Non-Americans Who Married Americans Say These Are Some Of The Biggest Differences They've Noticed

We recently asked non-Americans who married Americans to tell us the biggest differences they've noticed between them and their spouse. Here are some of their answers:

1."I’m Canadian and my in-laws don’t take their shoes off when they come over. They’ll literally put their shoes up on my white couch. We recently had a baby and they walk all over the play mat with their outside shoes on while saying 'wow, this is a great play mat.' Yes, thanks now I have to add disinfecting it to my century-long to-do list."

—32, US

A woman is sitting comfortably on a couch, wearing ripped jeans, sneakers, a white top, and headphones around her neck, smiling while looking at her phone
Solovyova / Getty Images/iStockphoto

2."Honestly, their relationship with their parents. My parents have always made it clear that they would love me unconditionally, and even though my family isn't perfect, I love that we state the imperfections out loud, have a laugh about it, and still hug each other close at the end of the day. My husband's parents are not like that at all. There's a pressure to be perfect in American life that makes having difficult emotional conversations, at least for his family, almost impossible. If I tell my parents that I think they made a mistake, they'll hear me out, and they'll tell me the same. If my husband tries to have an honest conversation with his parents about their shortcomings, they'll gaslight him or stonewall him like the conversation will cause their center of gravity to collapse. It makes him feel so alone, and I know that he's grateful to have my family embrace him not only as a relative but as a friend."

—29, New York

3."I talk to my mom daily. My husband won't talk to his parents for weeks at a time."

—30, South Carolina

An older woman with short gray hair smiles while talking on a phone, standing by a window
Peopleimages / Getty Images

4."Almost every event is a group event with my husband and in-laws: renewing passports, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day — it’s never-ending!"

—37, New York

5."I was born in the US but raised Polish. I don't understand how my American husband wakes up and puts on jeans to wear around the house. Immigrant kids have 'house clothes' and going outside clothes."

—30, South Carolina

A couple, holding hands and smiling at each other, relaxes on a couch surrounded by cardboard boxes
Photoalto / Getty Images/PhotoAlto

6."My husband won’t use a knife to cut the food on his plate. Nope, the side of the fork will do perfectly."

—39, The Netherlands

7."I went with my partner back to his family's home in Southern California over Christmas. I couldn't believe how different the dining experience is there. I'm British, so I'm used to smaller portions, no tipping unless something really stood out to you, and certainly nothing for free. The first night we went to a Mexican place. Free chips and salsa, my dinner was served on a serving plate and we had to leave a 20% tip even though our waiter was nowhere to be seen when we needed him most of the time. I don't think I finished a meal once while I was over there, and I'm not one to shy away from eating."


A check sheet, various U.S. dollar bills, and coins are placed on a black check holder on a table next to a cup of coffee and a wine glass
Studiocasper / Getty Images

8."How loud Americans are and how they are not aware of when to tone it down. When my wife’s family visits us in Europe, I feel like they are screaming the whole time just from the volume of their voices. Luckily my wife is now more aware of her volume, but when she talks to her family on the phone, it rises back up again!"


9."Education! I was born and raised in a third-world country. When my wife and I compare the American education system to the one from my native country, she always gets shocked at how much we have to learn in high school! We had to learn Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry, World History, World Geography (like capital city, current president, main exports, currency, main rivers, and history of each country). We were never allowed to use a calculator in class. Well, only when doing vector math! We don't disrespect our teachers as they are considered like our second parents."

"To graduate high school, you have to take a test that is issued by the government (again, no calculators) and consists of around 600 random questions about what you learned throughout your entire years in high school! My wife and I have agreed to homeschool our kids, with me passing on my knowledge to them so they can have a better future, as my wife struggles with math, geography, etc."

—44, Florida

A person writing various mathematical equations and graphs on a whiteboard
Dragonimages / Getty Images

10."I’ve lived in the US for the last 8 years, but I was raised in a fairly traditional South East Asian country. My husband, who I love so much, is so spontaneous in the sense that he just does what he wants! He doesn’t sit down to think about the pros and cons of a purchase, a service, or a lot of long-term things. It’s not necessarily an 'American' trait but I’ve found it to be much more common here than in my community back home. I think we strike a good balance since I’m an overthinker and was always taught to think 10 steps ahead."

—27, Georgia

11."A car doesn't need to be the size of a tank to count as a car. Smaller cars are way more common in Europe. In the US, everything is bigger, and it seems to start with cars. Bigger cars need bigger streets, parking lots, and garages."

—33, Germany

12."I'm a smoker, and you can basically smoke anywhere outside in the UK, not in the US. I had to buy nicotine patches for days out because there was no way I was doing Disneyland for 12 hours with no nicotine on a full-park day. Plus everyone looks at you weirdly if you light up a cigarette anywhere in public, even if you're outside by a bin."


Close-up of a person's face with visible nostrils and lips, holding a cigarette between fingers with a ring on one hand
Violetastoimenova / Getty Images

Are you a non-American who married an American and has noticed big or small differences? Let us know in the comments!

Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.