When I lived in Denmark about five years ago, I made it a point to learn some Danish. Like fellow Nordic pessimists the Estonians, the Danes told me that I shouldn't even bother, that their tongue was impenetrable, and that they'd rather speak English. But I felt strongly that if you are a foreigner in a foreign culture, you should learn the language - even if it's Swahili or Breton or Frisian. Why should I expect people to know my language in their own country. When I got back to the US I tried my Scandinavian skills on a Swedish woman at a party, who promptly pulled her husband over and said, "William, this young man has lived four months in Denmark and can speak some Swedish." Apparently, he had lived with the woman for years but still couldn't muster a word paa svenska.
When I then became 'involved' with an Estonian woman, I kept up my promise that I would never, ever, be that guy that expects his life companion should think in a foreign language 24 hours a day just because, yawn - scratch, he's too lazy to learn. So far I have had mixed results. People tell me I speak very well, even the coveted "vabalt" (fluently) but I don't think so. My mind still works in English and it is hard to quickly assemble those sentences with Estonia's tricky grammar. And then there are the exceptions. You can go "Tartusse" but you can't go "Kuressaaresse" - no, you must go "Kuressaarde." But as bad as I think I am, young women still think I am good enough to introduce to their non-Estonian knowing boyfriends to me who then will procede to hate my guts for being able to speak the Finnic bog language.
So to all of you out there I am sorry if my private ambitions not to be that guy have ever gotten you in hot water with your loved one. If it makes you feel any better, I took five years of Spanish and I don't remember any of it.