I received an e-mail from a reader. She’s a 25 year old American who has fallen in love with 38 year old Mexican, who is a doctor here in Mexicali. She wanted advice.
She is new to the Mexican tradition and culture. He has professed his love for her and both of them wish to bring it to the next level. Help…advice!
I thought this e-mail was very interesting and decided to ask our truly great Mexican friend, who is always upfront and honest with us, on his culture and traditions. Jim and I call him KIA, which stands for “know it all.”
Over three hot cups of cappuccinos, I presented this interesting matter to KIA… “It goes like this, KIA-this American girl and her Mexican boyfriend have marriage on their mind. What do you think?” I asked.
“MaryAnn just loves to help, and even though I speak Spanish, I don’t know much about love Mexican style,” said Jim with a big grin.
“Stop grinning Jim, this is serious stuff,” I huffed back.
“No, you have a legitimate question. Mexican tradition is different. I am not a professional in anyway, you understand,” answered KIA, halting, and taking a sip of his cappuccino.
“We know that, KIA, just tell us what you know? A general picture will do,” I said
“OK. I don’t know what type of boyfriend she has, everyone is different you know,” answered back KIA.
“Yes,” I said.
“Chances are everything will work out alright,” said KIA.
“Hmm…Go on,” I said.
“Inter-cultural relationships are difficult, this just not with Mexicans you understand?” said KIA.
“There has to be mutual respect of each other, otherwise, there is no love,” said KIA.
“Yes, that is the basis of any relationship,” I retorted.
“In our traditional Mexican culture, that is the girlfriend, the lady, who Mexican men take home to meet their mothers, is under the…how you say- the category of being the perfect woman, who is feminine, sweet and religious. No talking back and just doing what she is told to do. Now, this is the woman that would become the wife, and the mother, who will bear his children,” said KIA.
“No talkin’ back huh…that’s a good one KIA, you hear that MaryAnn?” smiled Jim. I remained silent.
“Yes, you see MaryAnn, I can see you are not happy about the ‘not talking back’ part,” smiled KIA.
“No no, go on,” I said.
“Ah, then, there is the other type of woman, that is fun to be with. She is noisy and wild. She never gets to meet the family. She can be just one of his many girlfriends. Traditionally, married Mexican men will have other women. And as the men become richer, they will have more women friends, you understand?” KIA smiled.
“Possessiveness is part of the Mexican love culture. The wife, or the real girlfriend, will not even talk to the mailman. It is not the right thing to do. The wife or the real girlfriend should not have any conversations with other men that are not from her husband’s family. Good behavior. Quiet, like the Virgin Mary!” said KIA.
“That is interesting. But I understand. Proper women don’t go talking to strange men,” I answered. “But I do talk to the mailman, or the garbage man, KIA,” I answered back.
“You are different, you are a gringa. But, if you were to marry into a traditional Mexican family, it is not your job,” he said.
“Mexican women are very jealous. But they cannot check on their men. I know, MaryAnn, this is a totally different culture,” KIA answered quickly.
“Most Mexican divorces break up because the wife is unable to let the husband have girlfriends,” said KIA.
“This explains Paulina’s behavior,” I said, thinking of our rich neighbor, Felix.
“Who’s Paulina? Your friend?” asked KIA.
“She’s the rich neighbor lady next door,” I answered.
“She behaves just the way you describe. When I went over that one Christmas, Paulina, just smiled and never said a word. But when they are entertaining, I hear her voice…loud and clear! They have wonderful parties; everyone is just talking, laughing, and drinking. One time, when Felix is entertaining some men friends, she is nowhere to be found. But Paulina is a pretty modern woman, KIA,” I explained.
“In terms of a mother, Paulina has done well. She has given her husband, two sons and a daughter…a real Madonna,” I said.
“You see, just like what I have told you. She is the mother of his children. She can scold him privately, but not around other people. She can give her husband a very difficult time, and then he has to sit outside and watch TV, or drink alone,” answered KIA.
“Wow, Latinas are tough women, you hear that MaryAnn?” chipped in Jim.
“MaryAnn, there’s a great deal to learn from all this. I think some of these traditional rules are pretty good,” said Jim, glancing at me again.
“I wonder how Mexican men deal with menopausal women?” I asked.
“That has got to be real tough, I went through hell here with MaryAnn,” said Jim.
“Blame it on my hormones, Jim,” I fumed.
“So, here is the general rule,” said KIA.
“OK, we’re listening…” I said.
“Love, the emotion for Mexican men is…how you say-sobrevalorado? Jim?” asked KIA.
“Overrated,” said a pleased Jim.
“Yes. We Mexican men have to find a good woman to be our wives and have our children, legally. The children he has with other women are also his children, you know,” said KIA.
“You see for yourself, how your neighbor behaved right? She behaves with dignity in front of her family and her husband’s family to a stranger,” said KIA.
“No wonder her husband, Felix gets angry with his daughter,” I said.
“What do you mean?” asked KIA.
“I told you before, she dresses fancy and walks like a model, KIA” I answered.
“Yes, too sexy huh?” laughed KIA.
“Felix’s daughter sure is pretty. Nothing wrong with that KIA?” asked Jim.
“No no-of course not, but the behavior that she sends out… Maybe the father is very traditional?” said KIA.
“These are modern times we live in KIA. Felix’s daughter is pretty, intelligent, educated. She’s allowed to date,” I pointed out.
“Yes, but with dignity,” said KIA, “otherwise, her parents will get angry.”
“Yeah, no kiddin? But we’re the same with our own daughter, KIA,” said Jim.
“In Mexico, the daughters of good families must behave, with dignity. Old traditions still exist for us to this day,” said KIA.
“No father wants people to think his daughter is a puta no?” said KIA.
“True, that goes for all cultures KIA!” I retorted.
“Men are taught young that the wife is the Virgin Mary, and other women, you can pick off the street,” said KIA, taking a big gulp of coffee.
We ordered more coffee and delicious chocolate cheesecakes for all of us. There goes my diet. We were all exchanging information from two different cultures, and we found that we were all on the same page.
“This American lady must really know her novio. Mexican men are not good at communications, and dialogue. Traditional Mexican men are not good at communicating or listening. She has to be able to sense his sincerity. Both sides must be able to communicate, each one get to know the other well. He might just want sex, but be really very traditional deep down. Tell this lady to enjoy his friendship, and get to know him very well,” answered KIA.
“And she has to know, that to marry a Mexican, she may have to go traditional no? Some rules are to be respected,” continued KIA.
We thanked our friend, KIA. Hugs all around. His cell phone rang. He has to pick up his sons at school-orders from his wife.