Spaniards are very relational people. As I mentioned in my previous post, they really don't idolize their time like Americans do. Therefore, they have an almost endless amount of time to go out walking, sit at a cafe, go for tapas, or drink a glass of wine with people. Their culture is extremely social, and from what I've seen, people are definitely a higher priority than their work. I'd venture to say that perhaps Americans could learn a little bit from this perspective.
Another interesting aspect of their relational culture is physical touch. Now, this can obviously be a very shocking thing to see. Many couples take the "European liberty" and have quite the public display of affection. But I'm just talking about the ordinary everyday life. When I'm walking down the street, 90% of every couple- young, old, married, not married- are either holding hands, the man's arm around the woman's shoulder, or the woman has her hand tucked into the man's arm. 90%. I really think it's sweet. For the younger couples, I feel like it's a symbol of the man protecting the woman. For the older couples, it's also a symbol of protection, but also of support. They will physically support each other as they make it down the long, cobblestone roads without tripping. I realized the other day that I unconsciously wonder if a couple's relationship must not be very good if they're not somehow touching as they walk. The moment I get back to the States that thought will be gone, but it's such the norm here!
Unfortunately, because of the heavy party scene here, one-night stands are quite frequent. One of my teachers asked us how American boys "flirt." We were so confused, because typically you meet a girl, you get to know her as friends, and then maybe you'll start dating eventually. This concept was completely foreign to her. She said, "Well here, you meet a girl at the discoteca and take her home with you." A sad but true reality that I know happens in the United States just as much, it's just not considered the social norm for starting relationships??
Marriage is much less common here than in the States. It is extremely normal for couples to live together and never officially marry. And if they do make it official, it is normal for a woman to get married around 30, 32, or even 35. After all, when you have all the time in the world, why hurry?! That being said, I have several observations:
1. I don't sense the strong desire from women to get married and have a family. Me, my friends, and the majority of young women in America have their wedding all planned out, and they don't want to wait until they're 30 to get married. But there's not any rush here.
2. I have seen more sets of twins in the past month than I've ever seen in the United States, and I really am not exaggerating. I haven't asked about this, but my guess is that these couples are getting married late, and due to the decrease in fertility, having to turn to modern methods such as IVF, which frequently result in multiples.
The couples here are solid (at least they appear to be). I have never seen so many older couples together, holding hands, out walking. That beautiful sign of mutual respect and love that is only present after years of living life together- the good, the bad, and the ugly. My heart melts every time I walk through the park and see them together. A sweet sight that you see only occasionally in the United States.
Alright, well that's probably more than you wanted to know, so I'll sign off for now!
Until next time,
Your faithful Spain reporter :)