1. You’ve had the Speedo conversation.
Even the hairiest German men with the worst sunburns and the biggest beer bellies love their teeny-tiny Speedos. They wear them at the beach, with shoes and socks at the resorts, and, if they’re feeling fancy, with t-shirts while lounging at the pool. Some Germans can be convinced to don more modest beachwear. But for most, there’s no convincing them that less is not more. Marriage is all about compromise.
2. You know real beer can never be lime or chocolate flavored, or worst of all, “lite.”
For Germans, beer is water, barley, hops, and yeast. No tinkering allowed.
3. 4pm kaffe und kuchen time is sacred.
It doesn’t matter what else is going on — everything is put on pause for the traditional coffee-and-cake break in the late afternoon. At this time, you’re reminded of exactly why you married a German: nationwide permission to have dessert before dinner.
4. You’ve stopped defending the bread from your own country.
Germans take their bread very seriously. It’s dark and crusty and robust. Never white and fluffy and sweet. What Americans call bread is an abomination to them.
5. Sauerkraut is in heavy rotation in your household.
You can no longer imagine serving pork without it. And for those days when your digestive system is a little…let’s say, plugged up, you know from your mother-in-law that sauerkraut is the cure for all stomach ailments.
6. You know what the “Klinscam” is.
Even though Jurgen Klinsman is now the coach of the US national soccer team, the Germans can’t stop obsessing about him. He’s a soccer hero back home, and beloved for his expressiveness on the sidelines as a coach, especially compared with the current, stoic German coach. Watching Klinsman’s reactions broadcast from a camera permanently pointed at him (the “Klinscam”) during games has become a popular spectator sport.
7. You’ve realized how weird it is that the fast-food chain Wienerschnitzel serves hot dogs.
First, you learned what a Schnitzel really is. In the next stage of your indoctrination into German culture, you learned the critical differences between a Jager Schnitzel and a Zigeuner Schnitzel. Now when you talk about the nation’s favorite dish, you know it’s important to be spot on with the details.
8. You’ve learned to interpret lukewarm responses.
You know that German men are, shall we say, a bit muted when it comes to expressing their feelings. Whatever their reaction is, you learn to crank it up a few notches in your interpretation. “It could be better.” = “It’s great! I love it!”
9. You no longer say things like, “Let’s do lunch sometime.”
You’ve learned that Germans can’t stand the American habit of flippantly suggesting get-togethers they never intend to follow through with. What we Americans consider friendly small talk, Germans find a waste of time.
10. You know lederhosen is about as representative of Germany as the cowboy hat is of the United States.
Your German family has schooled you on the fact that those cute leather shorts you imagined your husband wearing as a young boy are actually Bavarian, and not typical elsewhere in the country. Which is disappointing, because they are really adorable.
11. You know that on December 6, Santa Claus will come beat you with a stick.
On this day, Germans celebrate Sankt Nikolaus Day. According to folklore, good kids get their stockings filled. Bad kids get a bag of ashes and a beating from good old Saint Nick. Well, at least you can recover with a mug of gluwein. Once you marry a German, the holiday season will never be the same again.
12. You correct people when they describe Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent as German.
Thanks to your German family, you can now tell the difference between Austrian and German accents. Or at least, you pretend that you can tell, and you agree with them that Austrians talk funny.
13. Dinner at 6pm means 6pm sharp. Not 6:10 or 6:20 or whenever the roast is ready.
Germans are known for their punctuality. Through trial and error, you’ve learned that getting dinner ready doesn’t mean sipping a glass of wine while you casually cook and chat. You prepare your dishes with a chef’s precision, making sure everything is piping hot on the table at 6pm sharp.
14. If you rooted for another team during the World Cup, you’re still hearing about it.
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