Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dominican men - trying to understand them


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.


1. Communication

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!"

6. Questions

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 and if you join, as a member you get access to women who really understand the culture, free translations, free Spanish lessons, access to the members' chat room and discounts on  investigation services.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Interesting visitors and Sankies exposed


I had an American friend visiting over the weekend which was fabulous. We drove to Santiago airport to pick her up, where she was due to arrive on a plane from Punta Cana. They told her it would be a 19 seater – err Dominican exaggeration at its best.


The loudspeaker system announced that the plane had landed at 3.15, right on time, so we went to Arrivals to wait. By 4.15 still no sign of her, and only one other person waiting at Arrivals, so we asked and a nice man said that domestic flights came into another terminal. Back to the car and we drove at top speed to the supposed other terminal, who told us it was only used for private planes and not domestic ones. Back in the car and back to general Arrivals. Nada. I then went to information and asked. No, said the lady, the plane hadn’t landed yet and I was silly to listen to the loud speaker as it was a recording. They had one for each day which announced when the planes landed according to the timetable, it had nothing whatsoever to do with when they actually landed. You have to laugh. She said they couldn't afford a live person to man the public announcement system. As I was speaking to her the control tower told her over the radio that the plane had now landed, so we shortly met up and all was well.
A fabulous weekend was had by all, and Chivirico was especially enthralled with his baseball glove and all the books and flash cards she bought him in English and Spanish.


She left on Monday and my computer left for hospital and returned on Tuesday night. I had no idea what to do with myself so planted more seeds – courgettes, strawberries, squash, lettuce, cucumbers and more corn, and am eagerly awaiting their appearance.

I have had a few strange visitors at the gate this week. Firstly there was the electricity man. Husband went off to town to pay the bill and around 30 minutes later there was an electricity man at the gate with a clipboard. He said we had complained about the bill. I was bemused as I said we had no bill, but husband had gone to pay it. He said that yes, when husband saw bill he complained. The office rang him and so he was here to investigate. I was gobsmacked with the speed of the service, but couldn't tell him how much the bill was as husband wasn’t back yet. Not to worry, he said, I just had to tell him how many and what type of electrical items were in the house and he could estimate the bill. At that stage, Hector, who was also at the gate was looking very concerned as he knew that English women don’t lie. Luckily the man wouldn't come into the house as the dogs had their mean faces on.
I of course, didn't lie at all, I just had a touch of amnesia. I mentioned the washing machine, which he assumed was a posh American washer dryer, but it is a Dominican twin tub.


I mentioned the ‘small’ fridge and my laptop. I forgot the freezer and hot water heater. And when asked if we had a stereo system I could truthfully say no as we don’t – almost unheard of for a Dominican household. Hector looked very relieved, husband appeared and said he had complained as the bill was nearly US$100, and last month it was only US$50, so off they went to check the meter. No idea what the bill will end up being but I have now banned everyone from having hot showers apart from me.

The second visitor we had at the gate was a couple of days ago, from the Policlinic. It appears that this is like a General Practitioner’s surgery, and the lady on the motorbike was the doctor. They had heard we were new in the area and she came to register us. Asked about any illnesses, and told me that my blood pressure pills were free at the clinic. They have surgeries Monday to Friday 8 till 12 and everything is free including all medicines. They also do basic blood tests, TB tests and smears. She filled in a chart, and said she would keep a note of everything on my chart, asked me to go in to be weighed, have blood pressure checked etc. Again, totally amazing. I had no idea that sort of service exists here, but apparently it is common in the countryside.


This week has also been busy with the Sanky investigation service we offer. The Sankies do not seem to realize that the Junta has a new system, and instead of marriages just being registered locally in a book in the local office, they are now kept centrally and computerised.



Previously they would marry a foreign lady who would return home and then should the relationship not work out, or should they not get a visa, then they would just marry another one. I have had two Sankies over the last month who proposed marriage to their foreign girlfriends, only for me to find out that they are already married to other foreign ladies and as those marriages are registered centrally with the Junta they cannot remarry until divorced. Pain caused in the short term to two lovely ladies, but saving much heartache in the long run.

Friday, May 17, 2013

I think I am becoming a twitcher

Where we live you can usually hear nothing apart from the sound of birds. I have never really been into birds in a big way, but I have found myself wondering what type of birds they are, as there appear to be so many. This is what I have seen over the last week.

Firstly I saw these two little chaps, or chap and chapess, coming in through the cat hole, eating cat food and then hopping out.



Given my zoom photography is not very good, this is what they actually look like.


They are called Tody and are tiny with vibrant colours and long thin beaks. I thought they were hummingbirds at first as they are so tiny. Well cute, but not very intelligent if come in and out of the house through the cat hole. They are living in a tree stump in the wood next door.

Then I saw what husband told me is called a carrao which means limpkin in English.Looked like a brown stork.  It was apparently a baby one, and was suspiciously close to my carrots, but luckily did not dive in.


So, now I am all excited looking out for my new found feathered friends - as long as the cats don't find them first.

Meanwhile the balcony is finished, and el Lobito the baby husky is well impressed with the staircase.

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Unfortunately it only lasted a day or two as the English Mastiff tried it as well. He is enormous, and fell over the side taking all the banisters with him. Staircase is now off limits until we get the taypee out to fix it.

It has been a busy week on the book front too. I have had two interviews - one in expatclic which you can read here, and one in expatfocus which you can read here

I also have a new webpage for the book. It is on a book preview site, so you can read some of each chapter, read a detailed glossary and there are also some FAQ, to give you a little more background to me, the book and the Dominican Republic. You can find it by clicking on the second logo of the book on the side of the page where it says 'see inside'.

In the meantime, to keep life interesting, I have managed to pick up a virus which has damaged the computer's registry, and although the virus has gone, the computer is not behaving itself at all. I feel like my right arm has been chopped off! I have a visitor from the USA coming today for the weekend which will be great and off to Sosua on Monday and Tuesday to get the computer fixed and then life will get back to normal. Well, as normal as it gets here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Good Life


There was a television sitcom in the UK which ran from 1975 to 1978 called ‘The Good Life”. It was based around the lives of a couple, Tom and Barbara Good who decided to live a self sufficient lifestyle in their existing home in the suburbs in south west London. They turned their garden into an allotment, kept pigs, chickens, and a goat, and used the animal waste to make methane for power.


Their neighbours were middle class, Margo and Jerry, and Margo especially did not really approve of the house next door being turned into more or less a farm. It was a very popular sitcom, and most middle aged men in the country harboured a crush for Barbara, played by Felicity Kendall.


We are trying the equivalent of the Good Life here in the mountains, although it is going to take a while methinks.

Thank goodness it has just started to rain over the last few days, as there has been a drought here for the last 7 months, and the government have also restricted the amount of water which arrives by pipeline into the cistern. It should be every 14 days, but so far it has been three weeks and nada. Hence not enough water to water the vegetables. Anyway following the rain I now have cauliflower – well the leaves anyway, and I assume the actual cauliflower will appear at some stage.


The tomatoes have arrived, although a little while to go yet.


The radishes shouldn't be much longer before we can eat them.


There is one pea plant, and I am hopeful the others will appear soon. These are proper peas, not Dominican pigeon peas.


The runner beans have also sprung up in the last couple of days as well.


I also have cabbages, carrots, corn and watermelons. However, still to make an appearance are peppers, eggplant and onions, and, what a surprise, not a sign of a parsnip, and they were planted 2 months ago.

I promised an update on the balcony. It is semi finished. Just needs sanding, painting and varnishing. It was pointed out to me that the base looks like underneath Brighton Pier, but the top looks nice enough and so far it is pretty solid. We are going to have to paint it with termite stuff to stop it being munched away and husband says underneath will be perfect for chickens. I am not sure that is a good idea at all.




Chivirico was here at the weekend and he  went off with Feluche, my 84 year old neighbour on his horse


They went to visit the cow, which had to be moved a mile away as one of the neighbours said that the mooing was making her sugar increase - she is a diabetic. So the poor cow has had to move and Feluche has to ride up to see her every day and feed her. Still the horse seems happy enough.