You were touring Mayan ruins when you met your husband, right?
Yes, I’d left New York and was traveling solo around Central America. One night I camped near Tikal, Guatemala. Lico was there too. We got to talking and, well, here we are, 11 years later, married and parents to two boys.
What do you like best about being an expat mom?
To start, I love that my kids speak three languages. But the best part is that we live overseas and all our friends are multicultural. So, for my kids, diversity and difference are the norm.
Your advice for someone embarking on a bi-cultural relationship?
Don’t let anyone tell you who you can or should fall in love with. We are all basically the same. But as a multicultural family, you get so many different worlds and worldviews. So it’s important to be non-judgmental and open.
You’re from Russia originally. How do you teach your kids about that culture?
We moved to the U.S. when I was 6, so I don’t have much of the actual heritage of Russia. But I do teach my children the language and I try to entice them with the food. Sometimes they’ll even try it. My oldest is the world’s pickiest eater, though. He won’t even eat regular food!
Easter Week in Antigua, Guatemala, is famous around the world.
Yes, people come during Semana Santa to see the religious processions and the amazing carpets made of sawdust. You can see photos and videos of Holy Week in Antigua on my website. We used to love to see them too. But, now the novelty’s worn off for us. So we usually try to head out of town or hang out at home with friends to avoid the crowds and all the street closings.
How has your cross-cultural marriage changed you?
I think I finally fit in! I don’t think I would have ever been able to be myself in a mono-cultural situation. It’s not me. I’ve always been very international, so this is just right. If anything, the other way around would change me for the worse.
Does your family identify with one culture more than the other?
No, not at all. That’s because we are who we are. Most of our friends and even some of my sons’ friends have multicultural families too. We identify with the multicultural world and not with any one culture in particular.
Latin America cultures are typically very religious.
You’re right. But, amazingly, my husband isn’t, which is almost impossible to find in this part of the world. That’s one of the biggest reasons we are together. We can raise our kids without one faith overpowering the other.
Any cultural differences that you and your husband struggle with?
None at all! Really! I am sooo blessed to have met a Guatemalan who’s not machista! My Latin guy is very modern and supportive of women’s rights. For Lico, there’s no such thing as “a woman does this or that.”
Sounds like you’ve worked out all the cross-cultural kinks.
You know, the only issues we have, aside from my husband being a man and me a woman — an international problem — is language. Even though Lico is 100% fluent in English, there are times when he wants to say one thing but it comes out a bit differently than he meant.
Fortunately Lico accepts my loud New Yorker mouth. Even though he would like me to tone it down sometimes. But that’s not because of our different cultural background; it’s just because I’m loud and opinionated.
Got a question or comment for Marina or Lico? Let’s hear ‘em in the comment box below!
Read more “Cross-cultural Family of the Month” posts:
An American-Mexican Family: La familia Albright-Muciño
Love across the Pond: Erika Dionisia and Neil Smith
A Turkish-American Love Story
La famille Diez: A Franco-American Family
East Meets West: Peou and Jarrod Brown