Hockey. He loves hockey more than other sports. I have had some American friends. When I asked them what kind of sports they like, it was usually American football, basketball, and baseball. However, when I talked with some Canadians, most of them were crazy for hockey. So when I meet some North Americans, I can tell whether he is an American or a Canadian by asking them their favorite sports.
My husband is not an exception to this phenomenon. He also loves hockey a lot. Thus, if you have a Canadian husband, you had better like hockey, too. You also had better keep following who are the most famous hockey stars and what are the basic hockey rules. In doing so, you won't be bored during the hockey season when your husband wants to spend a lot of time watching hockey on TV.
Eh?!? Canadians say “eh” at the end when they speak. It is one of the most common phenomena in Canada. I have started to get this habit, saying sometimes “eh”, too. When I first heard my husband saying “eh”, it sounded like a very country style to me. You have to know that you also sometimes will say “eh” unconsciously if you live with a Canadian.
Canadians Hate America. This is very ridiculous to me, who is a third person and who is not an American or a Canadian. When I visited Canada, I noticed the Canadian popular culture was so close to America. They watch the same TV shows that the Americans watch. They also speak English like Americans. So the Canadian pop culture looks very similar to me, who is non-Canadian and non-American. Thus, I can't completely understand the Canadians' hatred of America and American culture. They hate America, so why do they like American TV shows and pop culture? So if you live with a Canadian husband, you have to stand his ill-saying of America.
Social Welfare. Canadians are so proud of their social welfare system. This is one of the reasons for the Canadians to hate America. My husband also often talks to me about the social welfare system in Canada, such as free medical care and pensions for the elderly, bragging Canada has been judged “the best country to live in” by the UNDP for six years in a row.
Food. It is sometimes difficult to live a man who doesn't like the food you are crazy for. For example, I love fish and raw fish, so sometimes I like to go to the restaurant to eat raw fish. However, I can't go to a raw fish restaurant with Daniel. Whenever I go to visit my family, I love to have it, because for a while with Daniel, I can't go to a seafood restaurant, and I become very hungry for it. When I sometimes make fish soup, I am so excited to have it. But Daniel doesn't like the fish smell or taste.
On the other hand, he loves cheese very much, but I am not crazy for it. He sometimes says to me, “Cheese is food for the gods!” I can't agree with him. Thus, I sometimes have to cook for myself and Daniel has to cook for himself. This kind of problem related to food can be big, but if your relationship is strong, it isn't a problem at all.
Honorific Words. I don't have to use honorific words with him when we speak in Korean. I like to speak with him in Korean, because I want him to speak Korean very fluently, too. It doesn't matter to him because I can speak English, but if he wants to understand and communicate better with my family and friends who can't speak English. Whenever I speak with my husband in Korean, we don't use the honorific Korean words. Even if there is four years’ difference between us (he is four years older than me), we are best friends, because of his principle, which is a couple should be life-long friends.
One day when I visited my Korean friends, my husband and I spoke in Korean with our friendly words. A Korean friend later scolded me because Daniel is older than me, and I wasn’t using honorific words with him. But I am very happy that we don't have to use these words, and that we are equal and life-long friends.
Children’s Names. I am pregnant now, so we sometimes think about our babies' names. I already have chosen a couple of Korean names for our babies. I want my children to grow up to be very important and famous people. Thus, I like to use Keun, which means big and great. The names I chose for my future children are Keun-byul (Great Star), Keun-sol (Great Pine), Keun-saem (Great Spring or Well), Keun-bada (Great Ocean), and Keun-nara (Great Country). The reasons I chose these names are for the meanings and the sounds. However, when I told them to Daniel, he didn't like them that much. He hasn't chosen a lot of names for our children yet, but one day, he said to me he liked the name Mireille for a girl. It was O.K, but I didn't like it that much, because it sounds like the Korean word for "future". This is a trivial difference when you have a spouse from a different culture.
The Equal Relationship Between Husband and Wife. I have had strong feminist ideas since I was in university because I didn't like the traditional Korean or Asian idea, which is that “Man is the sky and woman is the earth”. This means that a man is the master of the house and the woman is his servant.
I am a woman with very high ambitions in life, so I want to achieve success and my goals in life like a man. Thus, this Asian sexual discrimination against women always has disturbed me a lot. This might be one of the most important reasons I chose to get married to a Western man, because I want be treated as an equal.
I am very glad to live with a Canadian man at this point. I am always treated as his equal, and sometimes even higher than him, because my husband values women highly. I usually feel like a queen!
My ideas about a married couple are that the partners should be equal to each other, and they should be able to respect each other. If I had married a very conservative Korean man, he might not have treated me as his equal. This might have caused big problems, so I couldn't have respected him. My husband grew up in a family whose parents both worked, so he saw his father and mother cooperate, share the housework and raise the children together. That's why we share the housework, too, and will raise our children together. The mother should not do all of that alone. This is one of the best things about living with a Canadian.
The Relationship Between Canadian Families. Even if the family members love each other, their relationship is not as strong as Koreans'. In Korea, if the parents buy or pay for something for us, we don't think we have to pay them back. We think parents should always buy things or pay for us, and we must just accept the gifts and money.
However, when I see my husband's family, it’s so weird. For example, when he asked his parents to buy his favorite CDs, he paid them back. I can't understand this because they are his parents; so when they buy something for the children, the children shouldn't have to pay them back.
It makes me think Asian family relationships are stronger and tighter than the Western ones, because the Korean parents don't mind sacrificing themselves for their children's future life, to give them a better chance at achieving material wealth and well-being. I think the Western relationship between family members is very much “give-and-take” or more “calculated” than “unconditional giving from the parents to their children.”
What To Call My Parents-in-Law. At first, it was very difficult for me to find the proper words to call them by. In Korea, we can't call older people by their name. When I first asked my husband how I should call his parents, he told me I could call them Madeleine and Jean-Claude. I tried, but it wasn't comfortable for me. So I think if you also have non-Korean parents-in-law, it will be difficult to call them by their names. You have to find a way that’s comfortable for you. In my case, because in Korea, we have special words for parents-in-law, I talked with my husband and decided to call his parents in the Korean way. He asked me to call them Mom and Dad, but in French, not in English. So I now call them Maman and Papa!
He Is More European Than North American. My husband is French-Canadian, and his mother tongue is French, not English. Thus, his mindset is more like the Europeans'. He admires Europe, especially France. He considers having good etiquette as an important non-material asset.
For example, one day when we went to eat spaghetti, he asked me to use both the spoon and fork, saying he thought it was not polite to slurp spaghetti with only a fork! He also loves to relax and take his time rather than try to hurry and do everything quickly. This is one of the reasons I love my husband, because I also value a man's etiquette and good manners highly. I think this makes human beings different from animals. Because we are humans, not animals, we have the concept of good manners, which I consider very important.
Learning Foreign Languages. His special talent for learning a foreign language comes from his bilingual culture. Even if Daniel is a linguist, I am surprised at his great talent for learning foreign languages. He is very good at figuring out the grammatical structures of a foreign language. Thus, he can speak many languages, like French, English, Russian, and Korean. (Now he is so busy learning Mongolian, and he really loves it!) Because of his linguistic skills, he studied Spanish for one year in university and he can still communicate in it to some degree. I have no doubt if he tries to speak Spanish, Italian, and German, he can learn these languages very quickly and fluently. I believe his super talent for learning foreign languages comes from his bilingual culture.
Here is more evidence that people who grow up in a bilingual culture can learn foreign languages faster and better than monolingual people. We are currently living in Mongolia. When I sometimes talk with some Mongolians, I am so shocked by the fact that they have studied English only for one year and that their English is so great. It is a big contrast with Korea, because a lot of Koreans have studied English for 10 years, and they still have trouble saying what they want to express.
The reason I think Mongolians can speak better and faster than Koreans is that Mongolia has been sort of bilingual for a while - they have been under Russian influence for 70 or 80 years. A lot of people in Mongolia can speak Mongolian and Russian, so it may be easier for them when they learn other foreign languages than for Koreans who grow up in a monolingual and agricultural country without a chance to meet a lot of foreigners.