JI: You’re the product of maternal working class German immigrant grandparents and paternal Italian working class grandparents. Do you think marriage to a European was always in the cards for you?
ED: Yeah, maybe, given my family background and how I was brought up. My mom’s still on the European clock when it comes to meal times. In our house it was all about real cooking. Microwave dinners? The horror! And forget Twinkies. Tarts and coffee cakes were as “junky” as it got.
JI: Hearing you talk about your mom, it’s interesting that you met your husband in a restaurant.
ED: You’re right. We met at Neil’s restaurant, Petite Abeille, in the West Village in New York City. I was there with a former colleague and friend, Phil, who just raved about the Flemish beef stew and Stella beers. Incredibly, Phil’s now a vegetarian. Timing is everything! Anyway, it became my new favorite place because of the funny chatty English guy from Buckinghamshire.
JI: So, it was really one of those “meant to be” romances.
ED: Yes. As corny as it sounds, soon after I met Neil, I told Phil, “I think I just met my husband.”
JI: You’ve been married for five years now and you’re parents to a four-year-old. What makes your cross-cultural marriage tick?
ED: I feel most at home with Neil because of how much humor and “cheekiness” is required for me to feel equally entertained and loved in a relationship, and the English can really corner the market on that. Ricky Gervais? He’s good, but he’s got nothing on Neil. And honestly, as a teacher of English as a Second Language who taught British English, I love how well and fast Neil articulates the language!
JI: What about parenting styles? Any insights to share?
ED: Neil’s got a very modern and English style of parenting with a lot of humor mixed in. Again, the language connection is big for me. I love how much Neil’s contributed to our child’s early and funny verbosity and expressive loquaciousness.
JI: So lots of verbal fun and games in your home, right? Any downsides?
ED: I’d say the visits abroad under the guise of this year’s “vacation.” As much as I love my English family, and how they too are a good laugh, with the economy as tight as it is, the wrench is even bigger in the wheel. No matter how great the hospitality, and the comfortable bed in your niece’s sacrificed bedroom, being “on” for a spouse’s family and having different ideas of “down time” and privacy is challenging.
JI: Yes, I think privacy – how much or little we need it – is an issue for many people in cross-cultural relationships.
ED: The English have an expression called “mucking in” where no matter how cramped the quarters, or the budget, it’s all of them or none of them. Me? I’m American and I like to read a book, behind a closed door, in my own room.
JI: Any tips for other couples embarking on a bi-cultural relationship?
ED: Know a lot about the culture before marrying into it! As they say, “You can take the guy out of England but…” Be comfortable with your partner’s culture, not as a tourist but a well experienced traveler. It helped a lot that I had lived in England as a college student and had an attraction to it years prior to meeting Neil. And even then, there have been some later eye openers that I missed.
JI: Such as?
ED: The idea that beans on toast could ever really be a meal.
Read about another family here.