My husband is my secret weapon when we travel. In me will always dwell a shy, foreign teenager: one that is desperate to fit in, and petrified of making a grammatical error that would make me stand out.

Not so with my husband. “YAMMOS!” he’ll shout at Greek shop owners, followed by a stream of random words in any language – German, French, Spanish – whatever he has to hand.

Often, he’ll deliver his lines with such irresistible conviction that he makes people doubt their own language. On recent travels, we found ourselves in a restaurant filled, almost exclusively, with British tourists. The owner looked a bit sick of it, so I decided it would be nice to mix things up by not being one.

I talked at my husband in Swedish for the rest of the evening… And something nice happened. My husband, who is usually (and understandably) bored by my monologues (I mostly talk about dogs or show pictures of dogs), listened intently. He guessed at words – “you want me to pass the ladders?” – and made every effort to respond in Swedish – “yes, I like small bread.”

It felt lovely to speak to him in my native tongue – to be myself in my own accent, not one that I’ve borrowed. Now, for the first time since we met, I’m desperate for my husband to learn Swedish. But in the meantime, I’m grateful for his shouting “BONNY-NOT!” at Portuguese hoteliers and looking after us both, while I remain bi-lingual and comfortably silent.

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