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Thread: Relocating a Dominican 101

  1. #1
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    Default Relocating a Dominican 101

    I have been thinking about doing this for a long time, and would like to call on others who have experienced this transition to provide their input as well. Anna put a bug in my ear about this, and after some thought, the following is what I’ve come up with. Hopefully, it will help others who have married Dominicans and are about to start a life together on foreign land know that there are resources available to them, and that there are many people who’ve been in their shoes and know what they are going through. This is, by no means what-so-ever, an invitation to Dominican-bash. I would like to stick to facts and keep personal attacks out of the equation.

    To give some background and some credibility to what I have to say, Angel and I have been married now for five years. Three children later, we feel like we’ve been through it all. Since Angel has been here, we’ve faced the death of his father, the birth of two babes, bringing his son from a previous relationship to live with us, a series of different jobs for Angel, and too many other things to mention. It’s been quite the roller coaster ride, and sometimes it feels like it’s just too much stress to continue. After all, we’re from very different cultures, we have different expectations and ideas on how to raise children, and my husband often misses his home very much. But we have a lot of love between us, and due to this and the fact that he’s such a great father, we carry on. Every marriage is a lot of work, but when you come from two different worlds, I think it makes the stress ten-fold. I would like this thread to be about making it easier for those who’ve decided to take the plunge – maybe a fair warning about what lies ahead. I realize that we may be talking to deaf ears, when you're in love, it's hard to think about the negatives. But for those of us who decide to contribute can rest assured knowing that we’ve tried.

    Things to think about before you marry:

    You’ve decided to marry a Dominican. This is one of the most important decisions you will make in this lifetime. What are you basing this decision on? I hope the answer to this question, that will affect the rest of your life, is not based on what you’ve found during a two-week vacation (gulp).

    Have you lived with this person before you married? What makes you sure that you can? Once you’ve married, what happens next?

    Can he/she be an equal partner to you? If they are not, are you willing to bear the burden of carrying the two of you? For how long are you willing to do so? Do you think that at some point, you may feel like you’ve been used?

    Are you 100% positive that this person didn’t marry you for financial gain/freedom from their country? Are you willing to deal with the fact that if you do marry and bring him to your country to live, you are financially responsible for their well-being for the next (up to) ten years (only 3 now in Canada, but not sure about other countries)? That is to say that if they go on welfare because you’ve separated or divorced, you have to pay back welfare every penny that they give your ex-spouse.

    Are you 100% positive that you are the only woman in his life? Because I’ve known men that are already married, who look for a gringa to bring him to Canada, only to leave her and bring his real wife to your country for a better life. And their wives and families support this, because it is a means of getting out of the situation they are currently in. And sometimes, you have to put yourselves in their place. Sometimes, it might be an easy thing to do, in the event that you have starving children at home. Besides, they’ve seen many of their friends do it, so why shouldn’t they?


    At this point, I will let others jump in with their thoughts. Later, I will post part II, which involves my thoughts on the relocation process and what lies ahead when they actually land in your country. Part III will involve resources available to your spouse and hopefully, through the posts to come, you may find yourself a friend who is going through (or has been through) what you are right now. It would be nice to have support from others with whom you can relate. Feel free to jump in with comments and suggestions at any time. Thanks again to Anna for reminding me about writing this.

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    Default Some of my thoughts/experience...

    This is a topic of great interest to me as it is my reality, as well. To give some background my story is a little different as my girlfriend Magdalena came to US with student visa but the overall relocation process has similarities. I met Magdalena during a 3 month stay in DR in fall of 2002 and made 6 trips to visit her in DR and third countries before she came to New Jersey July 31,2004 (wow, will be a year already this week).

    Looking back over the past year the transition process has gone a little better than I expected but as Trina said “roller coaster” is at times a good way to describe it. In fact as I am person who can be initially slow to adapt to change I thought we would not make it past the first week because there were so many different emotions. One of the things that I noticed is (especially in first few months) that there were lots of ups and downs. Some days would be great but in a second’s notice Magdalena could be in tears and homesick only to be laughing and smiling after a few hours.

    Touching on another of Trina’s points is being an equal partner. This could be one of the most important keys to success. Before Magdalena got here she lived with her parents but was used to working and taking care of herself in that respect so it was difficult for her when she arrived here as she was jobless and had to depend on me as a safety net. She hated to think of herself as a “lambona” so things got a lot better as she found jobs in taking care of and teaching a toddler and working in a small neighborhood Dominican restaurant. From my side, it was a little stressful but kept/keeps me positive is I know that Magdalena is working hard at these jobs and going to college so the future should be bright.

    Culture shock was one thing that I was expecting could be tough for Magdalena but really has not been that bad. I think this is because there are so many different cultures around Jersey City/New York (and of course other Dominicans). If I lived in other parts of the country this may have been a different story. It seems that in our relationship there is a mix of American/Dominican culture. The important thing is that one does not dominate the other. We may for the most part speak in English and do some “American” things but also cook Dominican food or go to a Dominican nightclub in the area from time to time. Respect of each others’ culture is key.

    An important aspect in dealing with home sickness is going back to the home country. So far Magdalena has visited her family twice and it is hard on her being away for months at a time but when she is feeling down about this I just remind her of the people who have come to US and not seen their parents/family in like 15 years.

    I have lots of thoughts on this topic so I will add as they come to me but some of the major things are:
    · Respect
    · Communication
    · Keeping busy and a certain level of independence
    · Of course love

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    Default Good idea

    Anna, good for you for putting the bug in Trina's ear.... Trina, good for you taking the time to put this in writing....

    I have met Trina and Angel, they are a unique couple who care very much for each other. They have wonderful children and have made a nice life for themselves against incredible odds.

    My two cents on this as I have dated Dominican men:

    Relationships are hard to begin with. They are work!

    They are extra hard when you add in the following:
    different cultural backgrounds
    different languages
    different education levels and standards
    different financial abilities
    DISTANCE

    It is exceptionally hard to build a base for a relationship long distance. Spending two weeks at a time together several times does not create the base of a relationship!!! When you miss or skip the whole dating thing, you miss out on a lot of the building blocks of a long term relationship.

    If you are contemplating a long term relationship with a Dominican man or woman: consider moving here for 6 months. Live here, experience this possible life partner day to day! You will see things you love, things you dislike and possibly things you cannot accept! And of course Vice Versa, it goes both ways.

    And after doing this then seriously consider the next step....

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    Default I was trying to organize my thoughts but no luck...

    ...so I'll just go for it. lol Anna and Trina, I think it is a great idea to start this thread. I am a strong believer in the fact that you can't tell people what to do but you can send out warning signals and hope for the best.

    My situation is that I met my husband in April 2000 at a resort. Returned to visit him many times. We decided to take the relationship to a serious level in December 2002. We were married in June 2003. He came to Canada in September 2004 to live but he could not handle the isolation, language barrier, home sickness, lack of baseball on TV, my non-domestic nature and the list goes on. He returned to the DR at the end of October 2004. He came back to Canada for round 2 in January 2005 and return to the DR in early March 2005. He is now back in the DR where he is happy and content.

    We didn't live together before we were married as this wasn't an option. We had not spent more than 15 days together on any one occassion but we were completely in love with each other. Hindsight being 20/20, I don't think that I would have done anything different in this situation. I also don't feel as though we failed in our relationship. With all the variables that we could control, we did our best. We were prepared, to a certain extent, for the possibility that my husband wouldn't adapt or like the Canadian lifestyle or that we wouldn't be able to blend our cultural differences in a way that would make us both happy. I agree with Planners' suggestion that if you can move to the DR for 6 months to be with your sweetheart, then definitely do it like Peaches has done (very smart move!). However, not too many of us have this luxury. You also can't tell people that they don't have a basis for a relationship because they have spent a limited amount of time together in person or that they are not in a real relationship. It is totally up to the two people involved to determine if that is enough time to establish a foundation and if they are in love. In my situation, we love each other very much but cannot be together due to extenuating circumstances. The only thing that would have made a difference is if he could have been able to visit me in Canada for a while. For that I blame our immigration policies. They make it extremely difficult and outrageously EXPENSIVE for Canadian citizens to maintain sincere relationships outside of the country.

    If you are involved in this type of relationship, it won't be easy, just know that there are a lot of us that wish you luck and that will be here for you if you ever need us.

    Sorry for rambling lol
    Cuidate,
    Nelly

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    As some of you know from my previous posts, getting my Dominican husband here to Canada was a challenge. There were times when I thought that we would never be able to live together in Canada and I would have to move to the DR. I was willing to do that if Immigration did not approve his PR application but I was fighting to have the option for us to live in DR or in Canada when we wanted to. I believe that our experience made us a stronger couple and we were able to withstand many obstacles early in our marriage. As others have said in this thread, living together before you get married is ideal. We have been married since January 2002. I lived with my husband in DR for just over a year (2-3 months at a time) before he moved to Canada in September 2004. He loved it at first (it was fall), he found a job within a couple of weeks, loved the first 3 days of winter and then life started to get difficult as the winter dragged on. He had found seasonal work and was not needed in the winter months and he was going crazy from the cold, living in an apartment and not having friends or family he could go out and visit at a moment's notice. That is one of the biggest culture shocks - Canadians don't spend a lot of time hanging out in front of their houses and walking the streets like in DR - it is something my husband is still getting acustomed to. I suggested to my husband that we visit DR for a couple of weeks in the winter time but he preferred to wait at least a year before visiting home. We are going to DR for 2 months at the beginning of December.
    We live in Ottawa and did not meet any Domincians until a few months after he arrived and we learned that the Dominicans get together every Sunday in Spring and Summer to play softball. The interaction with people from home each week is very important and has made my husband feel at home and his circle of friends is expanding. We bought a house a couple of months ago and I have noticed he is a lot happier - he is able to have a garden and spend time outside and invite his new friends over for Dominican BBQ's and of course some Brugal! The only thing he is missing (besides the family/friends and the weather in DR) is the cockfights that he loves so much.
    For any relationship, you have to know your partner and be able to support them and find what makes them comfortable in your country. Compromise is something we speak of often and try to manage so that we are both happy with our life in Canada. It is not always easy but we love each other very much and try to do everything possible to ensure that our marriage is a long and happy one.
    I look forward to Part II and Part III from Trina - I will probably think of things to add on at that point as well. Thanks for starting this topic!

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    Thank you to all that have provided very valuable input thus far. (Planner, you're so sweet. Nelly, I wish things could have been different, because you really deserve it - and what you wrote was very well-written, by the way. Chris, very interesting read - hope things continue to go well - I know it's not always easy. Rosanie, great that your husband is here and enjoying life).

    The Relocation Process

    I am not going to touch on the "how's" of getting your spouse here (ie visa, transportation), because this point has been covered to death in the archives. What I will do is tell you my thoughts about their expectations, and what may lie ahead with regards to adjusting to life in a different country.

    As many of you know, Angel comes from a poor family. To them, and to many Dominicans, anyone who is white, or anyone who can vacation in the DR, is rich. And really, if I were poor, I may think the same thing. We may not think of ourselves as rich, but if we're on this message board, chances are, we've had enough money at one or several points in time to travel to the DR. This idea is foreign to poor Dominicans. They couldn't ever hope to have enough money to just blow on a vacation. And when we're on vacation, we'll spend $100 to travel through "el campo" on a jeep safari; another $100 to go snorkelling; etc...all stuff they can do for free. So to them, we have enough money to "waste", and therefore, we are rich. I really think Angel thought there were the proverbial "money trees" in Canada. What he didn't realize is that we work very hard for our money (believe me, I'm not saying they don't...many work twice as hard for much less $$$), and the cost of living is so high here. Our monthly bills probably come to about $3,000, not including food. If we were to pay daycare, it would be another $1,600 for three children. I think when I told my best friend Denny how much it costs to live here, she thought I was talking RD. She could not believe how much we pay just to "get by". Of course, we have the ability to make more money, but it's not all just handed to us like some seem to think. Angel is not wasteful with money at all, thank goodness. One thing that I do like about him, and not many foreigners can understand, is that he always wants to take care of his family by sending money every month. And rest assured, when your spouse arrives, they are going to want to send support money to their family. I don't know many who do not send a little something every month. The way I look at it, before Angel and I married, he contributed to the household income. His family needs everything they can get. His mother does not have the ability to make money, and his younger sister goes to school. The others have families of their own to support, and not that we don't, but it's easier for us. And of course, it's expected of us. I guess that if Angel had a different family, I may resent sending money to them when sometimes it's hard enough for us just to get by. But I love them, and they've become one of my monthly priorities. When dealing with this touchy subject, try to be subjective and put yourself in their place. I'm not saying that you should let the Dominican family take advantage of you, not by any means. But my thoughts are that if you have the ability to help, why not do so? Money is a lot easier here to make for us than it is for them (remember, I am talking about the poor; not the educated, wealthy, or upper class Dominicans). Try to put yourself in their place - thinking about your family far away who are suffering because there's no money for food on the table. The reality is: if you cannot afford to part with $200-$300/month, without feeling angry about sending it, don't get married, because you're.fighting.a.losing.battle.

    One of the toughest things on Angel and I has been finding a job for him. For someone with limited education, very limited English, and no drivers licence, it's very difficult to think about what kind of jobs they can do. Trust me, they are probably going to be working for minimum wage, and they're probably not going to like what they are doing very much. There are few jobs that they can do in these instances. Throw in factors like: how are they going to get to and from work when you work as well; how are they going to be able communicate and understand what is expected of them at this job; who is going to accept them without any Canadian work references; would you like to do hard physical labour for minimum wage?

    Yikes. Gotta run to work. More later.
    Last edited by trina; 07-28-2005 at 09:54 AM.

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    Most of the jobs that Angel has done since he's been here are jobs that I wouldn't want to do. He does them without complaint, though, because he knows he hasn't been in the position to find something better. After a few years here in Canada, it's much easier to find work for him. He has his learners license, and will soon have his drivers license. It has taken a long time for him to get this because of his limited English. In order to get your learners license, you need to be able to score 80% on a written test. There are ways around this, you can hire a translator to sit in with you on the test, but he still has to be able to study and know the information before he gets that far.

    For work, Angel has mostly done janitorial-types of jobs. Really think hard about what your spouse is capable of doing when they arrive. Jobs that come to mind for limited education/limited English-speaking people are: factory/manual labour, dishwasher, busser, janitorial. Not an easy life, to say the least. Luckily, I am an Accountant in Oil and Gas in a very oil-rich city, and will never (touch wood) lack a good-paying job. For this reason, and the fact that Angel is awaiting an operation on his foot, he is a full-time stay-at-home dad for right now. If he worked, we would be paying more than we would be making, due to daycare costs for three children - $1,600 monthly, as mentioned above. While it's certainly not ideal, and definitely wouldn't work for everyone, this works for us.

    That first year for Angel and I was hell. I will admit to thinking (on a weekly basis): "ohmyGod...what have I done???" It's overwhelming...we come from such different worlds. Planner hit the nail on the head when she said that we've fought incredible odds. Admittedly, I was pregnant when Angel arrived, and that added a lot of stress on us, but I've heard from many Dominican/Canadian couples who didn't think they'd make it through that first year. Five years later, I think our heads are now above the water, and look forward to spending the rest of my life with Angel. Angel grew up, accustomed to "andando en la calle"...here, we just don't do that. We don't come home, walk into the neighbors house, ask them "what's for dinner?", turn on their TV, and give their kids heck for making too much noise. My neighbors would call the looney bin on me (if they recognized me, that is, otherwise, they would likely call the police) if I did this. Angel was constantly bored - although I'm a very willing domino opponent, I'm not much of a challenge. One of the best things that I did for Angel was taking him to the batting cage one day shortly after he arrived. I wrote a note on their bulletin board, saying that Angel was from the DR and looking for a baseball team to play on. That very night, about an hour after we got home, no word of a lie, the phone rang. On the line is a Dominican named Andres saying, "di' me"...I thought...you have to be kidding...this is a Calgary number... To this day, Andres is a very dear friend who we spend holidays and many weekends with. Andres introduced Angel to many Dominicans in town who have become very good friends of ours. In Calgary, every Sunday, a bunch of Latinos get together for food, music, and baseball at one of the diamonds in town. It's such a great way to spend the day with them.

    I think one of the reasons why Angel and I have made things work is because I love Dominicans. This is a very important factor - if you are going to punish your spouse for every "stereotypical" behavior other Dominicans have or things they have done, don't get married, because you're wasting your time. You married an individual, who has the right to make their own choices...if they do bad things, it may be because they are not a very good person, but don't blame it on being Dominican. My friend Luchy, a Dominicana, often tells me, "Trina, tu eres mas Dominicana que yo". It's true...I love the music, the culture, the food, the baseball, the people, the language, everything...I'm not denying that there are some negative aspects involved, but isn't there in every culture? At least they know how to take care of each other, an art we've lost...we're too busy with the ratrace of life. And I love seeing Dominicans with babies...Angel is such a good father. Our 3-year-old simply adores his daddy, I don't know what he would do without him.

    (am I babbling???)
    Last edited by trina; 07-28-2005 at 09:56 AM.

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    For someone with limited education, very limited English, and no drivers licence, it's very difficult to think about what kind of jobs they can do. Trust me, they are probably going to be working for minimum wage, and they're probably not going to like what they are doing very much. There are few jobs that they can do in these instances. Throw in factors like: how are they going to get to and from work when you work as well; how are they going to be able communicate and understand what is expected of them at this job; who is going to accept them without any Canadian work references; would you like to do hard physical labour for minimum wage?
    These are very good points and something to consider when relocating your spouse.

    CIC does provide through Catholic Immigration Services, access to workshops on interview skills, computer skills upgrading, English or French classes etc but you have to have working knowledge of English/French before you are accepted to take these courses related to Emlpyment. The English/French classes are practically free. Catholic Immigration Services referred my husband to a list of Temporary Employment Agencies in the Ottawa area. Another important thing to mention and something to think about is your spouses work ethic. My husband is not a stranger and does not shy away from hard work. If he was, then I am sure he would not be progressing as he is now. He started with one agency working hard labour for minimum wage - it was a way to start getting some Canadian work experience and the only bonus was that you got paid for your work each day by cheque. I would have to drive him to work each morning at 5:30 am and pick him up in the evening. My husband though learned the bus system very quickly and the need for me to drive him around became less frequent. Earning an income right away was important to him and he felt that he was contributing to our monthly bills and sending money home to his family. Like Trina's husband, my husband comes from the campo and a poor family and feels that he has to send money home every couple of months to help with their monthly requirements for food, schooling and medical care. I support him 100% on this - he also helps to support my family here. We share our house with my parents(who live in a in-law suite in the basement). Family is high on our list of priorities.

    After a couple of weeks of working with the temp Agency, my husband got a job with a small fencing company. The owners are from Brazil and speak Portgugese and he found that communicating was much easier and his English was improving a lot faster. Over the winter months, he found work with a number of painting companies that are owned and operated by Dominicans in the Ottawa area. That helped through the winter months and he occasionally works with them now when he is not busy with the fencing company. However, he is not 100% satisfied working there. Since he is a very good cook and since Ottawa does not have any Dominican restaurants he would like to open one and get out of the hard labour employment he is stuck in currently. This is where the barriers to culture and language start coming in. With limited English, he will have to try to obtain grants, or loans to start his business and then operate the restaurant according to Canadian standards. Not a easy feat and I find myself trying not to get sucked in to do all the work. I am self-employed myself with 2 companies and I know I cannot take on the extra work and responsibilty alone. We are now investigating how we can make this work for him.

    My husband has a Dominican driver's license but since he obtained it just months before he arrived in Canada, he does not qualify for a Canadian Drivers License (one must have their license for 2 years or more in order to be given a Ontario License). He is welcome to take the test and start the Graduated Licensing Process here in Ontario (which is in Spanish) but the study materials are in English or French only! Yet another barrier to intergrating into Canadian society.

    Besides all the points that have been mentioned on how and what to do to relocate your Dominican spouse - it really falls to the individual. Are they the type of person that will give up at the first sign of a obstacle or something new and a bit of a challenge? If so, you might be in for some difficulties. I worked hard to get to where I am in life and if I had to relocate to DR then I would work hard to make a life for myself there too. Does your spouse think the same way? My husband didn't really believe me before he moved here that life in Canada can be difficult. Like Trina said, many Dominicans think money comes easy here. My husband gets frustrated at times with all the rules of the land and of course he hates paying taxes on his hard earned income but I think he is beginning to see that life in Canada is not as easy as it first seems.

    Rosanie

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    Ideas on helping your spouse be more comfortable with the move:

    Learn to cook Dominican food. The best Dominican cooking website: www.dominicancooking.com ; run by none other than our famous Pib. Angel’s cousin (and my best friend) Denny patiently spent hours with me, showing me little tricks on how to make great Dominican cuisine. Your spouse will have enough to adapt to; it wouldn’t hurt for you to try some adaptation and learn a few dishes to help make it an easier time for them. Trust me, they will be pleasantly surprised...on the flipside, if you decide not to learn and try to serve them Minute Rice, they may flee the country.

    Check into your local Latino community to see if there are other Dominicans in town. If not, maybe making friends with Latinos from other countries in your area so your spouse has someone to talk to in his own language and relate to at times.

    What is your spouse interested in? If it’s baseball or dominoes, help find him a team. Get him involved in something early so as not to let boredom set in.

    How good is your Spanish? Communication is hard enough between an English-speaking couple, let alone when faced with a language barrier. Try to learn at least some Spanish – it shows you’re making the effort. Be careful, though, that all your communication is not in Spanish, because they need to learn English in order to make a better life for themselves here. Speaking of which, how good is their English? Trust me, have them take English classes before they come. We learned the hard way. Angel’s English still isn’t good, and life is tough in Canada when you don’t speak English. As Rosanie said, there are great resources available (I will revisit this topic later) for Immigrants who want to learn English. Keep in mind, though, that when they arrive in Canada, they are more-than-likely going to want to work so they can help support their families (here and in the DR).

    Visit the DR as a couple or family as often as possible, if financially able to do so. They’re probably going to be homesick, and staying in touch with their family is important. If travel is not possible (we try to go at least once/year), buy some calling cards, and at least for the first while, try not to get upset when he wants to call everyone he’s ever met. Angel would call people that he hadn’t talked to in years, just to hear a voice from home.

    Start a collection of Dominican music, it’ll surely bring back fond memories.

    I think one of the keys to success in our relationship is the fact that I do love the culture, as well as the Dominican people. Angel is often told that he hit the jackpot when he married me (not to boast or anything), because I’m one of the few spouses that can speak Spanish, cook Dominican food, embrace the culture, and try to understand where they are coming from. All of his friends speak to me in Spanish (which to me, is out of respect) even though they may speak perfect English, and they know they can talk to me about anything Dominican-related (music, baseball, politics, religion, etc). I love it when we all get together to have a Dominican fiesta, but some of the other wives aren’t so happy about it because they feel totally left out. To me, that’s their own fault for not making the effort. Some have been married over ten years and can’t get speak more than a couple of words in Spanish. Your relationship is in your hands…you have the ability to choose its destiny.

    Sorry for the long posts, I guess there is a lot to say on this topic.
    Last edited by trina; 07-28-2005 at 04:10 PM.

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    I like the long posts. Thank you. I am learning so much. I actually don't have any plans to move a boyfriend here to the United States but I find this information great because you always know someone.

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