Viewed From This England

We’ve been watching the political-melodrama U.S. TV series Madam Secretary. But you don’t need to know the details of the program to get this post. I thought I’d use it as a basis for some “fun” today – it’s Friday – mostly due to the episode we just saw and because, as you probably know, my wife is English (and we have been married for, uh, quite a few years).

In that episode from its 3rd season, the U.S. Secretary of State’s twenty-something spoiled, mouthy, annoying pain in the neck for the previous two seasons and now continuing to be so apparently daughter has returned to Washington recently after a summer in Oxford with her English fiancé.

In the kitchen, unexpectedly she gets all emotional and reveals to Mom (the Secretary of State, I repeat) that she was like wow really unhappy with her English husband-to-be when they were in England. Suddenly, she announces she doesn’t want to live there. She says she hated the place.

If this relationship doesn’t work out, in my opinion that English guy has just dodged a real bullet. In any case, she explains why she was so miserable in his homeland courtesy of the writers rolling out a litany of American downer clichés for England.

For example, she moans that the weather was lousy. (And, uh, guess what? It does rain here.)

He is also “different” at home than in America, she says. (What? You’re kidding? He’s more culturally at ease where he was born?)

He worries about things like where someone went to school. (She didn’t exactly graduate from only community college. And her Secretary of State mother and university academic, former military pilot, father aren’t where they are in life because they stopped their studies at high school diplomas. But nevermind.)

He has turned away from her at parties if he doesn’t like her jokes – as if she is the silly American girl. (Surely not? Try this, think before you speak and chances are you won’t sound “silly.”)

His mother is snooty and considers her “incorrigible.” (Thus she discovers that there exists in this world something called future “in-laws.”)

She’s been criticized because … she can’t make tea! (Gasp!)

Above all, he was, euuuu, so … “English.” (Wait, what? She just noticed that?)

I could have split my sides laughing. At the risk of taking it all too seriously, let me offer a few real world thoughts.

When you are in love (or think you are) with someone from a different national origin, the only way such a relationship succeeds is for both of you to see each other as people first and foremost. Indeed, never forget where you started. You at least probably gravitated to each other romantically in the first place for the obvious reasons. (“Wow, she’s so pretty and didn’t throw that wine glass at me when I opened my mouth…” and “Hmm, he’s surprisingly handsome and says he likes cats…”)

Once you get past the early infatuation, you must learn to ACCEPT quirks and national differences. They are inevitable: you are not going to agree on everything about your respective homelands. You both have to learn to see matters a bit more from your partner’s perspective and be perhaps extra-understanding than you might be with someone from your own country.

With all else in life that marriage will eventually throw at you regardless (money worries, work, family, illness, even death, you name it), if before you even marry you feel your partner’s habits due to nationality and homeland are like, uh, gosh, soooo annoying, a few words of advice: rethink your marriage now, because you’ve got a gigantic problem. If you are utterly inflexible and unwilling to adapt, chances are you will end up miserable and divorced (hopefully at least before children may arrive, because international divorce is an even bigger bl-ody nightmare than the domestic version).

Fundamentally, marrying someone from another national origin means accepting a broader worldview and far wider experiences than you would likely have otherwise in your life. Your partner will “change” owing to you. And you will “change” over the years, too.

Meaning you’ll learn how to make the damn tea!

On that note from this England this morning, have a good day, wherever you are in the world. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Viewed From This England

      1. I chopped down a tree this week, to the astonishment of everyone who knows me. Some refuse to believe there was a tree there in the first place, and who am I to argue?

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