I was recently talking to a 70+ year old friend of my grandfather’s. After asking him if he’d lived in the same city all his life, he said:
“In Spain we have a saying: you are born where your parents come from, and you die where your wife comes from…”
The more I thought about this, the more examples I found to back it up. Married couples do often end up living where the wife orginally came from.
Now this could be a completely unfair conclusion, and is certainly no slight on women in general (I can feel myself getting into trouble here…), but it is just the kind of ‘warning’ you hear when you first end up getting together with a Spanish person, male or female, on their turf…
I received another such warning when I first got together with Marina. A teacher friend kindly passed on words of advice from another teacher who knew what I was up to. “Tell Ben to watch out,” she had said, “he has no idea what he is getting into with the Spanish family.”
This ‘adivce’ haunted me for months…
I guess she meant the fact that the Spanish family stays close, that you’ll be eating with them every weekend, and there may be quite a few extra visits during the week… all true…
BUT, doesn’t that happen in other countries too? A mother-in-law is a mother-in-law where ever you come from – ever present, in one way or another.
So according to received wisdom, if you move to Spain and get together with a Spanish person, you will end up living where they come from forever, and have to hang out a lot with their family. That pretty much accords with my experience, but you know what?
It isn’t all that bad!
Thank god Spain still has a culture where the family is respected, nurtured, kept tight! While western culture is doing it’s best to dissemble the traditional family (extended and nuclear), the Spanish still want to get together as often as possible for a good feed-up! Good for them!
And the idea you might get stuck in Spain forever? I say jump in with both feet, you’ll soon end up realising you were always destined to be here anyway.
[P.S. I miss my own family lots and wish we were all nearer!]