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International Relationships Series #9 – Spain and USA

In # 1 of this series, I presented the questions.

# 2 profiled Kay and Todd from Japan and the USA
# 3 profiles Vibek and Spencer from Norway and Gibralter
#4 profiles Lobot and Mrs. Lobot from the USA and France

#5 profiles Anna and Dr. Trouble from Poland and Japan
#6 profiles Denise and her guy from Malta and Hungary
#7 Profiles Joe and his wife from Canada and Turkey

#8 profiles Lewis and Lady X from Australia/Greece and Bulgaria
#9 Profiles Erin and Senor Mysterioso

Senor mysterioso? World travel

1) Your names
Erin Ridley aka La Tortuga Viajera and Senor Mysterioso from the USA and Spain

2) Your blog
www.latortugaviajera.com

3) Your nationality
USA

4) Spouses nationality
Spanish

5) Where do you live now? Do you live with your spouse?
I live in Madrid, Spain with my fiance (we will be getting married July 23rd of this year. Amount of time married: T-41 days

6) Are you still married?
Not married yet, but still engaged!!

7) How did you meet?
Almost four years ago, I was in Madrid traveling with friends. It was our last night in Madrid in a bar that I met my future husband. We only spoke for 15 minutes or less, at which point I gave him my email and we parted ways. I thought nothing of it and basically forgot the encounter until two days later, after I’d left Spain, when I received an email from the fellow I’d met in the bar. Many emails and eight trips to Spain later, I finally made the move to Madrid.

8) What was the biggest impediment to getting married?
By far and away the red tape of the Spanish government (although, as I’m sure we’ll find out soon, the US surely has its fair share too). Our options were to either get married before we were really ready, or spend thousands of dollars getting me a work visa in Spain. We opted for the latter and somehow, against the odds, made it work. Once we finally decided to get married we thought all of our residency problems would finally be solved, but sure enough, Spain rejected our marriage application accusing us of possibly getting married for convenience. This required us to go through a slew of questioning, only to have to start the entire application process all over again from scratch. With an entire wedding planned and 40 people flying from the US, we didn’t even know if we could legitimately get married. Fortunately, two days ago, we found out the good news that the government will indeed allow us to get married!

9) Where did you get married?
We will be married in a 700-year-old monastery in the pueblo of Lupiana (which is in the province of Guadalajara, and community of Castilla La Mancha :)), Spain.

10) What was your marriage ceremony like?
We’ve had to ditch the typical Catholic ceremony in order to accommodate American traditions (particularly sufficient usage of the English language!). This means we’ve had to go with a civil ceremony in which we can weave in traditions from both cultures as well as both languages.

11) How is the relationship with your in-laws?
I love them. I am very fortunate as not all Spanish families, much less Spanish moms, would be so supportive and understanding of our cultural differences. My in-laws give us the space we need to make our relationship work and completely support us.

12) What about your spouses with your family?
So far so good. Given that we live quite far away from my family (my family is in California), it is rather impossible for the relationship to be strained in any way. That said, my mother absolutely adores my future husband and couldn’t be happier to call him her son.

13) What was your biggest cultural misunderstanding?
I suppose what has been particularly difficult for us is the difference in the amount of time people spend together socially. In the US, if we meet up with friends or go to dinner with someone, we typically finish up and part ways after two to three hours (not to mention that we aren’t particularly used to staying up past midnight). In Spain, they are accustomed to spending more like five, six, seven or more hours together (eating, having a coffee, then having a drink, then eating some more, etc). So for me, after a couple of hours with his friends or family, my attention span has expired. It has taken us some time (and several heated arguments) to figure out that if we go out with friends that we need to have a backup plan for me to depart early (that is, I will last until 1AM if dinner is at 10PM, while he might carry on spending time with those same friends until 6AM). We’re just hoping that at our wedding I will make it through the all-night party!

14) Can you tell a funny story about a cultural mishap?
Where do I start? There was that time that I wanted two pieces of fish and ended up presenting my boyfriend with a gigantic entire fish cut into two pieces. That was a lovely lesson (I’ve avoided purchasing fish since). My favorite mishap occurred on my second trip to Spain when I first met my fiance’s sisters and we all went to a party out in the countryside together. I was trying my very best to fit in (and not look like the awkward American) by wearing a dress that I’d purchased in Spain. Well, apparently my dress had a peculiar cut that somehow made it look like a maternity dress, so as I was drinking my glass of wine an older woman came up to me in front of my fiance’s sisters and started berating me about how I should not drink while pregnant. I found this particularly strange considering I am by no means a big girl, not to mention that I believe it is fairly common knowledge (in Spain and elsewhere) that one glass of wine is just fine if you’re pregnant. What made the whole experience even more awkward was of course that my boyfriend’s sisters had the honor of translating the whole encounter to me. Needless to say, I’ve never worn that dress or anything similar since!

15) Have you traveled with your spouse?
My fiance and I have traveled extensively, in fact it is really a key part of our relationship – discovering new places, new cultures and new foods. In addition to that, he loves nothing more than to share with me all that his country has to offer. I am very lucky to have found someone with the same passion and appreciation for travel as me.

16) If so, has it been challenging? Why?
n/a

17) If not, why not?
I suppose they always say that when you travel with someone, you really learn whether you are compatible together, and for us that couldn’t be more true. We have very similar travel styles in the sense that we are power-tourists who love to experience everything a culture has to offer.

18) Do you have children? If so, what is that like, internationally
speaking.
Not yet!

19) If you don’t have children, why not? Do you plan to?
We don’t have children yet for obvious reasons I suppose – first, we would like to get married first. Also, because I feel like I haven’t yet sewn my wild oats (I’m only 28!). When we will have children would depend on who you ask. As I see it, it will most likely be in the next couple of years (give or take a couple years ;) , with the emphasis on “give”).

20) What is the best and the worst thing about international marriage?
I suppose when things get lost in translation due to cultural differences. This can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes you can argue for days about whether something is wrong or right, when in reality, you’re dealing with two different sets of cultural norms, which basically means two sets of realities, and ultimately no real wrong or right. On the other hand, this can also mean that you can often easily dismiss differences based on culture – something you surely can’t use as an excuse in a traditional relationship. While the cultural differences can often be the source of arguments, they at the same time can set the expectation that you need to be more flexible, paving the way for more understanding that you might not have otherwise.

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Vago Damitio

Mr. Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

One thought on “International Relationships Series #9 – Spain and USA

  • June 24, 2010 at 8:16 am
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    I’m pretty sure that I will now be calling my fiance “señor misterioso” – love the new nick name that you coined Vago! :)

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