The questions remain the same in a relationship:
- How to better communicate what we want?
- How do we allow those we love to be their best self?
- Who has the patience to see through an argument based on individual freedoms?
- Was I wrong to criticize how his or her culture seemed bias to other cultural realities?
- Whose needs are put in jeopardy when one side tends to allow the other to be final about certain topics?
- How can raising children in a cross cultural relationship be more than a never-ending source of unfinished creative thinking projects?
The questions will always be there. We can raise hundreds of arguments in our heads, but learning to have a healthy communication prone to clear the path for a greater integration of differences will come a long way between you and your cross-cultural partner.
I have learned during this last six and a half years of my life that sometimes it is better to stick with solving one issue instead of showering the little hours we have with our partners with one thousand and one little troubles. Those “nerve wrecking concerns” we carry with us are sometimes just spots of shadows that avoid our true communicative nature from shining through. This results in the most normal cases of “communication breakdown”. Attack each concern individually and you will never have to battle against a partner who may misinterpret where you are coming from.
Last week, I picked up a magazine and read this statement:
“Usually the questions in our head are more related to each other than we think. They represent a bigger issue that seeks transparency through the formulation of five or more interrelated concerns.”
Following along that line, we usually voice those concerns out using that previously developed questionnaire in our head. Take the time to manage those little devils we follow from our own thinking process. Remember that with the issue of language barriers, your international partner and you already lack some tools to fully take on long dialogues, imagine if this involves three hundred questions. This doesn’t mean that we have to have an attitude of noninvolvement; it just means that for a better “audio quality”, it may be best if we learn to be practical in our day to day communications.
Some dialogues and points of view exchanges with Cubans, as with many Latino cultures, tend to be very heated. Their warm blood and passionate nature filters in everything they talk about, especially if it involves politics and the arts. As with many culturally aware societies, Cubans are ready to take on conversations on any subject rapidly, but if it’s not in Spanish the level of clarity gets shattered. Think about it, have you ever been asked to talk about The Stoics in Chinese? Trust me, you will learn about stage fright and its impatient co-creators.
Even though I love all that passion that bleeds out from my Latino family in-laws, but I would much rather not have to deal with it at times, because sometimes, quite frankly, it overwhelms me. So, pick the questions and concerns single handily and you will see how far your conversations with your loved one will go. The art of “real communication with our partner” starts the moment we realize that our understanding stops where theirs begin. Nothing bad can come from taking the time to put forward propositions for proper dialogues, after all, when you love somebody it really doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong. It is in the differences where we endure, and this is the beauty of cross cultural relationships.
Shutting off that constant free speech “grandmother concern driven mind” of ours can help us to see behind the scenery we like to visualize in our heads, seeing pass those hills of anxiety that don’t allow us to enjoy the horizon of our companions presence. It may sound like a Buddhist practice, but it is simpler than it sounds. Single out issues, always, and you will see that clarity is more easily achieved than we think.
I fell in love with the warmth and the passion Cubans share with those they meet. And I, in return, have tried to learn to nurture that love beyond any mind driven interviewer’s previous conversational quality, by taking the time to talk about concerns one at a time. This way our language learning possibilities move ahead into the field of real quality time and language practice, with a hint of rumba dancing and long strolls by the waterside of any bridge that may resemble El Malecon, or any old street that may take us into a memory adventure road into the heart of old Habana City.