cross-cultural marriage: heart language

There have been times (especially when we were dating) that Rodgers didn't know how to say something in English, but he did know how to say it in Swahili and Giryama. Unfortunately, the Swahili or Giryama version has been of no use to me. Usually he would show or describe it to me, and I could tell him what it was in English. Now more often, he knows how to say something in English but we have to look up the words in Swahili. (Also, an aside, he speaks much more Texan English, as opposed to Kenyan British English, now than he did when we started dating. Woohoo!)

One particular time Rodgers was trying to tell me that his foot was tingling. He said, "It's like this:" [wiggling fingers, then whispering] "chikachikachikachika." I knew what he was talking about right away.

Usually we get by with explanations like that, but I always feel that it would benefit us if I spoke his language at least a fraction as well as he speaks mine, and for more than just practical reasons.

The first time Rodgers told me he loves me, he said it in Swahili. I knew what "nakupenda" means, but hearing it didn't really affect me. He thought I didn't understand, so he repeated it in English. I stopped breathing. The language of my heart is English. (It also happens to be the only language I speak fluently.)

I can't speak the language of Rodgers' heart. Rodgers would say that what's meaningful is knowing that I love him or that I'm proud of him or that I believe in him, not hearing the words. But I know that words spoken to Rodgers affect him deeply, as one of his main love languages is words of affirmation. I believe it would be meaningful to him if I could speak affirmation to him in his heart language.

"After all, quite a lot of people are going to think we are a shocking pair."


  1. That quote was Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. I thought it appropriate considering the post content...


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