A few of the difficulties of marrying a person from another country with some anecdotes to better explain these differences.
Marrying someone from a different country is fraught with difficulties, both those that are obvious to everyone and other hidden ones that can make life next to impossible.
This is not about race, colour, religion or any of these types of differences, but more about geographical and similar problems.
At first it seems like a good idea; you are young and in love and the fact both parties are from different countries causes no worry to anyone.
Then life progresses and things change – perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse or your life simply goes in a different direction.
This article looks at a few of these problems and any personal anecdotes are related to Italy simply because that is where my husband comes from. They can and will apply to many countries.
- One of you is living permanently in a country that is not their own, with culture and etiquette practices that may have seemed fun at first, but become irksome after a time.
A good friend invites you for dinner, (most people live in apartment blocks); you arrive and ring the street bell. They answer on the intercom and open both the main street door and their own door. You get to the door and hear them in the kitchen, but you have to stand outside until they give you “permission” to enter. You ask for this permission and they do not hear as they are cooking and the kitchen noises drown out your voice. Eventually you are standing outside in the public foyer shouting, other apartment doors open and people stare – you feel like a fool and wonder, “if they invited me and opened the door, why can I not enter?”
2. Language may or may not be a problem, depending on the countries involved. It is not learning the language so much, but having no alternative.
I speak Italian and am now bi-lingual, so have no difficulty speaking, listening, reading or writing Italian. The problem in how the books are translated into Italian. In English, if the sentence is constructed to tell you a man was thinking it may add, “He sat in his book lined study in a green leather armchair in front of a roaring fire”, and this is fine, but translated this becomes 2 ½ - 3 pages of descriptions and as it really has little to do with the plot. To make room for these long winded narratives, the plot is usually sacrificed, so instead of building suspicion or creating atmosphere it just says “the butler did it”. Both my husband and I buy books in English and take them to Italy – he also can no longer stand Italian books as he finds them too long winded.
3. Christmas can be a problem for any married couple as both sets of parents want you to go to their house. If you live close enough you may spend one day with one family and another with the other, or have both families come to your house for dinner. Living any distance this can become a problem, even if it is within the same country. Living abroad it becomes more of a problem as you need public transport of some type, (airplane or ferry), to get there, and this needs booked weeks or longer in advance.
Trying to spend this period with each family alternatively did not work often, as one of us was only told what time off work we had when flights were already full.
4. Holidays often become a problem too. As you are living all year with one set of parents the other expects you to visit them when you have a holiday. This makes exploring new countries a major drama and “real” holidays can get forfeited to visiting family.
We did travel to other countries, but often were left with feelings of guilt while booking this – it did wear off once we got away, but you knew you were disappointing someone.
5. Visitors can be fun but if one of you if from a country that speaks another language this makes things a bit difficult. You cannot invite your friends to meet your visitors, well you can but no one can understand the other and they have nothing to say. You can not take visitors to the cinema, theatre or any event like this as again the language is incomprehensible to them. Even TV is out of the question for a rainy day, so you need to prepare lots of ideas to keep everyone busy while you are at work.
A working day in Italy is often 8am to 8pm and granted you get a break in the middle, but not for long enough to take visitors exploring and these hours leave little time for doing anything else. It is easier in Britain as people finish work at 5.30pm or 6pm, so you can go for a walk on the beach either before or after dinner.
6. Illness, not yours, but your families. This is something that never crosses your mind at first and may never happen, but if it does life can become very difficult. If one family suffers illness, first you have to get to your home country, next your spouse may not have sufficient command of the language to help with emergency things like speaking to doctors, organising funerals and so on. Instead of dividing these difficult tasks, you end up having to do it all, and if you have lived abroad that means any friend who could and would help is also abroad.
These type of visits also involve hiring a car, (your own is at home abroad), as your parents have always picked you up at the airport and driven you around. They may involve you having to find a plumber or similar in an area you do not know if you parents moved since the time you lived with them.
Then if both sets of parents are ill at the same time, one of you will be living in one country looking after your parents while the other is abroad looking after theirs, and this situation could easily last for years.
Although geographically Italy is not far from Britain it is a 15-16 hour journey for to get from one house to the other. (There are no direct flights and long waiting times in transit airports.)
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons