The Struggle of Cultures

A good friend of mine just shared an incredible experience. You see, she’s from Poland, her husband is from Greece. From the very start they were like cats and dogs, fighting all the time, but funnily enough they could agree on all the major things they both wanted in life. He clearly loves her but the fighting wouldn’t stop, not even with the cute baby they got soon after they married. She didn’t give up, she really tried to accept his ways but when her mother visited them and tried to help in the household by shopping, she had to discover that her daughter was shaking when she brought home 12 eggs instead of 6. That’s right. Why?

Also when HIS parents visited and my friend thanked his mother for cooking, his father told her she shouldn’t thank her mother in law. In fact, he was telling his son his whole life he shouldn’t thank his mother for anything because this was her duty anyway, to cook and take care of them. He didn’t mean it in a mean way, this is just how things were. Suddenly everything was clear to my dear friend. 

I’m from Slovenia and Germany, right? So I had to understand two very different cultures right there. I’ve met people from around the world as a student in Germany since I lived next to them in the student dormitories. Then I went to London and you have the whole world there too. And finally I travelled a little bit, to the States and Latin America. My point is – no matter from which cultural background, the women were always strong and independent and went on with our modern times, trying to establish equality and a better relationship. Many of them gave up on their own men though. Well, they either accepted them but ridiculed them behind their backs and kept their own real opinions to themselves. Or they gave up on relationships altogether, focused on having work and a career but no family, because they knew if they should be having a relationship and children, it was automatically a given that she would stay at home and do whatever the man wanted. Including accepting his cheating ass. Their words, not mine. 

I just found that sad. I tried to have relationships with such men myself, from Cameroon, South Africa, Mexico, Puerto Rico…it all ended in disaster. Oh, my relationships with German guys ended just as well in disaster but for different reasons. But those who have read my articles until now know that I don’t hold a grudge and condemn people for who they are, instead I try to understand them. Obviously I dove into history and books, talked to a lot of people and had to sadly admit, machismo, chauvinism is still very much alive and strong in most of the world. 

Which means…!! Which means that what we have here in Europe and in the USA is really precious. Even we still have a way to go before we shall achieve great understanding of each other but at least there is real hope for men and women to harmonise. While in countries like in Africa or Middle East, India and Latin America I just can’t see anything happening at all. Oh, don’t get me wrong, you have amazing men in any of those countries and I’ve met those as well, but usually they leave their countries and end up in Europe or the States – I guess for a reason. No one will ridicule them for not “being real men” in Europe for respecting his wife as he would be in his own country. 

But we are talking about Greece her. Greece! Europe actually. Well, in countries like Greece or the former East Block, it’s kinda 50-50. I don’t really know what the proportions are but there are certainly more men who grasp equality and what a woman needs even in Greece than in a pure muslim country for example. Hm, perhaps I’m wrong, who knows.

I asked my friend – he clearly loves you, so what was the problem? You could see it perhaps as lack of respect for the work of women. It’s not intentional, people are warm and mean well, but this is cultural history. And that same understanding of the dynamics and roles in a relationship, was taken over by her husband. One can’t escape the culture you were brought up in, especially if that culture favours you and doesn’t make you question the order of things in society. And with that heritage he tried to control every little thing she did, nothing was ever good enough, she didn’t get the approval she needed and he didn’t hear his wife how important this is to her, no matter how many times she told him. And this is where things crumbled. Not because of a lack of care in his heart but because of perhaps an inability to even contemplate that such a little thing as feeling appreciated and hearing the words could mean so much.

We all have our own need how love needs to be shown to us. Some of us need to hear it, others need to be praised, I for example am big on touch, then again some need gifts… No, not every woman cares about gifts. You can’t be a dick to her and then buy a present to make it all good. I for example don’t give a fuck about gifts. Sorry for the language but that’s how strongly I feel about such an empty gesture. I know though that my partner likes gifts, meaningful gifts, so he gets them from me. And because I know it’s important to HIM to also give me something, I graciously accept and appreciate it. 

What my friend needed was appreciation, exactly the one thing her husband was taught not to show. Small thing, big catastrophe. 

Every time they argued, he even said, “fine then, let’s get divorced” but she never jumped on that sentence. But after a year when her mother visited and saw her beautiful, warm, giving, intelligent, independent daughter (all qualities he claimed he loved about her) shaking because of too many eggs in the fridge (something her husband didn’t approve of) – her mother opened her eyes to her own anxiety she allowed to stay in. And as my friend woke up to her own suffering, completely unnecessary and unacceptable suffering, she took the little daughter, packed her bags and left with her mother for a couple of weeks to Poland, saying for the first time, she wants a divorce and the daughter will stay with her and it won’t be in the UK. 

Now she’s back, he has dropped the control issue over night, is now reading the book “5 Love Languages” and trying to understand himself and her as well. He is finally communicating calmly, listening, responding.  It’s been 3 months now and they are still going strong. Well done! Honestly, I couldn’t have stayed with someone I was fighting so much from the start anyway. But they had something real between them and she was ready to fight for it. Bravo! Bravo for not giving up on him. And congratulations to him that he found that place of understanding where it’s not about being right or wrong and how his wife didn’t want to win, just wanted to be loved and love him.

Now here is my question (the above was just an observation). I’m trying to understand what are certain cultures trying to achieve with controlling a woman? I could understand (to a certain extent) if the motivation was to protect the wives and children. I absolutely agree that it’s in a man’s nature to want to protect. But we’ve discussed the masculine energy before  – the tricky bit about it is that it can be used to protect or opress. But somehow in these cultures men have managed to use it for both simultaniously! LOL? Should I laugh or cry at this point? And it’s tricky to oppose a man who is restricting you, when he then turns around and says “But I’m just trying to protect you.” 

Oh, I know that one too well! My (oh so modern) first boyfriend from my own country said EXACTLY that. He wouldn’t let me go dancing with my girlfriends or visit my best friend in Germany – because he wanted to protect me from myself because, apparently, I just wouldn’t be able to help myself NOT to cheat on him. He was worse than my own mother. Oh, who also by the way used total control my whole life – ‘because she wanted to protect me’. How would that work? Well, by keeping me in fear, I would then listen to her whatever she told me to do (or not to do) and therefore she would be able to protect me from the world. 

And what happened? The complete opposite. I became a lamb for the slaughter of countless abuse from others which ironically she never noticed and also couldn’t prevent. I get it. Something horrible happened to her and then she lived in fear and wanted to protect me from evil but achieved the exact opposite unfortunately. That’s why I KNOW that trying to control others never ever ends well. 

In Latin America it’s even more complicated but let’s leave that for another time.

You see, this is what I think: we are who we are – all of us human. All of us needing the same things in the very basic corners of our being. Obviously there will be a problem if any of us are denied freedom (of movement, speech, you name it), respect and love. Sure, people put up with a lot of bullshit but not forever. But it’s not about that. 

My point is – cultures who oppress certain groups are missing out on so much beauty and potential, talent, work force and brains who could invent the next Enterprise! 

And men, who are restricting women, are actually cutting into their own flesh. They are taking themselves away the possibility of being loved, of seeing his woman joyful, sharing this joy with him and the family… And when I say joy, I also mean sex. 

My friend has proven to me how much can be changed if both partners start learning about communication and how we function. Maybe all we have to do is drop our shields for a moment, sit down and learn. Learn from books and learn from each other. 

If you want to learn to communicate better, read my favourite book “Communication Miracles for Couples” by Jonathan Robinson. I might have mentioned it before and I sure will again, can’t recommend it enough because it’s so damn practical and on the point.

Next time – more on the dynamics in Mexico and what I learned overseas about love.

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