Macho husbands and pregnancy - Mothering Forums
Multicultural Families > Macho husbands and pregnancy
mt_gooseberry's Avatar mt_gooseberry 03:18 PM 04-23-2011

I am 6 mo pregnant with my second child, and I find myself struggling with my Mexican husband's insensitivity.  With my first pregnancy I was only with him for the first 6mo because he had to return to Mexico for immigration reasons and I stayed in the US to give birth.  During those 6 months, he would leave me home alone every weekend to go out.  He wouldn't come home until early morning (sometimes 5am!).  Sometimes he would take the cell phone and our only car and leave me with no way to get help if something were to happen (we were kind of remote).  With this pregnancy he is more committed as far as the marriage goes (no partying and leaving me) but....  As an American, I was exposed to a pop culture message of the husband doting on his pregnant wife.  You know, the guy goes out and gets his wife pickles and ice cream at midnight?  My husband doesn't even think to give me a massage when I mention my back hurts.  He expects me to care for a rambunctious 15mo and keep the house clean and get him his hot homemade meals on time and manage the finances, etc. without offering me any extra support.  When he does offer to do something (vacuum, for example), he has a subtle way of making me feel guilty and lazy.  I don't get any extra rest or any coddling at all.  I see how my friends' husbands treat them like princesses and I am so jealous!  When I tell him I'm craving ice cream and we don't have any, he just rolls his eyes like he's annoyed.  When I tried to talk to him about supporting me in labor, he told me I'd better behave because he wasn't going to let me yell at him or anything.  


I don't want anyone to think my husband isn't a great guy, even if this kind of makes him seem like a jerk.  He's just...well...Mexican.  I know there are Mexican men out there who are liberal and sensitive, but my husband is from the old-school macho culture.  He's WAY better than the other men in his family (one of his aunts has to get her husband dressed so he can go out and see his mistresses!  She literally has to put on his socks!) and he never abuses me or cheats on me and actually tells me he loves me, so it's a good relationship mostly....I just wish I could be coddled a little bit once in a while.


Anybody else ever have issues with husbands from a male-dominant culture?  

SubliminalDarkness's Avatar SubliminalDarkness 04:00 PM 04-23-2011

Yes. In my DH's case, it's some culture, some just him. My DH is just not an empathetic person. It's frustrating sometimes, but it's more frustrating when I find myself expecting(or hoping) he'll do things he's very unlikely to do. My DH's attitude to cravings or aches and pains was something like, "Get over it, it's part of being a woman." Ok, true, but geez. 


Anyway, I wouldn't call my husband "macho" at all, but he is this way about stuff, so I feel for you. 

new2this's Avatar new2this 04:14 PM 04-23-2011

We are both American but my husband is not empathetic at all when it comes to hormones and things like that. If I was very moody he would say things like just because your pregnant doesn't give you the excuse to be mean. Sometimes he would ignore it but I never got the backrubs or empathy. He didn't complain either though when things didn't get done because I was tired or not feeling well. He pretty much has the same attitude its part of being a woman deal with it and its a choice to be happy or not. If I get to crabby he will leave and not deal with it because he don't want to be around it. But on the other hand when I really needed him like in Labor he was awesome. 

cappuccinosmom's Avatar cappuccinosmom 06:29 AM 04-26-2011

Well, my husband doesn't go out, but he doesn't do much coddling either. 


Thing is, I think there is a difference in the way we treat pregnancy than the way women he grew up with did.  He never saw it as "a delicate condition", because nobody treated it that way.  One of the women in his village delivered her baby on her way home from market--just stopping on the side of the road, giving birth, and then continuing to walk.  Most others just keep at their farming and going to market until labor starts, and have the baby at home, with no great fanfare.  Yes, there are problems, but they are viewed as tragic aberrations, and the rest of women have to just keep going with life because otherwise the family wouldn't eat.  If Ethiopian women have hormonally effected emotions during pregnancy, apparently they keep it private.


He was horrified when I got pregnant and basically became a hormonally crazed invalid.  He had no idea how to relate to that.



Over the years (3 kids, now 3 miscarriages), I've gotten a little more stoic, and he's gotten a little more sensitive.  Mostly as a result of communication. I didn't know he felt harassed and at a loss with my behavior during pregnancy.  So to love him, I am more careful about acting out my emotions.  And he truly didn't know how much work pregnancy was until he'd seen it up close and personal, and moreso he didn't realize the emotional side of it until the miscarriages started.  So to love me, he does find ways to care-take and comfort.  We both of us (not just him) had to re-think cultural attitudes about this stuff, and regroup in a way that brough us closer together and didn't create ongoing tension and resentment.





IsaFrench's Avatar IsaFrench 11:02 AM 04-26-2011

after feeling a change in my emotional state within 24 hours being pregnant for the first time & to which my DH reacted in his own style ... (not what I expected !)


+ suddently being overwhelmed by some smells in a zoo when about 2 weeks pregnant the 3rd time, I just knew I was pregnant ....


I now firmly belive that women's bodies emit some sort of hormones or pheromones or whatever ... to which their partner/husband is aware chemically in their body, nothing much that we are majorly consciously aware of .... especially that early after DTD  but am sure that these biological changes do interact and mutually influence behaviors .... (.... sometimes for the best, sometimes for the worse !)


and that's on top of different cultural expectations ....

delfin's Avatar delfin 11:22 AM 04-26-2011

I don't knw...I lived in mexico for many years, and I have never seen that kind of behavior from my friends. It is true that sometimes we take pregnancy as this delicate condition (and for some women it is) and other cultures go on about life while carrying babies. But I don't like when culture is a justification for being a jerk. Mexican culture is celebrating girls 15 years, drink champurrado an cold nights, saying con permiso every time you walk by someone...but the behaviors of your husband are not related to culture, more related to arrogance and entitlement, wich is something I could never tolerate.

I have to ask, is this his normal way of acting? or just when you are pregnant? Does he always go out, or just started now? I mean, I have seen friends who would go out at night when their wifes were expecting, but that is not in and of itself disrespectful. 

Maybe I was in touch with the more liberal, empatethic crowd. What happens if you are more specific with your requests, instead of waiting for him to guess, if you can voice your needs in a clear manner? Like, please honey, my back is sore, would you give me a massage? I would love some aice cream, would you please go get me some? If he just says no and rolls his eyes...I don't know. But maybe he doesn't realize he is being so unkind?


mt_gooseberry's Avatar mt_gooseberry 03:25 PM 04-28-2011

Reading these responses has made me wonder:  Have I been conditioned (as an American or otherwise) to believe that pregnancy/birth is an ordeal beyond what it actually is and further, that I am deserving of special treatment?  Is my husband unempathetic or does he really just not know what I expect of him?  Is this a communication problem or is my husband actually a bit of a jerk?  Is my husband's behavior really cultural or is it just his personal character? 


In response to my last "wonder," I think I can answer quite positively that yes, it is cultural.  Having lived among his family in Mexico and seen how men and women there fulfill their various roles, I can say that in the Mexico where my husband is from, machismo is most definitely still the mode.  So maybe he just doesn't know what I expect and this is more of a communication problem (assuming he would change some of his behavior even if he knew "better").  Now what I really have to figure out is, AM I asking for more than is actually reasonable because of bourgeois conception that as a pregnant woman I need special treatment? 


Maybe I'll start by simply chatting with my husband about how he feels and by letting him know what I feel.  I guess I could have done that in the first place!


IsaFrench's Avatar IsaFrench 12:25 AM 04-29-2011

also belive that maturity in a husband is a variable & how his own relationship with his mother evolved will make a difference on how he treats his wife/partner when she will be pregnant/about to become a mom herself...

pear-shaped's Avatar pear-shaped 12:10 PM 04-30-2011

I live in a pretty macho culture (southern Italy) and had a similar experience being pregnant, though pregnancy is considered a delicate condition here in that it is incredibly medicalised, perhaps even more so than in the United States. But lots of concern over the medical stuff aside, my dh was pretty unsympathetic about any discomfort that I felt, his attitude was that I wanted a baby, so I should stop complaining. It got much worse after our daughter was born. He had no patience for how long it took me to do things, no compassion for how exhausted I was, how painful breastfeeding was at the beginning, etc. His attitude was basically, you wanted to be a mother, what did you expect? He used to remind me about this expression they have here that translates as, "You wanted the bicycle, now pedal," lol. I actually love that expression but when he was using it on me back then I did not appreciate it!


I think some people outside this culture might look at how my dh behaved and just ascribe it to immaturity, what have you, but I think the point that IsaFrench makes about a man's relationship with his mother is really important. It's a relationship that is very much culturally-determined and if you live in a culture in which mothers are expected to be completely self-sacrificing (even well into the adulthood of their children, as is the case where I live) it's easy to see why a man might not feel compassionate towards his wife if she complains about things his mother would never, ever complain about. I don't know what Mexican mothers are traditionally expected to be like, but traditionally, the Italian mother is basically a martyr. I think that in more progressive parts of the country that doesn't hold true anymore, but where I live it certainly does for a majority of people. And any woman who doesn't conform to that model is considered less than a woman. greensad.gif

Originally Posted by IsaFrench View Post

how his own relationship with his mother evolved will make a difference on how he treats his wife/partner when she will be pregnant/about to become a mom herself...



frugalmum's Avatar frugalmum 12:25 PM 04-30-2011

My husband is not necessarily "macho" but he comes from a very traditional/ conservative culture where men have nothing to do with pregnancy or newborns.  He actually made an effort, sort of, the first few times i gave birth, but I quickly learned any expectation was too high and that I would be better off just excluding him from the whole affair (which is fine with him).  I've birthed in the hospital without him the past 2 times (one time a female friend was with me, the second time I was by myself, which felt great after the disappointment and stress of having DH around) and for about the first year, year and a half he is not involved at all with the baby-- he doesn't like holding young babies so why try to force him?


But he starts to interact with them more after about 18 months and is really sweet to our older kids.  Not in a crunchy liberal dad kind of way, he just has a nice sense of humor and is sweet and kind to them.  I try to look at the benefits of his coming from a traditional culture.  I get to SAHM because in his view that's what moms should do, and he is an amazing provider.  He'd rather die than see me work.  So I feel blessed in that respect because SAHMing is so important to me.  My heart breaks when i read stories from women whose husbands don't want to support them or feel it's too much pressure.  I like our old-fashioned arrangement very much.