The other night at school I was having a discussion with a Mexican-American classmate of mine and we got into discussing what we looked for in partners. She mentioned that she wanted to marry a Mexican and started listing off all the reasons why. When she asked me what my preferences were, the only thing I could think of was a moderately funded 401k and a respectable credit score (none of which my boyfriend has. Thanks boo).
Growing up a lot of my friends expressed the same desires, just instead of Mexican they would insert Jewish, Armenian, Pakistani, Indian, Muslim, Johnny Depp... And while life would be a hell of a lot easier with a nice Jewish boy by my side... I have never even dated one because I would always see some darker and hairier guy five feet away and make a beeline for him. Whatever, I have a type.
But intercultural dating is hard. No one will deny that. You have many factors going against you, including culture (pretty big one), language (also a biggie), religion (yeah that one's kind of important too) and not to mention stress of separation from your culture. At one point, you are going to feel so confused and uncomfortable and master some sort of head nod that makes it look like you know what's going on but in your head you are struggling to remember that one episode of Law & Order where that guy had epilepsy and could you manage to convincingly fake a seizure?
This happens frequently for me. And for Pedro, I am sure it happens even more.
Take for instance last night. After my boyfriend and his team lost their soccer semi-finals, we all went out for drinks. Everyone on the team is American except for my boyfriend. I was in my element, chatting it up and joking and I noticed Pedro sitting quietly in the corner. After we left, we discussed how he felt and how it was hard for him to keep up with us. Apparently "your momma" jokes do not translate very well.
After we hit that bar we stopped by his restaurant and grabbed some drinks with his friends (we had a wild night. Would you believe I didn't get home until 12:30am? That's a big deal for me seeing as I like to be in bed by 10pm max). As I was sitting there and they were rambling off in Spanish making whole paragraphs sound like one word, I was like "Damnit Dora. You did not prepare me for this!"
This night epitomizes the kind of problems that come along from intercultural dating. And they are pretty significant problems. And they can cause a lot of stress and tension in a relationship. It is frustrating and very exhausting. It hurts to think so much and it is very annoying to have to constantly be playing 'catch up' in order to understand what the conversation is about.
But there are some amazing rewards too. You get to blend your own culture and family with one so vastly different and it. is. beautiful. I can't wait to serve tacos at my son's Bar Mitzvah and plan my daughter's falafel- themed quinceanera. And being able to invite my boyfriend to my synagogue for the holidays and explaining my religion while he shares some of his favorite memories from his religion is something I am so thankful for. Sure, we will struggle in the future explaining to our children that they are one of seven Mexican Jews and that they are expected to be fluent in English, Spanish and Hebrew by the time they are twelve.
But I like to think that when you are marrying someone you are joining two different cultures already. No two families are alike and they all come with different traditions, cultures and values. When you merge two families from different cultures, the differences are just more obvious.
And hey my parents did it and there is nothing more entertaining than watching your parents yell at each other in two different languages. And I totally had fun threatening my dad with a phonecall to the INS if I didn't get to stay up to watch 20/20 (I am a horrible person). My family always was entertaining and there is nothing better than a good 'ole culture clash to make Thanksgiving even that more awkward.
Anyone else ever experienced intercultural dating? How did you guys deal with the cultural differences?