10th Anniversary

7 2012 English

For the occasion of our 10th anniversary I wrote the answer I get about our marriage: “How is it to be married to an American? How is it to be married to foreigner?” - I often asked myself “How is it really?” and your questions made me think…

It is definitely challenging. Even an American man is a man in the first place, and then we think about the nationality. As the time goes on I see it even more and more. It does not really matter where your husband is from but what matters is what kind of man he is - what kind of person. You can marry your next door neighbor, a boy you grow up with if you will, and still not make a good married couple. He can speak the same language and be from the same culture, but if his values are different and his view and expectations of life are different you will be never happy together! Of course it is much more convenient to marry some one from your own country. 1. You do not have to learn another language. 2. You do not have to move. 3. You do not have to laugh at some jokes by yourself because they are funny only to someone who comes from your culture. 4. You do not have to explain how much this book or that movie means to you because everybody knows it in “your country.” And the list could go on and on. You definitely have a lot of explaining to do, especially when you are married to someone who is very curious.

Worried mothers, whose son or daughter has fallen in love with a foreigner, very often ask me if mixed marriages work and if you can be happy? Can you be happy and not lose your own identity? Marriage with a foreigner can work and you can be happy if you understand a couple of things. Like it or not, unintentionally you become a representative of your fatherland. Very often I used to hear from Bruce comments that I am “so Czech” or “this is so Czech.” I did the same to him. Behind everything different I saw a different culture, not a different person. An American wife never says to her American husband: “You are such an American” because it is obvious to both of you . Therefore it is very important to learn everything about your spouse’s country, culture, traditions, and mentality of her/his people. Then you can recognize what is American or Czech or what is just Katka or Bruce. The things you never have to think about when you marry your countryman, with a foreigner become a whole new territory you need to know. When you truly love you husband/wife, you will truly love his/her country, which is very important for a harmonious marriage. Our homeland is a big part of who we are, more then we can ever imagine. Very soon after our wedding I started to learn about American history, culture, mentality, and traditions. It is not enough to live here; you have to educate yourself. It is not always easy either. But then you understand the country, its people, and your husband better. You are not afraid or offended by the unknown. Still, in our household we do have an unwritten rule that I will never talk down about America or Americans and Bruce never talks down about Czech or Czechs - although we can complain about our own countries and our own people freely. It would hurt to hear it from the other side. In marriage with a foreigner you should be ready for some surprises. Bruce says that I surprise him constantly with my reactions, ideas, and opinions. That is the different mentality; our roots are deeper than we think. Things normal to you, and for example polite or appropriate, can mean the opposite to your foreign husband/wife. So, marriage with a foreigner could be very challenging but it also opens your eyes wider, takes you behind the “border” of your soul and you get to know yourself better; all of this combines makes your life richer.

Back to the point. Can a mixed marriage work? Yes, of course it can. It does not matter where you came from, what matters the most is what kind of person you are.

Katarina Dehning  (2006)


Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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