I had lunch with a Finnish friend today and we were talking about equality roles and cultures in relationships. She asked me if we have some clear Finn vs. Spanish things in our relationship with my boyfriend? As my boyfriend is not a very traditional Spanish on many points, and I am not typical Finn, I really had to think about the question. However, few points came to my mind…
- Dish brush vs. Sponge
This is a general thing with Nordic countries versus Southern countries. Even in France I’ve always got comments about the fact that I am washing dishes with the brush and not with the sponge. I still haven’t find how to make clear enough that the brush IS A BETTER choice and much more hygienic than a sponge. Also with my boyfriend we have had this conversation many times, but he just can’t change the sponge to the brush… That is why, as a compromise in both of our kitchens, there is a sponge and a brush. The difference is that in his place the brush always looks like new, and in my place the sponge looks newer ;).
- Use of the dish closet
An other thing related to dishes and to Nordic innovations, is the closet all the Finnish houses have above the kitchen sink, to dry the dishes. I repeat: its use is to hang the wet dishes the time they dry, and once they are clean and dry, you just place them in the cupboards. It saves the time of wiping dishes with a towel and is very practical! And even though, many houses have a dishwasher nowadays we always have kitchen stuff that cannot be washed in the machine, so the closet finds its use.
But my dear boyfriend uses his dish closet, as a cupboard. When I wash something by hand in his kitchen I never have a place where to hang the dish to dry because the place for that is already full of well organized dishes! Then he has three other closets that are half empty, because the dry food never fills all of those closets… In his mind that is the most logical way to do. In my mind it is insane!
Guess which one of the closets is mine, and which his? 😉
- Dinner time
In Finland people have dinner around 5 – 6 pm when they come home from work, then they just have a light snack before going to sleep. In France we have dinner around 8-9 pm, and it is somewhere around that time that my family have always been used to eat as well. In Spain they have dinner somewhere around 10 pm.
For finnish people our dinner time is completely weird, but for us, a common time to have dinner is around 9 pm and it fits for both of us… As we live separately with 700 km between us, the dinner time is actually the only moment of the day that we are doing the same thing and are available for each others. Skype-dinners are very common in this couple-life!
- Porridge vs. Sweet on morning
In Spain, as in France, the breakfast is sweet and quit light. After living 3-4 years in Finland, my boyfriend started to eat a local breakfast; salty on the bread, and porridge (kaurapuuro). My dad, who have lived around 30 years in Finland still doesn’t eat porridge! I have always eaten salty on mornings and have never learned on the french habits to put some sweet jam on the bread.
Even though my boyfriend also eats salty or porridge nowadays, he still has that “need for something sweet”. On week-time he have decided to stay healthy and eat only porridge and bread with cheese, but on week-ends he always needs to get some pancakes, biscuits, buns, or at least jam on his toast! Every single week-end I hear the same little sad sentence: “I haven’t had any sweet the whole week…”
He doesn’t have any carpets at his place. I had to buy him at least one for the bathroom because I found it so uncomfortable to not have anything to dry my feet after a shower. In my own bathroom I have three carpets, and each room of my apartment has at least one.
In Finland we have carpets in houses and we take our shoes off when we come to a house. In Spain people hang in their houses with the shoes on their feet and that’s why people don’t have carpets… At least that is what he explains to me. In France people have carpets, even though when visiting other peoples’ houses they keep the shoes. But when hanging in their own houses, french people use some kind of slippers, which are more comfortable than actual shoes and also keep the foot warm on the stone floor.
Until now we have never got to big fights because of our cultural differences, and we actually just like them. I am also very lucky that his parents have raised him in a “not so traditional Latin way”, so he have learn that men and women do equally the same things at home ;).