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Too much cultural difference?

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 
Mods, I hope I have put this in the right section. My husband is born Iraqi and I am born Canadian (english, scottish, german-u get the picture). It just seems lately that he has been putting me down alot for the fact that i cant cook iraqi food at all and has started calling me not a real woman. I know how to cook canadian but he is not interested in it at all. I have tried to learn to cook his food but it is hard when noone will teach me and believe me the cookbooks/internet about it are not authentic according to him. I used to love cooking and now i hate it. I am just not sure how to resolve this or if it is indicative of a larger problem with our different cultures. We are so different with regards to child rearing, views on life etc. I am starting to wonder how we ever got together at all. Has anyone else experienced this? If so, how did you deal with it? To be honest, I am beginning to feel that the marriage was a mistake.
post #2 of 80
Is this about food or does it go deeper?
post #3 of 80
Thread Starter 
It goes way way deeper. Food is only one example. We cant seem to agree about anything at all. Even the way he has been treating me I am not sure if it is due to culture or something else. Even the way we talk is different and how we view life. I am just not sure if it is a cultural problem here or if it is a marriage problem.
post #4 of 80
s

I couldn't read and not reply. Thats sounds really tough.

My DH is grew up in India, and I grew up here in the US (my parents grew up in India). So although we look the same, DH and I have very different upbringings.

I understand about different cultures having totally different views on what married live should be like.

If you don't mind my saying, I find that what helps us in our marriage is to *not* think about things as a cultural problem but a me and dh issue. DH and I can't control cultural attitueds and norms, but we can change what our attitudes are, and what is normal for our household, so it really helps me feel way less hopless. (does that make any sense?)
post #5 of 80
Oooh, and I just wanted to add, I did sort of feel this way when DH and I first started dating. And it's gotten soooo much better since then.

I know this sounds corny, but I really feel that we are establishing our own brand or mix of culture.

Please PM me if you want to talk.
post #6 of 80
I'd bet that your individual, family style, economic, personality and cultural differences are all part of the mix that both brought you together, and are causing conflict.

Blaming culture is something my DH does often. Our biggest conflict centers around MILs behavior. DH often claims that the problem is cultural, but that doesn't explain why her SIL (same culture as her) has the same conflicts I do with MIL.

In your example of food the problem probably is more complicated than simply that you don't make it authentically enough. He may want it to be just the way his mom made it. He may be missing the celebrations that surrounded his favorite dishes when he was young. In these cases it would be much more about family than culture as a whole.

It might be more an issue of his feeling isolated. It may be impossible for you to reproduce the dishes he knows b/c you don't have access to the the ingredients in fresh form (you mntioned there is no one around to help you so I'm guessing there aren't Iraqi groceries.) This could remind him that he is very far from home. He may mostly be feeling isolated and is having trouble opening up to you about it.
post #7 of 80
How exactly is he treating you??
post #8 of 80
I'm American, DH is Turkish, so similar cultures to yours. I think a lot of times men (and women too) want someone to blame for why their adopted culture isn't more like their culture of origin. I've known Turkish men in the states who complained about the same things--their wives don't cook Turkish food, don't do things the Turkish way, etc. I can tell you from experience that there is no way to make Turkish food (or Iraqi food or Lebanese food, etc) on the North American continent because the ingredients just aren't the same. Although the eggplant that you buy in the US (or Canada) may look just like a Turkish or Iraqi eggplant, they don't taste the same or cook the same. You can be the most expert cook in whatever regional cuisine, but if you're trying to make it out of that region, it's not going to be the same. Which is to say, don't beat yourself up over the cooking. It's not your fault. Tell your DH I said so.

Food is so reflective of culture, and nowhere is that more true than in the "Middle East." When he's criticising your cooking, is he really criticising the food or is he saying, "This isn't what I expected. I didn't think my life would have to change so much." Is he trying to cling to his own culture and feeling that he's being swallowed up by Canadian-ness? Are your differences power struggles or are they truly differences? Does he say black just because you say white? (Or do you say white just because he says black?)

I'd also look at the pregnancy issue. You're due in a couple of months, right? Not saying that it's the right thing to do, but some men get really wigged out at the end of a pregnancy. How was he with your first two girls?

Religion is another angle to tackle, but I won't do that publicly. PM me if you want to go there. I've also got some tricks for making American food taste more like Arabic/Turkish/Persian food, if you want them.

Hugs and Du'a for you. I feel for you.
post #9 of 80
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elizaveta View Post
How exactly is he treating you??

That is the problem. For a long time, I felt and have been told by others including a social worker who visited me in the hospital that he is verbally/emotionally abusive. It is hard to put it all down here but I will try to give some examples. He tells me I am fat, ugly, old and not a real woman. I am a bad mother and (his words) if I leave him the kids will end up on the streets with no future. I have no mind. Everything I do is wrong no matter how I try. He thinks it is ok to look at porn, and then come to me and later compare me to the women in them. He has told me he is only staying with me because of the kids and tonight I found he has been searching on arabic matrimonial websites. He actually slapped my older dd on the face one time and only one time because I told him if he ever did that again I would phone the police and file charges. I was willing to think the one time was due to his upbringing but I have doubts now. He actually had CPS one time called on him when I was in the emergency room (hyperemesis) because when dd1 tried to run into the street into traffic he grabbed her by the hair and yelled at her and at a stranger who tried to tell him what he was doing was wrong. Again, I was thinking maybe it was his culture and if he realized we dont do that here he would change. I told him straight out I was glad the woman called CPS and I also told the social worker who I asked to talk to in hospital. I have given him too many chances havent I? He has never tried anything else with the kids and if he did that would be it. Reading this, I am thinking I have been stupid and negligant havent I? I have been trying to hold the marriage together for the sake of the kids but if I have to keep watching and not sure if he will lose control again it isnt worth it. I should say he has never physically hit me at all but I am wondering if those 2 lapses is an indication that I should get out now for the kids sakes. The social worker told me that she thought the hair pulling incident was him panicking since it was one time only but considering how he also slapped her on the face...I am not so sure. Sorry this is so rambling. I am up tonight trying to figure out what to do and if I leave where to go and how.
post #10 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by veronicalynne View Post
That is the problem. For a long time, I felt and have been told by others including a social worker who visited me in the hospital that he is verbally/emotionally abusive. It is hard to put it all down here but I will try to give some examples. He tells me I am fat, ugly, old and not a real woman. I am a bad mother and (his words) if I leave him the kids will end up on the streets with no future. I have no mind. Everything I do is wrong no matter how I try. He thinks it is ok to look at porn, and then come to me and later compare me to the women in them. He has told me he is only staying with me because of the kids and tonight I found he has been searching on arabic matrimonial websites. He actually slapped my older dd on the face one time and only one time because I told him if he ever did that again I would phone the police and file charges. I was willing to think the one time was due to his upbringing but I have doubts now. He actually had CPS one time called on him when I was in the emergency room (hyperemesis) because when dd1 tried to run into the street into traffic he grabbed her by the hair and yelled at her and at a stranger who tried to tell him what he was doing was wrong. Again, I was thinking maybe it was his culture and if he realized we dont do that here he would change. I told him straight out I was glad the woman called CPS and I also told the social worker who I asked to talk to in hospital. I have given him too many chances havent I? He has never tried anything else with the kids and if he did that would be it. Reading this, I am thinking I have been stupid and negligant havent I? I have been trying to hold the marriage together for the sake of the kids but if I have to keep watching and not sure if he will lose control again it isnt worth it. I should say he has never physically hit me at all but I am wondering if those 2 lapses is an indication that I should get out now for the kids sakes. The social worker told me that she thought the hair pulling incident was him panicking since it was one time only but considering how he also slapped her on the face...I am not so sure. Sorry this is so rambling. I am up tonight trying to figure out what to do and if I leave where to go and how.
Well, you need to get away from him. As soon as possible. If you have no family in the area or no one to help you - try to find a safe house. This is exactly what I thought it was from your first post as I've seen this happen so many times.

Where exactly are you in Canada?

And big I know that you're going through a lot right now.
post #11 of 80
Thread Starter 
I am in Edmonton, Alberta. I did get a list of safe houses from the social worker I spoke to back in March(?). I spoke to her for quite awhile about the situation and though she thought that maybe he had panicked with the hair pulling incident, she thought other things indicated emotional/verbal abuse. I have just been trying to hold it together for the sake of the kids but I think I have been a fool. I grew up in a broken home, and my mother was on social assistance for a long time. It was very hard financially and not having a father around. I think that is what has been holding me back. I have 2 dds and am almost 7 months pregnant now and have just not been sure if I should leave now or after baby is born. I read that alot of women are being turned away from the safe houses right now and if they turn me away, the children and I will have nowhere to go. Unfortunately, I dont have any family at all. So it is a hard hard decision to make. I have the numbers and plan to phone them when he is not around.
post #12 of 80
Yah, I don't think your trouble is cultural. Bad, abusive men are bad, abusive men. Even a man from a patriarchal or abuse-encouraging environment can *choose* to be loving, kind, and compassionate, so it's not a "cultural difference".

I hope you find a safe place.

post #13 of 80
Agree with above, your problem is not cultural. Your problem is your UAV of a husband. The actions and attitudes you describe above are *NOT* in any way, shape, or form part of his culture of origin.

Consider contacting your local masjid for assistance. You may have better luck than with social services, depending on the imam. Situations like this are what zakat should be used for.
post #14 of 80
This is nothing to do with culture. It has to do with domestic violence. Your husband is guilty of spousal and child abuse.

Please, please, please get out of there. Do you want your little girls growing up thinking this is an acceptable way to treat your wife?
post #15 of 80
Thread Starter 
I have decided to leave him. The social worker gave me a list of safe houses when i spoke to her. I have to wait until he goes out. There is no way he would let us go if he knows i am leaving which is weird because everything points to him wanting out. I am not sure if i should talk to an imam or not. I cant seem to get the words out and i am not sure what good it would do. I dont think he will ever change and there has been so many bad things he has said to me that i dont think i could just go on kwim? I just feel so stupid right now and like a bad mother. I have tried to keep it together for the kids and i swore i would never let anyone hurt my kids. The hair pulling incident was one time and i rationalized that, and i have more or less successfully scared him off from trying to slap yasmeen though there have been a few times i have had to physically put myself in between to protect her. But she is so scared of him. She so much wants love from him (i grew up with my dad not around so i know how dads are needed) but she is too frightened to approach him and i have to coax her when he is in a "good" mood. I always swore i would never let anyone hurt my kids and he has done it not only physically but emotionallly as well. I will just have to plan and quietly get important papers together (i still cant find the passports....i dont know if he would try to take the kids if something happened) and then leave when he is not here. Thanks for your imput. He had me convinced it is just me and all in my head.
post #16 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
Yah, I don't think your trouble is cultural. Bad, abusive men are bad, abusive men

ITA.

Op, after reading your later posts, it does seem like there is a serious problem with your DH.

It sounds like you've already started thinking about leaving. If you have family/ a safe place to go to, I would leave as soon as possible.
post #17 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by veronicalynne View Post
I have decided to leave him. The social worker gave me a list of safe houses when i spoke to her. I have to wait until he goes out. There is no way he would let us go if he knows i am leaving which is weird because everything points to him wanting out. I am not sure if i should talk to an imam or not. I cant seem to get the words out and i am not sure what good it would do. I dont think he will ever change and there has been so many bad things he has said to me that i dont think i could just go on kwim? I just feel so stupid right now and like a bad mother. I have tried to keep it together for the kids and i swore i would never let anyone hurt my kids. The hair pulling incident was one time and i rationalized that, and i have more or less successfully scared him off from trying to slap yasmeen though there have been a few times i have had to physically put myself in between to protect her. But she is so scared of him. She so much wants love from him (i grew up with my dad not around so i know how dads are needed) but she is too frightened to approach him and i have to coax her when he is in a "good" mood. I always swore i would never let anyone hurt my kids and he has done it not only physically but emotionallly as well. I will just have to plan and quietly get important papers together (i still cant find the passports....i dont know if he would try to take the kids if something happened) and then leave when he is not here. Thanks for your imput. He had me convinced it is just me and all in my head.
Nope, not in your head. Do you think that your imam would help you leave?

Sometimes its difficult for people outside a situation to see how bad it really is. If you don't think that imam would be supportive, you might talk to him after you leave. Not being in this situation might give you the claritiy that you need to talk to the imam.

ETA: You sound like such a brave mama!
post #18 of 80
It is not about food, or culture, it is about disrespect. If you have made up your mind, and you are certain that you want out, than get a lawyer. A women's shelter or women's resource organization, should be able to put you in contact with lawyers who will help you for free, or who will make your husband pay for their services.

The lawyers will represent your rights and the rights of your children so that you receive child support, and spousal support. Your husband owes that to your children and to you.

Please take care of yourself and your children.
post #19 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by princessoflove View Post
It is not about food, or culture, it is about disrespect. If you have made up your mind, and you are certain that you want out, than get a lawyer. A women's shelter or women's resource organization, should be able to put you in contact with lawyers who will help you for free, or who will make your husband pay for their services.

The lawyers will represent your rights and the rights of your children so that you receive child support, and spousal support. Your husband owes that to your children and to you.

Please take care of yourself and your children.
Brand newbie here, sorry for jumping in w/o introducing myself, but I just wanted to propose that speaking with a lawyer might be a good idea even if you haven't made up your mind that you want out. And if there's any possibility that he would/could try to take the children back to Iraq (or anywhere abroad, for that matter), please talk to a lawyer who handles international custody/abduction matters.

I'll be thinking of you.
post #20 of 80
OP There is a way to get your children's passports flagged (not sure how) so that they are stopped at the airport/customs

My prayers are with you dear momma
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