The role that a man is expected to take in a relationship has perhaps never been subject to as much hand wringing as it is today.
The rise of modern feminism and slow progress towards equal rights for men and women has led to a shift away from traditional gender roles. Relationships between the sexes have been subject to millions of words of academic theses, self-help books and cynical jokes throughout the ages, but the modern man has to navigate what may be the biggest minefield today.
In the western world, men are grappling with the modern meaning of masculinity and the way they are expected to behave in a relationship, and these issues only become more complex if your partner is from a different culture. Whether differences originate in the way men are expected to behave in the home, or how their role in the relationship is expected to be perceived in public, there are plenty of opportunities for inter-cultural relationships to run into trouble.
Traditionally speaking, the man was expected to act as a provider while the woman looked after the home. The erosion of these roles is taking place to a different extent in different places, and can see men and women splitting the bill equally in some cultures, while in others the situation is more complex.
Aside from money, the question of how to divide household chores can also be an issue. Many men may have been raised to believe that it’s solely a woman’s responsibility to make sure that the house is clean and tidy, but in some places they might be expected to split the load with their partner.
There are plenty more examples of situations in which each partner might have different opinions on how they are expected to act, but there are ways that you can stop these niggling issues from becoming a big problem.
The first is a tip which applies to every area of a relationship, namely good communication. If you don’t tell your partner how you are feeling and address any issues that you may have, the lingering resentment that develops will lead to problems. It’s best to nip things in the bud and talk about what your expectations are.
If you are a man living away from home in the country of your partner, you may be under greater pressure to change your normal behaviour outside the house. What might seem like a small thing to you could have a wider significance that you weren’t aware of in the society that you find yourself living in.
One story I heard involved a Mexican woman who would give her British boyfriend a wad of cash each morning that he would then spend on her behalf throughout the day. As it turns out, the expectations of Mexican society are such that any woman who handles money when she is with a man is seen to be of lower moral standing, while respect for the man is also diminished due to his perceived inability to “keep a woman.”
By taking into account the role of societal pressures in a relationship, you can make it easier to avoid friction. In this situation, neither man nor woman loses out by communicating and coming to a compromise on their expected roles. This sort of compromise is key to a successful relationship, and is especially important in inter-cultural relationships.
At the same time it is important to set boundaries. If there are particular cultural expectations which make you feel uncomfortable, you have to stick to your principles. The idea is to share the best parts of your two cultures, not sacrifice one person’s identity at the altar of the other.
It is important to recognize that each relationship has its own set of factors to consider. However if you are worried about how the role of a man can change in inter-cultural relationships, there are several key points to take away. Good communication is vital to identify where your differences may lie, and compromise is essential in coming to an agreement on what the man’s role should be. If you can do this without losing a sense of self, there is a great chance that inter-cultural relationships can work.
After all, every relationship is built on a willingness to make small sacrifices in order to be with the love of your life. If you are feeling unsure about how you are expected to act, the best course of action is to talk to your partner.