As I’ve said before, 90 Day Fiance is by far one of the most entertaining shows on television right now. One of the best couples to watch (not because they’re necessarily the pair with the healthiest relationship) is Chantel and Pedro.
As with every couple on the show, the cultural differences between them play a big part in the issues in their marriage. Pedro, from the Dominican Republic, sends his mother and sister money so that they have a good life back home. And I’m not talking just paying important bills. I’m talking money to get a new home, buying them a massive flat-screen television, bringing them clothes, toiletries and whatever else their heart desires. While it may seem like a lot, this is a very common practice for people who go abroad, alone, to make a better life in another place.
But at the same time, Stateside, Chantel and Pedro are living in a small space (their bed is next to the kitchen, as she keeps pointing out) in Atlanta. Obviously, the cost of living in the DR is much different than the cost of living in Atlanta, but to be honest, it does seem that whatever money he brings in is his money. And to make matters worse to her, she has spent a year rocking a fake diamond engagement ring.
It should be something these two can move past, but unfortunately, it’s a major burden on their relationship due to the fact that they also have one other huge issue hovering over them: their families can’t seem to get along. Unfortunately, that has a lot to do with the fact that Chantel lied about the nature of their relationship from the very beginning. She lied about the fact that Pedro was coming to the States to marry her and stay, instead, telling her parents he was coming to the country on a student visa and was just her boyfriend out of fear they might disapprove. Once the truth came out, her parents assumed that the lie was told in an attempt to hide fraudulence on Pedro’s part, and so they pushed their daughter to get some form of a prenuptial agreement and haven’t been all that welcoming (Chantel’s brother has taken every opportunity he can get to call Pedro a user and liar). When Pedro told his mother about the agreement, she was upset and called his family “stupid Americans.” Since then, they haven’t tried to play all that nice. When Pedro and Chantel decided to have a wedding in the DR for his family, which they invited Chantel’s brood to, things fell apart completely.
Chantel’s family was still upset when they touched down in the DR about the fact that Pedro’s mother and sister called them “stupid Americans.” They were also upset that when they went to have dinner at his mother’s home their first night in town, she served them chicken feet (that they refused to touch). Not breasts, not drumsticks, not thighs — chicken feet and necks. And while they stated that their decision to serve such food was not done out of pettiness (Chantel’s family felt it was very disrespectful), the mother and sister admitted that they don’t eat chicken necks and feet. So what was the point in making it?
But petty levels reached a new level when after being invited out to the country to meet Pedro’s grandmother, who went out of her way to cook a big meal for them, Chantel’s entire family stayed in the car and wouldn’t come out. They didn’t feel comfortable in the area, and when Pedro asked them what the issue was, they just told him they would talk about their issues with everything at a later time. Chantel, caught in the middle, chose to stick by her family, who the entire time in the car, told her that they felt that Pedro was sending all sorts of nice things home just so he could save up, leave her and return. Feeling hyped up and super negative, Chantel confronted Pedro (an argument eventually spilling out in front of his family) and told him his mother and sister shouldn’t be living the good life while they’re struggling in Atlanta. He told her the truth of most young men and women who leave their country to make a better life elsewhere: He feels that it’s his responsibility to look out for his family.
Chantel would eventually storm off, even snapping on Pedro’s sister, and return with her own family to their hotel. Afterward, Pedro, also hyped up by his mother and sister, received bad advice from his own family. They tell him that Chantel’s family has no respect for him and that if she wants to leave with them, he should let her, because they’re over it.
It was just the hot mess it sounds like, but it’s also quite common. Their predicament left me thinking about the ways in which our familial influences throw a wrench in our relationships, whether purposely or inadvertently. Many of us believe that we’re old enough to not require anything from our parents, and yet, we hold such a large stake in their opinions on our choices in love. Like my friend who could never feel 100 percent comfortable with her relationship because her mother and father thought her boyfriend wasn’t a good match (they turned out to be right, though). Or how I wanted badly for my father to take a past relationship seriously and see how important it was to me (even though we would break up months later). Or the bug, in general, our loved ones put in our ear about the way we do things in our relationship, including when we get married or what we put up with.
It’s crazy how much their judgments matter. It’s our parents and relatives who often bring us, and our relationships, down to earth with every bit of lack of enthusiasm or mention of “your little boyfriend.” They can either give us the confidence we need in our partnerships or encourage us to let them go straight to hell in a handbasket, as we saw with Chantel and Pedro. In our quest to prove that we can make the best decisions on our own, we still go out of the way to make sure that the people who raised us approve. When they don’t, we feel like something major is missing because it is: support.
With that being said, I just wonder how much the approval of your parents matters when it comes to love and what happens when they aren’t as supportive and positive as they could be of your relationship? Granted, I know that Chantel and Pedro can only blame themselves for not being honest about their situation early on, which set the wheels of negativity in motion. However, the lack of an attempt made to support and help the marriage flourish from both familial sides is definitely a trip — and all too real.