Guest Post: 7 of the Best Things about being married to a Non-Native English Speaker | Speaking of China

33 Responses

  1. Lina
    Lina May 30, 2014 at 8:05 am | | Reply

    For us non of us is English native – I try my best to study Cantonese but everyday we talk in ‘English’. It gives us a lot of laugh because I often use English with Polish grammar and to make it more funny he sometimes uses English with Cantonese grammar so ‘You is’ can pop out! Another great thing is the laugh we get when suddenly we speak to each other in our own languages, then realize the other person has no clue what’s going on.
    I don’t even need to mention that I can use ‘it’s not what I meant’ when we argue and I say too much (my dirty little secret 😉 )

    1. Grace Buchele Mineta
      Grace Buchele Mineta May 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm | | Reply

      Hahaha, how funny!!
      I have a couple other European friends who speak English as a second (or fifth) language – and their Japanese boyfriend/husband’s English is also a bit rusty…

      So they communicate basically in English, but neither really likes speaking English. I always think that kind of stuff is really impressive 🙂

  2. Nicki Chen
    Nicki Chen May 30, 2014 at 8:52 am | | Reply

    Grace, you’re so funny and smart, all at the same time. Most of all, you’re wise, using what could be a stumbling block in your marriage to bring you closer together and add fun to your lives.

    Your #7 is especially interesting. Couples who speak the same native language can still misunderstand each other. Language is not as precise as we would hope it to be, and people don’t always express themselves well. With your language differences, you and Ryosuke are careful to say things straight out without any hidden meanings. We should all do the same.

    1. Grace Buchele Mineta
      Grace Buchele Mineta May 30, 2014 at 5:31 pm | | Reply

      Thank you so much. That means a lot, coming from someone who has much more experience than I do.

      I’ve found that some of my most productive arguments have been with Ryosuke because it’s not such a “word war.”I don’t know. I love it.
      (and it helps I have a little bit of an upper hand, since I can think faster in English than he can)

      Always worrying about hidden meanings is exhausting…

  3. Constance - Foreign Sanctuary
    Constance - Foreign Sanctuary May 30, 2014 at 9:41 am | | Reply

    A great post, Grace! Language can be a barrier for a lot of couples, but as you pointed out, it can also be something that makes the marriage interesting!! My husband loves finding Chinglish and pointing it out – we always have a good laugh about it. And maybe I have lived in Taiwan too long because he has corrected my English on one or two occasions which made he feel like a super star!

    1. Grace Buchele Mineta
      Grace Buchele Mineta May 30, 2014 at 5:33 pm | | Reply

      Thanks 🙂

      My husband also gets SUPER excited when/if he notices an English mistake from one of his American friends on Facebook. I think it’s pretty cool that his English has gotten good enough to recognize mistakes (because my Japanese still isn’t at that point).

      I am ALL for a more interesting marriage. It’s a lot of fun!

  4. Marta
    Marta May 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm | | Reply

    I think when you and your partner don’t speak the same language you tend to speak more precisely, as Grace said. Also, if you communicate in a language that is not your mother tongue you don’t usually say that kind of things that you later regret… Well, at least that’s my case, or maybe it has nothing to do with the language, and more with lessons learnt from past relationships!
    I have to confess I don’t like my bf’s accent in English, haha. We always talk in Chinese so I feel weird talking to him in English.
    In Spanish he has a cute accent though, and most of the things he can say are funny… I almost only taught him bad words, hahah.

    1. Grace Buchele Mineta
      Grace Buchele Mineta May 31, 2014 at 6:28 am | | Reply

      Hahaha. Wow. That’s so cute. And rather impressive that y’all can speak 3 languages!

      Since my Japanese level isn’t quite native, I’ve found (like you said), it’s really difficult to fixate on something particular he said. I sort of forget the general wording – since it’s not English, it doesn’t stick in my head as much.
      So even if we say stuff we regret – the other person usually can’t remember it the next day 🙂

  5. ordinary malaysian
    ordinary malaysian May 30, 2014 at 3:08 pm | | Reply

    That’s the beauty of having a partner whose language is different from yours. You can always mix things up and feel that things are not as bad as it would have been between a couple who speak the same language.

    1. Grace Buchele Mineta
      Grace Buchele Mineta May 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm | | Reply

      Thank you 🙂
      I agree completely~

  6. Sparksofember
    Sparksofember May 30, 2014 at 10:50 pm | | Reply

    #7 is an excellent point. It can take many couples years to learn to focus on the feelings behind an argument, so you two are ahead of the game! 😉

    1. Grace Buchele Mineta
      Grace Buchele Mineta May 31, 2014 at 6:29 am | | Reply

      Thank you 🙂

      It took us a couple of years to figure that one out too – but I’m glad we did, because it’s so much more fun now.

  7. Sveta
    Sveta June 2, 2014 at 11:54 am | | Reply

    My Korean ex and I spoke in English, English being both of our second languages. If I should get upset about something, I’d start speaking in Russian, and he’s start replying in Korean. Kind of funny I think.

    1. Grace Buchele Mineta
      Grace Buchele Mineta June 4, 2014 at 9:26 am | | Reply

      Sometimes when my husband gets VERY mad, he switches to Japanese while he’s yelling. It’s funny – but I also can’t understand most of what he’s saying (and once he lets out steam, he’s usually fine…)

      Languages are such an interesting addition to a relationship.

  8. mathi
    mathi June 4, 2014 at 1:27 am | | Reply

    Grace,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your post. It was laced with humor and your love for each other was very prevalent in your words. It is pure love that unites couples. I literally traveled with you as you revealed the humorous side of your relationship.

    1. Grace Buchele Mineta
      Grace Buchele Mineta June 4, 2014 at 9:25 am | | Reply

      Thank you so much Mathi,

      That was very sweet to say 🙂
      I’m glad you enjoyed reading!

  9. marghini
    marghini June 5, 2014 at 3:06 pm | | Reply

    As someone who is on the other side of the fence, sometimes speaking English is a real hassle! I am not a native speaker and my bf hasn’t learned much of my mother tongue yet (despite he promised to do so..) so we pretty much communicate in English, which is his mother tongue.

    Don’t get me wrong, it was great for me to master a foreign language and to explore new linguistic tools to express my feelings, but sometimes it would just be so much easier to yell at him in Italian!

  10. Pools
    Pools May 18, 2015 at 8:02 pm | | Reply

    It is quite interesting that a FOB Ryosuke was able to marry a nice white girl from the USA despite the fact that he wasn’t even a American Born Japanese. AMWF relationships are difficult enough for the American or Canadian born Asians and for Ryosuke to manage to pull that off, I would like to know how wealthy he is. There must be a significant socioeconomic gap between Ryosuke and his wife for him to overcome this hurdle. Was she from a low income family whereas Ryosuke was from a family of significant means?

  11. Pools
    Pools May 18, 2015 at 8:04 pm | | Reply

    It is quite interesting that a FOB Ryosuke was able to marry a nice white girl from the USA despite the fact that he wasn’t even a American Born Japanese. AMWF relationships are difficult enough for the American or Canadian born Asians and for Ryosuke to manage to pull that off, I would like to know how wealthy he is. There must be a significant socioeconomic gap between Ryosuke and his wife for him to overcome this hurdle. Was she from a low income family whereas Ryosuke was from a family of significant means? This really stretches my sociological imagination as a sociology major.

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