By Ada Albert
“We have taken the best from both cultures and make it part of our life
Sylvie Rovira was born in Lyon, France, and is of Spanish origin. The Spanish culture at home and a Degree in Spanish language allowed Sylvie to make her dream of living in Spain come true, even though it did last only for a year. While just settled in Spain, Sylvie had to make a tough decision this time, choosing between her love and her dream.
Meeting Stephen Walker, a qualified Quantity Surveyor, who is originally from Alcester, Stratford upon Avon, meant that England would be home to their beautiful family, blessed by two daughters.
This is how Sylvie and Stephen Walker answer some of our questions on their cross cultural marriage.
It was a very romantic story to me and it will always be. I had been living in Spain for only two months after I had returned from France, the country in which I grew up, but never took the real Spanish girl out of me.
While summer as always paints the Spanish sky with some magic, I found myself in a night club with my friends, although on that particular day I fancied a much quitter evening. There stood Stephen near the bar and I felt there was something I liked about him, handsome and different in a good way. We spoke, we met and the next thing I know is that we are on the phone all the time, long distance calls, talking every day and visiting each other once a month.
Taking the best from both cultures and making it part of our life.
After a year, one of us had to make a decision. I had a feeling Stephen was not going to move to Spain, he wasn’t even speaking Spanish and he looked very happy where he was. My dream was to live in Spain, but I found love stronger and needed to know if we were really made for each other and we are. We have a beautiful family, blessed with two precious daughters.
I have learned to have a better sense of humour
Being in a relationship with a British man is really good. The beginning was a challenge, the difference in culture and even that of the weather. Talking about the culture, I still don’t understand certain things but have learned to have a better sense of humour.
The rest is personal, it depends mostly on the individual personalities that we have. I think it all relates to the way Stephen is and the way I am as a person. The way we communicate and gained trust, respect and understanding of each other. You become more open to changes without giving up a part of your own culture, but taking the best from both cultures and making it part of our life.
Being able to communicate
The first thing is being far from my family, the weather and the atmosphere in the streets of Spain. I have always been open-minded but now I feel even more, I accept things and learn more. There is a sense of freedom. With Stephen I can be myself. Being able to communicate and express myself better was a challenge, that with Stephen understanding I have overcome.
Being married with a woman from a different culture.
Regardless of your nationality or where you have been brought up, it’s such a personal thing. For me it is Sylvie Rovira and if Sylvie was Icelandic, Italian or African I don’t think it would be a huge thing actually. It’s the personality. The culture bit is just a veneer on top. The language is the key and Sylvie has done that more so than I have done. The culture bit is just fine tuning of how you express each other and communicate.
Probably, the part of the language in a culture is how you interpret what each other is saying and feeling. That is by far the biggest thing.
We learn more things about the world and about each other. You learn more than being of the same nationality, because a lot of their learning is already in their DNA, they won’t repeat it. It is just there, it is bedrock, where as for us the bedrock isn’t there. There is just shifting sands, which is great, exciting and scary. We are never bored.
There are a lot of differences but they complement each other, especially the culture and obviously the language. Probably, the part of the language in a culture is how you interpret what each other is saying and feeling. That is by far the biggest thing.
There is another thing, where the benchmark is in the term of common sense or the feeling that it is the right thing to do, which has to do with your culture and how you have been brought up. Sometimes those benchmarks are slightly in a different position so you don’t have the same understanding or the same view on what’s right and what’s acceptable. But that all comes down to the fine tuning of your interpretation of each other, so that you actually do find the sweet spot and understand what the other one wants.
The other big thing for me is Spain itself. Having a country that for me and the family is very accessible, because we have family there and we like it a lot, we love it. I feel very loved and that’s a blessing for me.