A Brazilian was shocked when I said I was going to ask my adult daughter to contribute towards the household expenses (a small percentage) since she is coming back to live with me after College and before she heads to Graduate school. I have talked about this subject before on this blog, but I want to discuss this big cultural difference that shapes how different Brazilians and Americans are.
Basically Brazilians live with their parents until they get married. And if they never get married, what happens? They will live with their parents forever. Shocking? For most Americans, yes. If you ask any 20-something American, their dream is to have their own place, or live with people their age. Yet, with the economy still in recession and high student loans, young people are flocking back to their parents’ house. Nevertheless, they still want it to be temporary.
What is hard to understand is how Brazilians let their employed-and many times very gainfully employed-adult children live with them without ever contributing to the household expenses. Especially if the parents are not rich and have to think of their retirement. This teaches their children to feel entitled: entitled to protection, entitled to have someone taking care of them, as well as being always dependent.
The main reasons Brazilian adult children live with their parents in Brazil are the lack of opportunities, low salaries, very expensive apartment rents and the comfort of their parents’ house, which many times have a full time maid. Who doesn’t want to have dinner on the table, freshly washed and pressed laundry and a clean house for free? But there is a secondary reason: Brazilians are much more emotionally dependent on their parents. They take a longer time to mature, especially women. They don’t seem to mind their parents’ interference in their daily life. Few Brazilians leave their parents’ home and the city they live to venture into the world as I did. They want the benefits that being close to home brings.
Who is right or who is wrong? Based on my own experience, having raised two very independent and responsible young adults, I think I prefer the American way. I am very proud of the young women they became; very proud of how self-sufficient and fearless they are, all the while keeping their emotional ties with me-in a good healthy way.
Brazil has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Digital life is accessible to most, as are cell phones, text messaging and all the technology the former “first world” has. One of the plagues of American life, telemarketing, has also reached Brazil. However, there is a slight difference that can be noticed by someone who has lived extensively in both cultures:
Advertising in Brazil is still less somber. It is often about fun and humor.
Advertising in Brazil is still more honest. Prescription drugs cannot be advertised, since only doctors have the competency to recommend them. There is less hiding the truth with fine print.
There is less fictitious promises in Brazilian ads. I will never forget how shocked I was living in the late 70’s in the US and seeing teen girls’ magazines advertising pills to grow your breasts. Even at 17 I knew that no pills can make someone breasts get larger!
Cities in Brazil have less restrictions when it comes to outdoor advertisement such as billboards. Visual pollution is higher.
Sexy pictures (usually with women) are a lot more used in Brazil than in the more puritan America.
Finally, some say TV commercials are more creative and beautiful in Brazil. Brazilian advertising is top quality.
For those who have lived in both countries, what is your opinion?
Pretty much the same way we select our partner, minus the sex. Pay attention to all your friendships. Think about what attracts you to that person to the point you two have an ongoing relationship. What makes you want to call him/her? What makes you want their company? What makes you want to tell them your most personal issues? It’s called compatibility and admiration. We choose people to be friends who have a familiar character trace or who see the world the same we do. The interesting thing is that you can have different friends for different reasons. One can be someone you have a common hobby with, the other can be someone you are intellectually on the same page with, the other can be someone who likes to do the same things than you, the other can be someone who you admire for their intelligence or fame, another can be someone with the same background, culture or race as you.
Interesting to note that many people also choose friends who have similar physical traits with them. Think about the high school cafeteria mentality: the nerd hangs out with the nerds, the pretty girls hang out with the pretty girls, the fat kids with the other fat kids, etc. When I was growing up, I preferred female friends who were more on the tall side, because I hated having to bend over to talk to and be heard by them.
University sororities and fraternities are also arranged in terms of groups divided by looks instead of academic achievement, as unfair and discriminatory as it sounds. Human nature makes us want to be with those who are more similar to us. They are more familiar, they are less threatening.
The United States is an example of a country where the groups don’t interact very well, unless it is professionally. In the realm of personal and social life, black folks hang out with black folks, anglo-saxon Americans with other white Americans, hispanics with hispanics, the rich with other rich, the poor with the poor. With the mixing of America and more access to education, the trend is for racial barriers to end.
Still, we will choose our best buddies based on things that hit home. Things that are familiar to us. Think about every friend you have and find out what you two have in common.
Married women from our grandparents generation would put up with all sorts of things due to lack of professional skills, education, money and fear of being alone in a judgmental society. Fortunately, the younger generations can fully support themselves and don’t need to stay in a bad marriage due to lack of resources.
There are many factors that can destroy a marriage. Many think couples just don’t want to put up with anything anymore, leading to the high divorce rate. Boredom, bad sex life, personality disorders, fighting…many of these issues can be dealt with by a willing couple or with the help of individual or couple’s counseling.
Then there are the deal breakers like infidelity, drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness and physical violence. These are very hard to overlook and extremely destructive. Still, there are people who can survive them too, when there is a REAL desire to change, treat or modify these habits.
What people don’t talk about much is how the lack of lust can end a marriage and lead to distancing and infidelity. Some women’s magazine columns (why don’t we see men’s magazine giving relationship advice instead of “36 ways to get that girl”?) suggest “spicing up your marriage” by going to exotic vacations, fancy hotels, wearing sexy lingerie or playing with toys. Not too many couples can afford the luxury resorts, and sometimes all the toys in the world don’t hide the fact that the original lust that drew couples together is just gone. Why does it end?
There are biological and evolutionary reasons why lust ends. Scientists say couples (especially women) release oxytocin while having sex with a man, and it’s called the “bonding hormone”. Serotonin is also released in the brain when couples fall in love, but after a while the tendency is for these hormones to lose their power. That’s when the incredible sex you had in the beginning loses its thrill and becomes more of a love act than an animal act. Provided a couple has other common interests and goals, likes each other’s company or are intent in keeping their family unit together, their relationship will flourish. Another reason is the famous “familiarity breeds contempt” and the daily grind. It’s not very sexy to see your mate in baggy sweatpants, burping and farting every day. Still, lust can become love.
But what happens when lust ends and you cannot feel attracted to your spouse anymore? In the old days, men would just find a lover, especially if their wives stopped wanting sex, for various reasons. Couples would stay together for conventionality’s sake and even sleep in separate rooms. Nowadays, with less societal pressure to stay together in the culture of ME, usually the end of lust signifies the end of a marriage. People want to feel the same rush they felt in the beginning, and start looking for a replacement. Middle aged men and women feel they still can still have romance and good sex since our life span is much longer now. People over 40 still look young and healthy and know they are able to find new partners. If they don’t see a way to bring lust back to their marriage, they want to find lust again. In that scenario, it is very easy to find attraction to someone else, especially in work environments and in the easy world of the internet.
Many marriages dissolve not because of the deal breakers we mentioned, but because of the end of attraction. Can we fight nature and evolution and being lust back? Can we live without lust when we love someone and have a good family life? Any reader who has had a marriage end because of the loss of lust? Do you think there’s a way to bring lust back to a lackluster relationship?
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