A big thanks to Patricia from Patricia Baret in France for taking over the blog today in the next Perks of Being Married to My Spouse post!
Once upon a time, in 2010, I left home to study abroad in France. That very first week, I met Laurent, and it was love at first sight - a cliche scenario, fit for a romantic comedy. However, the rest was a little less glamorous, as I awkwardly attempted to flirt in broken French and made myself look silly trying to fit with my host country's social norms. You know those little air kisses on the cheek that French people give when greeting each other? Well, I somehow managed to squash noses with Laurent while greeting him with air kisses, not once, but twice,
On the bright side, it turns out that you can't actually die of embarrassment. So I had the chance to improve my flirting and my French over the course of that year.
Fast forward a few years, and I'm laying on the bed, feeding our baby as I type this. She's pretty adorable, and I love being married to her daddy, my Frenchman. To be honest, there are a lot of things about France that still make me uncomfortable and deciding to leave my whole life behind to move here was a really difficult decision. But in the end, I'm completely head over heels for my husband and have found so many perks to being in an international marriage.
Being married has been excellent motivation for learning French. There are so many words and expressions that I've picked up in the home environment - things that I would have never learned in a classroom. Plus, having a good looking tutor never hurt anyone, and I like to think my husband's pretty cute. ;)
We certainly can't forget the food. This is definitely one of the best parts of living in a foreign country period. It's so fun to try new things, even when I don't like them. Luckily, this goes both ways, and my husband and I are constantly introducing each other to new flavors. When we first started dating, he was super impressed by the fact that I knew how to make cookies, and just a few weeks ago, Laurent tasted Sloppy Joes for the first time.
I've become familiar with the culture in a very unique and intimate way. There are a lot of ways I could educate myself on how people live in different countries, but no textbook really compares to living out the experience in my own home on a daily basis.
Our daughter will have 2 nationalities. In addition to inheriting a rich cultural background, she will also be able to study or live anywhere she wants within the European Union or the United States.
A lot of people ask if cultural difference make our marriage harder, and after a lot of reflection I've decided that no, that's not the case. Our marriage isn't more difficult than anyone else's. Even my friend who married a boy who grew up in the same town and went to all the same schools as her, she sometimes wonders if he came from a whole other planet. Every family raises their children so differently, that I can't help but assume that every couple deals with "cultural" differences of some sort from time to time. This is why communication is so important.
Living in France, so far away from home, definitely comes with its ups and downs. But luckily, I'm married to a very kind man who makes it all worth it.