So one chronic problem with an international marriage where both parties try to speak the other person’s native language is miscommunication.

I realize that happens in normal marriages, too. But it’s like 20 million times more likely with bilingual couples.

instance #1

The person mispronounces or mangles the grammar so that the other person perceives them saying something strange.

For instance, “ichigo” can be ‘strawberry’ or ‘one cup’ depending on intonation in Japanese.

So I asked Naoto to make “ichigo” of rice this morning. He gave me his “what the f-ck are you saying?” face. Which raised my hackles. I repeated it. He understood. I got annoyed because it took two repetitions for him to get it.

It turns out he was doing the “what the f-ck” face because he heard “please make strawberry rice”. Which is just gross.

Add on about 24 more instances of that throughout the day and you’ll understand why even though intellectually we know we are working with language problems, are hackles are constantly getting raised subconsciously.

instance #2 you “know” what the other person is saying

Half of speaking/understanding a second language is knowing in advance what the other person is going to say.

This is true. Naoto doesn’t wake up and say “an elephant just flew over your head”. He’s more likely to say “ten more minutes” or “you change Maika’s diaper.”

However, if you know what someone is going to say, you don’t listen to the details. So if I tell Naoto “oh, I finally registered the domain name for me and Winnie’s online ‘zine. But I can’t connect it until you get the server going. So I left the page up with all the information.”

What he hears is “blah blah blah, I registered the domain name blah blah blah blah”. Then he promptly goes to the computer, closes the window with the precious links to the registered domain name and checks the baseball scores in Japanese. I ask him “did you save that page?” He says “what?”

fighting ensues.