You’re in for it.
I’m just kidding. But be prepared for a full emotional experience; because believe me, there is no such thing as a “bad” emotion in Mediterranean culture. That passion we watch on TV is one of the few things Hollywood has represented fairly accurate. Especially if you’re Greek… enthusiasm and passion is like their sexy accent. It comes out in everything.
However, if you grew up in the states, like myself, we’re taught to not raise our voices when we’re angry, men are not supposed to cry, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, “just don’t say anything at all”. Although, when I was a kid, my mom was most enthusiastic about us learning to “express ourselves”; but this was usually done with me and my little brother sitting cross-legged in a circle, exchanging the line when you did/said this… it made me feel like this– like we were exchanging an imaginary talking stick.
LET ME TELL YOU HOW DIFFERENTLY THINGS WORK HERE
I will also start off by saying that I personally have been said to be pretty emotional and maybe a bit extra-sensitive. At least to the point, that if I’m not sitting at a happy medium on the scale of emotions, whether that be in excitement, fury, or watching those really inspirational America’s Got Talent auditions… I’m probably in tears.
You would think that me having a wide range of emotions would help Alex and I’s cultural differences on emotional acceptance. This is wrong. Why? Well… I think honestly because there is no such thing as a calm exchange of feelings here. There is just an unpredictable ELA RE MWRO MOU ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE ME CRAZY!!!– followed by an incomprehensible explosion of the worst things in Greek, as he storms off to the shower; only to then turn back, ten minutes later, chill as a cucumber, and wondering if I’m hungry. All of this, simply because I said he was a big baby when I tried to tweeze his eyebrows.
It’s unforeseeable. It’s like hail they forgot to mention on a sunny forecast. It’s LOUD. It’s… well, Greek. What’s even more bewildering… is that after two minutes in his world, these types of instances never even happened. And what’s MORE, he expects me to feel just as indifferent.
What does the little western part of my brain say in response to this insanity? Does he really expect me to act like everything is just FINE?? Is he completely deranged?? Who the %#$* does he think he is?? All of this running through my head in approximately 0.324 seconds… to lead me to the conclusion that, no. I am FAR from feeling indifferent. If we don’t have a sit-down conversation, explaining exactly just what I think of his behavior, we will have a real, all-day, problem on our hands. I may even consider a talking stick to be necessary.
Two hours later.
I am in tears and entirely frustrated; because he still doesn’t get why I’m upset.
Though the above example isn’t necessarily an argument (I just think it’s funny) to be fair… I’ll give you Alex’s, and your average Greek’s perspective on arguments.
He often argues it’s better and healthier even, to express how one feels entirely, to the point that nothing is kept inside. If it’s loud. So be it. If it’s angry. So be it. If you want to bawl your eyes out over it. So be it. Why wouldn’t you let it out 100% and resolve everything right then and there, and afterward… just let it go? Isn’t better?
And though I still feel strongly about my own views on things… after living here and seeing the same LOUD behavior patterns in others (and realizing he’s not entirely crazy)… I can begin to understand his point.
Even after two years of us attempting to culturally translate each other’s behavior and even knowing why we sometimes say and do the things we do… we still struggle with our cultural differences. Because we are subconsciously wired to react and think in the way we were raised to. Communication is often tough enough already, but this gives couples of different cultures an especially difficult task.
So, who’s culture has it right? No ones. In fact, couples in multi-cultural relationships should just throw that question down the toilet. There will always be points that YOU WON’T GET THEM. Even when you are speaking the same language… it is a process that takes an incredibly open mind to truly be able to understand someone of another culture.
Would LOVE to get some input from other multi-cultural relationships… how have you been able to “get” each others’ differences during the times you… don’t?