The Joys of a Bilingual Relationship

You could argue that English and Chinese – translations that is – brought me and my husband Jun together.

We met as colleagues in an internet company in China, where he translated company introductions from Chinese to English and I polished the language. And while our initial interactions happened over work-related tasks, soon we found ourselves collaborating on translations just for fun, such as a set of quizzes I developed in English and Chinese.

Not long after that, our partnership turned romantic – and that love, in both languages, has continued to this day.

Before I met Jun, all of my other relationships with Chinese men had remained grounded in English or Chinese, but not both. With Jun, however, I loved having the freedom to express myself in two languages, as well as the comfort of knowing that, when I needed to speak from the heart in my native tongue, he would understand.

Being able to share our lives, thoughts and ideas in two different languages has only strengthened our relationship. Many years ago, I wrote that “the couple that wordplays together, stays together,” something I still stand by to this day.

One of the things I’ve cherished most in my relationship is how much we learn from one another, thanks to being bilingual. We teach each other inspirational and motivational wisdom from classics in our respective languages, from the Art of War to Shakespearean plays. Or when we’re walking around town, sometimes we revel in coming up with creative ways to describe something or someone in one language – and then try to do the same in the other language. This often leads to some hilarious suggestions that invariably have us laughing, the best part of any wordplay!

JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, once wrote, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” Given how words, across two different languages and cultures, could join our hearts and minds, I’d have to agree that’s some kind of magic. The most enchanting kind.

What do you think about bilingual relationships?

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Jocelyn Eikenburg

Writer & blogger at Speaking of China
Jocelyn is a writer, blogger and the creator of Speaking of China, a blog about love, family and relationships in China, including AMWF love. She has been featured on the BBC and CCTV. You can find her writing in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, the anthologies "How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit?" and "Unsavory Elements", and other publications.
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3 comments

  1. I’m so jelly of how beautiful your relationship with your husband is. Most of my relationships in America just dabble into my Chinese language lol

  2. But what I really want to know is, how great is it to be able to chew your partner out in multiple languages? Because sometimes, one language just isn’t enough. 🙂

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