She has a seductive grace
that drives me mad.
Radiant stars fill her eyes with their
She has many charms;
He has no heart.
Ella y Yo by Jose Gautier Benitez
As a child, I didn’t see very good examples of loving male/female relationships. My father was very distant with my mother and by the time I was old enough to understand, I saw a lot of fighting and crying.
I didn’t really know my grandfathers. One I met once and I remember him being mean to my mother. The other was in a wheel chair, very nice but old and my grandmother took care of him.
It was strange to me the way men and women acted around each other especially in the Puerto Rican culture. There was this "machismo" attitude. My mother served my father first and made sure he was taken cared of before taking care of us. She never sat down; she always stood there, almost like a waitress waiting for him to be done.
He was suppose to be this king, yet he seemed pampered like a big child in a giant high chair that had to be taken cared of. In my little girl mind I couldn’t put it together, this big strong man who needed so much attention.
I married a man like my father, who needed a lot of attention, who didn’t want me to work, who wanted me to just take care of him and the home. He called the shots, yet I was taking care of him.
It wasn’t until I divorced and I was single that I began to look at how I wanted to be treated in a relationship, and how the male/ female relationships I saw as a child affected my choices as a grown woman. I started to read a lot and learn in therapy what I wanted in a relationship, and how culture played a role in my relationships.
When I met my husband, who is Cuban, I was blown away by how he and his friends treated me and their significant others. I went over to my husband's friend's party and I was shocked to see all the men cooking and serving the women. I was told to sit there and basically receive. It was different and I understand not all Cuban men are like this, but he was and it worked for me.
It went along with what I had been reading, how masculine energy was giving and feminine energy was receiving, and I began to understand why I had been confused as a child.
Today I understand that a healthy relationship is not set in a rigid system. We can take turns with not only one person giving and another receiving. It needs to be a mutual exchange of giving and receiving.
Our culture affects our relationships and today we have the ability to choose what we want and how we want to be treated.