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Intercultural relationships in Brazil

Hello,

We invite you to share some fun anecdotes and information regarding intercultural marriages and relationships in Brazil. This will provide some insight to current and future expats regarding relationship norms in mixed relationships and marriages in Brazil.

What are some of the best things about being in an intercultural relationship/marriage?

What are some challenges that you have faced or are currently facing? How do you address them?

Are intercultural relationships/marriages common and accepted in Brazil?

What are the benefits to being in an intercultural relationship/marriage?

Do you have any fun or interesting anecdotes to share regarding dating norms and rules for intercultural relationships/marriages?

Thank you for sharing your experience,

Priscilla

What are some of the best things about being in an intercultural relationship/marriage?

It's much more difficult for people in an intercultural relationship to become bored with each other: They both have much to learn from each other.

What are some challenges that you have faced or are currently facing? How do you address them?

Most important: One must word hard at being understanding, kind, and careful because even the most communicative couple are at risk of misunderstanding / miscommunication.  Consider: Over 50% of all communication is non-verbal and what communication is received depends on one's cultural values and experiences.

Are intercultural relationships/marriages common and accepted in Brazil?

In my experience, Brazilians as a group / culture are about the most open, accepting culture in the world.  They truly have strong belief in the social value of the axiom "live and let live".

What are the benefits to being in an intercultural relationship/marriage?

See comment above on lack of boredom in intercultural relationships.

Do you have any fun or interesting anecdotes to share regarding dating norms and rules for intercultural relationships/marriages?

Yes. many.  Most interesting is that (1) Brazilian women in particular are most concerned with whether a man is "serious" and (2) "serious" in the Brazilian sense has not much at all to do with Anglo-Americans' understanding of the word ("sério", in Portuguese).

We invite you to share some fun anecdotes and information regarding intercultural marriages and relationships in Brazil. This will provide some insight to current and future expats regarding relationship norms in mixed relationships and marriages in Brazil.

What are some of the best things about being in an intercultural relationship/marriage?
Learning a new language and a new culture from the inside. Why wife is always spouting "dicas" and usually expecting me to understand them the way she does. For someone that likes a challenge and loves to say "me explica essa dica" this is awesome. For someone that feels ridiculed when someone automatically expects you to understand something, this is horrible. I love roller coasters. This is the equivalent of taking every single roller coaster in the planet and combining them and them multiplying it by ten.

What are some challenges that you have faced or are currently facing? How do you address them?


Looking back on the above question ↑↑↑, understanding Brazilian sayings and the cultural peculiarities of the family that you have entered. My wife was raised poor. When visiting her grandparents, the grandchildren slept on blankets on a dirt floor. Her father was the son or grandson (I forget right now which but I think grandson) of a black slave of a Portuguese settler. He was in the Federal Police section of the customs department.

I grew up in the upper middle part of the US Middle Class in the 70s and 80s. I remember everyone at least greeting each other when seeing someone, known or not (Hey, how's it going?/How ya doing?/etc).  That stopped in the US in the late 80s and never came back. Here in Brazil I have complete strangers say hello and sometimes even make small talk (Some weather, huh?/How are you?/Como vai/Tudo bem?/etc) just like "back home" in the 70s. I love it.

Then again, there's the time my then-fiancee's son was costing me close to R$1000 a month in water, laundry, and food, and my wife said that if I kicked him out, I would be kicking both of them out. He's the age of my daughter, born in 1988. He would also bring his new girlfriend and her son and expect them to be treated, fed, and housed like my own daughter and grandson. Oh, and I also had to buy the beer for all of them because his "patrão (political) didn't want him to have a job so he could be on-call 24/7"). He was an "açugeiro"/butcher at one of the local grocery stores and making something like R$4000 a month when he decided he wanted to get into politics and quit.

Last year, as a surprise for my stlll-fiancee (now wife), I paid to fly her (my) daughter, her husband, and her (my) grandson here for a visit. I expected maybe 6 weeks. They moved here, which idea I love. But they lived here, sleeping in the kitchen (we have a one bedroom, plus "sala" which is a kitchen and mediocre sitting area) for 6 months. My/Our daughter's husband didn't work for close to 4 months, just collecting his disability from his firm in Recife, leaving me to continue paying for everything with them often cooking for us, using food I bought, and doing the laundry, with the products I bought. After 6 months they moved into the open unit on the other side of the stairs from us paying for it at first with his disability and then here got as a housekeeper with a neighbor of my wife's boss, making more than my wife does for fewer days a week.

Sure, there are families in the US where something like would not be looked upon askance. My family wasn't/isn't one of those. Although I am very different from my parents, my father was raised dirt dirt poor during the Depression, being the quintessential "Depression-era waif with a family." He not only wore the hand-me-downs of his two older brothers, but those of his older sister as well. Much of "play time" for them was spent devising and building traps for small game to supplement the food the meager money available could buy. All 4 kids worked in the cotton, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, and alfalfa fields of Texas, New Mexico, and Central California, plus many of the nut and fruit orchards there as well, while growing up in the 40s and 50s. My dad grew up thinking that no sacrifice was too great to save a penny, even if it greatly hurt family members. Thankfully, I absorbed more humanity than that from my mother, but I still have problems accepting the fact that as the male I'm expected t pay for just about everything and my wife is only to be expected to pay for stuff she wants, not really what the family needs unless she wants to.

"Trabalho autonomo" in the home seems to be looked upon quite differently here than in the US as well. I'm a freelance writer. Because my work isn't seen by my wife to be as hard as hers as a housekeeper outside the house, many domestic chores such as dishes, putting away her clothes, and washing and putting away the dishes are all my responsibility. One step further, because her work is obviously much more difficult than mine (although my work earns close to 4 times what hers does) hers is more important and if she buys cigarettes and beer, I have to ask permission to have a beer. And when I buy the beer, if I want 4 (between three people) out of a 12-pack, I better grab those 4 and stick them in a cooler bag that I keep with me, otherwise I'm lucky to have 2 or 3 "because they both work hard as housekeepers and I only work on my computer." This pisses me off. I've told her various times this makes me feel like a second- or third-calls person. "no, it's just because you don't work as hard as we do and you're the man."

And then, when her daughter and son decided they'd move here, admittedly with no little persuasion from me, I got saddled with paying for 3/4 of my grandson's tuition and clothing at the private school and everything at the "livraria/papelaria"-pens,pencils, papers, glues, etc.-all stuff that would normally be provided for a student in the US, especially one at an especially expensive private school.

I'm told by my wife and daughter that neither of them think of me as the stereotypical "rich American" but sometimes I really wonder.

My wife considers herself very liberal and equality-driven. However, in my American/US opinion, she's looking at things a little backward. Her mother and grandmother helped their husbands with every household expense, although the majority of them were his responsibility. My wife thinks that her being liberal and equality-driven means that she only has to help with food and rent (water and electric are thankfully included) if and when she wants to. Everything she earns at work is for her to spend as she sees fit. I often feel as though I'm nothing more than a "Sugar Daddy" although I'm the farthest thing from the American understanding of that term that there could be, a second- or third-class member of this relationship.

Are intercultural relationships/marriages common and accepted in Brazil?
Yeah, pretty much. We haven't had any problems.

What are the benefits to being in an intercultural relationship/marriage?
See above. Being married automatically confers legal residency in the country of residency.

Do you have any fun or interesting anecdotes to share regarding dating norms and rules for intercultural relationships/marriages?

My wife considers sex my obligation to her, her due as part of my promise to love her. That was interesting to discover. "hey, get over here and initiate sex with me because I want it." basically. She won't initiate, but she'll "intimate."

Oh. From my understanding and experience, you can't let family or work problems interfere with talking with your Brazilian lady. You may have lost your job, your child may have disappeared, and a (grand)parent may have died, but don't you dare to forget to at least once a day say "Hello, ow are you dong? My life is wonderful because I'm here close to you and not close to my family so we can grieve together." to your "Brazilian lady friend." Gods forbid you let something as small as that cause you to forget sending a message for three or four days (Yeah, I'd already moved to Brazil and that happened and she broke it off.). Last year I was considered an asshole by my wife and her family because I cried on her birthday. Oh, it just also happened to be the day someone that had been my friend since 1972 died of cancer. No big deal. I'd only known her for all but 6 years of my then 51 year long life. I had to be joyous because it was also my wife's birthday.

Being in an intercultural relationship is both the hardest and most heart-breaking and most rewarding and heart-warming experience of my life. Like I said: Take every roller-coaster in the world, multiply it by ten, and there ya go. The ride of your life. I think that once we hit the 5 year anniversaries, it may smooth out, but gods all around, sure as hell hope not.

Hi Mike, I've been told by my wife, a psychologist from "Class B" whose father was an attorney, with siblings who are attorneys and a doctor, that it's very difficult for her and her friends to believe that--as an American--I'm not wealthy.  She tells me that Brazilian propaganda basically leads everyone to believe at a subconscious level that all Americans are wealthy.  I notice it actually makes her quite upset when she sees / realizes that I'm not wealthy.  :-/  Ah well ... .  Cheers, JMc

JMcL :

Hi Mike, I've been told by my wife, a psychologist from "Class B" whose father was an attorney, with siblings who are attorneys and a doctor, that it's very difficult for her and her friends to believe that--as an American--I'm not wealthy.  She tells me that Brazilian propaganda basically leads everyone to believe at a subconscious level that all Americans are wealthy.  I notice it actually makes her quite upset when she sees / realizes that I'm not wealthy.  :-/  Ah well ... .  Cheers, JMc

Yep. We had a huge fight before we got married over that. I said it felt like even though she said otherwise, she thought I was a "rich American" and that she acted that way spending money like it was water. But to this day, she can't believe that I don't have a magic wand I can wave to get someone to give me money when she wants it. "I can borrow up to R$700 from my checking account, you should be able to borrow much more from yours." "But honey, American banks don't do that automatically. It takes time and building credit with them."

So true.  My husband isn't that way, and his family (thank God!) Is traditional and too proud to lean on us, but he's been mortified by the number of friends and casual acquaintances who have hit him up for "loans" since we moved here, apparently on the assumption that we have unlimited funds.  They're wary of me, but when they get him alone, out come the hands.  We're probably going to lose some friends before the word gets out that we're not a soft touch.

Yep. And then there's the "Well, can't you ask your parents?"

Sure, I can, but if my dad has his way we'll pay at least 25% in fees/interest.

The average perspective of Brazilians on trust among society, friends, and family:

https://www2.ifmg.edu.br/portal/noticias/vestibular-e-exame-de-selecao-2017-1-divulgados-gabaritos-e-provas-resolvidas/prova-resolvida-superior-2017-1-final.pdf

https://oglobo.globo.com/brasil/jeitinh … a-11842428

Huh.

JMcL,

The average perspective of Brazilians on trust among society, friends, and family:

https://www2.ifmg.edu.br/portal/noticia … -final.pdf

https://oglobo.globo.com/brasil/jeitinh … a-11842428



This is the most complex problem I´ve dealt with in Brazil. My experience and have observed:

1. As a foreigner, be careful of what you say as the majority if not all will doubt or suspect that there´s no truth of what you´re saying. People especially those who never traveled has doubts about things that don´t exist in their country.

2. If you favor a friend, the rest are like insulted and will start to cause disruptive behaviors against you and your friend. I don´t know if that´s just envy or the friend
whom you are favoring has proved himself as a better "aproveitador" than them.
I´ve experienced this 3 times.

3. Take things with a grain of salt if someone promises things to you. I was moving to a nearby city one time and an acquiantance that I´ve known for 2 years promised to help and transport my things to my new address. He never appeared.

4. They only trust if at all only members of the family or a childhood friend that they´ve known a long time. Don´t be fooled that suddenly as a foreigner you are fully trusted.

5. Having a girlfriend: You have suddenly gained a dependent if you are a Gringo from
the northern hemisphere. Alas, you are suddenly liable for her utility bills, cosmetics,
ad infinitum! They´re sweet and beautiful but that aspect comes to dread you everyday! I´m not
generalizing for all Brazilian women but that has happened not only once.

6. They´ll parade you to show that they have a Gringo friend. That´s it. The majority don´t really
contribute to the growth of the friendship but a rare soul. However, they want loans. Lots of people owe me money and never been paid back.

7. However, there´s one family that I know for 25 years now and consider me as one of their own. Here, I pour my investments. I´m a Godfather of 2 children in Brazil and the parents (my compadres and comadres) treat me well.

8. Jeitinho... My God, that really encompasses a lot from good to bad. Signs by the roadside of 50 and they run 100km/hour. They pass to the right. Two motorcycles pin you on both sides are you´re
stuck not to move by a hairpin, trajectory straight up and no sudden moves. They will invite you to an occasion that never happens. There are people who show a friendly attitude and acts like similar to even adopting you, etc etc...

9. I don´t want to aggravate things further by mentioning more of the negative aspects of the Brazilian culture so  I´ll stop here.

robal

As the saying rightly puts it,

"O Brasil não é para calouros."

"Brazil is not for beginners."   :cool:

Robal,  I've had very similar experiences and--strangely enough--I still love it here (I live in Sao Paulo) and would never willing return to the US to live.  Ah well, live and let live seems a very good axiom in the circumstances.  :- )  Cheers, JMc

JMcL :

Robal,  I've had very similar experiences and--strangely enough--I still love it here (I live in Sao Paulo) and would never willing return to the US to live.  Ah well, live and let live seems a very good axiom in the circumstances.  :- )  Cheers, JMc

Same here.  This is my second time living in Brazil - Sergipe the first time, Amazonas now - and I don't plan to ever go back, except to visit.  In fact, I'll be starting the naturalization process in November, the earliest I can under the law, with the goal of dual citizenship.

I also feel the same way about living here. I have no plans of moving back, just to visit. I will seek dual citizenship too. Might as well since my wife and kids are dual.

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