Did you ever dream of marrying a foreigner? I didn’t but apparently that’s my fate and my story. Although technically, I’m the foreigner and Dennis is the local because we live in America. As many of you might have known by now, I’m a pure-bred Filipino, raised and born in the Republic of the Philippines. But because this is my blog, I will tag Dennis as the “FOREIGNER“. If he ever decides to write his own blog, then I’ll be the foreigner 🙂
Most people may have this notion that it’s a fairytale being married to a man who used to live 5000 miles away from you. Who conquered the sea and the monsters to marry you. And it is a wonderful story but there’s so much more between the beginning and end of a love story. Truth be told, I’d prefer a story with more humor and funny pieces than romantic. Funny can be the new romantic.
Like how my husband proposed to me (don’t fall asleep just yet). We were going to cross the busy street of Manila. Knowing that crossing the street in my home country can kill anyone in split second because of the non-existent driving ethics of our motorists who do not recognize traffic lights, I was understandably careful. But Dennis didn’t care, so he just kept walking and left me on the other side. He turned to find me still standing, waiting for my chance to make it to him alive. When I finally took a leap of faith and crossed, he said “I was talking to myself the entire time?” and I just shrugged, unsure whether to hate him or pity him. “I just asked you to marry me,” he continued. I stared at him and said, “after you left me at the other side of the street?”.
To cut the story short, I obviously married the man who left me on the street. So, what is it like to be married to a foreigner?
- I don’t always get the jokes. It’s one thing to know how to speak English but it’s a different ball game when you’re dealing with the slang. I consider myself having a little bit comedic genes in my body because my family is pretty funny, but you have to admit it’s different when it’s not your native tongue. My husband has to ask me if I got his jokes and wait for my reaction which pretty much kills the entire act. When the family gets together and they start throwing jokes at each other, I try to catch the punchlines from my corner but I miss a lot of them, so I wait for them to laugh and I join in. Easy.
- Eating Filipino food. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud that my husband likes Filipino food and I like making it for him. But it’s painful to see when he eats Adobo all by itself or when he gobbles up Pork Sinigang like it’s chicken soup. Most Filipino dishes should be eaten with the precious rice. I could only shake my head when I ask Dennis if he wants rice with his Tinola and he would say no. But I will keep on asking until he understands that Pinoy food is eaten with rice.
- Pancakes. It might just be him, but he eats stacks of pancakes for lunch or dinner. We have a tradition to eat out on Friday nights and he takes me to his favorite spots to eat in Honolulu because I haven’t been here long and that’s one way of being a tourist. I look at the menu, unsure what to get, so I ask him what he would order. Guess what he would tell me? Yes, pancakes. The fluffy, buttery pancakes are for breakfast, not lucn, not dinner. It’s hard for me to imagine drinking my wine with a stack of buttermilk pancakes, swimming in maple syrup.
- Arguing is an extremely tedious conversation. And not because we’re fighting. English isn’t my first language specially when I’m pissed and annoyed and I have a powerful urge to curse and be bad. It’s hard to get mad in English, at least for me, besides I think tagalog profanities are more potent. I either shut up or I tell him to shut up until I’ve calmed down and could express myself again in a way he could understand.
- Teaching him my language isn’t easy as ABC. Tagalog is my beloved first language and Dennis puts in a lot of effort to learning it. One time, he started talking to me in Tagalog and I started laughing becuase he was using words that we don’t use anymore like Ginang (Mrs) and Binibini (Miss). So, I took the feat of teaching him but, boy it’s not easy. Like him with English, I just learned tagalog from the get go without taking deeper look on grammar rules. So, explaining to him how a sentence is formed or prefixes and suffixes are used is a hard task. Now, he just watches Tagalog movies and read subtitles but still asks me to translate here and there.
- Teaching our son independence. American kids are raised to be independent early and I appreciate it. I’m in awe how early they develop that independence. But so many times I felt like my heart popped out of my chest everytime Dennis tells to “let him be, he’s going to be fine”, as Kaleb climbs up the stairs. Filipino parenting style is different but I’m adjusting and compromising and hopefully Kaleb gets really good at being independent with out inreparable damage.
- Freaking Pidgin. What?! Yeah, that’s the same thing I ask everytime my husband goes pidgin with me. But Pidgin, as Dennis defines it, is Hawaii’s “local” language that came to be when native Hawaiians and all the other immigrants of Hawaii started to make conversations. In some weird way, Hawaiian, English, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese and all other languages represented in this beautiful island just melted together and formed this gibberish (to my ears) dialect. I stare at my husband, confused and annoyed when he starts talking to me in pidgin and he just keeps going. He even try to teach it to Kaleb but that is where I draw the big black line. No son of mine is going to speak pidgin.
Almost a year to marriage and everyday is a journey of discovery for Dennis and I. It’s not alway fun and funny but it is far from bad. Mrriage by itself can be hilarious, marriage with a foreigner adds up to the fun. And being married particularly to my husband completes the entire package of riot in my life.
Sometimes, married life can be routinary, dramatic and boring despite of all the moving parts of making it work. I consider myself blessed that my marriage, though it has its challanges, is never boring or routinary. I’m in no level an expert, but my two cents is this- find the humor in your life and your relationship and nurture it because when things get rough, it can be an anchor to keep you both sane.