I honestly had never met anyone other than myself who enjoyed and actively sought out the sounds of Southern Bluegrass music before I met my husband. Granted, I didn’t know much about the genre of music. I owned two very cheesy compilations of Bluegrass CDs from Target. I had heard it somewhere once, and one day I saw two collections for 5 dollars at Target. The sad and soulful sounds seemed to emit a sweet and fresh Applachian air into my little apartment.
Early on in the relationship, during one of our many late night phone convos, the topic of Bluegrass came up. As an actual Southerner himself, my husband was even more surprised than I was to find a person in Miami who even knows what Bluegrass is. Later, looking through his phone’s collection of music, I found Buena Vista Social Club–a Cuban folk music group (sort of the like the Cuban equivalent of Bluegrass).
My husband and I had a “Cuban-Southern wedding,” we like to say. His half is Southern; my half is Cuban. We come from families that like big families, good food and drink and dancing. The blues and bluegrass of the south partner well with the tropical rhythms of Cuba. We had as much bourbon as we did rum, and our signature drink, we called the Georgia Peach Mojito (trademarked!).
10 Ways My Cuban-ness Has Enriched My Marriage
1. My husband learned how to dance astonishingly quickly. Basically, it was a sink or swim thing for him, since marrying a Cuban American woman essentially means you better know how to take the lead on the dance floor. It wasn’t just me that showed him some basics, my mom and dad did too. His new dancing skills are the result of a family affair.
2. I can cook a lot for less. I was never aware of this as a youngster, but apparently many of the dinners my mother made for me growing up used to be known as “peasant food.” For example, Cubans have their own tasty version of split pea soup, but it’s thicker and served with rice. My all time favorite of my mother’s meals is picadillo and frijoles, or ground beef and black beans. Mom taught me that I can make any meal larger by adding potatoes and/or rice. She also showed me that almost every Cuban meal can be modified into a healthy one. We cook just as tasty, less fattening meals accompanied by brown rice. When I cook, my husband and I have leftovers for days, saving us time and feeding us well.
3. We can count on my family. I can seriously say that the cliche about Latin families being very close is true. My family and I are always in contact, notifying each other of big and small events, meeting up to eat or to just sit and talk. If we need any help, like someone to watch the dog or water the plants, my family is there for us. Yes–at times, it can be overwhelming, but the benefits are rewarding.
4. My husband is suddenly very good at speaking Spanish now. I am super impressed by his ability to communicate with others in Spanish. He is not fluent just yet, but he communicates very well (it could also be his killer smile too). He is very comfortable with the language and culture now; this relieves him of the pressure to speak perfectly. Ironically, his relaxed and joking demeanor make him likeable and easy to understand. Rather than sitting tight and not trying to speak to the family and friends, he dives right in, learning as he goes, which actually makes him learn more quickly.
5. (This might be a little controversial, but whatever, that’s what blogs are for right?) Some of the traditional Cuban gender roles and cultural traits provide a nice platform for relationship reinforcement. I’ll explain. While I’m not a stay at home plantain frying little wife, and he’s not a machismo douche, there are a few positive elements to Latin American traditional marriage dynamics. For example, I find that when I do throw on the apron occasionally, and serve boo a beer, it calms him down a lot. He is very appreciative, and I think (I hope) it makes him feel special (after all, I don’t go around serving food in my apron to everyone!). Sporadically, boo will bring home some flowers, which could be seen as archaic or even condescending by some. However, it is immensely heart warming for me. It shows that he is not only willing to spend a little money on small luxury for me, but also that he was thinking of me when he stopped to pick up milk. Plus, I get to let my creativity loose on arranging them in a vase (which brings me stress relief). In some primal way, caring for each other with traditional Cuban dorky dynamics bring ease to both of us.
How do differing cultural traits affect your relationship dynamics with your partner or friends and family?
All of our wedding photos were taken by viviannicoleimages.com. She did a dream job!