Do you ever have miscommunications or misunderstandings with your significant other? The answer is probably yes--it's normal in any relationship. Even in the best of relationships misunderstandings can develop. Part of tending the garden of any relationship is taking care of communications between you and your loved one--with love and respect, so that your relationship can grow and strengthen as it matures. Cross-cultural relationships can become war zones unless proper care is taken for understanding one another's language.
The Language DifferenceThe language difference was one of the first cultural issues that Jiri and I had to learn to deal with very early in our relationship. This can be a very fun and interesting issue
between two people, but it can also lead to some hot arguments! In our situation, the first language we had to deal with was English. Jiri knew some English, and from this our ability to discuss many topics grew over several years of emailing. We've had some fun and interesting discussions using English. There have also been some misunderstandings. But Jiri and I try to be understanding and also try to see the humor in our communications.
Language Differences Take a New TwistOnce I moved to the Czech Republic, however, our language differences took a different twist. We were newly married and hadn't really been together full-time when I moved here in December 2006. When people are newly married and begin living together, there are arguments--this is normal as both people adjust to living together, and in our case--adjusting to living together in the same physical place and the same time zone. The language difference began to make itself very apparent during our first year together of face-to-face living.
During our arguments, I would get angry and begin speaking in slang, and Jiri didn't understand it. I remember a couple of times he even thought I was cursing him. I wasn't! We had to stop the argument and then backtrack, and I had to explain the meaning of what I had said--and reiterate that is was only slang. Well, that's one way to cool down a disagreement or an argument very quickly! By the time we were finished discussing the slang I had used, we had almost forgotten what we had been arguing about.
How to Survive Language DifferencesWe still have this issue with English, and as I learn more Czech, we will have this same issue with my new language. But we've both learned that it's important to discuss everything and make sure we both understand--as much as we're able--during any discussion or argument. We also have a standing rule never to use bad language or call one another names. No one should be treated in such a way--especially the ones you love.
There is much more that could be said about the language differences in a relationship where two people come from different societies and cultures. The main thing is to make sure that each person understands (as much as possible) what the other is saying (or trying to say). Make things as clear as possible. Try to stay away from slang in the beginning--let it grow over time as your relationship grows.
The Best Advice--Have DictionariesThe best piece of advice is to learn one another's language--and have dictionaries of both languages on hand. Then you're ready for any discussions or arguments when they come along!
Before closing, I would like to remind you about World Blog Surf Day! Be sure to sign up (if you haven't already) and be ready to share a juicy food story on June 13th! Thank you's go out to Hospitalera, Roz, Ricky, and Camille for putting a blurb about WBSD on their blogs. One more note--we now have 19 bloggers signed up who will tell their food tales on June 13th!
That's all for now...you all have a great day! My next post will be an update for WBSD, and I'll continue the series of tending the garden of our cross-cultural relationships.
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