when it was almost time to go he said oh his mom is driving him and he's going to see it by himself. My mom said she was concerned that we were looking at places separately and asked what was going on and he told her things are not working out between us. He refused to step outside to talk in private, seemingly wanting my mom (who is a therapist and a calming/ outwardly neutral presence) to be in on the conversation. I was shocked that he seemed to have made up his mind about it... and that apparently his mom was privy to this before I was! Great! My mom asked do we still love each other and he said he didn't know. I said well, that means no. [I guess that might not always be true. Depends who you ask, I'm sure.]
Anyway, I've gone outside of what this thread was supposed to be about but... I wanted to update. It's unfortunate that the best possible progress with this issue is very slow, but I hope U will be able to add good news to this thread at some point!
The responses have really accumulated and with this draining my mental energy and all, I'm not able to make individual replies. But so much of what has been said is spot on! I kinda started out simply looking to make the situation better for myself (hoping of course that it would be better for the people on the other side of it as well!), and I got something I should have been looking for much sooner- more insight into the culture.
I find it very hard to be gracious when I am in the position of outsider. I don't know how I can extend to my in laws the courtesy that is due, without first being more connected with my partner & in a place of our own, which will not happen without me (& him as well) making some sort of leap. So I don't know. I still need to get back to the MIL (she never called back), apologize that I can not host her & the boys for dinner, and perhaps I should offer to bring the baby for a visit at her house (since I now have access to my mom's car).
This is mind boggling, and I've talked about it quite a bit over the past day, so I'm afraid I am no longer composing succinct points! I don't know what to ask for, or how to reach out to my practically nonexistent support structure, or how to "get a life" beyond caring for my daughter. I am very much the product of the isolated urban American culture and the situation is really kinda sad - I basically blew my "in" with people who are more togetherness-oriented because I got hung up on some stupid little things (and some bigger things) and can't express myself without offending people. I've spent my whole life being a little too concerned about peoples opinions that shouldn't matter and then I can't fit in when it comes to people who are important to someone I love? Misdirected concerns about how they would perceive me made me less likeable. I have imagined/expected and thus created my nightmare.
post #19 of 21
Wow that's shocking! I'm going to blunt- he needs to open the communication lines if he wants it to work! Geez...telling mom before telling you that your relationship was dead??? Not cool. I'm so sorry you are going through this with a baby...I hope some time apart (and a place of your own- picked by both) is what you need.
post #20 of 21
lucifygous, I am so sorry. Please do not be too hard on yourself. Can you get a counselor? Every relationship is a two-way street and yes, some of this is what you created, but it is not all your doing.
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