Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What a Question Can Do

Family photo after Wedding Ceremony
My family recently returned home from a 16 day trip to the U.S. It was my first visit home since moving to Mongolia in July of 2015 AND it was Enji's first visit to America. Besides the long and always tedious travel to and from--the visit was FANTASTIC. Enji met all of his American family and Zorig met the cousins and extended family which he didn't meet when he came for me in 2014. The one downside was that ALL Enji saw of the U.S. was what I would call rural Michigan. Not a bad thing....but America has so many different flavors and regions. Oh well. My family only gets a WHOLE...once every five years. And this was one of those get togethers--The Caveney Clan's Christmas!

Making my list of high points were:

  • Conversations with loved ones from around the U.S. 
  • Eating food which I miss and LOVE (specifically all the Sharp Cheddar Cheese gifted to me by Dad AND the meal created by the Mexican contingent of the family--I ate the leftovers every day I could still find them in the fridge!)
  • Enjoying the Northwoods--smelling the evergreen, riding a horse-drawn sleigh over the hills, feeling the crunch of snow underfoot, listening to the chickadees sing and play, watching fresh snow fall
  • Sharing bits of Mongolia with everyone--soup, buuz, roasted sheep, and a Lava vodka toast
  • Getting *Surprise!* MARRIED in front of all my family and friends
The hardest part about a huge family gathering such as ours is that with SO many people present (as many as 30-40 on our busiest days), it can be a challenge to have quality face-to-face time with individuals to connect. There's so much going on--games, cooking and clean up, sledding, snowball fights, target shooting, walks in the woods, store runs--that it can be hard to find a moment to breathe and just BE with another human being. I'm still processing and thinking about conversations shared.....and hungry for the convos I wish I would have had. I had two conversations that have me still thinking and pondering. I want to share one of them with you here. 

Toasting with good friends

My sister-in-law, I think (or maybe it was my brother) asked me what Zorig and I did together? As in....what do we have in common that we share/do together? I found myself completely stumped to answer this question. 

You see....Zorig and I rarely go to movies and we don't listen to the same music. Because our native languages and homelands are different, we don't have many foundational things in common--not as an American-American couple would have anyway. Sometimes this makes me sad. We have never had a "song" that is ours. I listen to music A LOT and I don't like that we can't share that with one other. We have seen a few movies together--but our offerings are limited (the ones that are in English with Mongolian subtitles). We don't do sports or health related things together. Zorig isn't a game player (Enji LOVED many of the games played in the US with the cousins/aunts/grandparents, etc!). We don't attend concerts or many special events together. We do watch TV shows or movies....but he watches them in Russian and I watch Netflix. Mostly our topical interests diverge. He analyzes books about building; I read novels and nonfiction and go to a monthly book club. But we don't read the same books. 

As I went through the list of common activities that American couples do together, I began to ask myself, "Jeez...what do we have in common? What do we DO together?" The answer, of course, is plenty. But it doesn't fall within the traditional American answers to that question. 

We do DO life together. We talk. Sometimes A LOT. And especially in the wee hours of the night when my husband tends to wax philosophical--one of the many mysteries I love about him. We tease and play, joke and laugh. We make love. We do laundry. We cook and clean up the mess afterwards (usually alternately--he makes Mongolian food, I make Western food). We make new acquaintances and friends. We make plans and share wishes and dreams. We grocery shop (this is not simple like it is in the US--it's a chore). We visit his parents. We go out for dinner or drinks with my friends. We scold and encourage our son. 

I suppose that doesn't sound all that interesting, and it won't fill up a highlights reel or a year-in-review-letter with riveting scenes. However, when I reflect on my past relationships that were FILLED with "doing things together" and compare it to my current one......something surprising surfaced. 

Each relationship and marriage is unique unto itself, and as a wise friend once told me--individuals on the outside can NEVER know what it's like on the inside. Only the two people involved know the core of the relationship--what binds them together, those things which divide them--and even then, each person has their own perspective with which to see and feel their connectedness and relationship. 

As I pondered the question posed to me and my answers to it, what rose up was intimacy and knowing. While I did plenty of things together with past partners, we did NOT know one another deeply. This subsequently limited our capacity to love one another. I believe I *tried* to know them, but felt short-changed in their desire and interest to know and understand me. 

That is NOT the case with Zorig and me. I feel completely and wholly connected to this man. While we can't always understand what the other does or wants (I turn up my nose at his fried intestines and organ meats; he has no interest in my stinky cheeses), we do accept and respect the differences between us. We do listen. We do ask and care. We seek to know the other--on all levels. 

I thank my sister-in-law (or brother?) for the question. It caused me to reflect and think and analyze and to make realizations. We need questions in our lives. What questions--from yourself or from another--came up for you over the holiday season that made you think? Did you make any realizations? Or do you perhaps have a question to share?


  1. My husband and I only have two or three things in common. We were born and grew up in the same area, a couple of meters from each other. We share the same culture. Still...

    1. Erika.....Thank you for sharing your perspective! In the matter our similarities or differences--I suppose it's more about how we bond together. And the mystery around that process is lovely to behold. Glad to hear from you!