How to speak the same language when you don’t speak the same language

Photo ©

Today's post is from my friend Isabel Hundt.  Isabel is a coach, speaker and author.  And she has a really unique perspective on communication in marriage that I thought fit in well with this week's other communication posts, as she and her husband don't speak the same first language! How do they communicate effectively then?  I'll let her tell the story.

(P.s. That's not a picture of Isabel and her husband! It's just one that looked like it fit well with this topic as they're clearly from two different countries!)

It is not a secret that my husband and I don’t speak the same first language. If it was, well, we came out of the closet now. When we first met I already spoke English very well. Not many could tell that I am originally from Germany. But that didn’t change the fact that I didn’t know every phrase nor word – and I probably still don’t.

Excuse me?!

In the beginning it was a challenge for the both of us. How often did I hear things like “You don’t say that here in the US.” Really? But I only translated what I know I would have said in German?! What is wrong with that? Not to mention that my husband thought (actually still thinks) that some of my mis-pronunciations were cute and never told me. I, on the other hand, felt like he was making fun of me.

“Oh, that is so American!” was usually the phrase you could hear me say (You can hear the judgment behind that statement.). As you can imagine misunderstandings were part of our daily life. Reason being is that it wasn’t just the language we spoke. Besides the simple fact of having the difference in being a man and a woman (duuhh), there were also the different ways of how we were brought up, different traditions and different cultures. Language is so much more than just words.

When the spoken language gets in the way of communicating appropriately you have to learn to communicate on different levels. It was a big learning curve. There were many situations that ended in frustration and tears.

Through my background in psychology, sociology and coaching, we had the advantage of awareness. This is truly what it takes: Awareness about your personal stories and judgments as well as trust and faith. We learned that we spoke one same language: love. (We actually really do have the same love languages.). My husband and I started to understand that if we wanted to make this marriage work, we had to work on ourselves first no matter what language we spoke.

What is your personal language?

Our “inner language” is what creates the foundation of a successful marriage. The more we understand and honor ourselves the less we are looking for approval or confirmation from our spouse which usually leads to disappointments anyways. Don’t misunderstand approval with showing affection and your love for each other. If we can love ourselves for who we are, we can show even more love to the person we will spend the rest of our lives with. Whatever we focus on within ourselves, we focus on within others. Therefore, knowing myself, my essence, helps me to come from a place I know will create connection instead of disconnection with my husband. The secret to an inter-cultural, inter-gender challenge of speaking different languages of all kinds is to start with your own discovery about yourself. When you know who you are in your greatness and you understand your needs, triggers and personal stories that can either be empowering or self-limiting, you are able to communicate more clearly.

For example, I know about myself that I tend to withdraw if I don’t feel that my needs are met. I let frustration pile up until eventually a huge explosion takes place. I call it the German stubbornness in me. However I have this awareness and do realize that this creates disconnection between me and my husband (or people in general) which does not serve anyone, the least myself. I have the power of choice. I can give into being victim or I can choose from a place that creates connection. Your background or your spoken language is secondary. Your understanding of who you truly are and being open in communication comes first to be able to create powerful and successful relationships. I admit, every single day is a day to practice. We are getting better at it but we can always improve. It is a journey

What judgments and thoughts do you have against your wife/husband (women/men in general) that get in the way of creating strong relationships? (Be honest with yourself).

isabel11Isabel Hundt is a Professional Coach, Speaker & Author. She is known for her revolutionary online coaching program The Dare to Stand Out through which Isabel supports conscious entrepreneurs to find their true identity, their message and mission. To learn more about Isabel you can visit or  where you can also download her free eBook “Identity Crisis in the World of Entrepreneurs.”

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.