Going crazy in Mexico - Mothering Forums
Multicultural Families > Going crazy in Mexico
mt_gooseberry's Avatar mt_gooseberry 01:37 PM 06-30-2010
I don't mean to be a Negative Nancy, but I have to vent. My husband is from Mexico, and we have been going through the immigration process to get him "home" to the US. He has to stay in Mexico until he receives a visa. I couldn't stand being away from him, so I came down to Mexico, and it is so stressful that I feel like we are losing our marriage. I have actually cut the visit a month short because I can't stand it anymore.

I spent every last dime I had to come down here to be with him. Of the two years we have been together, we have only been physically together for 10 months, due to his having to return to Mexico. He missed the birth and first three months of our daughter's life. I have now been in Mexico for two months, and I still never get any time with him. For starters, he works constantly for UNBELIEVABLY low pay doing very dangerous work. His boss is constantly asking him to do personal favors which he does not get paid for and which take even more time away from me. When he does have time to spend with me, he spends it talking on the phone (usually to his boss) or talking with the other members of his family. He defends himself saying that he will not get to see his family much when he gets to come to the US. But look at it my way: he has had 25 years with his family, he has had 10 months with me. Before I came to Mexico, we had been apart for the last 6 months, during which time he had spent entirely with his family. I will be here for a total of 3 months, and then we have no idea when we can be together again, and instead of spending every moment he can with me, he spends it with them! We have already agreed that we will spend part of each year here in Mexico, so they get 25 years plus part of every other year to come. I get to listen to him snore when he finally decides to come to bed! I have tried to be a part of these conversations, but I don't speak the language well enough to make much of a contribution; anyway, they never speak about anything I know anything about anyway, so even if my Spanish was perfect, I couldn't join the convo. I feel like such an idiot sitting there silent while they talk and talk!

We are living with his sister, who has been extremely cold and unwelcoming. I just hide in my room when it is only the two of us home--which is usually the case because of my husband's work. If the situation had been reversed, and she had been a guest in my house, in a foreign country with no friends or family, with a 3 month old baby, I would have done everything in my power to make her feel at home and part of the family. She doesn't even speak to me! I have tried talking to her, but she just uses short, impersonal replies.

It is hard to care for a baby all alone in such primitive conditions. We have no indoor plumbing. His family is not in sync with my parenting methods. They say I carry her too much, that crying is good for her, they yell when they are holding her and she gets frightend and cries and they think it is funny, they keep her up all hours of the night and she is chronically sleep deprived since we arrived. I won't even mention the vaccination fiasco, because it makes me feel murderous....

When I go out, all the people stare and point and make comments. I hate to leave the house for this reason.

I am so lonely and miserable and exhausted. His family has had 25 years with him, I have had 10 months. His family had the last 6 months with him, I have been here two months and have to leave in 20 days and he still chooses to spend his time with them instead of me. I've given up on trying to be a part of that family because no one bothers to include me. He is so different here than he was when we were together in the US! I just want my husband back!

nextcommercial's Avatar nextcommercial 01:49 PM 06-30-2010
Ugh! I'd almost want to cut that even shorter.

It's so hard to be in the inlaw's home. But, even harder when it's a different culture too. Then, add the stress of a newborn, that's just too much.

I'd try to take every opportunity to learn as much Spanish as possible. It will help you, and you will be glad to be fluent in both languages.

I don't know what part of Mexico you are staying, but are there any nice touristy things you can go out and do by yourself? There are so many beautiful parts in Mexico... but, there are also many bad parts too. So, if you are in a safe area with tours or good shopping/food, maybe you could entertain yourself away from home. It sounds like you need to get out of there for a while. I wouldn't like feeling like you do.

I'd give your husband a break though. He's probably extremely stressed out right now, and I think this is the best he can do until things get settled. Obviously, his family is very important to him. He sounds like a good man, but he's being pulled in different directions. They've had him 25 years, but you get him forever.
mt_gooseberry's Avatar mt_gooseberry 08:05 PM 07-01-2010
Thank you for the understanding and suggestions. I do live near many excellent tourist areas (we're on the Riviera Nayarit) but unfortunately there has been a recent upsurge in drug violence and with a 10 pm curfew and the military patrolling the streets, I don't really have much opportunity to get out and do stuff.
You're right about my husband, he is very much a family man. I just am dreading further separation and, selfishly or not, want him to pay more attention to me.
CherryBombMama's Avatar CherryBombMama 01:12 AM 07-08-2010
i could have written this post! i have been in your shoes, woman!

let me just say, him moving back to the US with you might change things a little, but its going to take alot of patience and understanding on your part. Its a cultural thing. When you got married, you probably envisioned a life of the two of you together. (like i did.) he probably envisioned you fitting into his family. its a toughy. my dh and i are still working on this.

when we moved out of his parents house after living there ten months, he promised his mom he would visit with our ds every day. Now, i just about went crazy! She is no longer part of our everyday life, and i was hoping to not have to see her for a month, at least!! lol that didnt actually end up happening, but just the fact that he was going to visit his parents every single day after we moved out scared the life out of me - what did i get myself into?!?!

i just remind him every month or so that I am his wife, his first priority, his main family now, that he comes to ME first about familly plans, etc, etc ... i have seen a slow improvement, but its an improvement!
Intoit's Avatar Intoit 12:30 PM 07-08-2010
Aww, gooseberry... I'm so sorry to hear what you are having to go through right now. My husband is also from Mex, and we were backlogged right before they started the pilot program. Going through the immigration process was living in pure hell.

It's very difficult adjusting to life in a completely different culture. It usually takes at least a month to get through the stages of culture shock to begin appreciating the differences. I too, would suggest trying to get more involved with speaking the language. Even though you find it difficult to participate in conversation by listening you can still train your ears (Now, I did try telling myself the same thing, but I was so frustrated and tired I'd would often cry myself to sleep!) But eventually, the trying did help. I often found my SIL to be rather cold as well, but did enjoy daily excursions with her to the market.

And the stares, they won't go away. DH is from an indigenous village, even once some kids pointed at me and shouted, "Mire, mire, una gringa, una gringa!" Just slightly appalled, I could only laugh at that one. Being in Mexico may be making you crazy and homesick, but I am sure once you are back in the US you will wish to be with your hubby again. As he is so family oriented and living under a roof as a guest, this may have everything to do with how he is acting. I hope things start looking up for you, and that your family can be reunited again soon.
quantumleap's Avatar quantumleap 09:42 PM 07-13-2010
Brutal. I'm so sorry.
I agree with the suggestion to get out on your own when you can, even if it's just to the market to get a snack. It makes a big difference in how you feel about yourself, and it should help with language acquisition a bit too. Or, is there a language school you could attend? Even if it was just mornings for a week or two? Or, someone you could trade language instruction with (free!)? The language thing is super key, but so is just getting out and having your own "thing".
My experience in Mexico was pre-kids, but I can definitely imagine how some things would drive a mama completely arond the bend. The yelling, ugh. I'm so sorry. *I* used to physically cringe! Poor kiddo.

Not to be alarmist or anything, but I do think you should seriously consider and investigate counselling for when you get back to the US. Your partner is going to be stressed, missing family, and potentially slightly depressed as he adjusts, you have a new baby, a "new" relationship (I know it's not new, but living together permanently will be newish), and you're going to continue to deal with the cultural differences you're living with now (granted likely on a much smaller scale with the absence of extended family members, but still). I know dealing with finding such things from a distance can be daunting - is there someone you could trust with the task at "home"? Or, just wait until you get there, but I do think it would be a super, super smart thing to investigate. Especially if you can find someone with eperience with cross-cultural relationships, immigrant's issues, or something along those lines. You could start with any locally based NGOs or even missionary organizations (don't know your background there, so maybe not a good idea), as they often have on staff or affiliated counsellors.

Anyway, hang in there with everything. So sorry it hasn't been a positive time for you.
physmom's Avatar physmom 08:41 AM 07-14-2010

Wow, that does sound stressful! My DH is also Latin American and I can see some similarities (the need to work a lot , the very strong family bond, and lots of yelling - not at me but his family in general yells a lot at each other). It seems like you went through a much more accelerated version of my early life and I just want to tell you that things DO get better.

Living abroad changes a person... A LOT. DH and I met in Europe so away from both of our home countries, it was nice because we were on neutral ground so to speak. It sounds like your husband hasn't lived abroad very long? It's hard to step away and see what is cultural influence and what you actually have to do, you know what I mean? Especially since you mentioned that he was very different in the states.

I have a feeling once you guys are by yourselves things will get much easier and you'll have a chance to start your own family and your own way of parenting. In the meantime, hang in there! Like PP said really try and work on your language skills, trust me, I can see DH's family becoming so much more comfortable with me as my language skills have improved. Now we have actual, meaningful conversations where before I felt like an outsider many times.

We had MIL come live with us for 3 months when DD was still really young. It was so hard at first adjusting to being in a different culture (and, yes, it was also an adjustment for DH too). We did have adventage because we had years of marriage underneath our belt but it was hard because even though I get along with MIL another person in the house with a very different backgrounds shakes stuff up quite a bit. Things were out of place in our apt, she would make assumptions about child care, etc. It was not easy but working through those things did make us closer.

So, I guess I can just say hang in there. Try and work on your language skills and hopefully you and your husband will be in the states soon. FWIW, DH used to have to call his family multiple times per week (he was shocked when I would only call my family maybe once a month) but now it's on average once a week and sometimes less. Things DO change over time as you start to build your own family but it also takes time especially when you've been in that culture your entire life.
lookatreestar's Avatar lookatreestar 06:38 PM 07-17-2010
wow, i can sort of relate. my dh works 15 hour days here and did the same exact thing when we lived with his family!! it would drive me up the wall. he'd come home for an hour or two and he'd sit and chat with his mom and not say a darn thing to me or the kids!! and my spanish is not great, but not horrid however i felt the same way, they would talk about stuff that i had no clue about!! (people in their town, happenings etc). then his mom would make food and he would eat and the kids and myself would be on our own so to speak since we couldn't eat (usually hot or too much oil). it was so hard, and we lived together for close to 2 years (only a year w/ mil since she got her papers later) which omg immigration issues... that is another issue. i cannot imagine being away from my dh so i know that is a hard choice to go or stay

now that we have been almost a month in the clear w/o his relatives his english is improving again and he is paying attention to US.

anyway, if you want to chat mama pm me! my dh is from a small town outside of mx city without plumbing and it was a challenge for me to even last a month there! (his family was very welcoming though, sil included)
Mamato3wild ponnie's Avatar Mamato3wild ponnie 09:39 PM 07-17-2010
I could of wrote this post about 2 1/2 years ago. My husband was deported to Mexico and we have lived here for well 2 1/2 years. There is a huge expat community in mexico. I actually know several americans living in Nayarit right now.
Your husband behavior is TYPICAL, very very normal for mexican men. I went though the very same thing when we first moved here to Mexico. My husband would sit out front and talk to his family ALL day and not even turn his head to translate one word to me. They would laugh and cut up and I would be sitting their looking and feeling so dumb. We lived with his parents for the first year we were here. I even got pregnant and returned to the US to have the baby..with out him. I understand so much. I see this is an old thread....but i would love to chat with you more about the every day struggles and how much better my life has become. I had to overcome alot of inner struggles and let go of the "American" way of life. I actually have a blog and have written down a full account of my everyday life for about a years time. I KNOW WHAT YOUR GOING THROUGH. It got better for me.
And it can get better for you to.
Hang in their and please pm. I can help you through this time.
Adventuredad's Avatar Adventuredad 08:30 AM 07-31-2010
Sorry to hear about the trouble, sounds very tough. Your husband is likely under lots of stress. My best suggestion of solving this is to talk about it. In my experience the Mexicans prefer not to talk about the unpleasant and tough things and instead tip toe around them.

My experiences in Mexico have been very different from yours though (wife is Mexicana and we have two kids, 4 and 6.5). I've always found Mexicans in genera, especially family, to be very warm, helpful and understanding. When we first met, more than 20 years ago, I spent some time down there and things weren't go so well which was mostly my own fault.

But after 40+ times in the country, just spend March-April in Mexico, things have developed amazingly well and I look at my wife's family as closer than my own (MIL is right now here for 6 weeks).

Culture in Mexico is very different, ti can also vary alo depending on where in Mexico one live. It can be difficult to handle at times, especially when raising a child. Mexican men are also special, not really known for helping out a lot at home or with kids......

I would encourage you to discuss the issues as much as possible even though it may be tough. Oh, do you know Spanish? Perhaps I missed this? This would be the most important thing to learn. Very quickly! Also encourage your husband to speak only Spanish to your child and he/she will be bi-lingual before you know it.
eliandsand's Avatar eliandsand 04:12 PM 08-05-2010
I am about in tears reading this...

Our families are from Mexico but my husband and I were born and raised here. Please do not let them bully you about your baby. If you don't want to vax, don't! If you want to wear/carry your baby all day, do! If they are making you or baby uncomfortable with behavior, sarcasm, teasing, volume, etc. do not accept it! Some of this is cultural, some is ignorance, some is stupidity! We are not friends and maybe I wouldn't say this if we were but are you sure he isn't married to you for papers? My father is from Mexico and always was affectionate with my mother(an AMerican Swede) and was very proud and attentive to all of us. He was extremely hard working but also would come home, wash up, and make my mom coffee and tell her to go take a break on the porch and assist in dinner preparations. He was by no means perfect but just in love. That is what love does to someone, you know? His brothers are also not jerks.

I also had the experience of my mother's second marriage to a man from Jordan who completely behaved the way your husband and his family behave towards you. He divorced her after he had his citizenship.

My husband's family is a little different than my father's family because they are very poor from Oaxaca and I would hate for this to make a difference but they always talk about cousins coming to find a White woman to marry for papers or how lucky/sly someone was for finding himself an American woman so he can be here while sometimes sending money to his REAL family.

I'm so sorry that you are going through this and sincerely hope that your husband is just really stressed out about the current situation. He may be a real macho guy who doesn't believe in paying the woman much attention or valueing her feelings. You might be able to change this over time with your patience, understanding, and unfailing love. This is my hope for you!

PS Sorry for the accusation but someone had to be real and throw it out there. I'll be praying that everything works out and I was totally wrong!
mt_gooseberry's Avatar mt_gooseberry 03:26 PM 08-23-2010
Well, I've been back in the US for awhile now, and I would like to thank everyone for the support, advice, suggestions, and even warnings. My husband and I will have a lot to get through but I know we will perservere in our relationship. We are now waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the immigration process to finalize, and hopefully he will be back home with us soon. I am hoping things will pick up where they left off before he left for Mexico, with us as a loving family. Thank you all for your honest comments!
lookatreestar's Avatar lookatreestar 12:50 AM 08-25-2010
Originally Posted by mt_gooseberry View Post
Well, I've been back in the US for awhile now, and I would like to thank everyone for the support, advice, suggestions, and even warnings. My husband and I will have a lot to get through but I know we will perservere in our relationship. We are now waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the immigration process to finalize, and hopefully he will be back home with us soon. I am hoping things will pick up where they left off before he left for Mexico, with us as a loving family. Thank you all for your honest comments!
good luck! pm me if you ever want to chat!
ihathi's Avatar ihathi 01:29 AM 08-27-2010
mt gooseberry, I wish you all the luck with completing the immigration process and starting your "new lives" in the States... It sounds like you've had an unbelievably rough time and you should give yourself credit for persevering!

If it's any consolation, I had a similar experience *before* my DH and I had any kids... (God-I can't even imagine if we'd tried w/ a baby!) We moved to Mexico to get married and then stayed on for a year. It was a terrible year--I literally cried and fought with DH every day and felt quite certain by the end of the year that we had made a big mistake. I felt like my DH was a different person in Mexico and that his expectations of me had changed completely. All of the plans we had made for our new life as a married couple were gone and I actually felt more defined by the relationship I developed as the nuera of my suegra than anything else!

Anyhow, I mention all of this because I think you'd be happy to know that, once we got back to the States after that year, things were *amazing* for us! My husband recognized and still recognizes that, being in Mexico--especially around family--was an impossible situation for him. He was being pulled in so many directions at the same time! His family expected his full devotion and so did I... and generally our interests were completely at odds.

Just don't let yourself think that somehow the man your husband is in Mexico is more like the *real* him than the person he was when you met him. These are all parts of him--the important thing is that you are both working on getting to a place where you can both be your best selves... Happy together as a couple and as parents.
Mama Shifra's Avatar Mama Shifra 10:06 PM 09-21-2010
I would like to suggest the book My Heart Lies South: The Story of My Mexican Marriage by Elizabeth Borton De Trevino. It is a pretty old book so maybe your local library has it. Elizabeth Borton De Trevino wrote pretty candidly about the challenges of an American (even one who spoke fluent Spanish) being married to a Mexican.
ILoveMyBabyBird's Avatar ILoveMyBabyBird 01:28 PM 10-15-2010
Originally Posted by eliandsand View Post
We are not friends and maybe I wouldn't say this if we were but are you sure he isn't married to you for papers?

I wouldnt jump to that conclusion. I know when i was in India, my dh acted just like the op's dh, but granted he hadn't been home in 7 years and we were visiting for 1 month. I just think with the dh being from such a different culture, it is hard for them to put the dw's in their culture. All admit while my dh wasn't the best host in his own country, his family was very kind and welcoming to me, even though with most there was the same language barrier as the op's. It all just depends on the individuals. Many indian families would have disowned my dh for marrying me, so every case is different. It is possible he does feel torn between to the families, not sure of the mexican family dynamics, but i gather they are close nit as well.

I hope things work out for you op.