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The Foreign Wife

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All my life I have felt like a foreigner which in return has made me different, but not in a bad different but the good different that makes you feel unique. You see, it doesn’t take much to be different, in my situation, being that both my parents have two different nationalities (Spain & Argentina), me having been born in Kenya and having lived in about 12 countries in 4 different continents.

I have always been that child that was placed in bilingual schools or who excelled in English in their “home” country or who didn’t feel at home in the country that was suppose to be their home or who was use to the whole concept of visas and passports and knew the routine by heart or who thought that traveling once a year wasn’t normal (it was normal to travel more than once) or who thought that having a passport at birth was a normal thing or….

Moving for me to a foreign country was normal what wasn’t normal, for me, was people living in one place their entire life…who does that, right? During my undergrad I realized that I couldn’t stay in one place for too long, I basically had “ants in my pants” when 3-4 years of being in one place rolled around.

Due to my upbringing it didn’t surprise me that I was actually going to marry a “foreign” man. But what I was surprised was that I married back into this life of travel. You see, I vowed that I was never going to lead the life of moving around every 3-4 years, that I was never going to get married to someone with a job that made me move, that I was never going to have a job that made me move. Well wouldn’t you know, I’m back at it again and I have no absolutely no regrets. The upside is that when it comes to moving I have +28 years of experience and can adjust to any environment. The downside is that our family is always going to be far away.

I met my husband in Vienna, Austria while he was on the MSG (Marine Security Guard) program and I told myself that I would not fall in love with him…but I did. For the next three years we dealt with the long distance relationship and let me tell you it wasn’t pretty at times, but we made it. On his last post and during my year at grad school I had to endure some major family problems (lets just say a family member said that I was not to marry my husband…yeah, major!) and the stress of the fiance visa*. My husband and I decided to get married in his hometown in Louisiana, why? Because his entire family was there and if we had it in Spain or Argentina most of my family and his would be missing due to distance. So we opted for Louisiana and so the fiance visa dilemma went forth. Since I didn’t know anyone who went through this process I knew very little of it and it was touch and go until the week before I left for the States. I of course was stressed the f$%# out and I think somewhere along the lines I must have lost my sanity…

A lot of people ask me “how does it feels to be a foreigner married to a Marine?” Well, it would feel just like you would if you would marry a Marine all of a sudden, minus some cultural differences (ie: I love football/soccer and he loves American football). From 1994 – 2005 I lived in Boston and NY, I went to middle school, high school and college, so the whole cultural aspect I have it completely down…his whole cultural aspect of the Spanish and Argentine culture is…well, he does know how to say “hola” and “te quiero” and knows what football/soccer player plays for what team, but that’s about it…oh bless 🙂

When I got engaged and was on road to getting married I wasn’t around anyone who could “show me the ropes“, I was alone. I would buy books, read articles or blogs online and ask my husband but one can learn so much from such a distance. When we got married and moved to 29 Palms I felt like it was shoved to this new life and was told “ok honey, I’m off to work you are on your own!”, because he knew what he was suppose to know, he didn’t know anything about what I should know.

Lucky for me I speak English fluently and without any hint of a foreign accent, actually some people say I have a slight Bostonian accent (I guess that’s what happens when you live in Boston for 6 years!)*. So on that front it has been easy, I can only imagine how some other foreign Marine wives who barely speak English must feel. I have yet to encounter obstacles by due to me not being a US citizen, excluding voting and the other obvious factors, but I know they will be unavoidable when the time comes. I don’t know what these unavoidable factors are exactly, but someone told me, that if my husband where to on to a “special” duty station I may not be allowed to go with him unless I am a US citizen.

Its hard yet simple for me to explain my new life to my family. Its hard because its the military and we all know that that it is beyond complicated. Its simple because I have lived this exact life before I got married**. Ever since the age of 17 I have been on my own, so getting married and moving far far away from my family wasn’t hard. What was hard was knowing that it might be more than year since I see them again. I wish I could grab the car and drive over to their house, but I don’t think a car would do so well over the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean.

Overall, there isn’t much of a difference between foreign wives and non-foreign wives. Yes, we may have to deal with the extra paperwork or having to travel overseas to see our family or deal with our cultural differences but what Military wife doesn’t have issue to deal with?!?!?! Regardless where we are from, we are all Military wives.

About the Author…..

Ines is originally from Spain and married to a US Marine. She has a BA in Communications with a minor in African and Latin American Studies. She also has an MA in Human Rights and is currently thinking of going back to school to get her teaching certificate. She met her husband while he was on MSG duty in Austria and they are currently stationed in 29 Palms. Ines loves to read, blog and get a hold of her newest hobby, photography. We welcome Ines to the HUN as our “International Affairs” writer.

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4 thoughts on “The Foreign Wife”

  1. I’m scared to move out of my own state, so I cannot imagine the cultural differences moving to another country! You’re a brave woman. 🙂

  2. Does a Yankee Catholic marryin’ a Southern Baptist count as a cultural difference? Cause if it does sugar I’m right here with ya! Bless yer heart, I think you’re a great addition to the team and you’ll help a lot of young wives who have the double pleasure of marryin’ into the military and marryin’ into a different country! Hang in there!

  3. Although my husband and I are from the same race, our cultures are a bit different. I am Cuban/Spanish and he is Puerto Rican. He is Lutheran, and I am Catholic – yes it makes for some interesting discussion! 🙂

  4. My husband could identify with you in a lot of ways, Ines. He’s a third-culture kid – the son of an American doctor who worked and lived in Bangladesh. Most of his life, up until college, he spent in Bangladesh, with a few one-year furloughs in America, and it gives him such a unique perspective on life. He’s taught me so much about, for example, the value of material things vs. immaterial things…when half your stuff is going to be packed away while you’re in a different country, and the other half is going to be sold because you can’t ship it back, there’s not much room to be getting attached to that stuff. Also, they lived in a bit of a remote part of the country, so a strong family life was pretty much demanded to help the kids cope with the isolation.

    I think that his upbringing really helped prepare him for the military life, and that it’s a great fit for him, because the guy gets restless if he’s stuck in one spot for too long. And me? Well, I’m just a Midwest farm girl with an adventurous spirit and natural curiosity, so I’m happy to be swept along in his adventures. So, yeah. Life with a third-culture soldier is exciting!

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