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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
Thank you, Melanie!