Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Language. A barrier in Love and Marriage

For a while now, I've been observing couples who marry partners of different tribes to see if language is a barrier to effective communication in love and marriage.
I recently stumbled across an interesting piece about “language barrier love” by dating coach Jag Carrao. In the article Carrao outlines the pros and cons of being in a relationship where the two people don’t speak the same language. On the face of it, it would seem like a recipe for disaster but Carrao says there are many advantages to having this type of communication gap.
Among them are:
• No man-terrifying “relationship talks.”
• Fewer heated debates (about politics and religion)
• Less ambiguity about date logistics (aware of the language barrier, he nails down date/time/place to avoid any misunderstanding).
• Exotic charm of endearments uttered in a foreign tongue.
• And most importantly: less conversation, more kissing.
Read the complete article here.
I partly agree with Carrao’s opinion that when there is physical chemistry or a spark of mutual interest/curiosity the language barrier can kind of cut through the crap that often exists in dating someone who speaks your native language. But I think eventually the curiosity wears out and then it just becomes really tiring.
Having a language barrier may initially be a fun adventure, but it can mask some serious issues that may come back to haunt the couple down the line. In the initial stages of dating, people are generally on their best behavior. Throw in a language barrier and little things you would’ve easily noticed early on in another relationship with a person who speaks your language, may wind up going unnoticed or swept under the rug. For example, views about women, family, money, etc. Of course a lot of these bigger misunderstandings stem from sociocultural differences, not just the differences in language, but the language barrier may initially cover up these issues.

Let me bring it home. lets look deeply into some of the problems associated wit marrying someone from a different ethnic background from yours in Nigeria. I speak Ibo,so lets assume I marry a Yoruba man. what will we speak at home? Ibo? Yoruba?English? what will our kids speak? I do not understand Yoruba, I am not a fast learner when it comes to languages and if i don't understand Yoruba,what will i teach our kids? if we go to visit relatives,should they speak English because of me? will i keep asking him what they are talking about,or better still,i ll record the whole conversation and get him to translate it to me when i get home. we cant communicate privately in public,i cant communicate to my kids in private when people are there,this to me is one of the most terrible things ever. i remember when we were kids and we had a visitor,my mum could could comfortably tell us a secret or send us on an errand without her guest being the wiser. my neighbor is a classic example of couples with language being a barrier to effective communication. she is an igala woman and he is an ishan man. she does not understand a word of his language and he does not understand hers either,so they speak English even when they shouldn't,they fight in English,they quarrel in English and we hear things we should ordinarily not be privy to. their kids only speak English because the man has refused to let his wife teach them her language and she cant teach them his either.
now lets talk culture differences. my friend is from imo and she wanted to marry someone from Anambra and her father said a big no to that. why? different cultures. as a stranger to a new and totally different culture,one might find himself/herself suffering from culture shock and may find it really difficult to adapt. some of you might be familiar with the movie"not without my daughter" where an American woman who was used to being seen and heard got married to a man from the middle east,she was expected to cover up like their women and basically not be seen or heard. at first,she felt like love was enough to see them through,but eventually even the love cooled off and she was left to face reality.
Some of us find ourselves in situations like this,and most often than not,we feel love is all that matters. personally,i feel there's way more than just love to consider when going into a marriage union. so many other things should be taken into consideration,and this is just one of them.