Friday, April 15, 2011

Kinky Gazpacho II: The End of an Era?


Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Remember when I mentioned that my brother and el esposo's sister had fallen in love? Well, they've been trying to make a go of their relationship, but suffice it to say, there's trouble in paradise.

I'm not going to use The Meltingpot to dissect their relationship, but watching them struggle has brought back soooo many memories of when el esposo and I first got together, as well as the stories and anecdotes of other long-distance, cross-cultural couples I know. So, I thought I'd compose a little warning list of issues that seem to be universal (in my un-certified opinion) in the long-distance, cross-cultural romance.

1. Transatlantic flights are expensive and time-consuming, therefore if you're not rich, these relationships can implode because of a lack of funds. On the plus side, the invention of Skype makes staying in touch infinitely less expensive. (I wish Skype existed in 1994 when I paid my phone bills to Spain with credit cards. Ooops!)

2. Language barriers are confounded by cultural differences. The phrase " we're not speaking the same language," takes on a whole new meaning when not only do the two people speak different languages, but their perspective on things has been shaped by completely different socio-cultural paradigms.

3. Guilt becomes a third party to the relationship. Why? Because inevitably, somebody has to leave their homeland, culture, family and customs in order to make the relationship work. Thus the other person tends to feel an enormous sense of responsibility to guarantee their happiness. And if the partner isn't 100 percent happy, guilt ensues.

4. Hollywood doesn't help: Somehow the romantic exploits played out on the big screen and romanticized in popular culture about marrying/falling in love with a Latin Lover, sexy French girl, romantic Italian man/woman, exotic Brazilian lover, fills our head with the idea that this type of relationship will be so satisfying, worth the effort and way more thrilling than settling for on of our own kind. But all of that fluffy romance tends to ignore points 1-3 above and leaves us extremely unprepared and disappointed with the amount of work it takes to make a relationship like this work. (sigh)

For the record, el esposo and I 'dated' for seven years before deciding to tie the knot. And we broke up at least three times during those years. Of course, now we're blissfully happy and never argue (NOT!!) but it's still a struggle. And not just because we're a typical married couple, but because of the added issues that come with marrying someone from another country.

What about you Meltingpot Readers? What do you think are the biggest issues couples from two different countries must face? I'm listening...and I'll pass all of your ideas onto my brother and sis-in-law.

Peace!

6 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Great list! My sister had a long distance love thing going with some guy in Kosovo, and it was awful to watch, because the many, many barriers were just made to seem all the more romantic because of #4! I'm definitely sending her your list! :--)

LT said...

Rhapsody,
I hope my list helps. I wish it would help my bro and sis-in-law. It's awful to watch too.

Anonymous said...

Marriage is hard on its own, but coupling that with interracial relationship (which in many parts of the US is still very hard to do and maintain) and then a cultural/national one at that, I am surprised its managed to work.

I would imagine the biggest problem is adjusting to someone else's culture. A relationship could never work if both people don't like the other person's country.

Another major problem is that each country is very different and as a result, have different ideas about things. I imagine its hard trying to reconcile that.

And then there is the issue of understanding the politics of each country. Its a pain understanding your own, but how do you understand another country's political system?

I think for me, the biggest problem I'd have to deal with in a cross cultural relationship is the food. I am a picky eater, and hate alot of food. I also only eat Americanized food because its not as spicy or whatever. If I married a foreigner...or heck, anyone for that matter, I have the big issue of food differences.

Be said...

I'm in a relationship like this, so I appreciated your tips. Skype is indeed awesome sauce.

currentsbetweenshores said...

Ohhh, if you only knew how much I think about this! All of the things on your list are spot on but there is another factor, the transformation or, in our case, the intensifying of cultural differences once children come into the picture. My husband is ten times more "German" now that we have children b/c he'd obviously like to keep certain traditions alive for his kids. But this was not the person I married, a person who seemed to love cultural differences and everything new. Now he is so set on holding on to what he knows, which, I'm afraid adds to the cultural isolation a person can experience being in a new place.

LT said...

Anon,
All very valid points. And I'm laughing about the picky eater thing b/c my sister-in-law is a picky eater and thought she'd hate American food, but now has fallen in love with quite a few American items, like chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake.

Be,
Yes, Skype is the bomb!

CBS,
Yes, the kids!!! That brings up so many issues around parenting. How we parent is so culturally based. Just last night el esposo reminded me that he had live-in maids and therefore never had to make his own bed! Me, I was making my own bed at 6. So much to dissect and get through.