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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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