The Biggest Frustration of a Bilingual Marriage

When Billy and I were dating, we lived an hour's drive apart. So we spent a lot of time on the phone.

Well, there's only so much you can talk about. So naturally, he wanted me to read out loud to him a Spanish copy of Reader's Digest. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE FALLING IN LOVE.

You read aloud in pitiful Spanish, and your Guatemalan boyfriend tells you how beautiful it is. Because who doesn't love the sound of you butchering their mother tongue?

And it goes both ways. I was endeared when he would mix up expressions. Like when he gazed into my eyes, smiled, and told me, "I just feel like everything is falling into pieces." Umm... you seem awfully joyful about that. Do you mean "falling into place"?

[Record scratch.]

And then we got married.

What is my biggest frustration of bilingual marriage? The fact that we are both more comfortable in different languages!

Seriously. Sometimes I'm talking really fast and expressing all my emotions with passion and gusto. And I see it. Billy's giving me "the look." And I want to unleash my inner Chris Tucker.

Sometimes the realities of a bilingual marriage drive me absolutely insane. And I try to be gracious because I'm so impressed that he speaks two languages and YADA YADA.

Of course, when he sees me getting annoyed, he just casually mentions that we could change our marriage over to Spanish and go from there. Well played, sir. Well. Played.

So I remind myself that part of our commitment when we chose each other is to keep communicating, keep talking (in English and Spanish and everything in between), and keep offering grace. And it's possible that this would be an issue even if we weren't cross-cultural.

After all, when I showed Billy this post, he admitted it doesn't really bother him that he doesn't understand everything I'm saying! Gee, thanks.

I think back to those Reader's Digest monologues and remember that our communication dance was once something that was fun and special when we were dating. It doesn't really make any sense to frame it as a frustration now.

But still, sometimes we both feel a little like this:

Can you relate?


  1. Beth D2:13 PM

    Adorable, just so you know. I am positive that my husband would love to have an excuse for NOT understanding me. Ha! This is great. Well said!

  2. Jessica7:09 PM

    I can totally relate Sarah. My husband and I go back and forth with our Spanish and English. During conversations, there have been times where I have had to ask him to pick a language and stick with it. I remember when we were dating and I would laugh so hard during our conversations in English when he talked about the beach ( he now says the word beach correctly). jaja
    Jessica C

  3. YES! And we don't even have a literal language difference, just a gender language difference... :P

  4. Haha. I think sometimes this is a nice excuse to have in one's back pocket! ;)

  5. LOL, Jessica. That was one of the first words Billy and his sister were like, "Seriously, Sarah. Tell us how to pronounce this word." We laughed about it so hard, too! Hilarious.

  6. I LOVE this post. My husband and I have less of a language difference because he grew up speaking english in south africa and then here mostly- but there are certain words he will say and I'll be like wait... what do you mean by that? for instance I am terrified of hospitals and it is very important to my mental health that you distinguish between a doctors visit, a dentists visit, and a hospital visit... he calls all of these things as the hospital and that has caused me to almost cry a few times!!

    this first year of marriage for us is opening a whole new view on our cultural differences though when it comes to the families we come from and how we want to mesh that into our family today.

  7. Hi Isabella! I can definitely see how calling everything the hospital could be alarming! :) Congrats on your recent marriage, and I love that you all are enjoying the fun of getting to know each other and how your backgrounds influence the start of your brand new family. So fun!


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