Tag Archives: marital issues

Just a gringa

Well, I’m sad to say that I’ve discovered no matter how much Spanish I speak or books I read about Mexican culture, in the end I’ll still be a gringa. Now I’ll say up front that those are not my husband’s words because if they were, he would be on the couch indefinitely. He has always asked me why I married a Mexican and if I ever wish I married an American. He usually brings up the question after a bad cultural experience, like when his boss for a day at Gastof’s harassed him about our relationship, or when there is an immigration raid somewhere in the country. I take his questions as more of a reflection on his self-esteem when it comes to being a Mexican and it saddens me greatly.

It’s a hard line to walk from my side. I knew where he was from and his situation before our first date so I had already made a conscious decision not to let any of that be a factor in our relationship. I DO care that he is Mexican though, in the way that I want to learn his culture and language and history so I can appreciate where he is from and where his family still lives. I want our future kids to love their Mexican heritage and look forward to visits south of the border. I’ve spent hours studying Spanish and taking classes. I have read many books on Mexican history or on Mexican’s in the US. I really do try to be patient with the cultural differences such as time (that’s the most different).

My disappointing discovery last weekend was that despite all this effort, his family will always consider me a gringa. They would never tell me this but my husband was talking with his brother Gigio about some things and told him I would like to help him and the family. His brother told him that he likes me but he would never let me help because “I can’t understand because I’m an American.” Of course, he said it in Spanish but that was the translation that Mex told me later. The topic in question was something that I pride myself very much on knowing a lot about (as it is my career). My initial reaction was anger which Mex experienced the entire car ride home. Then I was sad. So sad and disappointed. I know it isn’t how Mex feels and I know our relationship is as “race free” as any biracial couple can truly be but I thought I was making more progress with his family. How can they like me if they don’t think I understand them? Even after Mex’s intense immigration process last year.

A week later I’m still sad. Now I’m also confused and worried, not about us but about children. I want them to feel comfortable everywhere and his brother’s comment scares me and makes me feel like they are going to feel like they don’t fit in anywhere. They’re American but not white like their mom. They are Mexican but not really Mexican like their dad. Where do they fit? Will they resent me or him or both of us? Whew…. a lot to worry about when there aren’t even any kids on the horizon. Maybe I should stop for the evening and just enjoy the time at the lake while summer still lasts! Good night from the Gringa.

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Filed under Bicultural and biracial marriage, Family, Marital Issues, Mexican culture, Minnesota vs. Mexico, Minnesotan/American culture

This blogger’s beginning

Well, here it is… my very first foray into the blogging world. I told my good friend I had decided to start a blog and immediately I felt like I was playing paintball with my nephew. What is your blog about? Splat. I haven’t decided for sure. What is your focus? Splat. I don’t know. Well, what are you going to write about? Splat. Hell-ooo, I said I’m not sure. How often are you going to write? How are you going to get readers? What is your design like? Are you going to post pictures? Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Uhhh… maybe this wasn’t a good idea.

Seriously… Is blogging really that complicated? I thought I could just type in some thoughts, insert some pictures and share it with friends. Now I find out that is a whole science behind it. A standard. Even awards for blogs! I’m on the verge of 30, straddling the X and Y generation, the two most tech savvy groups alive and I feel like my almost 70-year-old dad is starting to teach me about the internet. A disturbing thought since I’ve been on the internet since 1994 and he didn’t even understand email until about nine months ago. Now he shops eBay, google earth’s real estate properties, checks emails more than I do… crazy. At least I can still beat him in a typing contest.

In truth, I have thought about the topic of my blog. I chose the name  “Minnesota and Mexico Mix” with the intent of sharing some stories about my mixed marriage. I am a Minnesota girl, 3/4 Scandinavian and 1/4 “mutt” as my grandpa always called himself – a pinch of German, Irish, French-Canadian or Dutch (that part is unsure due to a family scandal from the 1880’s). I grew up on a dairy farm that I truly believed didn’t have an odor, lived in a rural community where everybody knew everything about you, had about 50 family members within a 20-minute drive, ate hot dish instead of casseroles and drank pop instead of soda. According to my friends, I also have a very distinct Minnesota “O-hhh.”

My husband is also from a small town… about 2000 miles south in Morelos, Mexico. His family farm was full of vegetables and fruits (which smelled better than my cows, I’m sure). Like my town, information about neighbors spread as fast as the wind could blow.  He grew up with 10 family members living in a two room house, ate tortillas with every meal, walked everywhere he needed to go, had no running water and a dirt floor kitchen.

Different countries, different cultures, meeting and marrying here in Minnesota. Our journey together these past six years has been filled with communication speed bumps and cultural adjustments. Probably there is just as much compromise and understanding in our relationship as in any other. The thing that I believe is different in a mixed relationship is the heightened level of tolerance and acceptance that is necessary, not only by each of us, but by our families.

There are many anecdotes about our learning process I plan on using this blog to share and hopefully benefitting others in our situation. My husband and I recently met a couple that mirrored our situation and spent an evening with them. It was amazing how similar our experiences with each other and our families are. In fact, we had so many of the same stories to share that it was a little eerie. It was a wonderful pleasure to spend time with them laughing over the challenges we’ve all overcome and musing over the ones in our futures.

The cultural differences between a Minnesotan and a Mexican are very real, but not insurmountable. We are having fun figuring things out and look forward to the next few months of traveling.

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Filed under Bicultural and biracial marriage, Marital Issues, Minnesota vs. Mexico