3 Reasons Why You Should Learn Your Partner’s Language

Helllooooo! I have been suuuuuper m.i.a., but that’s what happens when life hits (PhD preliminary exams, fiancé moving across the country, cohabiting with my sister and nephew, and much, much more)! I also took some time away to focus more on journaling and writing strictly for myself. It helps so much with my personal growth. (I’m actually thinking of writing a post about why I post haha)

But anyways, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship, (I ammm getting married in like 3 months after all), and how it would be so different if I didn’t speak Spanish (Ricardo’s first language). I also know several multiracial couples, some where the monolingual partner learned the language of his/her partner, and some where no effort at all was made to learn the language, or even about the culture. The case of the latter literally has me like “damnnnnnnnn, how are they even still together?” So without further delay, here are my top three reasons on why it is CRITICAL to learn the language (at least the basics.. c’mon bruh) and about the culture of your partner. Also, since I’m getting married and healthy relationships are at the forefront of my thoughts, prepare to get a ton of posts about relationships and wedding stuff. #sowwynotsowwy

1. Clear communication is the key to any strong relationship

Cliché much? Still true thooo.

If English is your first language, have you ever gotten into a serious fight with someone who is not English dominant? The shit they say when they are furious starts to not make sense reaaaal quick, which then causes you to get more frustrated. And then if they start code switching! Shit reallllly starts to hit the fan. And you’re all like “bishhhh what did you just call me?” and they’re all like “huevón, me escuchaste, y no me voy a repetir, cabrón!

I remember seeing this with my mom and dad growing up. Once my dad starting ripping out the Arabic, you knew that shit just got reaaaal. Then none of us could even understand what he was saying, so not only would we get mad and frustrated, the same would also happen to him.

So help your partner out. Learn their language so that they can get mad at you in a naturalistic way. You avoid the frustration of not understanding them in their rage, while also understanding, and being able to respond if they call you un hijo de la gran puta. It’s a win win for everyone.

2. You won’t be able to truly show who you are as a person to their family, if they don’t speak your native language.

I will never forget the first time I went to Puerto Rico and met Ricardo’s family. I literally could only nod and smile, as if I were in a freaking beauty pageant.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I do consider myself to a pretty funny person, lol. But when I went to PR for the first time, I literally could not even crack one joke. Shoot, I couldn’t even laugh at jokes that other people were making, because I just couldn’t understand them. Studying abroad in Perú did nothingggggg to prepare me for Caribbean Spanish. NOTHINNNNNG. I was so ready too. I got off the plane, lista para la batalla. And then I met his parents, ready to impress them and everything, by speaking to them in Spanish first. And I’m like “Hola! ¿Cómo están? Mucho gusto!” …… and then they responded, and I was like…

Although they probably just  said “igualmente! Estamoh bieng, graciah! Diablo tu ta’ flaca, hay que comel arroh y habichuelah”….. it sounded like “cdhjcbaucsbjHbhhhhhhhlllllllrrrrrrrrrr” and my poor little brain couldn’t process all that aspiration (changing s->h) and lateralization (changing r->l).

So throughout my trip I was literally just awkward sally in the corner. I just had to sit there, and be that awkward person with the delayed laugh, that clearly only starts laughing because other people are laughing, not because they got the joke. It was not cute. I also, agreed with his mom as she was saying she was fat (because I could only smile and nod or say “sí, claro!”). Clearly, not the best first impression on the in-laws.

But now that I’m bilingual, I can really be myself (which is a sarcastic, slightly funny, direct, son-of-a-bish), and it’s great. I know that his family likes ME for who I am as a person.. not just for being a statute that agrees and smiles at any comment that anyone makes.

So if you’re trying to not appear identical to a house plant in front of your in-laws/family-in-law, learn their language!

3. Language and culture are two of the most crucial things that shape us as people

I mean liiiiike, if you don’t care about understanding your partner as a whole, on a deeper level, then suuuure, to hell with their language and culture. But I think, from personal experience, if you learn your partner’s language and learn about their cultures and traditions, you can understand them and get to know them at the most personal, intimate level. If they have traditions and customs that they’ve followed their entire lives, it’s kind of amazing when you can share and take part in that with them. Especially if you plan to have kids. Don’t you think they’d want to be able to pass some of those things down? And one thing I’ve observed (b/c I sure as hell don’t have kids of my own) is that when only one parent tries to pass down a language or cultural practices, the chances of the kid actually really getting it, isn’t that high. But when it’s both parents, it definitely reinforces things for the child.

Also, by learning your partners language, they don’t feel limited with you. I think if I had to speak Spanish 100% of the time with Ricardo, I’d dump his ass. Because the first 21 years of my life were spent in English. Those experiences happened in English so when I relive them/ think about it them, I do not do it in Spanish. And it’s tiring! My dominant language is English, so if I had to suppress that 24/7, it would be pretty exhausting. And everyone knows, tired exhausted Sherez means cranky evil bitch Sherez. And nooobody wants that.

Lastly, being monolingual is lame af. So step your game up. Show your partner that you’re really trying to know and understand them, and make.the.effort.

It’s 2018 bro. No excuses!



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