Today’s post is written by J (but the comic was drawn by me).
I met my husband, Y, in the summer of 2007 in China. He was attending university there and I was on a semester abroad. Through a series of events we met and started hanging out, texting, and getting to know each other better.
The first Korean words I ever learned, I said to him: “당신을 사랑합니다!” (I love you!) I was just practicing my newly learned Korean but maybe he thought I was serious!
Not long after that, we had this conversation over text message:
Cheesy, right? Well we had a flirty conversation planning our wedding and decided we needed five years to get stuff done and be ready to get married, so we would get married in 2012. [hmm] I was totally not taking this seriously at this point.
Photo from 2007
After I left China we kept in touch through email, IM and Skype. We didn’t know when we’d see each other again but we kept talking for two years! Then I decided to move to Thailand in 2009 and on my way there, I stopped in China to visit my friends. That’s when we really officially started dating although we’d liked each other for years.
Unfortunately the relationship continued to be long-distance, which was really difficult. We hadn’t really had a period of dating for a continued amount of time in which to get to know each other. He came and visited me in Thailand but we were both unsure about the future and when we’d see each other after that. Eventually we decided to go our separate ways and see what the future held for each of us.
We didn’t talk for months, and I got a job in Korea and moved there in March 2011. Little did I know Y was joining the military in Korea and moved there in March 2011 also! We didn’t know the other was in Korea for a few months until a mutual friend told us that summer.
Once Y found out I was in Korea, he contacted me constantly and convinced me to give him another chance. This time around everything was different – we were sure of ourselves and our lives and each other, and we knew we wanted to be together. He is a very caring person and showed me how much he cared about me, and made it clear that he wanted to keep me by his side for the rest of our lives!
My parents came and visited and we had a lovely time getting to know each others’ families. After that, Y proposed [again] (twice actually) in January 2012 and we began planning the wedding! In Korea we officially got married February 1st in order to change my visa quickly while I still had my work visa. It doesn’t take a lot to be officially married there – just signed a few documents and was added to Y’s family register, and we got our Korean marriage certificate.
I moved in with his family for a few months before the wedding and really got to experience Korean family life! It helped me a lot to prepare for everything and anticipate what some of my new husband’s habits might be like ^^. Wedding planning in Korea was super stressful, especially the week of the wedding (July 7, 2012 – five years after the original “proposal”!) However, I had amazing friends and family that came all the way across the world to support us, and Y has wonderful friends and family here and they all helped us so much! Our wedding turned out to be a beautiful event and an awesome start to a fun and happy marriage!
And thanks to my family and friends who helped us get our apartment ready, we have a lovely relaxing place that has become home for us. We’re now living in a small town in Korea while Y performs his military duties as a Marine officer (first lieutenant). We love talking and sharing together, reading the same books in Korean/English, and watching movies – we see movies nearly every weekend! We’re enjoying life together and can’t wait to see what the future holds. We hope to travel a lot and live in different countries, as well as study more and adopt children.
I think some of the most difficult cultural experiences I’ve had in Korea stem from the communication differences from Korean and American English. I feel pressure every time I speak Korean to make sure I am speaking it respectfully to the person I am speaking to. Because of that, I often accidentally speak “too” respectfully to kids or people younger than me! I have also had to try to adjust to indirect communication, which is really difficult for me. However it makes marriage interesting – normally men aren’t known for understanding subtlety as well as women, but because my husband is Asian he tends to understand it better than I do! I find it difficult not to say what I think or what I want, because I grew up in a culture that values openness and honesty and “being real.” I have to train my mind not to relate indirect communication to a lack of honesty or integrity, but try to see it for what it really is, which is usually an attempt to be respectful of another person’s thoughts and feelings.
Here I am referring to my dealings with people outside my home, out in the day to day interactions with people and the culture here. In our home my husband understands me and wants me to tell him how I really feel! I think it’s another example of how each family’s culture is different, no matter where you live or what your nationality is. We’re creating a new culture together that will change and develop as we grow older and have children and interact with different cultures and people around the world.
You can check out our newlywed blog at themixedupfiles.posterous.com, where we’ll post more about our experiences! I also run a blog at thesubtlepanda.tumblr.com with a close friend who’s married to a guy from Thailand.