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Monday, April 30, 2012

More Timbits: Making or Breaking Cross-Cultural Relationships

العربية: دونات معروضة في أحد المحلات المشهورة ...Image via Wikipedia

I hoped that the last time I tossed some tasty timbits your way that it whet your appetite for more. Because today I've got some more juicy morsels that my mind has been chewing on in regards to the theme of cross cultural relationships.  It is something I like to call the "Monkey in the Middle".  This is a key element that can make or break your relationship with someone from another language and culture.

What I mean by the "Monkey in the Middle" is finding someone who understands both cultures and both sides. Those of you who are well versed in our story know that Marisa and I came to a point where all the talking in the world wasn't getting us anywhere. It wasn't that I didn't understand spanish, I understood what she was saying but we still weren't able to piece together exactly what was going on.  This was because at the time of the conversation, we didn't have understanding about the other person's culture.

We didn't fight but we did take a break for a couple of months simply because there seemed to be no answer. And those of you who read my blog or novels know that I was at my wits end taking spanish classes when after two weeks, there was a new teacher. She turned out to be a surfer and she is Argentine as well so she completely understood both cultures. Talking to her was what gave me the key to unlocking understanding in my relationship with Marisa.  That surfer was the "Monkey in the Middle" between our two cultures and two languages.

There may be times or moments where you may have done all that you can do and something is missing. And you feel like no matter how much you try and talk things out with the other party, you keep going in circles. If it ever comes to that, you may need a "Monkey in the Middle", someone that understands both sides. And if you don't have one, there is plenty you can do still

One of my weekly rituals is to tune into BA Cast. Dan and Fernando provide insight through interviews, chats etc. filled with wisdom and humor.  Listening to their podcast helps me understand so much more the world Marisa has grown up as well cross cultural relationships is a reoccurring theme. It helps so much to hear stories and experiences from others who are in a cross cultural relationship themselves.

And of course, I wouldn't just feed you one timbit in a blogpost so I'm gonna toss you another one that comes  from my own personal experience in a relationship with Marisa.  As our relationship progress, I often had to remind her that we are in a relationship with two cultures and two languages and we need to give each other plenty of space and plenty of grace!  We need to be patient with ourselves and with each other and it was important for me to assure her that our relationship is not gonna fall apart the first time we don't understand each other fully.

From experience, I now know that it can take awhile to find your rhythm in a relationship with the other person in trying to work around cultural and language barriers. For us, the first 5 or 6 months when we met were heaven earth. It felt so fresh, new, exciting and magical like it always does when you are getting to know someone. Then I left for Canada in March 2010 and a new step in our relationship began. It was a step that at times felt like it was gonna take forever as we began having to adjust to seperation as well as dealing with another person from another culture with a different language.

I would LOVE to tell you that like a Disney movie, this step only took a few weeks and then things were magical all over again. But my Sunday school teacher told me that God frowns upon lying so I'm gonna give you the truth straight took a whole year for us to find our rhythm.  In 2010 March I left for Canada, I returned to Argentina in Oct 2010 but neither of us finally realized that she was my Argentine mom until March 2011, a year from the time I left for Canada.

Literally, the first words she said to begin our conversation to me regarding this on MSN messenger chat when we had it figured out was "At last....."  And those words seemed quite appropriate because this entire year had been comprised of multiples conversations, some of them funny while others frustrating.  Not only that, as I stated in the first part of the blog I had to have chats with other people who knew both cultures and do research into Argentine behavior. But it was every bit worth it when you have a happy ending.....

Don't worry right now if you have someone that you love but you don't feel like you have any of the tools you need to make the relationship work. If you and the other person badly want to make it work, it will happen. The powers that be will align things in your favor and will have all that you need and more :)

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Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas