5 Things I Learned Being Married to a Sicilian
So I’ve been happily married for over a year and a half now and I must say that I am a student of married life. Married life is hard to put it lightly. But it’s also worth it if you do it with the right person. There are so many things about myself, good and bad, that I never noticed until I met my wife. Add our four month old son in the mix and we have the perfect equation that could make anyone’s head explode. That’s another article for another day. But I didn’t marry just anyone. I married a Sicilian. The most loving, trusting, scary, threatening woman on the planet. One doesn’t just love a Sicilian, you have to understand the meaning of life then apply it to your emotions while balancing the weight of the world on your pinky toe. Ok, it’s not that bad but I have learned some pretty useful things while being married to a Sicilian.
1) Family Comes First
My wife has a HUGE family. Every time we go back to her hometown; it’s endless amounts of: smiles, hugs and kisses. Kisses everyday, sometimes twice a day depending on how long it’s been since you’ve seen each other. They have family dinners, they support each other in everything they do, and if there’s a celebration… forget about it. I think my wife and her brother have a photo album for each year of their lives well into their adulthood. They flat-out love each and that much love was something new for someone like me. My family is close as well don’t get me wrong, but we’re more on the independent side of the spectrum. I don’t have to talk to my mother or grandmother everyday, which my wife thinks is insane. When I lived with my family, we didn’t eat at a table for dinner and talk about our day. We would all gather in the kitchen and my mother would take orders from everyone. In the end, we would have food from McDonald’s, Wing Stop, Pizza Hut or where ever else someone wanted to eat. As long as it was close and you had the money it was yours. Now that I have a family of my own, I can definitely see those habits coming out. My wife and I compromised and I have to say that I’m better than I was a year ago. Now if I can get the language down I’ll be set.
2) You’ll Never Go Hungry
Between my wife and mother-in-law (when she’s in town), there is never a moment where there is no cooking in the house. I know what you’re thinking, “You’re so lucky to have authentic Sicilian food cooked for me on the daily basis.” On the contrary, I very much prefer the fake Sicilian food from the states. Now as blasphemous as that may sound I must say that true, authentic Sicilian food is something that must grow on you. Especially if you’re an Olive Garden baby like myself. But nevertheless, anytime I’m at home with my wife or in Sicily with her family I always have a plate of something waiting for me. Whenever you hear the words “Mangia, Mangia” that means you have a lot of food ahead of you and you should start eating now. There were times when I would eat a meal in its entirety, and someone from my wife’s family would ask if I wanted some more. I would try to respectfully decline, but before I could get the last word out there would be a second serving on my plate followed by a “Mangia, Mangia“. All I could do is smile and glutton my way through the food. But in a way, this is how they spread love. Eating at the dinner table and conversing through broken Italian/English is how we grow as a family. I just have to make sure I don’t go into a food coma.
3) The Passion Is In The Hands
There’s always the joke that Italians have very strong hand gestures when they speak. The reason why that’s so funny is because it’s true! There’s a hidden language behind those gestures and it adds volume to what’s already being said. There’s nothing like watching two Sicilians deep in conversation. And when I say deep, I don’t mean as far as content because they could be talking about the color of someone’s shoes, but it looks like their discussing sophisticated worldly issues that must be discussed in that moment. There’s a lot of eye contact. It’s not real if someone doesn’t step into your personal space. There might be some physical touching of the shoulders or face, but very lightly. Then there’s the hands that modify whatever your saying into a passionate monologue that could pass for Shakespeare. My wife taught me all the important hand gestures and I have to admit it’s pretty cool to talk without words. Bottom line is, if you want to survive in a conversation with a Sicilian get the hand gestures down. Then you can worry about pronunciation and grammar.
4) Being Wrong Is Subjective
My wife and I argue like any married couple. Not a lot, just enough to know that we still care about each other. But our arguments are a little unique because 98% of them are caused by either language barriers or cultural differences. Now the language barrier arguments are easy because it can be resolved with a “I thought you said this…” or “I didn’t understand when you said that…”. Easy fix. The cultural difference arguments, however, are a little more difficult to iron out. Because if she does one thing one way and I do the same thing another way and we get same result more or less then technically we’re both right. We just don’t agree with each other’s methods. This is one of those “unstoppable forces colliding with an unmovable object” conundrums. There has been a few times where an argument just ended abruptly out of pure exhaustion. No apologies. No compromising. We just agree to disagree and move on.
But there are those few rare moments when I am killing an argument. I’m talking about: me having dates, times, examples of infraction in the past, rebuttals for her arguments points, I mean I am just waiting for the checkmate. Then the moment comes to hit the game winning shot in her face and all she has to say is “well if that’s how you feel then… I guess.” Tom Brady couldn’t deflate something that good. Because if you read between the very thin lines, she really means “You were right and I’m sorry.” But the latter is all I get. And I’ve learned to accept that. Moral victories count too.
5) It Ends With Family
I can’t stress enough how important family is in the Sicilian culture. My wife has a million uncles, aunts and cousins and I have to know them all by name with their back stories. This includes close friends as well. My wife has friends that date back to childhood and they all care for her dearly. Being accepted in that tight-knit circle gives you a certain feeling of security, but it also comes with a certain level of responsibility. As my wife’s grandmother said to me one day, “La mia famiglia e’ la tua famiglia!”, followed by a huge slap to the face. The slap to the face part wasn’t supposed to happen, she just had a little too much wine that day. Besides the pimp slap, the message was clear. I had gained a new family and they made sure to let me know it every chance they got. Which is why my wife always encourages me to stay in contact with my family more. Like I alluded to earlier, I’m not the best at picking up the phone or sending a text because that’s not how my family operates. When we get a chance to see each other it’s all love and then some. The love is maintained until next time, but I can admit that I should be doing more in-between time and my wife is helping me with that.
If there’s anything that I learned from being married from a Sicilian is that you put family first and last. Eat good while drinking a lot of wine. Have passion for whatever you’re speaking about. And you’re never wrong, just different.
Make sure to check out my new book ,The Color of Love, available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. Click the link below.
Author: Ty Mitchell
I write books and help writers get through their literary journey. I am the author of The Color of Love. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity. Follow me on Twitter @Ty_Mitchell or on Facebook @the-vpf.