On October 21, 2012 my future wife and I went on our first date. Maria and I had met via the Internet. We lived about 50 miles apart, but we would never have found each other without the Internet connection.
In fact, I had tried to correspond with Maria three or four times on a dating site, without success. Finally, I asked her a question. She responded. And, she disappeared! However, a few weeks later she contacted me through her friend’s account on that site and gave me her contact information if I chose to communicate with her. I chose!
So, we emailed back and forth for a few weeks. Finally, she agreed to go out with me. Maria is an educated Latina and is very classy. I wanted to show her a bit of my world. So, she agreed to go with me to a wedding that I was officiating. It probably was a very crazy plan for a date, especially if we had not enjoyed being together. The drive was nearly two hours from her house.
The short version is, we “clicked”. We enjoyed talking to each other and being together.
The indicators of a potentially successful romantic relationship are: 1) “I like who I am when I’m with you”. 2) Lots of laughter. 3) I feel safe with you. Evidently she felt all three of those, and I certainly did. The relationship moved ahead and we were married five months later.
Cross cultural relationships bring a lot of challenges. I felt that we would be able to deal with those challenges so long as we both stayed committed to meeting the challenges and working through them. I continuing learning how right I was and am.
There are very big differences in our cultural backgrounds. There are things that happen in my culture and social settings that would be offensive in hers. Thankfully, my wife asks questions instead of assuming that people are being offensive. There is also the language barrier. We have so many nuances in American English. It is a continual challenge for Maria to understand me, and other Americans.
One thing that is not easy to deal with is the racial prejudices of my own cultural against Latinos. I’ve been shocked sometimes at the level of my anger when people treat my wife disrespectfully because of their stupid prejudices. Most racism is the result of ignorance and is not hate driven. However, the pain caused by ignorant thinking and comments isn’t any different than the pain caused by hatred. In fact, it can be more hurtful.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, I want to tell Maria how much I love her. And I want her to know how much I appreciate her for enduring the difficulties she faces in our relationship because of our differences in culture and language. And, I’m very thankful that she continues to love me in spite of the ignorance of my fellow Anglos.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Love continues to conquer all, mi Amor.