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Soup, 7-Up, and Somewhere In- Between

I met Carrie in the blogosphere and now, on our trip to Guatemala, I have met her in real life! I am so grateful for others' stories of cross-cultural marriage. When she shared this post with me, I was reminded of so many incredulous looks Billy and I have shared as we execute our culturally-influenced home remedies. Enjoy Carrie's guest post, and be sure to check out her blog!

Photo: Creative Commons
In a cross-cultural marriage, there are things you expect to be different. The food you eat, the language you speak, the soccer team you cheer for (although that might be a deal breaker, at least here in Guatemala). 

I didn’t have too many surprises in those categories. Luckily my husband will eat just about anything, I am pretty fluent in Spanish, and as for the soccer teams, well, sometimes you just agree to disagree.

There is, however, one thing that did surprise me. It is the way we feel about illness, medicine, and home remedies.

My family’s philosophy growing up was always “rest and fluids.”  The cure to any stomach ache is drinking a little Ginger Ale or 7-Up. Hiccups means a spoonful of peanut butter or drinking a glass of cold water while you plug your nose (or to get really fancy, your nose and ears). 

We rarely went to the doctor or took medicine other than a little Ibuprofen or grape Dimetapp here and there. Most of the time my mom let us eat whatever sounded good while sick (which I distinctly remember because once I asked her to make me Snicker Salad). Unless of course we needed to follow the BRAT diet, because, well, you know…

My husband on the other hand (whom I affectionately refer to as “Mexi-malteco” since he is ½ Mexican and ½ Guatemalan) grew up with an entirely different set of home remedies and way of dealing with sickness. 

His mom always made te de manzanilla or te de limon (chamomile or lemon tea). Guatemalans are prohibited from eating or drinking cold things while sick (in fact, they aren’t even supposed to open the refrigerator!), so he always had a strict diet of soups and broths. There are 24-hour pharmacies stocked with pills to cure any ailment you might have, and the clinics are always full of patients.

Over the past two years, Mexi-malteco and I have had to learn and adjust to how we each manage being sick. He is learning to come home bearing 7-Up and Saltines, and I am learning to make soup and hot tea. He is sitting next to me and watching a movie, and I am going to the pharmacy for Tabcin and Panadol. 

Since having our first baby, we have had lots of discussions on how to best care for him (Public or private vaccines? Is he cold or hot? Yes or no to the gas drops?) Most often we end up comprising somewhere in the middle.

That’s the thing about cross-cultural marriage. It is a coming together of both cultures to form a new hybrid third culture. It requires being open to new ways of doing things. I have to let go of my way being the “right” way and instead make an effort to see things through his lens.

Even if means drinking steaming hot tea in 85 degree weather.

I am curious to know - what are your home remedies? If you are in a cross-cultural relationship, how are they different from your spouses?

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8 comments

  1. Genesis5:47 PM

    This was a BIG thing for us, since our first son was born with health issues and required surgeries and such early on (we're a Canadian-Guatemalan couple). Before that, we had no problem dealing with our differences, but once kids came along, whoa. Irving has become used to the fact that when I'm sick to my stomach, I need cold on my tummy while he was raised that cold is bad and he requires heat to feel better. Our kids all lean to the Canadian side and like cold.
    He is used to taking the kids to the doctor for every tiny sniffle and getting medicine for it . . . I treat them with hot lemonade and juice. We usually compromise by him taking them to the doctor and if nothing major shows up, we treat them my way. If they have an infection or something, we do meds. It is definitely a balancing act!

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  2. Michelle Acker Perez10:38 PM

    Carrie, I'm behind in my blogging-- but YES! This is so true and so funny how different cultures view sickness and medcicine. My Guatemalteco will not shower at night nor go to bed with wet hair if he's has a cold- and his parents were shocked when they found out we bathe our daughter at night! ha. He would like to take pills for everything and I tend to think sleep and tea will heal most things : ) Such a good post!

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  3. Thanks for sharing, Genesis. Love these examples!

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  4. Love it! We bathe Isaac at night. And I may have been offered a hair dryer for his use. :)

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  5. I just love this post, Carrie. I had never thought about this difference before, but now I can't stop noticing! On our recent trip to Guatemala, we purchased three different types of medicines and used a couple others that folks shared. I love it!

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  6. Carrie10:56 AM

    I agree - it is quite a balancing act!

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  7. Carrie10:58 AM

    Oh the pills - I have drawers full of pills that I was given for every pregnancy aliment I mentioned to my OB. After the second or third visit, we would leave the clinic and Mardo would say, "You're not going to take those, are you" fully knowing my answer :)

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  8. Carrie10:59 AM

    Thanks for inviting me to guest post. Guatemalans love their medicines!

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