or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Multicultural Families › Dealing with Machismo-ism...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Dealing with Machismo-ism...

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
If your partner is from a Machismo culture, please chime in...I've been married to a Belizean for nearly 4 years and we just had our first baby (who's now 4 months old). Although we've lived in the US for several years now we've also lived in Belize before so I very much get the culture...unfortunately, as progressive and anti-machismo I thought my husband was all these years, it seems like having a baby has unearthed some pretty old-school mentalities about women's roles and how a woman is valued, etc. To give some examples, the post-partum period was AWEFUL for me...even though my husband took several weeks off of work he mostly watched TV and didn't help me at all and when I asked if he could make me breakfast the first day postpartum he told me how Belizean women just get over it and re (kind of like the farm woman poppin out the baby and going right back to work...)....since then he's been expecting dinner on the table every night and everything spic and span, etc. and constantly makes comments about how he's earning the money now, how the women back home in his country know how to take care of a man; he also balked to all of his friends about how much tougher and stronger belizean women were then me after I transferred from a home birth and got the epidural when my baby;s head was crowning (i.e. the epidural never took effect);

I have never been in a position of being vulnerable until I had this baby...before I was superwoman...I'm educated, smart, and made good money and for the first time when I actually needed help from my partner, he kicked me when I was down...I think for all the years he's spent with a strong, self-sufficient woman he saw it as an opportunity to deal with his resentment and re-claim him manhood if you could even call it that... did any of you go through this type of dramatic change after you had a baby? We had several pretty good years of marriage before the baby and I'd never seen this attitude from him before...
post #2 of 38
I can imagine that is something that would be so difficult to deal with.

I have no experience with Machismo personally, although I am familiar with the term and the roles associated with it. I recently read a book on Machismo in Nicaragua for an Anthro class I was in.

I have seen this happen in many situations where there was not any cultural differences, however, if he's attributing it to the "Machismo" than you two need to have a serious chat. Especially if he has pretty much pulled a 180 on you and completely changed since having a baby.

I wish I had some great advice for you, but I don't. I hope you can sit down with him and have a good chat though, it's not fair for him to treat you like that.

(((hugs)))
post #3 of 38
Holy moly ... definitely a serious chat is in order. If that doesn't help - counseling. If that doesn't help ... well, I'd be high tailing it out of there. Of course, that would be my last resort. But, honestly, that type of situation wouldn't be bearable for me.

I'm familiar with the culture ... but, just because it's cultural does not make it right. Moreover, what you're describing, as the pp pointed out, also happens without the culture excuse.

Now, since he was raised in the culture, I understand that he may need some time to "re-program", for lack of a better term. I'd be open to all kinds of things with him - long conversations, books, counseling, even visiting the homes of other cultures, etc. I mean, I'd do anything to help him.

However, in order for him to do this, he has to first WANT to do this. He has to want to change. He has to want to listen to you. He has to want to meet you halfway.

Does he want to?

If he doesn't want any of that ... chances are high he's not going to be changing.

Edited to add: have you two tried a role reversal? For instance, having him care for you, the whole house, and the baby for an entire weekend. Maybe that could put it in perspective for him? Would he be willing to try this?
post #4 of 38
Ooof. I have been there, but not to that extent.

What does he know about Belizean women? How old is he? Does he really know what was going on in the kitchen?

Do his family members (the women) have extended families to help him?

All he knows is he got food on the table.

Tell him if he wants an American woman, in her own household, he has to live with that and the side-effects (woman needs to recover).

If he doesn't, fine, go ahead and find someone who will do all the work for him.

I actually left my husband during an especially bad period. But it wasn't only machismo. It was other issues, too, and I worry that that's what's going on here.

I will say that until I left him, we were not able to resolve a lot of problems because I had zero power in his eyes. He thought I *couldn't* leave, that I needed him. Well I did need him but hey, I get over having needs not met, you know?

Now he knows that when I say I can't take something (like constant haranguing) I mean it.

I know that you have voiced all your frustrations and none of the things you love about this man in your post because that was totally me one year ago, when I was pregnant. And I'm sure there is so much worth saving in your marriage.

But he needs a wake-up call. If he wants a Belizean wife, he can go get one. He married you and he needs to appreciate you for who you are and what you CAN do.

Sometimes when DH is all, "You can't do X?" I say, "No, but I can type 75 words a minute," or "No, but I have the skills required to re-train as a lawyer," or "No, but wait until you see how our kids score on vocabulary tests."

To be honest, since our oldest has gotten older, he has eased up because he can see the difference between the child of a woman who spends more time on her baby, and the child of a woman who spends more time cooking and cleaning.
post #5 of 38
It is also worth pointing out (not necessarily to him specifically, but in general) that a lot of the ideas some men coming from cultures where men's and women's roles are strongly separated have about what women do and how they do it "back home" are erroneous, and often highly discount how much women -- lacking homefront imput from their spouses -- rely on one another for help in getting everything done that he is expecting you to do alone.
post #6 of 38
Especially in cultures where women's roles are prescribed, women are surrounded by other women who help out during these times. If you were in Belize, you would have a mother-in-law and sister-in-law to help you with cooking and cleaning. Yes, your husband's life might be unchanged, but only because you'd have a support network of women to pick up the slack that is inevitable after childbirth!

The thing about cultural stereotypes like machismo is that they're just stereotypes. They don't constitute a requirement for husbands to behave poorly when the their wives are vulnerable and in need of support. I'm from Mexico, and though my dad and his friends often joked about being macho, most of them were actually quite supportive, helpful and caring when push came to shove.

I agree with pp's that suggest a serious talk is in order and possibly counseling. It is not acceptable for your DH to behave this way when you are post-partum.
post #7 of 38
DH not from a machismo culture but definitely the months before and after the birth of DC 3 .... were very much like some of what you describe took place (for exemple, food + half done homework + clean clothes + dirty clothes on the kitchen floor when I returned from the hospital .... + there's also the time when he "forgot" the baby in one part of a supermarket & I got balistic about it .... ) ; I couldn't put words on it at the time but exactly like you write I felt vulnerable & kicked when I was down ...

in retrospect I think DH was frightened of the new situation & clearly unable to cope with my "new" needs ... (although baby number 3 was wanted by both of us, which I have to remind him of at times = "wake up and grow up a bit")
so I put it down to general emotional immaturity coupled with past issues from his childhood re-awaken by the situation of his becoming the father of yet another child ....

haven't found a solution really, just have to plod through the difficult patches and work a little bit at a time on what can be changed in the situation (not only on his side, also on my side, a bit like a previous poster who mentionned temporary leaving = that must have created a "new frame for thinking" for both of them ....)

= the facts of ... what happens can be awful or feel awful, there's a lot of these you won't be able to change/reverse, it's happened and that's it (= some grieving about that might be in order ) .... BUT the people who acted through these situation are hopefully on a constant growing curve and can be "helped" adapting to being older and more experienced/ learning new parenting roles ...(talking through with other adults who are either sympathetic or a similar situation, counselling, .... whatever works for your particular situation in fact ....)

It IS hard work because each couple has to "work with" their own individual issues ... (we also had serious MIL issues that needed to be addressed; I tried for years but in fact it looked like - to me anyway- if DH could eventually face his own dilemnas about his Mom, instead of relying on me - and I was going nowhere with her ... then he could "grow up emotionaly" in that area AND it would ALSO show in our way of being parents & partners ....)

My DH is aware of us having problems, by himself he baught the book "how to improve your marriage without talking about it" .... now, it's me having issues about that (= what do you mean ? I tried talking with you for years & now you just follow what someone else wrote ????? what if our problems are NOT described in the book ? .... etc ....) so clearly I'm not quite yet really able to comprehend his way of seeing things/ of reacting instinctively / communicating & still have loads of work to do myself towards a smoother way to be parents and partners in raising our children ....

good luck in your endeavour .... you are not alone ...
post #8 of 38
you would have thought my ex was a part of the machismo movement, so i can sympathize. for instance, when dd was small i asked him to come and get her out of the tub with me, so that i could have a moment to myself. i was then greeted by a grumpy man who came into the bathroom from watching television to say that it was father's day and he should not be disturbed.

at that point, i informed him that father's day is a celebration of parenting, not an opportunity for laziness. oh, the stories go on and on... but my advice is to talk about it anytime it surfaces, seek therapy if that doesn't work and be prepared to exit if everything falls through because it is very prevalent for some men and parenting is a partnership.
post #9 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
It is also worth pointing out (not necessarily to him specifically, but in general) that a lot of the ideas some men coming from cultures where men's and women's roles are strongly separated have about what women do and how they do it "back home" are erroneous, and often highly discount how much women -- lacking homefront imput from their spouses -- rely on one another for help in getting everything done that he is expecting you to do alone.
: As always, great input.

I find that when DH has (unfairly) compared me to women 'back home' in N. Africa that he's not looking at the whole picture. People live in closer knit communities or within walking distance from their friends/relatives and women spend their days doing their own chores and preparing meals, then helping those around them. It's not uncommon to find my mother-in-law out for a few hours in the morning helping her neighbor do the laundry, sweep/mop, prepare lunch, etc. JUST BECAUSE. And when a woman has a baby she doesn't lift a finger for the first month or so (the house is never empty)... So when I point out to him that I'm not inadequate, only HUMAN, DH usually backs off of this area.

Please don't let him allow you to feel vulnerable. By doing so you might just feed his attitude. I'd definitely recommend speaking about the issues so he sees your side of it. When he says, "Well women in my country blah blah..." I'd say "Well men in my culture share the responsibility..." FLIP IT on him! But also I've realized that there are some things I'll never be able to change too. For example, I'll probaby always be soley responsible for cooking, the inside cleaning, laundry etc., but I'll be damned if he can't stop at the grocery store on the way home and get things for dinner, or carry inside the 50 grocery bags from the car that I just purchased, carry the 60 lb laundry basket from the bathroom, load the dishwasher when I'm sick, etc. IMO, it's fine to have separate roles, but they have to be fairly divided and flexible to change as needed (ex.- I mowed the grass for the second time in my life just a few weeks ago when DH was hospitalized).

HTH!
post #10 of 38
My DH is from Algeria where the roles are fairly well defined etc, and I must admit when our dd arrived it was not an easy time - his expectations, my anxiety plus his - it's all pressure, then he mellowed out with ds and even when he had broken his leg the day after ds was born by cs he used the extra time off work to help me out as much as he could - he was and still is my hero - I think with the first baby it's hard for everyone concerned and then we all mellow out with number 2 - I hope it gets easier for you and that you use some of the wonderful hints the other pps have mentioned.
Congratulations on your new baby
post #11 of 38
My dh is also from Algeria and yes, gender/family roles are well defined. With my first ds, I had absolutely no one here to help out and I was expected to get up and continue on with life as normal. With second ds, I had his mother and sister here and they helped out and I did not lift a finger for the majority of at least two weeks. It was nice for my husband to be witness to the fact that his family took care of me with the second child and believe me, I gave him a hard time about it and never failed to mention how his family took care of me and how little he did for me with the first child.

In general the child rearing, bathing, clothing, feeding and putting to bed is my "job" according to him and I know that will never change. It's very difficult to be in a relationship with someone that abides by such strict gender roles and not have some sort of resentment. Just try remembering the reasons why you fell in love with him to begin with.

On another note, I really hope that talking to your dh will help. I hope that you are able to reason with him.
post #12 of 38
my dh is from peru and it was very hard with dd1. he never told me to "get over it", but he was totally overwhelmed and wasn't really any help at all. i remember that dd1 needed me to sleep next to her till she was around 6 months. he would be irate that the house was a mess (although i had never been a cleaner before) and he wouldn't lay down with the baby so that i could get up to get ready for bed.
but what helped a lot was spending time with my family. he saw how my brother treated his wife and how much my dad helped my mom. that definatly helped him out.
he is a very good father now, although he still doesn't see why it would bother me that he would go out to watch a soccer game at night and leave me with the girls.
another thing that helped was me pointing out that he was teaching his girls what to expect from a man- that he was leaving the blueprint for future husbands, what kind of man would he want them to marry??
post #13 of 38
Quote:
It is also worth pointing out (not necessarily to him specifically, but in general) that a lot of the ideas some men coming from cultures where men's and women's roles are strongly separated have about what women do and how they do it "back home" are erroneous, and often highly discount how much women -- lacking homefront imput from their spouses -- rely on one another for help in getting everything done that he is expecting you to do alone.
I agree with this. I think some men from some cultures just have *no* idea.

I could have smacked my husband when he told me Ethiopian women *never* cry and *never* get morning sickness the way I do. He said this having spent very little time, as a male, in the woman's "domain" and the community of women.

He is not usually into the machismo thing, but I can certainly relate to being compared to women of his own culture. That totally stinks. I think I have actually said (in the more tumultuous times in our marriage) "Well, if you *wanted* an Ethiopian woman, why didn't you *marry one*?? You married ME. You picked ME!" And that did seem to have an impact on his thinking.
post #14 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraN View Post
Especially in cultures where women's roles are prescribed, women are surrounded by other women who help out during these times. If you were in Belize, you would have a mother-in-law and sister-in-law to help you with cooking and cleaning. Yes, your husband's life might be unchanged, but only because you'd have a support network of women to pick up the slack that is inevitable after childbirth.

My husband has only occassionally pulled this sort of garbage on me. Imagine his surprise when she commented during her last visit that she was amazed at everything I manage to do by myself, as she had a housekeeper and a gardener to help her. All these years, he had no idea that someone else did much of the cleaning in the house, someone else helped her prep the food to cook, someone else did the laundry - he thought his mom did it all, and couldn't figure out why the two of us working together (both will fulltime jobs, of course) struggled to do what he thought just his mom did.
post #15 of 38
lol. yeah, living in DH's culture has been a bit of a wake up call because when he comes home and says "you know, and Israeli woman doesn't behave this way during wartime..." I would say "oh really? so how DOES she behave?" and he would say "oh we are used to it, so we don't make this big deal, blah blah blah..." and I was like "why don' tyou ask some of the guys at work what THEIR wives and small children did when the war siren went off."

And what do you know...they all took the kids to their mom's...and stayed. All week.

Well, my mom isn't here. Neither is anyone else I know or could "run to" when things get tough like that...so here I am on my own freaking out and he realized that all the other women are doing that too, and they ARE used to it and here I am and I'm not and alone and...

Yeah, it made him think a bit.

Same with having a baby. It was like "well, where I come from..."

And I was like "really?!" because he was getting this information from other men and they were all saying "you shouldn't be having to do that...you have to WORK in the morning...you need your sleep..." or whatever it was and then I was like "why don't you ask some of your family and friends what the wives DO do...." and sure enough, the mothers were moving in for a month at a time...maybe more. In laws were coming over to help, bring food, play with the other kids...so mom could take a nap...the situation was SO DRASTICALLY different than our reality. Like, no family helping (his or mine) so it's just us...so, yeah, we are both working overtime.

Today, I got in a half hour nap in the morning. I'm pg with my 3rd and totally beat with homeschooling the almost 3 and 4.5 year old. So the kids were reading books in my bed and I dozed off. They were totally playing quietly and all fine...but dh calls and I don't answser the phone and when I call him back he's like "you just woke up?!?!?!?!?!?!" and I'm like "no, I've been up since you left for work, but I fell asleep while the kids were playing for a half hour." and I can see that he feels this is unfair and that life is so easy for me...but I know that as soon as the new baby comes, that is 2 years of constantly interrupted sleep (to nurse) that he doesn't have. So in the end...it probably will all even out...but on the surface, he's quick to react to it. (I think lots of men are...this isn't just cultural differences, though.) But, when we are doing this up all night bf thing I remind him, again, that the vast majority of women in his culture bottle feed with formula and so men share in thhat responsibility and because I choose not to do that, he gets an extra 2 years of sleep...so I feel that he should be dealing with other up all night kid issues...and on and on it goes. But, yeah, I think men, in general, don't really have a clear picture of what mothers do and I think that men from other cultures are even more clueless, particularly when they can't go and ask their peers/contemporaries what is going on in their homes at the same time and under the same conditions...
post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen'nZoe View Post
My husband has only occassionally pulled this sort of garbage on me. Imagine his surprise when she commented during her last visit that she was amazed at everything I manage to do by myself, as she had a housekeeper and a gardener to help her. All these years, he had no idea that someone else did much of the cleaning in the house, someone else helped her prep the food to cook, someone else did the laundry - he thought his mom did it all, and couldn't figure out why the two of us working together (both will fulltime jobs, of course) struggled to do what he thought just his mom did.
But God forbid you mention that maybe his mom isn't superwoman, right? I keep asking DH how his dad managed to raise eleven kids on one paycheck. How come we can't afford that. It knocks a little bit of sense into him.
post #17 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
But God forbid you mention that maybe his mom isn't superwoman, right? I keep asking DH how his dad managed to raise eleven kids on one paycheck. How come we can't afford that. It knocks a little bit of sense into him.
lol. i'll remember that.

the funny thing is using MY culture to demonstrate how things ought to be is totally bogus and moot. It's like, my culture (American) is a failure, crap culture so the only one that matters is his...

He's working on this. Very slowly it''s changing. But it takes time to become a permident mindset.
post #18 of 38
Hi all,

Boy - haven't been on the message boards in a year. I'm going to chime in. DH is half French and half Algerian. The Algerian part is a machismo, mulsim society. Or perhaps I shouldn't throw those two terms together. Rather, let's say that the society doesn't have the same roles for women as we do. The French seem better adapted to feminism, but actually have some deep-seated Macho issues that rest in the culture. Trust me. I was engaged to a French man before my husband and see that it isn't just him.

We had an explosive, horrible marital crisis last summer that resulted in a half-year separation because of these very issues. I was pregnant with my third child. With the birth of our first, some issues surfaced like you mentioned. It got worse with the second. By the time I was pregnant with my third he didn't even cater to my needs as a pregnant woman - acting like I should be able to do everything with two kids and keep up housework, etc. I wasn' pampered, in fact, I felt compared to women in other cultures who only stop working in the field to pop out a baby. We nearly divorced over this.

After the separation, we began counseling - something that he was terribly adverse to (another cultural thing). It was that or divorce. I also had the men in my family speak to him - though that's a tricky one. I don't want anyone to go through what we went through to improve their marriage, but we have indeed improved. It takes lots of communication - I tell him what I want/need him to help with, he tells me his issues. We go back and forth until we reach a compromise where we are both comfortable with roles. When something new comes up, we discuss it or wait until a counseling appointment if we need a third party.

The biggest tip is not to repress feelings or assume he gets what you're feeling - that fails in cross-cultural relationships. Also wait for the right moment - don't repond when things are critical or volatile. I hope you two can work this out - you will only continue to build resentment if it continues.
post #19 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jul511riv View Post
It's like, my culture (American) is a failure, crap culture so the only one that matters is his...
Wow! Took the words right outta my mouth!
post #20 of 38
I've sort of had that same issue but without the cultural differences. My ex was the kind of guy who would say "oh sure, I get that you need help, I'll totally help!" and then...well, I never saw any help. He'd even be unemployed for a year or more at a time and never lift a finger...half the time I'd be working/in college and STILL be doing all the housework, and taking care of the kids when I was home.

I also think some guys just don't understand, even if you try to make it clear to them that this just isn't ok. We almost split up sooo many times. I would talk to him and explain my feelings. He'd AGREE...and then nothing would change. This was the major issue in our marriage. I wasn't happy, I'd tell him this, and then 2 days later he'd act shocked if it came up again.

For my ex, the excuse was mental health issues. (Yes, he had anxiety, but he was medicated and I don't see how that should effect his ability to wash dishes anyway!) I wonder though, how many men use the cultural thing as an excuse rather than really believing in it. I mean, I'm sure some are just really oblivious...but I also think some just use it as an excuse to be lazy :P

I know I'm not being much help but I guess I'm trying to point out that the only way things can possibly change is if he wants it to. If he doesn't, he just won't listen.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Multicultural Families
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Multicultural Families › Dealing with Machismo-ism...