This is a blog post for ladies who have relationships with Dominican men! The majority of the searches where people end up on this blog are from people looking for information about Dominican men. I also have lots of emails from ladies who are in relationships with Dominican men and having problems, and also from those who have taken their Dominican husband to live with them overseas who are also experiencing some issues. There is a major cultural difference between Dominicans and people from more developed countries and it is that difference that we women fall for. However, understanding the differences might help to avoid some of the conflict. I know that every relationship is different, and every Dominican man is different and some are better than others and here I am pointing out the worst points. Obviously there are plenty of good points - but I wanted to look at the problem areas. I also know that I am generalizing here, but, for what it is worth, here are my top 10 golden rules for foreign women as to how to have better chance of having a successful relationship with a Dominican man – especially when the men are living overseas with them, away from the Dominican Republic.
Firstly there will obviously be communication issues if both parties do not speak the same language. In most cases, although not all, the women will not speak Spanish and the Dominican man has to learn English. This will not always be easy, and puts extra pressure on him, especially if he is not used to learning. Many have to attend classes in their new countries where teaching is done in a very different way from what they are used to. They may feel uncomfortable and nervous and under pressure to achieve. Trying to have a successful relationship with someone where you do not understand each other fully puts additional pressure on you both. You should try and learn Spanish too – don’t just rely on him to learn English.
2. If he comes to your country, understand how he feels
In most cases if a Dominican marries a foreign woman and goes to live in her country, it will be the first time he has been out of the DR. All he will know about his new country is what he has seen on the television, or talking to people who have been there (who always talk about the good!) The culture shock can be massive, not just the way things are done, but maybe the cold, missing family and friends, language barriers, different food, different everything. Some Dominicans will step up to the plate and embrace their new country, for others it is much harder, but understanding how they feel and trying to make them feel at home can help. Think of how many expats live in the DR and end up going home as they dislike too many things about the place. And what Dominicans consider normal, such as lack of electricity, expats will dislike. It works the other way around too, in that what you think is normal, they will not like. You should anticipate a period of adjustment.
3. Understand stress
Foreign women are used to coping with stress, as life is stressful in the developed world and people just get used to it. Long journeys to work, long working hours, maybe working two jobs or more, money issues – especially when saving all of the time to visit the DR. Rules and regulations which you just take for granted. One of the great things about the DR is the lack of stress. Few time pressures, lots of laughs, no appointments to go and see people as you just call in, drinking at the colmado. Imagine how a Dominican man feels when he experiences stress for the first time. It is a feeling which he is not used to. I remember my husband once asking me, when he was working very hard, that he felt strange and was that ‘estress’. And if the stress is ongoing, which it usually is, then the discomfort and unhappiness he feels builds. Many will miss feeling happy and relaxed.
4. Stress leads to anger
Many Dominican men have temper issues – although you may rarely see them. When they feel under stress, or cornered, they become angry. This is usually verbal but unfortunately can sometimes become physical. I think it is simply because they are not used to communicating and it is the only way they have learned to express how frustrated they feel. This is by no means condoning it, just that by understanding you can help to avoid these situations. Dominican men will become like a cat, cornered by a dog and hiss and spit. Afterwards they forget about it, but many relationships fail due to the woman not appreciating the stress their man is under, as for them stress is a way of life and they know how to cope with it. All they see is the man they married disappearing, and being replaced by someone who is sullen, uncommunicative and with outbursts of temper.
5. The past
Assuming that both parties can understand each other, Dominican men hate discussing the past. Maybe all men do? What is past is past and there is no need to bring it up again. However, we as women seem never to forget! Any discussion will almost invariably involve “Remember when you did this that or the other,” on our part. That is guaranteed to annoy the Dominican man who will yell " 'ta pasao!"
Don’t ask them! Latino men are by their very nature, macho. They like to know where you are, who you are with and what you are doing – until you manage to train them otherwise. However you do not have the same rights. Constant questioning is another trigger for temper tantrums. And you rarely get the right answer.
7. Don’t play the blame game
Long distance relationships are never easy, but what makes them bearable is the anticipation of what it will be like when you are together. Unfortunately the anticipation is often better than the reality, and when things don’t turn out as you have dreamed or planned, it is easy to blame your Dominican man. “Do you know how much I had to suffer to bring you here?” “Do you know how hard I had to work?” “Do you know how much money I spent?” No he doesn't know and to be honest, rightly or wrongly he probably doesn't care. You are usually the one who decided to do it, not him. This is one of the key issues which causes problems, as you then burden him with guilt, which again leads to stress. They think you love them, that you wanted them there, and now you are blaming them. They too will have been anticipating a life which was significantly better than the one they left and may also blame you for taking them away from the DR, especially if their life is not what they anticipated. And remember, Dominicans like instant gratification. They do not understand planning and saving for something. If they want a motorbike, they go and buy it on credit. They will not understand if you tell them they have to work for x years to have enough money to get them the lifestyle they want. “I want it, and I want it now!”
8. Understand the importance of family
Family is very very important to Dominicans, and they are usually all very close. Children are expected to look after their parents, there are very few old people’s care homes here, as the parents move in with the children or vice versa. Dominican children are also supposed to provide financially and there is extra pressure on those who go overseas as they are thought to be much richer. Every couple will handle this in their own way - some will send a small amount monthly, and some nothing. Again this can turn into a key bone of contention. Just be aware it is not only your man, who wants to look after his family but almost all Dominicans.
9. It isn't exactly lying
Dominican men don’t lie, they just don’t tell you the truth if they think it will cause conflict, which they hate, or if it will hurt you. Learn the signs, and don’t ask the question if you know the answer. “Did you take my chocolate from the fridge?” will always be answered with a “No” as they know they will get into trouble. If there are only two of you in the house then of course it was them. Next time hide the chocolate. Another option is don’t get annoyed when you find out they have crashed the car, so they work out they can tell you the truth and you don’t get annoyed. The childlike behavior of many Dominicans and the emotional immaturity is something that is attractive in the beginning. The ‘I love you,’ all the time, is just like a child – telling you what they think you want to hear. However, the childlike behavior, lies, tantrums and need for immediate gratification is the other side of the same coin.
10. Embrace the different cultures
It is difficult to understand how different two cultures can be. I had a comment on this blog from a Dominican lady who went to visit her American husband’s family in the US and he was amazed that she started cleaning their house – just like Dominicans do here in the DR as a way of saying thank you. When I married my husband in church in the UK, he shook my hand as I reached the altar. Many things will make you smile, and some make you cringe, but try looking at your culture through their eyes and live the best of both worlds.
If you want to know more about relationships with Dominican men and read real life stories then check out www.drsisterhood.com. It is a site for anyone who wants to know about the country and the people.
Also, to learn more about Dominican men and the culture of the country, you can read my two books "What About Your Saucepans?' and "Life After My Saucepans." They tell my story, warts and all, how I made the decision to leave the UK and come to the DR and the ups and downs of living with and marrying a Dominican Man. Most readers love them, and they are both best sellers on Amazon. You can buy then in kindle and paperback versions on all of the Amazons sites, in Chapters as well in Canada, and on Smashwords for the iPhone, Kobo and Nook versions. I hope you enjoy them and please let me know what you think of them and if you have time, leave a review as well!