I’m not sure when the idea first came into my head to do this post, but it was no doubt inspired in part by a similar entry on a blog I often read – Multilingual Living. I haven’t yet married my Spaniard (we’re doing that this summer) but I’ve lived with him for almost two years now. The following is my semi-serious advice.
Spanish husbands can provide a lifetime’s worth of empanada.
1. Because you love them, they love you, and your life would be a lot poorer without them. Seriously! Spanish wo(men) aren’t a commodity. If you’re lucky enough to to be in a romantic relationship with a Spaniard, then sincere congratulations. But they’re ultimately not that different from anybody else. I once shared a flat with a girl who was convinced that the best boyfriends were German, so she exclusively dated Germans (we were living in London at the time). It was a bit odd. My advice: pick the person, not the passport.
2. Because you have a live-in language teacher. Living with a native speaker of the language you want to learn is the best. They can correct your grammar (even if, frustratingly, they have no idea how to explain when exactly you need to use the imperfect subjunctive). They also teach you all the fun things that Spaniards really say that you don’t learn in Spanish lessons. Vaya vaya, bocadillo de caballa.
We ate these delicious pinxos in San Sebastián.
3. Because Spanish food is delicious. This almost goes without saying. If you marry and/or set up home with a Spaniard, you’ll also go through more olive oil than you ever really thought possible. And, how did I live so long and never eat turrón?
4. It’s easier to live and work in Spain- and, by extension, the rest of the EU. Remember what I just said about picking the person and not the passport? Well, I’m about to contradict myself a bit. As a Brit, I’ve never really had to worry about access to the rest of Europe, because I’ve been a happy EU citizen all my life. But in these upsetting, unsettling post-Brexit times, I don’t know what’s coming next. The idea that I should be able to settle in Spain or even become a Spanish citizen after my wedding this year makes me feel a tiny, tiny bit better.
5. Unlimited Spanish holidays. Imagine that there was a lovely family in Spain who cared for you like a daughter and were always happy to see you, and were always asking when you were going to come and visit again. Bi-monthly visits to Spain and a place to stay, you say? Sign me up.
6. A bilingual family. If you want to have children, as we do, they’ll be native speakers of two very useful languages and these skills should mean that they feel at home in either country, and have an advantage many of their classmates won’t.
This is a Roscón de Reyes, a kind of sweet bread (like a pimped-up brioche) that’s eaten in Spain to celebrate epiphany.
7. Two Christmasses. Both British and Spanish people see the 25 December as Christmas Day, but the big difference is that Spanish people wait until 6 January to exchange their gifts. So, while British people are packing up their trees and taking down the tinsel, Spanish people still have about a fortnight left of Christmas, meaning that you can can celebrate twice, and no-one gets left out.
8. Sharing your culture. I have had endless fun teaching Carlos silly British slang (you’re welcome); showing him how to “feed” a Christmas cake; and watching The Great British Bake Off. In return, he’s shown me how to make a proper tortilla de patata; appreciate Karlos Arguiñano for the modern-day genius he is; and has demonstrated many different ways to swear using the word hostia. (There are a lot).
9. More opportunities to travel. Not just to Spain, although that is where we go the most. Usually if a person’s willing to relocate from their home country they’re the type who like to travel and do so a lot. I’ve definitely found that to be the case.
Spain is really pretty.
10. Opportunities for personal growth. Hmm, I’m not sure I like quite how that sounds. But what I mean is – by being with someone from another country, you learn about the culture and you learn the language and you learn to be a bit more self-reliant. It’s so hard speaking Spanish to older members of the family (and strangers) at first, especially as often they don’t make any concessions to the fact you’re foreign. But it gets easier, and you learn to really show up for yourself and find a way to get your voice heard.