How to Continue a Positive Bilingual-Bicultural Relationship

One of the best parts of writing a blog are the people you “meet.” While I’ve not met any blogger friends in person, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a lot of different people, whether that be fellow bloggers or people who just like to read my blog. I especially love emails, and always love to hear from you! So if you’ve ever thought about saying hey, please email me at: kalhendr[at]gmail[dot]com.

So I’m very happy to introduce my first ever (!) guest post from my friend, Melanie. Melanie, like me, is in a relationship with a Spaniard. What’s distinguishes her from most of my friends who are in relationships with Spaniards is that she and her husband live in the U.S. In Texas, to be exact. Thus, she has a unique perspective – one that I think we don’t get to hear a lot about in my corner of the blog world. Anyway, I’ll let her take over from here.

Whether it is marriage that has strengthened your commitment to your foreign partner or some other less formal arrangement, continuing a bilingual/bicultural relationship may not be as easy or the same as first starting one. After learning how to deal with and coming to enjoy each other’s similarities and differences in the beginning of a relationship, here are a few tips for a continued rich personal and cultural experience for you both:

Customs

Embrace each other’s cultures wherever you live: do not let where you live dictate the extent to which you appreciate each other’s cultures. For example, I find it extremely endearing that at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, Spaniards individually greet and wish each other “Happy New Year” with two kisses. On the other hand, I also appreciate the way that celebrating birthdays is a little bit more fun and special in the US with birthday cake, presents, and parties (customs I haven’t noticed as much in Spain). Enjoy each other’s traditions by following them wherever you are. It may make your partner feel special that you remembered something significant from his or her culture and brought it to life in your own.

Turrones

Turrones

Food and Drink

While it’s easy to compare whose country may have better cuisine, my advice is that it’s better not to make the contrast because this battle will never end! Instead, enjoy both countries’ gastronomy by learning each other’s family recipes or purchasing cookbooks (I personally recommend Culinaria Spain, edited by Marion Trutter for those interested in Spanish dishes). Wherever you live, make an effort to cook each other’s favorite dishes. For example, it is my personal goal to always learn a new recipe from my mother-in-law every time we see each other. Making these dishes later keeps my husband happy.

TortilladePatata

Tortilla de Patata

People and Travel

While you may have enjoyed visiting your partner’s pueblo the first few times around, remember that a person’s hometown is always special to him or her. Even if going back to visit a small town on numerous occasions isn’t as exciting as packing up to go on a cruise or other exotic vacation, try to enjoy the experience through your partner’s eyes, childhood, and relationships. Learn new phrases from in-laws. Ask your partner to take you to one of his or her favorite childhood spots – whether it be a hangout, school, look-out point, etc. There will most likely be a story that goes along with the ride. And remember, most importantly, that family members and friends will always be happy to see you whenever you go back to each other’s hometowns. I always ask my husband to take me to the Mirador de Cáceres because the sights are that beautiful!

ParteAntiguaCaceres

ParteAntiguaCaceres (2)

La Parte Antigua de Cáceres

Enjoy the journey

You may not know where you will live in a few months, next year, or for the rest of your life with your partner. That’s okay. Remember to enjoy where you live in the moment, and know that you are probably there for a justifiable reason: job, family, health, etc. It’s easy to become anxious thinking about the future and how this whole bicultural-bilingual relationship will work out. But being too focused on the future can impede moments shared together focused on building understanding and deepening that cross-cultural love that brought you together in the first place. Remember that several simple moments of joy can add up to an overall rich and happy life.

Thanks, Melanie!

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6 comments

  1. I’ve never had Tortilla de Patata but it looks great!! Also, that last part – ‘Enjoy the journey’ is the absolute best piece of advice I think. I’m from Indiana and my husband’s from Kenya and we have no clue where we’ll be in a couple years but as long as we have each other and we make each situation we find ourselves in the best, that’s all that matters. =)

  2. I just found this blog, but this post is so true even if not across lingual barriers. My wife is from New Zealand and I am from the US. We lived the first 8 years of our marriage in the US and now live in New Zealand. My wife and I have found the traditions and things we like about both cultures and we celebrate both of them. This year we introduced Thanksgiving to her New Zealand Family and it went off wonderfully! Thanks again for writing this post its great.

  3. I’ve been with my Cacereño for 19 years, so I guess we’re not doing so bad. We do a sort of mix of cultures, but since we live in Spain, we mostly live the Spanish way. We don’t do Thanksgiving, but we do Halloween, mostly because that’s something that’s catching on over here, and the kids love any excuse to dress up. And we make chocolate chip cookies…the metric way! I just say, you have to enjoy every minute of it, respect each other, and not be too set in your ways…in the end it will all work out.

  4. I have been with my husband for 7 years now. I am from Turkey and he is Argentine. For the first 5 years we were living in the US, now in Spain. So, we have been living in “neutral” territories (well almost, after all his native language is spoken in Spain :)) ) I think the key is to embrace and respect each other’s culture. We celebrate whatever traditions / holidays we like in both cultures and celebrate them all! More celebrations are always good :)

  5. I just had to stop by and share my giggle over your comment on my blog (the interview with Jane of Spain Daily). So funny…melanie is right about not focusing on the future. The minute I do that, I get hives.

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