The trials & tribulations of being (happily) married to a gringo
I've been married to my gringo for 25 years now and I love him. We share the same core values and beliefs, especially as it pertains to raising our kids. But when my familia from Chile comes to visit, I realize just how the culture as well as the attitudes and traditions that I grew up with differ from those of my husband and his family. I also realize that although I've lived in the U.S. most of my life now, I am deeply influenced by my Latin heritage.
I feel fortunate to be bilingual, bicultural, to be able to go back and forth between my two culturas and to be able to mix them up to create my own value system. But sometimes the conflict between my "Latin" and "American" side really stresses me out.
When the two families get together, I instantly have to become a cultural interpreter, translator and ambassador. I also feel like I have to justify each side. "¿Qué le pasa? (What's the matter?)" my parents ask whenever they stay with us. "¿Está enojado? (Is he angry?)" And I always have to respond the same way, telling them that's just the way he is: "¡No, Mami, es así! He is just a bit 'seco' but you know that he's really a terrific husband and father."
My husband Michael has a quiet demeanor, which stands in sharp contrast to my and my family's overwhelmingly loud and energetic personalities. "Why do you guys argue all the time?" "Can't we just relax for one minute?" "Does everything have to be a celebration?" "Why do we have to be constantly eating?" my husband asks every time they visit. "They're not arguing. That's the way they communicate," I explain.
Then typically this is when the arguments start. "Well at least my family has passion and they're fun!" And I go on and on… "At least they don't need a formal invitation to come over to our place." And, of course, I can't stop there. And I get louder and meaner. This is when I call upon my American side to calm down and become more rational.
Many say he's a santo--a saint--for putting up with constant visits from the suegros, the six-month stay of a daughter of my third cousin, the sisters, the son of my adopted tío. Yet I go loca on him and even berate him. ¡Pobrecito mi gringo!