It feels a bit strange writing about our first anniversary, because in August we celebrated two years on paper. Part of me feels “sooo married” and the other part still feels like a newlywed.
We are not quite as adventurous as Mrs. Socks. We only visited five countries this year, three of which were new to me, but we still face intermittent long distance with Mr. FC’s work travel and military service. In fact…Mr. FC is traveling for work today, so he’s not even here to celebrate our first anniversary!! But somehow, long distance does seem easier now that we are married.
In January there was a big change in the Funnel Cake household when we made a New Year’s resolution that we would only communicate in German during the week and English on the weekends.
I have been learning German since I officially moved to Switzerland, and I know enough to speak to FC’s parents and to get by in public. Still…there is a lot more I need to learn and for one reason or another I haven’t been able to sign up for another German course in the past year.
Mr. Funnel Cake and I used to talk about having German speaking days, but we would inevitably wake up on the designated day, I would wait for Mr. Funnel Cake to start speaking English, and then I would purposefully fail to remind him about speaking German. Even at his parents’ house when I was speaking German to him, he would reply to me in English. It was so easy to just let him keep talking to me in English.
To get out of our language rut, we decided to set up rules with the resolution. We also decided to allot much more than one day per week to German in order to really get into it. The idea was that from Monday morning to Friday evening we would only communicate in German, whether it was speaking, texting, emailing, or calling. Everything from Friday evening to Sunday evening would be in English.
The first few weeks were hard for both of us. Mr. Funnel Cake rarely speaks High German, so he felt very foolish with his thick Swiss accent, but he refused to speak Swiss German with me because at this time he wants my High German to improve. (Although I still sneak lots of Swiss words in!)
Mr. Funnel Cake also noticed a big dip in his English at first. It was a big change for him to go from speaking English every day to only on weekends.
We also both had a bit of trouble sticking to German. During the first couple months, Mr. Funnel Cake was usually the one reverting to English. He would watch English TV or read an English book in the evening and then forget that we were speaking German. I had to stand fast and reply in German to remind him that we are not giving up. If I would slip, Mr. Funnel Cake would remember to do the same for me.
Simply put, it is weird getting to know someone in one language, and then switching. It felt very unnatural for both of us and we really had to work at it.
Obviously, because it’s my mother tongue, I know how to express myself in English perfectly. In German, I am constantly struggling for words and my grammar is a mess. I was frustrated by my inability to communicate at the same level in English, but Mr. Funnel Cake was almost more irritated than me.
Mr. FC is very, very good at English now, and it was frustrating that he knew he could tell me something plainly in English, but that we would struggle to have a conversation about some things in German. He also found it very aggravating that he could tell me a word or sentence three or more times and I would repeat it wrong every time. He had to be extremely patient with my slow ears and tongue.
Now it has been 10 months since we started our resolution. I am not fluent, but we have come a long way!
It is still difficult to hold a phone conversation in German because this is one of the hardest forms of listening and understanding for me in German, and the highlight of the year was probably when Mr. Funnel Cake called my work phone (which I mainly answer in English) and I literally didn’t recognize that this German-speaking person was my husband! Oops.
Nevertheless, each new step we make in German makes me feel more at home in Switzerland. We’ve realized that we can do all the normal things we did in English in German as well. We can talk about politics, daily banter, make love…(very strange in a different language!). Hell…we can even manage to fight and make up in German! Everything is possible.
It has even gotten to the point where on Friday evenings, Mr. Funnel Cake will accidentally keep talking to me in German and I automatically respond in German. It’s beginning to be difficult to switch back to English. This is very exciting for me!
I feel closer to Mr. Funnel Cake now that we are getting used to speaking in his native tongue, even if it is High German and not full-on Swiss German. We have some more years to work on that anyway.
Plus, we are now experienced enough speaking together that we can hold “secret” German conversations in foreign countries where we need to haggle! Very helpful because German is way less common than English in many countries.
After five years of knowing Mr. Funnel Cake, I am really looking forward to more amazing wedding, civil union, and engagement anniversary dinners. We have so much fun walking and hiking around Switzerland and traveling around the world…it is hard to tell what the next year will bring us. I’m just glad knowing I’ve got my best friend there to enjoy this sweet life with.
Does anyone else have experience learning to speak to their significant other in a new way? And who else had to spend their first anniversary alone? Tell me I’m not all by myself!