Pros and cons of being in a relationship where you don't share a native language
Do you prefer a partner/fling who doesn’t speak your language well? What do you see as the pros and cons? Please share your experiences of misunderstandings that came up (funny or not so funny), things you miss being able to express well, or ways that it has actually helped you become closer to that person.
My wife is Argentine and speaks Spanish obviously, but also Portuguese and English. My Spanish is non-existent and her English isn’t much better. Last April I took her to America to meet my mother, who lives in Virginia and my daughter who lives in Georgia.
Alejandra, my wife, was excited about going to Virginia as she has always heard about Virginia Beach.
One night before we traveled, she mentioned at dinner how much she was looking forward to going to the ocean because, “The bitches there are beautiful!”
It took me a moment, but I finally caught on. She was trying to say how pretty the BEACHES are.
I could go on with more stories, but I won’t. It’s enough to say that our marriage is often like that of Lucy and Ricky for those old enough to remember “I Love Lucy.”
I’ve been in a few of those (relationships where one or both of us were not using our native language), and I think it has definite advantages. I know that I am far more direct and honest in my second and third languages, because I don’t have the vocabulary to dance around an issue. If something is bothering me, I have to get to the point. That’s a huge plus for communication in romantic relationships, in my opinion. 🙂
I’m currently dating someone who speaks English at about 3%. I speak Spanish fluently, but there are definite advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages? Spanish is a pretty fluid and romantic language, so it’s great to express yourself fluidly without feeling “over the top”.
Disadvantages? In English I can be witty (I hope) and quite intellectual (Again, I hope…) but it gets lost in Spanish. So even if I can follow what’s going on in the conversation, I really can’t react or express myself as quickly or as fluidly as I’d be able to do in English. It comes of as simplistic and sophomoric. So I miss things like that.
He’s incredibly smart, and I think it’s the same on his end, even though it’s lovely when he speaks a handful of words he knows. Luckily for him, we speak mostly in Spanish!
Natalie, the disadvantages you listed are the same things I think of. I consider my humor a large part of who I am, and not being able to easily translate that through Spanish makes me feel incomplete. I had to make a juvenile joke when it presented itself the other day, as it’s all my Spanish tongue can handle at the moment. 😉
To Carlo’s comment, those are moments I like to collect, though I’m on the receiving end of it. My SO grew up here in the US speaking only English. I grew up partly in Asia and my family still speaks a mixture of Chinese/Vietnamese/English at home. A lot of cultural references gets lost in translation.
I’m a native French speaker who’s been in a relationship with an English-speaking Canadian for 7 years. I speak fluent English, so our relationship is not affected by an inability to communicate, but it does create issues when it comes to him meeting my family. He speaks very little French, so he cannot have a conversation with my parents, brother, grandparents, etc. I know my parents feel like they don’t know him and I know he does not know my parents like I know his. I find it quite difficult to navigate family time in those circumstances. I wish he’d bother to learn French better!
Good one Morgane…I forgot about when I was married to a German, her mom and half-sister came and visited us and we took them on a 2 week roadtrip in the Rockies and to Vancouver Island. Her mom spoke next to no English, her sister a little bit. I never got to know her mom even being crammed in a small space for a couple weeks.
I haven’t dated someone who speaks my language (Swiss German/German) in a long time.
Upside definitely is that I get to speak English all the time, which is mostly easier than speaking German (as opposed to Swiss German). I can be totally myself in both Swiss German and English, so that’s ok.
The absolute downside is that my boyfriends can’t talk to my parents properly, who don’t speak good English. My parents are extremely important and I love presenting my boyfriends to my parents. So that is very big for me. Another downside is that they can’t really tag along to parties, because there everybody naturally speaks Swiss German and we always have to make an extra big effort for people to speak English.