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May 22, 2015

Love and Language Barriers


It's not uncommon to find veteran gaijin in Japan who have been here for longer than expected for one reason: love. 

There's never a dull day in an international relationship. Things like values, religion, preference in food, taste in fashion and your definition of "blue" are completely different. But for some these are the things that draw us be attracted to each other. Everyday is an adventure, a new experience, and a life lesson. 

In the midst of all that fun, there is bound to be some turbulence at some point or another. That's when our biggest difference becomes an obstacle. That is, of course, our mother language. The key to a maintain a relationship is said to be communication. No matter how fluent your honey is in English, and no matter how fluent your Japanese is, there are some situations and feelings we just can't seem to put into words the way we want to. Something's missing. They aren't "getting it." And it's the most frustrating thing I've personally ever experienced.

At times, the root of an argument itself can be caused by the slightest misunderstanding or a misuse of words. You don't even know why the fight started in the first place because you meant something completely different by what you said. 
So how can we resolve this issue? Here are some ideas: 
☆Baby Love's Misunderstanding☆
1. "The White Flag"  Drop your weapons and lay belly up. "I'm not angry at you and I didn't mean to be rude. Please tell me what it was I said to upset you." 
2. "The Studdering Child" At this point, you're probably out of ideas about how to explain what you meant to say in the first place. When all else fails, throw any pride you might have about language out the window for 5 minutes and speak in the simplest possible grammar structures you know. "You said ---. I thought ---. --- means ----, right?"
3. "Seppuku" Once you know the reason, and the misunderstanding is obvious, just apologize. Saying "I'm sorry" and meaning it is #1. Even if you meant what you said or don't understand why it upset your honey, the fact that it upset or hurt him/her is reason enough to at least apologize. 
☆Misunderstanding Baby Love☆
1. "Walk It Off" If you feel like if you talk right away, you're gonna shout or attack them, take a breather until you've cooled off. Losing your temper over a miscommunication is not worth it. 
2. "Judge Judy"  Confirm what was said using the same wording and see if it's what you thought it was. Confirm the meaning of any words you don't understand or find offensive. Some words have double meanings/ bad direct translation from their mother tongue. 
3. "Teach 'em, Sensei" Once the misused words have been clarified, first explain the actual meaning/tone of them. For example, Japanese use the word 素直(sunao) in a positive light. But the direct translation into English is "submissive." (Good luck telling an American woman to be submissive without getting things thrown at you, right?) There needs to be clarification about the nuisance of a word when heard by someone who grew up speaking  the language it came from. *Cultural values may vary. 
Hopefully Honey will understand and apologize/use the word properly from there on out.

It's not always easy but people do crazy things for love. And regardless of nationality, all couples must learn (especially how to grow up) through experience and time TOGETHER. Be careful with your words and listen to the one you love with half your heart, half your ears. Everything's OORAI. 
Please feel free to suggest other methods which have worked for you in the comments section.  
Nichole

Nichole

Hiya <3
I'm Nichole from LA in America. I've lived in Japan (Tokyo, Saitama, Ibaraki, Aomori) for 5 years so far.


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