Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Getting personal

For the most part I have kept my "real" personal life completely separate from the blog world. It's not that I don't trust most of my blog readers, but for me, and only me, there are just some things that I don't want people to know. I've always been this way, and think I always will. Heck - none of my family, nor friends from back home are even aware I have a blog!! I don't want to tell them, why? I can't explain it...I just don't.

Anyways, today I wanted to share something. I have no one to really talk about this with, but maybe all my friends who live here can give me their two cents? My friends who don't, well I'm sure you can give me an outsider's perspective.

I am married to a Mexican. Okay, well I'm pretty sure everyone already knew this. The part that you don't know? OMG....How hard it is to be married to someone when you share completely different cultural backgrounds, and beliefs. Don't get me wrong, it's also an added benefit at times. I love learning a new culture's way of life, but I still love my own.

Hubby lived in Canada with me for almost 6 years, and that is a long enough time that he was able to learn how life north of the border is. It is face paced, everyone stresses about everything, go, go, go, and do it all over again tomorrow. This is a life I thought I used to hate. A place where everything works, where the litter is taking over the streets, where laws are obeyed..albeit not by everyone, but most!

Hubby and his family are very close. Very, very, very, very, very, very, very close. To me, almost tooooo close. They speak on the phone every day maybe 5, 6, 7 times a day. I mean allll of them. They adore each other with love, and kisses, and such. Sounds nice, right? Well, what's wrong with me then? To me it's smothering, and I feel like a third wheel. Don't get me wrong, they love me, and I do love them, but let a man be a man and move on with his life...errr...wife!

It's gotten to the point where I don't go to his family's house as much anymore - hubby doesn't want to feel rushed to leave. Okay, I'm cool with that, but you go 4 or 5 times a week! There are only 7 days in a week.... For the record I do still go at least twice a week.

Okay, well I am going to stop there as this could go on forever.... Am I a terrible person? Is this all just me???


Leah said...

Amiga, I assure you that I get what you're saying 100%. My in-laws live just around the corner, so hubby sees them nearly everyday, for at least half an hour or more. Or they come here. Sometimes I don't go. It's not that I have issues with any of them, it's just I want some space. And quiet. They can be very loud. One of them is the most high-strung ball of nerves you would ever meet, who shouts when talking. Ugh. They used to just barge into our home 3-4 times a day. Noisy and sticky fingers. Apart from that I was constantly criticized for the way I did things. I usually ignored that part and just did what I wanted anyways, but the space issue was a problem. Hubby and I tried to address it with them many times for many months without much success.

After 9 months or so last year I reached the breaking point and told my husband calmly, but through tears that I just couldn't take it anymore. I needed a break and was going back to the US for a while. I did not want a break from him, but from his family. They were suffocating and I couldn't be smothered all the time. Since they did not seem to get the message, I needed to separate myself for a bit. This wasn't an open threat, and I assured him of that. I just needed to get away for a bit to breathe.

Well, he promptly went over and made the message more clearer to them. He never told me what he said but whatever it was, things changed pretty much overnight. Everything improved. The multiple daily visits, shouting, taking things, and criticisms decreased dramatically. At least in our home and often in our presence. They didn't completely stop, but it went down to a more 'normal' level of in-law relation.

The key here is, your husband needs to see your feelings through his own eyes. I often paint a role reversal to do this. Once I told Saul to imagine living close by my parents, who came over constantly and meddled in our business and gave their opinions and criticisms over everything he and we did, took his things and shouted in his ear, well, he saw a clear picture as to what I was dealing with.

I can't say things are perfect. They probably never will be. But things are manageable now whereas before completely out of control. I never asked for them to change who they are, just to respect some boundaries. And most of the time, they do now.

I'm living proof that things can change in that regard, so have hope! However you choose to address it with your husband make sure you're calm and that he knows you do enjoy his family, but that there needs to be a balance. I'm sure you will navigate the situation well. In-laws are never easy, especially when they are foreign, with their own way of doing things. But your voice counts too, and your marriage matters the most. Do what's best for that first and foremost. :-)

P.S. the captcha code for this comment is "splat". :-)

Bob Mrotek said...

I am married to a wonderful Mexicana whom I sometimes call "Mamá Gallina" (Mother Hen) because she is always worried about her family. She spends a lot of time with them and I often answer the phone "Crisis Hotline" because we seem to have one or two everyday but they are mostly minor. At first it bugged me that she would not "destetar" (wean) but I finally realized that that's the way it is, that's the way it always was, and that's the way it's going to be. I accepted it, screwed my head on straight, and joined the crowd. I am now much happier :)

antonio said...

you are not bad at all, just a normal person, I cant imagine go to my parent house every day, since I married I go every 2 weeks, and just for 2 hours, and I am Mexican!

Nice blog!

KfromMichigan said...

Mexican's are very close as you know. There is no changing that. I being an Italian am very close with my Mother (father is deceased). My hubby is a Serb and is very close with his family. It is something we just have to accept or it will drive you crazy and cause problems. Have your own space and enjoy time with friends. Don't let this bother you so much. Visit when you want, but don't try to keep him from visiting. The in-laws like you, so keep it that way. If ever you need to vent, send me an e-mail. (located on my facebook account) Hang in there amiga!

Jonna said...

I think one of the hardest things to change in ourselves is the cultural value of space that we grow up with. I know that it drives me quietly nuts when people get too close to me to talk or just to stand. Plus, I spent a year in my youth as part of a Mexican family and I clearly remember the suffocating feelings that would overwhelm me at times. I just wanted some place I could go and be ALONE... even just for an hour or two. I used to say that all we did at the families house was mill around. Everyone sat around, talked a lot, did nothing much that was interesting to me but there was a strong resistance to anyone being alone. It was very, very difficult for me to stay in a polite mood, I wanted to scream.

I have no advice just empathy, it's a tough one when you are grown and married and the boundaries you believe in and really, really need are not respected. They don't understand it, and there is no malice but that doesn't really help. I liked Leah's advice, I think the key is that they need to understand the cultural difference so they don't take offense but can give you some space.

Amanda said...

I have to agree with Leah that you need to be sure your husband understands your perspective and in my case also role reversal helps a lot. Think of a situation that would be similar to him. And at the same time I must agree with another commenter who said you should limit you going over to visit but dont try to limit him to much on that point. Obviously he should be spending time with you also and maybe after you not going with him he will realize he likes it better to go only a few times and only when you go. Thats how it was with my husband. Good luck dear. This really is a hard thing to deal with. To be honest its part of the reason IM thankful for our move.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty lucky in that Jorge loves his parents, but he isn't dependent on them. We go over to their house every weekend and hang out, but that's usually about it. Even then, we aren't with the in-laws the entire time we're there.

My in-laws are also great about respecting our privacy and not butting in with opinions. (but we're an exception to the rule haha)

I think the best thing you can do is to talk to your husband about it. Maybe cut down the visits to 2 - 3 times a week (1 or 2 visits for you).

I have a few other points, but for privacy purposes I will wait until drinks tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I *think* Jorge talked to his family a little bit about the space and criticisms at some point... because they were more "Mexican" when I met them, but things have gotten better over the last few years.

Leah said...

I forgot to subscribe to comments, so here is fruitless note. Think I've already said enough anyways. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate. Sometimes I want to scream "cut the umblical cord why don't ya!!!"

The Lovely Wife said...

Well, I understand it's overwhelming, and you are totally right, at times should be nicer to have him just for you and his family respecting the privacy a married couple needs :). Not all the Mexican guys are like this, it's true they are really attached to their families but everything need balance.

Have you talked to him about your concern?, for him to understand your perspective.

I hope everything gets better and you two talk about your concerns :)

Kristan said...

Hey girl, I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND how hard it is to be married to someone from a different culture, different language etc. My husband is not like your hubby with his family, but I am or was. Like all the time on the phone in mexico with my family, here all the time with them. roberto had to lay down the law. He had to tell me basically i needed to spend more time with him and that he could not spend all of his time with my family. and i well, i had to grow up and be mature and be a better wife. that's probably what your hubby has to do. and since he was gone for so long in canada it's more exaggerated. it took me a while to understand, but now i do. i am sure if you explain to your husband, he'll finally get it. good luck! that or move to Playa del carmen!!!!!

On Mexican Time said...

Leah - OMG, you really do get where I am coming from, right? I couldn't imagine if they lived around the corner...Although my cunada isn't even that far! LOL! EXACTLY - I do not have issues with them, but I want some space, and alone time. Mine can be sooo loud to, almost over bearing to be honest. They come over and take over. Wow, critisizing would be my final straw... Fortunately, I don't deal with any of that...Just smothering, and over bearing!

How long did you go home for? I've thought about it.... Just to have time to breath and for hubby to miss me... Maybe he would get it more?

I think the role reversal may be one of the best ways to address the issues at hand. He really doesn't see my side of things at all, and this may be the only way for him to be honest about how he'd feel?

I need to address it again, but since I wrote this post (well a few days later) things have slightly improved... I'm hoping more and more, for the sake of our marriage. I just want some space...from them. I want them to respect some boundaries...

Thank you for all of that, I know you took the time to write it and I appreciate it so much.

On Mexican Time said...

Bob - haha, thank you for sharing! Especially since I can relate to the crisis hotline part! You are a Saint! As much as I wish I could tell myself to get with it, I just can't. It would go against my true beliefs... I believe in the importance of family. Heck, my family and I are VERY close. However, boundaries is all I ask...We are a young couple and starting allllll over again. Just let us enjoy is all I ask.

Antonio - Thank you, Thank you and Thank you!!! I keep hearing stories that we are either normal or not! LOL!! I just want to be somewhere inbetween :)

KfromMich - Appreciate the advice amiga!! I definitely do not want them to dislike me over this. It's a very touchy subject, and I'll have to deal with it with care. I don't want to distance him and his family, but I do want to set boundaries. There is no need for them to know or ask why I'm going to the Gyno? That is not normal...that is a boundary!!! I think I'll take Leah's advice and roll play that scenario for him in reverse :) I may just be emailing you!! Youre awesome, thanks!

Jonna - I think you nailed it down to a tee! Sitting around the table for hours a day, just talking? Okay, sounds nice...Every day? Once a week, fine. More than that? I just think about all the things I could be doing? Or they could be doing? You really said it perfectly...Thank you for understanding, and taking the time to leave a comment. Really :)

I most definitely believe it is a cultural difference, and I understand that they may not understand, but I believe if my hubby explains and sets some boundaries - there will be no love lost

On Mexican Time said...

Amanda- thank you amiga :) I agree...Role reversal seems to be my best bet. I want my hubby to realize where I'm coming from, and then we can go from there... Also, I've thought that maybe if I stop going so much he will miss me... We'll see!! I'll keep you posted!

BTW... I've often wished we didn't live in Cancun. I wish we were in PV, or Tulum or somewhere else! EEEK...I don't think I can share that feeling with him :)

Gringation - well pooor you had to listen to me the other night!!! Thank you for your input, and letting me vent.... What are girlfriends for? I owe you one!!!!

Ashlie - EXACTLY!!! I've actually felt like saying "When are you going to let him wean off the bottle" I'm terrible! Gracias amiga :)

LovelyWife - Thank you for your comment. Yes, I have talked with him a lot about this. My biggest problem is he will ask me for examples and I can only think of one or two. I need to really sit down one day and really think about what I want to say that way I get it all out. I think that has been a problem, and I accept my responsibility in the lack of communication, or poor communication. I'll work on it! Also, I do know not all Mxn men are like this, but mine sure as heck is! I just wish he'd wean a little... :)

Kristan - You are soooo like my hubby!!! For the 6 years we were living in Canada, he was on skype almost every night with his parents!!! I mean for HOURS!!! There would not be a day or two to go by...I think it didnt' bother me as much as I was a full time working gal, and had tons of things to do all the time. Now that I am living here, without a job I have nothing but time!!! I'll try the role reversal and if that doesn't work, lay the law down! LOL!! No, no, but really...I may seriously convince him to move us somewhere else. I've already mentioned it a few times....Thanks for your words amiga :)

Leah said...

At that point I told hubby simply that I needed to go home indefinitely. I was thinking at least a couple months at that point b/c I was so drained and overwhelmed by his family. I felt like I was 'losing myself' and unhappy. Since he addressed them immediately, and things changed right away I ended up staying to see if things could improve. And they did. There are times I still have to keep them in check and call them out, but Saul always is a big support. That is KEY to getting them to listen. It has to come from him. And to come from him sincerely, he must see how the situation effects you negatively and empathize. That is what worked for me.

I waited to deliver the "I need to leave" line until I was really at a breaking point. And I meant it when I said it. I didn't want to leave him, but I told him to imagine himself in my spot and how it would make him feel, and that I didn't want to feel like that all the time. It wasn't healthy for me and I just couldn't live like that. Thank God, all of sudden everything clicked for him. He got it. And he still gets it and has learned when I have "that look" that I've had my fill of his family, it's time to go. At one point he told that he wanted me to know he was on my side - which was so sweet and reassuring. :-)

So believe, there is a solution. Your husband must 'get it' first and be on board. Then things get easier, but not ideal. Compared to where I was, I'll take easier any day.

And sorry for the long comments. I obviously should have written my own post about this at some point. ;-) Cuidate, amiga.