When you are married to someone from a different culture, background,and country, with a different language, education, and upbringing, it certainly brings with it a whole variety of challenges.
I love this about Dominicans. They share everything. If someone is hungry they will give them food, give them a bed if they have nowhere to sleep. Help pay for medicines and the doctor if they are sick. They will lend their car or motorbike to anyone who asks. It is a lovely part of their nature and I find it very humbling as it makes me realise how careful we are with our possessions in the developed world. However it can be frustrating when the Christmas presents you bought him, like the new denim jacket, the camera, the new pair of jeans, mysteriously disappear even before the end of January. Sometimes given away, sometimes 'borrowed' by the children or family, never to be returned.
Family are incredibly important. There is no system of social security and very few people have pensions, so when you are old and decrepit your children look after you. No Granny dumping here. What is more, as soon as the children start working they give part of their wages to their parents. It is just the way it is. My husband's third son lives in Spain with his mother and every month he sends us half of his pocket money. When you are sick and in hospital the whole family moves into your hospital room and looks after you and brings you food - nurses just come and change drips or give injections. If you are unlucky enough to go to jail the family brings you food every day.
But when the family come to visit they take over. I don't spend time in the kitchen, preparing for their visit. Once they arrive they just walk in, take everything out of the freezer, and start cooking. They take my clothes out of the closet and wash and iron them. At first it would do my head in, now I just let them get on with it and try not to cry when I see the nice piece of beef I was saving for next Sunday lunch being chopped up and thrown in a pot of rice. And remember, your Dominican man will of course send money to his parents, and they will always come first in his life - no point in fighting it. Both of my husband's parents are dead, but we send money to his brothers and sisters if they really need it.
Dominican men are very optimistic and generally live for the day. It is wise not to let them have total control of the finances or you are unlikely to last the week let alone the month. My husband has an amazing ability not to dwell on the past at all, it is not worth it, he says, it is past. If you have food for the day then everything is right with the world, and if you don't, then someone is sure to give it to you. Life here is all about laughter and appreciating the good, however small it is, rather than dwelling on the problems, or what might happen.
4. The truth
This is a tad difficult for your typical Dominican man. He will always tell you what he thinks you want to hear, and will never tell you anything he knows will make you cross. If you are a tourist on holiday and you ask any Dominican if it will be sunny tomorrow they will always say yes, as that is what you want to hear. I would realise the car was missing and ask where it was. The answer is always the same: "Nearby," or "It will be here soon" or "What's for tea?" Anything rather than tell me it had been lent to someone who had no driving licence and who had taken it to a town 4 hours away.
The great thing though about being with someone so different to yourself is that you both find wonderment in each other's country and culture. I will laugh in amazement when I see the kids going to school on the bus, and he cannot see what I am laughing about as it is normal for him. And when we are in England he is like a cross between Crocodile Dundee and ET as he sees so many things that are different, such as trains - there are none here - horses wearing coats in the cold weather, white smoke coming out of your mouth when you breath in the cold air.
Life is one long journey of adapting to each other's ways. The washing line is used to hang fish on to dry in the sun covered in salt and oregano (one of his specialties) and the laundry is hung on a barbed wire fence to save on pegs.
He cannot read a map and when we travel anywhere I say use the map and he says ask people en route. So as I usually drive, every journey takes a long time as we have to stop for me to read the map, and stop for him to ask people. We laugh about whose system worked best but we always get to where we are going in the end though - and that is what it is all about isn't it?