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To feel annoyed English will never become the main language in DP's life...

(164 Posts)
chicoingles Mon 17-Jun-13 22:34:11

Hi there,

My DP is Spanish and would say she was fluent in English (very good English accent and only noticeable she is foreign when she pronounces certain words, but you couldn't guess she was Spanish at all) but when she gets angry/is tired tends to switch to Spanish. We have been together for 7 years now and it has always been like this, although we did spend the first 4 years of our relationship mainly speaking in Spanish, whereas now we mainly speak English. I do have have a degree in Spanish but feel our relationship works better in English. AIBU thinking English will never become totally natural for her? Would be very interested in hearing the opinions of any foreign ladies who have an English DP.

Songbird Mon 17-Jun-13 22:35:52

yabu, why should she? hmm

DrinkFeckArseGirls Mon 17-Jun-13 22:37:22

WHy does it bother you? Will Spanish ever become or has become a natural thing for you?! She's foreign, accept it. hmm

HollyGoHeavily Mon 17-Jun-13 22:37:25

Your DP is from Spain, she sometimes speaks in Spanish....

Why would this annoy you? Does it annoy her that you speak English all the time?

bigbuttons Mon 17-Jun-13 22:40:32

Her mother tongue is spanish, it will never be english, no matter how fluent her english is.

livinginwonderland Mon 17-Jun-13 22:40:49

Well, if she still speaks Spanish regularly (to family/friends) then of course she'll revert to it more often, especially when she's tired/angry because that's often when your "natural" thoughts come out - eg. you speak Spanish because it's easier.

I would say YABU, but I can see it being frustrating if your Spanish isn't fluent.

steppemum Mon 17-Jun-13 22:43:26

I am English, but speak Dutch (not brilliantly)
Dh is Dutch, but speaks excellent English, with accent

He would say that his English is now better than his Dutch. He works in English and we live in the uk.

But when we are in Holland, there are some things that he does differently in his 'home' language and country.

Your wife is not English, She never will be, you are so lucky that the 2 of you have full access to 2 complete cultures and languages.
See that as a bonus and a benefit to your marriage.
Maybe she feels frustrated that after spending several years talking Spanish, she now has to use English all the time.
You say your relationship works better in English, but YOU are the English speaker. What does she think? Does she feel that she communicates better with you in her second language, or would she rather you upped your level of spanish so you could have a spanish speaking relationship?

Many bilingual families I know talk about using different languages in different contexts eg - (quote) 'my mum was french speaking and when I had my first girlfriend, I suddenly realised that I was more comfortable using romantic and emotional terms in French than in English' or ''x language is my academic language, I read, write and debate and theorise better in it. But y is my heart language, my closest friends all speak Y''

chicoingles Mon 17-Jun-13 22:44:30

Songbird: There are times when we do talk in Spanish (when I don't want anyone else to understand what I'm talking about). And no, it doesn't bother me at all, I understand Spanish perfectly and it's only natural she wants to speak her native language, as I speak mine, English. For the record, it doesn't bother her either me speaking to her in English all the time, but I sometimes just feel I would like it if she spoke in English all the time. (I speak to her family in Spanish when we go over to Spain as they don't speak any English at all)

BOF Mon 17-Jun-13 22:46:02

Surely it would be pretty sad for her if she lost her connection to her Spanish roots by losing her reflex for her own language?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 22:47:09

I think YABU, to be honest. It's natural you find English easier, of course, but she will naturally find Spanish easier.

Why do you feel the relationship 'works better' in English?

mrsjay Mon 17-Jun-13 22:47:35

your partner is Spanish and speaks Spanish shocking behaviour hmmmaybe you should find a nice English rose to argue with, she is probably swearing out of frustration in Spanish because the person who is supposed to love her wants her to forget her language,

Saralyn Mon 17-Jun-13 22:48:20

but that doesn't make any sense chico. nobody ever gives up their mother tongue completely, and if you cannot accept her you should have found an English woman.

Littleturkish Mon 17-Jun-13 22:48:31


lessonsintightropes Mon 17-Jun-13 22:48:54

YABU (a bit U) I think. My mother tongue is English but am fluent(ish) in Spanish. I'm happy to speak it with friends who don't speak English or in contexts when I need to - but when I'm really shattered/emotional I always revert to English. I learnt as a young adult and therefore it's just not as available if I'm feeling tired. If it helps, I also find I express my personality differently in both - in English I am assertive and straightforward, but find when I think in Spanish I am a little shyer and tbh a bit more feminine. I don't always find having an assertive conversation all that easy in Spanish, just because of the way the language is constructed. Might be something similar for her, but in reverse?

chicoingles Mon 17-Jun-13 22:49:13

SteppeMum: That is the same for my DP although she has only been here for a year (people do ask her, 'you can have only been here for a year! Your English is amazing!' Or even 'do you have English parents?' (That happened when she was teaching English in Spain for example) but unlike your DH, I wouldn't say she thinks in English more than Spanish as if she did, when she got angry/tired etc. she's still use English surely? My Spanish is nowhere near as good as her English imo.

Francagoestohollywood Mon 17-Jun-13 22:49:48

I lived in the UK for a long time, and despite speaking good English, at some point during the day my brain started to ache... grin

Seriously, when you need to swear... well, it's your own mother tongue you need to use.

noisytoys Mon 17-Jun-13 22:49:56

YABU. Spanish is natural to her. Why don't you speak Spanish more as it means so much to her and encourage her rather than stifle her.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 22:51:26

I sympathize with you not being so good at Spanish as she is at English, as I'm terrible at DH's language and he is bilingual, but I do think you might benefit from trying to learn it a bit more.

Do your children speak both?

quesadilla Mon 17-Jun-13 22:52:51

My DH is not English, he speaks English about 80 per cent of the time (including mostly with me and dd.) the only time he gets to speak his mother tongue really is on Friday nights when he goes for a few beers at an expat place. I would never dream of denying him that, it's who he is. Why would you want to cut someone off from their cultural roots? Sounds like your DP speaks good English and is pretty well assimilated. Expecting her to cut herself off from a major part of what makes her who she is is just storing up trouble and resentment. YABU.

chicoingles Mon 17-Jun-13 22:53:33

Lessonsintightrope: she actually says I am near on fluent in Spanish (I do work with the language, as well as Italian and French) but I agree with you in that even though I believe I have a reasonably good level of the language, having only started at 16 and finishing my BA when I was 23 and MA when I was 24 (am nearly 28) now, when I'm tired I would divert to English as speaking Spanish does require my brain to think more than usual, whereas English, being my native language doesn't.

SoniaGluck Mon 17-Jun-13 22:56:58

I'm actually failing to see the problem here. It's not as if you don't understand Spanish, so she can't, for example, call you " a monkey's snot ball " and you not realise.

FWIW, my DH is French and speaks English all day, every day but I would never insist want to insist that English should become his main language. He likes to speak in his native language whenever he gets the chance.

I think your annoyance is a bit weird, TBH. And it sounds controlling.

Annunziata Mon 17-Jun-13 22:57:00

But she is Spanish, I think you are asking the impossible.

chicoingles Mon 17-Jun-13 22:58:39

MalenkyRussky: We haven't had kids yet!! Haven't even got married yet, although she wants to marry in Spain and won't be budged from that.

FrancaGoestoHollywood: Anche ho visto i tuoi post nel thread 'Little Italy''! Does your partner speak Italian then? I do agree about the swearing, but it's mainly when she's tired/angry when she will use Spanish if we have generally been speaking in English to each other. It's just sometimes I think there are people (say from Sweden, Netherlands, Germany etc) who have English speaking partners and always speak English to them even though it's not their native language...

MummyAbroad Mon 17-Jun-13 22:58:54

YABU. Language is a part of who you are, its a tool to express yourself, asking someone to give up their own language forever, under all circumstances (and especially in situations when they are not feeling their best!) sounds, well, cruel and controlling to me. Why on earth would anyone expect another person to give up their language??!! I also agree with Saralyn you cant try and change someone, you must accept who they are.

Do you have children? Do you want them to learn Spanish? How will they do that if your wife never speaks it?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 22:59:32

But she will feel the same about English, surely, chico? Even if it is to a lesser extent.

Btw, you will improve - my DB only started learning his SIL's mother tongue in his mid 20s and he has got so much better. He was improving until pretty recently and he's 30 now. So don't let people make you think you can't improve now you're no longer formally learning it.

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