So much of marriage is a dance, learning how to move with the other person.
I shared these "bolded" thoughts from my journal on Instagram yesterday and thought I’d expand on them a little bit.....as it’s easy to write and talk about the good moments. It’s not as fun to talk about the harder moments.
He teaches me to stress less. I teach him to save more.
He shows me how to be spontaneous. I show him how to make a plan.
In theory, that sounds wonderful and like a great combination. It does also mean there’s a lot of arguments about how to spend money and how to save. We have to sit down and look at our budget and at the next 5 years quite often to make sure we are still on the same page. He does help me enjoy life more and laugh more, I teach him what retirement savings looks like.
It’s interesting as almost a year ago, a Mexican friend gave a talk to our “Women Helping Women” international breakfast. And she talked about her relationship with her wife from the US. She talked about the stark differences between someone born in the States and someone born in Latin America.
I actually took notes back in early 2020 on Magui’s talk and am going to list them here: Three of the cultural things she commented on and helped us all see her perspective on were:
1. Laughter is the best medicine (people here love to laugh!)
2. God willing, we will always enjoy today and the present moment more than worry about tomorrow. You've also probably heard people say "Si Dios quiere" when they talk about anything in the future
3. Safety is a luxury. We may be shocked by the lack of perceived safety, but some people are honestly just trying to survive and we don't have a right to judge what we may not understand.
There are obviously differences in every culture and country, but there are strong correlations between where/how you grew up and your relationship with money.
Typically in Latin America, children are taught and shown that life should be enjoyed in the present moment. If you are blessed with a new source of financial income, you should enjoy it with friends and family around. This may stem from the mindset of “have not” and many people, such as my husband grew up without his own shoes and never being given a toy as a child. There simply wasn’t enough to go around and feed the hungry bodies in the house.
Fast forward to a pre-teen who starts working construction at the age of 11 or 12 and as soon as you feel the weight of some coins in your pocket you want to buy a new pair of tennis shoes so that you too can show them off in your school down the road next week.
And this mentality carries with you into adulthood. My husband now owns more tennis shoes than any other person I know. And while we are working on determining want vs. need and looking at a long-term plan, I know that so much of his mentality is based on growing up without so many things.
And back to the comments my friend Magui made at that breakfast which feels like years ago thanks to 2020 and the tumultuous calendar that makes it hard to distinguish anything beyond pre-covid or covid these days, she noticed how her wife is constantly “living to work” while she prefers “working to live.”
There’s a clear distinction here. In the States, often from the age of young children, we are taught to save, save, save and work, work, work. There are obvious benefits to this plan of saving for retirement, yet sometimes along the way, we forget to enjoy the present moment and constantly worry about the future.
Obviously I’m making generalizations here about two cultures, but I see it in our own marriage, which is why I share it with others as I’m sure I’m not the only one in a bi-cultural marriage dealing with these cultural realities day in and day out.
We have good days, bad days, and everything in between.
Like with all relationships, it’s not all sunshine and roses. We may post happy pictures of us dancing, laughing and loving life. But those moments aren’t every moment.
We are constantly working on our relationship and our communication styles. We are constantly reminding ourselves that just because we saw our own parents do or say something in a certain way, doesn’t make it the “right way”. We have to keep ourselves in check around our own children as we tend to both be very passionate and stubborn people when it comes to our side of an argument. And if we get carried away, our children see and hear all of it.
And because we both grew up hearing our own parents argue in front of us, we want to keep those “heated conversations” out of the spotlight. We want our children to remember the happy moments when Mommy and Daddy are dancing in the kitchen or racing in the park. (We did that yesterday, not going to lie, I’m a little sore this morning from those sprints).
Finding someone who makes you laugh doesn't mean it's all smiles.
We know how to have a good time and we also know how to push each other's buttons.
We laugh a lot. We dance a lot. We enjoy life a lot.
But we also don’t see eye to eye on everything. We grew up so differently. We view the world through different lenses. We argue a lot.
I remember hearing someone close to me saying “My husband and I never fight. We are always on the same page.”
And I immediately thought “She’s either lying. Or something is wrong with my own marriage.”
But over this last decade of getting to know Walter and his quirks and spending habits and hard work ethic and needs and wants, I realize that even if we have hard days (which we do), it’s all worth it. He’s helping me see other perspectives. He’s teaching me how to dance through the storms.
And he’s also said that I’ve helped him see a bigger perspective that goes beyond living for this present moment.
So there you have it, our imperfect selves trying to make the most of this imperfect marriage and sharing our struggles with others in hopes that it may encourage you in your relationship.
Figure out what it is that you need, want and how to communicate it.
And as for us...
We're still dancing. Still trying. Still laughing, most days.