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Questions about mexican cultural expectations...

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 



I am wondering if someone in this forum can give me a bit of advice.  I am living on the US side of the Mexican border and I just recently began dating a Mexican/Native man.  I am white, raised in a non traditional household. We have been dating for about 4 months. 


This past weekend was the first time that I met his whole family.  I have hung out with his father several times but this is the first time that I hung out with his sisters and brothers. 


So, last night I asked him what his sisters said about me.  He was very much trying to avoid the subject but I pulled it out of him. 


Basically, on one of the night we all hung out together we had dinner at his sisters house.  Well, when I was done eating, I got up and cleaned my plate and left it next to the kitchen sink.  Well, he told me that they complained about me because I didn't help them clean up the whole kitchen after dinner was over.  I had gone with him into the living room with the kids and was sitting with the rest of his family.  At the time, I didn't think anything of it but basically, he said it was a cultural difference, in that they women clean the kitchen together and the men go off together.  I knew this from previous discussion but at the time I was feeling nervous,etc and just didn't even think to offer help.  I went into the kitchen at the end and asked his sister if she needed any help..felt bad that I hadn't offered before.


So, my question is if this is a cultural significant difference or rather a family difference.  I was really hurt last night when he told me that they were talking s#*$# about me for not contributing. 



post #2 of 13

I'd say family difference, but that is just my perspective. DH is from Mexico, and visits to the homes of his siblings' I was discouraged -as a guest- from doing much cleaning up after meals. The exception to this is when we stayed more extensive periods of time, I was permitted to then help in clean up detail after the first few days I'd been there lol.gif. I do notice that women take a larger responsibility for domestic duties, but I think that plays opposite the part of men having to be financially responsible and work manually outside the household to provide support, most women where DH is from don't work at all. My DH's brothers also enjoy cooking and they all know how to sew too, so it's not uncommon to see them helping around the house when they are home.


If it's something that your boyfriend considers being culturally different, I feel he should have been responsible to "enlighten" you beforehand, especially since it can be rather intimidating to meet a large part of family for the first time. Hopefully he can/will explain things on your behalf and it will only be an insignificant misunderstanding... otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it, and you can just offer your assistance the next time smile.gif

post #3 of 13

no i wouldnt call it a family difference. this is true of many cultures. not just mexican.


however within the culture there are personal differences that depend on economic status. if they were very rich then no servants would do it. 


if they are middle class then yes women help clean up and men go into the living room. which in my books IS ok because usually in that culture the women are SAHM and the guys usually go out and work awefully hard. not sure how much of that has changed.


however being from asia i can see the pettiness starting. not all families are like that. they maybe jealous of you (for any number of reasons) and the only way they can 'hurt' you is by putting you down. i would expect them to give you a second chance. if u did it a second time yes they can throw stones at you. but not at first when you dont know the culture.


i agree ur bf should have described the expectations - but i am pretty sure it didnt even strike him.


in my culture a womAn doesnt 'hang with' men at a big party. they hang with the women - because women are doing something, like cleaning up the kitchen (which honestly happens here too - depending on the owner of the house - except its not expected and guys help too) . and i think that is everywhere. so rule of thumb if you see you are about the only female there you need to vamoos and find what the other women are doing. 

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses.  We had discussed this in relation to going over friends house but not with family.  I guess I'll just consider it a learning experience and let it go.  I really like him and I really wanted his family to like me but you can't win over everyone, I guess. 

post #5 of 13

yes, my DP is mexican/costa rican and he definitely would find it weird if I followed him into a room full of guys and hung out there. generally the women and babies stay in the kitchen or one of the other bedrooms talking, smoking for those who smoke, and drinking together. The kids run around together and the guys hang out. I am very fortunate in that my DP does NOT have a chauvinist attitude like alot of his Mexican peers, even the ones who were born and raised in the US. At home, he cooks, cleans, changes diapers, gives baths and does the laundry. He would prefer me to do those things when we are in the position for me to SAH and him to work, but if we are both home, or he just sees that I need help or don't feel like it he takes over. If we are visiting friends he considers it very very disrpesctful the way a lot of the non-Hispanic females just involve themselves in the guys' conversations or "sass" their husbands even if it is clearly non-malicious and done palyfully. Again I am lucky because he doesn't generally talk to me like taht either and he doesn't humiliate me in front of other men, like I see many Mexican guys do to their wives. I guess he is pretty evolved,lol. However he sees it as an absolute affront to his manhood if I try to mow the lawn. :lol


And, to be clear, I don't think that only Mexican men do those things, just that it seems pretty accepted in that culture, just like hitting the wife/girlfriend generally gets a blind eye.

post #6 of 13

I would say that, from my experience, it's kind of typical within lower/middle-class Mexicans to expect the women to all kind of jump up to clean up after a meal.  What I like about this is that a lot of people help with a job that would otherwise be a ton of work for a single individual (i.e., the hostess)--what I don't like about it is the fact that it's generally just women doing the helping.


But I wouldn't necessarily blame your boyfriend for not warning you about this "issue."  The fact is that, when you are in a bicultural relationship, there will be a million moments when one will want to the other, "Why didn't you *warn* me about this?!"  And the answer lies in the simple fact that it's hard to notice the subtle rules that direct social behavior in your own culture.


Anyhow, it's up to you to decide what you want to do with this.  You can decide that you will be defiant in not helping for the simple fact that you don't agree with such firm gender roles.  Or you can do what I tend to do with my Mexican in-laws, I jump up to help with everyone else, but they immediately tell me, "No! No, you sit!  You're the guest!  Sit--relax."  shy.gif  Then, I sit right back down...

post #7 of 13

well....I have many years experience in Mexico and working with Mexicans in the US. My husband is Peruvian. We live in Peru. I think it's particular to the family and it would bother me. If my husband was like that we would not have been married. It may not bother you now but just wait........it's the tip of the iceburg in my opinion and worth really looking into if you could live with it. there is one thing to help out as you can.

post #8 of 13

I think it is a particular family thing. I am Mexican/American who grew up in Southern CA in a predominately white/jewish area. I really think there are certain expectations culturally here in El Paso - that is not necessarily one of them. He may seem to think so, because he is "protecting" his family or rather dismissing that they were weird about that. My family in CA is mostly Italian and it was common for us to help my mom clean up. Here in El Paso, my aunt usually cleans up and I notice my cousins will pick up their plates SOMETIMES and my aunt does most of the clean up. I really can't sit back and watch so I end up cleaning too! lol 


You were a guest in their house - I don't feel you did anything out of line. If you had gone in to help but left your child in the other room - they would have griped that you didn't watch your kid. I think they were being petty. Hopefully they will get over it as they get to know you better. And as you know them better you will decide what you want to participate in too:) I wouldn't worry about it too much especially if you BF isn't worried about it.

post #9 of 13

Funny you should bring this up because I really do think it is a family thing and not related to any specific culture (maybe in some cultures the 'responsibilities' are more defined but I don't think it is exclusive).  No Mexican connections here, but it is highly expected in my family, and for generations, that everyone help with the clean-up (particularly women).  We've had some inl-aws who don't help and it has, sadly, been the subject of conversation with the older sect.  Personally I think that helping clean up (especially when someone has laboured to cook a meal - as opposed to being in a restaurant) is the proper thing to do, or  at least asking to help or offering to look after the kids while others clean up.  My suggestion in the future (to maintain good family dynamics) is to  help or offer to help in some way.  Even if you were a guest and not yet related to them in any way, I still think it is appropriate at a 'family' function to offer your help.  

post #10 of 13

I agree with the tip of the iceberg comment. Now would be the time to have a serious conversation about his views of gender roles and such things. I have known many women who just assumed their guy was not like the rest of his family and then were surprised when he turned into a chauvinistic jerk after they moved in together.

post #11 of 13

my dh is from mx, it might be a bit different because i first met his family after we were already married (he couldn't just get rid of me winky.gif if they didn't approve) all kidding aside, his mom never let me do anything! they are very poor but several elderly aunts live with them and he has an older sister. they all helped and wouldn't let me do anything, i swear i didn't even change a diaper the whole time we were there (6 weeks). it carried on after MIL got here and lived with us for awhile. they also were extremely welcoming and did not judge me at all.


that said, i find the male/female thing so hard to deal with. it is the number one thing dh and i disagree/fight about and he really didn't start out all macho until after we got married i became a sahm. very strange but i just remind him that he married me for a reason and he knew i was sassy from day one i never hid that fact pinktongue.gif also some things he feels really strongly about but after 10 or so years in the US there are quite a few things he is more relaxed and "american" about kwim?

post #12 of 13

I think there are more than likely a couple of things being conflated here.   Cultures in which it is generally expected that women will gather together and do the clean-up are pretty commonplace.  Expecting that of a guest, and expecting that of a first time guest, and in particular of a guest known to have come from a different cultural background, and speaking ill of that guest behind their back may be entirely different things.  A lot of it probably depends upon what their "complaining" about you consisted of ... if it was saying, "hey, wasn't it odd that she ..." would be different from "wow, how much did that suck of her ..."

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

Wow...I just have to say that I love MDC.  It's so cool to be able to come here and be validated by other experienced mamas.  So, I'm not really sure what to take from this experience.  I definitely agree that it's really petty that they would be so judgmental to me on my first experience.  I was nervous about the whole thing in the first place, considering that this is the first guy I've dated since my marriage ended.  Also, another thing is my bf told me that they were commenting on my weight, asking him if I was pregnant.  I carry my weight in my stomach so it's not shocking or anything that someone might think that, but I have to wonder their motives when  that about your brothers new girlfriend.  And even more, this guy is a sweetheart but he has no filter...like, really, I don't need to know all the details.  I just wanted to know if they liked me or not, for goodness sake. 


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