Your love formed in spite of coming from alien worlds nestled on either side of an ocean. You decided to cast your lot together and form a special relationship greater than when Reagan and Thatcher practically soul kissed each other on the world stage back in the 1980s. And you didn’t need to deploy any troops to do so. Well, you are in luck. The Boffin and I, with almost 14 years under our belts, are here with some small tips to help you on your journey into marital bliss and to generalize like crazy in the process.
1) The language differences do not matter. By all means, take the piss out of each other over how you each misspell “aluminium/aluminum”. Have fun with each other over expressions like, “Keep your pecker up.” But don’t take it seriously. Contrary to what either side may think or try to argue, there is no superior form of the English language. Language evolves over time, and just as long as both of you can communicate well with each other, that’s all that counts. And if anyone sincerely tries to tell you otherwise, just remind the myopic turd that “I love you” is the same on both sides of the ocean. (For the record, I think The Myopic Turd would be a great name for a superhero. Get on it, Marvel.)
2) To the American spouse, you will have to learn how to make tea. It does not matter, if you drink it. Your spouse may not even drink it either. But your relatives and British friends will, so you better be damn sure you have the full kit (along with biscuits) ready to go, in case the Queen or even your spouse’s gran shows up. Remember that putting the kettle on is the response to any crisis in British culture. During the Cold War, the source of contention was that the U.K. was too close to the Soviet Union, so there wasn’t enough time to have that last cup, in case of nuclear annihilation.
3) According to the Boffin, to the British spouse, your beloved will crave weird food combinations, and it will not hurt to try some of them. Peanut butter and jelly. Maple syrup and bacon. Chicken and waffles. Pretzels and ice cream. You might like them. You might not. But they are no weirder than meat extract (Bovril) on crumpets when you think about it. So lighten up, and tuck in.
4) Accept that you will have different philosophies about healthcare, and that’s OK. The British spouse will be baffled why the American spouse goes to the doctor so often while the American spouse will question why the British spouse hardly ever goes to the doctor about anything. Chances are, each of you is probably using healthcare services in a reasonable way according to your respective health issues. However, it’s your cultural conditioning based upon your respective healthcare systems that is affecting your perceptions of each other’s behavior. At least, that is the case in my house. It only seems like the Boffin will only go to the doctor when his arm is dangling from his shoulder socket by a skin cell. In reality, he’ll go when the bone is still attached. Seriously, it is the classic case of the promoted British idea that you take care of the problem as much as you can on your own before resorting to the physician vs. the promoted “see your doctor if you have questions about….” philosophy in the U.S.
5) Another tip from the Boffin, for the British spouse, stop apologizing for everything. You probably weren’t to blame, and all you are doing is annoying the shit out of your spouse. So then you have to apologize for something you truly did, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Why do that to yourself?
6) To the American spouse, give your spouse time to get used to the different kinds of American humor. In spite of many shows and movies making it over to the U.K., there are so many references and subtleties that your beloved will not get. Don’t get butthurt, if your spouse does not laugh at your jokes all the time. It will be your job to get him or her up to speed. For example, you will have to take the time to explain our own class system to get your spouse to enjoy Caddyshack, but he or she will be going around saying, “Be the ball, Danny,” at the appropriate times. You will be proud. Trust me.
7) U.K = U.S.A. They are both dynamic nations with rich and diverse populations and subcultures. They are also complex and host a myriad of problems too. You are going to go through cycles when you either love or hate what is going on over on each side of the Pond. Neither spouse wants to hear the other cut his or her country down to size time and time again, regardless of your spouse’s feelings about his or her own nation. The criticism has to be balanced with the compliments because that country helped form the person you love. So neither one can be all bad.