I added that last part of the title in there just be clear that we’re all on the same page.
June 12th was my one year wedding anniversary with my Italiano. Since we work for ourselves, we decided to substitute a Sunday for the Wednesday and take the day to go up to the mountains where we got married. It was sunny, breezy, clear and gorgeous… absolutely nothing like our wedding day one year ago when my wedding dress was pelted by sideways hail, not that I’m bitter.
The reason I thought I should write a post reflecting on this past year married to an Italian man is because I have noticed a somewhat telling trend in the search terms that bring people to my site…
- “how to marry an Italian man”
- “are gender roles in Italy equal?”
- “should I marry an Italian man?”
- “Italian men marriage and mamma“
- “do Italian men make good husbands?”
- “do Italian men cheat“
These are all actual search terms that lead people to my site on a frequent basis, and I think they pretty accurately reflect an unfortunate fear of many women regarding the notorious Latin Lover… (and maybe his mamma too).
In my vast one year of experience (but 6 years together, with 5 of them in Italy), I shall try to address and debunk some common myths about marrying an Italiano, with a concerted effort to artfully sidestep the stereotypes and generalizations that sometimes get me in trouble.
1. Will my Italian husband cheat on me?
Let’s be clear. ALL men are dogs…
Oops, I blew that sidestepping thing, didn’t I?
(Side note: “all men are dogs” was the first phrase I heard at age 13 when my parents decided to give me the sex talk. It has served me well. Thanks, Dad.)
What I mean to say is that a man who habitually cheats on his partner or spouse can be from any nationality, religion, or background… and usually is. Italian men have, indeed, worked up a little reputation for themselves over the years. But I would like to remind you that there are almost as many Italian women cheating on their husbands as there are men cheating on their wives (55% of men, and 45% of women, according to the Telegraph).
My point is this: if you have to Google “Will my Italian husband cheat on me?” before you marry him… well, it’s not a good sign is it?
Drawing from my own experience, I have been told several times by several Italian women that I am lucky in that my husband is clearly a loyal man. So, you see, they do exist… even in Italy. Although, it may or may not worry you that people feel the need to point that out to me… as though it is an anomaly.
Here’s an idea if you’re unsure: Take your hubby-to-be on a weekend trip to Milan during Fashion Week. Watch for head turns and pupil expansion. Here’s another genius tip: if he’s done it before, he’ll probably do it again.
Ok, let’s tackle the next stereotype:
2. Do Italian men prefer traditional gender roles?
Well… um… yes… in as much as they prefer to wipe their asses with toilet paper because that’s what we’ve used since the 6th century. It’s what’s comfortable and it’s what’s taught.
That’s not to say that if someone starts mass producing chinchilla fur wipes they won’t be thrilled to make the switch. You just have to make sure you get a partner who is willing to try it the new way without waxing poetic about the values of traditional toilet paper. Then you have to convert his friends and family, which is much more difficult.
When my husband (then boyfriend) and I started up our business, I was all too aware of the inequality in our situation. No matter what my qualifications were, no matter what level of input I made on a daily basis, and no matter how many times my husband used the subject ‘noi’ instead of ‘io’… most people here in our small, Italian town (not all, but most) referred to HIS business with which I was “helping” him.
Many of them couldn’t get past the fact that I was teaching English at the same time for extra money. For years after I gave my last lesson people would ask my husband about our business, and then turn to me and say “And how’s the teaching going?”.
That was my initial response. Then around year 3, when I hit the lowest of my expat depression, it had a different effect.
No one expected anything of me, so I stopped expecting anything of myself. This is a no good place to be. If this post has no other impact other than to deter one woman from entering that mindset, then I’ll be happy. Coming up next, I’ll be writing a post about the ups and downs of 5 years as an American expat in Italy. I’ll get into this subject in more detail there, so stay tuned.
To wrap up the gender role discussion… yes, there are very strong gender roles here in Italy. Yes, they are engrained in every Italian man’s upbringing at least on some level.
The plus side is that within the framework of these gender roles, the woman is an EXTREMELY important and powerful role… and one that is changing rapidly with a new generation of independent and headstrong, young Italian women.
Which brings me to the comic relief of the next subject…
3. Does he love his mamma more than me?
But he’d never say that to your face, because he wants you to be the mamma to his kids… and so does she.
The plethora of mother-in-law stories exchanged between Italian women on a daily basis is shocking… shocking. In fact, I’m thinking of starting a series.
And the lesson of every single story is this: mamma is always right.
I am blessed with an incredibly sweet, not at all intrusive, and open-minded suocera… a fact which my Italian girlfriends bitterly point out every time I start to whine about living across the street from her. They then blast me with six stories each about the mother-in-laws who most of them are forced to live with in the same building… ranging from the one who walks in during shower sex (and doesn’t leave) and another who is actively blackmailing her daughter-in-law until she gets pregnant.
I guess the lesson of my little story is that, yes, you should know what you’re getting into when marrying an Italian (hence the title of my website). As with any man, from any nationality, you’re not just marrying the man, you’re marrying the country, the culture, his family, and everything that goes along with them. Just as he’s marrying you, and everything that comes along with you.
If you’re like me, you’ll find that a successful relationship with an Italian man requires a bit of luck, a bit of hard work, and a whole lot of love… and, without sounding too cheesy, it can be incredibly rewarding to have an intercultural marriage and family. I look forward to raising bilingual bambini and allowing them to learn the best of both of our cultures.
No, I’m not pregnant, Mom. Stop asking!