I know I don't see a lot of questions from guys here, but I think that too often we think we lose machismo points for appearing unsure of ourselves. Orgullo is orgullo, but I'm man enough to admit when I need help and smart enough to ask for it.
My situation is delicate. I have been off and on with a woman for over 15 years and reconnected with her very recently. Maybe I wasn't ready before, but I have come to realize that I truly love this woman and want to do it right this time. And this is where I must tread lightly. The problem is that her ex was very abusive, leaving her guarded and overprotective of her hijos. I understand this, but I need to know how I can scale the walls she's put up and assure her she can let her guard down with me? I very much want to be let into their lives. I look forward to your suggestions.
Mr. Right (This Time)
Dear Mr. Right,
First, I want to let you know that due to the very sensitive nature of your question, I'm doing something I've never done here with #Dimelo and making this a two-part response. What follows is part 1.
Now, please let me thank you for your question. Not only am I rooting for you, I think every man who has ever scoffed at showing is softer side needs to drop the machismo and pay attention. There is a very high probability here that every woman reading this column right now just sighed wistfully and placed a hand at her heart. I'm all about celebrating the modern Latina, but I love a good love story and it's so refreshing to know that chivalry and romance still exist. All that being said, your situation is obviously more complex than a simple "But How Do I Get the Girl"? Any situation in which we discuss survivors of domestic violence calls for a sensitivity and and the voice of expertise.
My friend, Heiddi Zalamar, a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor working with families in East Harlem, New York, had the following to say when I presented your question to her:
"First he needs to acknowledge her concerns as reality. Let her know that he realizes she's suffered, as have the children.
Then he needs to work with her to come up with ideas for family time to meet the kids slowly."
Zalamar also suggests therapy, not only for her, but for you, as well. While you're obviously doing everything you can to tread slowly and ensure you do everything in your power to do right by the woman you love, her painful history is not something than can be ignored. To do that, you need to educate yourself- with the help of a domestic violence therapist, of course, to understand the cycle and understand her triggers.
I have much more to to share with you, Mr. Right, and I wil in next week's #Dimelo column here on Latina. Until then, thank you for the part you are playing in ending the cycle of domestic violence.
Pauline Campos is Latina Magazine's #DIMELO advice columnist. Email her your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with her on her blog, www.aspiringmama.com and follow her on twitter: @pauline_campos.