What advice would you give people in an international relationship?
I am in an international relationship and my partner and I do not share the same first language. I wish he would learn French to be able to communicate better with my family and friends. My advice would then be for each person in the relationship to make the effort to learn the language of the other. What would yours be?
My boyfriend is from Spain and I have Spanish roots. Speaking Spanish does not come naturally to me and makes me incredibly uncomfortable, and shy. Yet, my boyfriend is so encouraging and tries to have a few basic conversations with me a day in Spanish. Slowly but surely it is helping me get better at the language and more confident in my ability to speak fluidly in Spanish. My advice is to be patient and to laugh together when you say something silly on accident. His English is far from perfect but I am always reminding him that he speaks much better English than I do Spanish. Learning another language is a daunting task and I can’t think of a more personal, beautiful way to show someone how much they mean to you than trying to communicate with them in their native tongue.
I’m also in an international relationship. My partner is Chinese, but speaks excellent English. In the beginning, however, he was still very much learning English. I would say that, if you’re trying to encourage your partner to learn your native language, the two must do’s are to be supportive and make it fun. A lot of people secretly feel insecure about learning another language; make sure your partner feels comfortable practicing in front of you. Don’t laugh, unless it’s something you can laugh at together. Speak slowly — that’s major. Work on simplifying your own vocabulary. Meanwhile, you can make it fun by doing things in the language. For example, cook a meal and turn it into a mini language lesson. Watch movies with subtitles. Teach your partner some slang and maybe some dirty words . . . it’s mischievous and might boost your partner’s confidence.
My husband was born and raised in a rural Namibian village (they have huts and live off the land) and I’m a native New Yorker. We were married here in Namibia in 2014 in a very traditional tribal wedding. My advice is to be flexible when meeting potential in laws/family members. Try not to read to deeply into their initial reception of you. Give them time to get to know you and vice versa – don’t force anything.
Also overall, be prepared to have to make some sacrifices along the way. When two people are dating and from opposite ends of the world both parties will have to make sacrifices along the way.
It’s also a great idea to show interest in getting to know the other culture, but don’t lose yourself in the midst of doing that. I used to try to fit into my husband’s family so much, but the truth is I wasn’t raised in a village and can’t cook by the fire or weed under the 100 degree sun like they can. So its important to be realistic and not put too much pressure on yourself to ‘fit in’ to the other person’s culture.