Goody Two Shoes has a Cross-cultural Marriage... BIG TIME!
Marrying cross culturally is very exciting, requiring even more effort to achieve a happy equilibrium.
I could write at least 3 articles on funny incidents and 3 on baffling ones as well!
The Background here is important, i.e. Western blonde meet swarthy Middle Easterner. I had never lived outside my native country and he had never lived inside my native country.
Still,we decided to get married and live in his country. We met here, married here, birthed here and will probably be buried here .
There have been 3 main areas of SHOCK! HORROR! GASP! With more to come
So much of it at all times, everywhere. You are expected to love it, eat it and be able to cook it. Middle Eastern (especially Arabic food) is delicious, it's true, and it plays a large part in my ability to be a good wife. My refusal to stand for hours on end preparing something that will disappear in 10 minutes has not always been received well. So, I must be a bad wife then?
As my Mother-in-law is an astoundingly good cook, I realised immediately I should not try to compete ... It is a lost battle and I explained to my husband, ‘if you crave your childhood food then go eat at your Mother’s.’ A solution for all.
However, I do see the importance of good food and how it makes people happy and content.Had I realised how important the role of food and cooking was to play in my life, I might have made more effort to improve. It is too late now as I am too old and cranky!
When I was married, my family totaled 5 and 4 came to the wedding . My husband’s family was approx 600! I had always known he had many relatives, but when we had to visit his immediate aunts and uncles living nearby in order to give them wedding invitations, I started to calculate ...about 100 cousins and about 10 with the same name! Just as well, we had to drink a liqueur at every stop for our health and happiness. After about 10 of these, I stopped counting.
It soon was obvious family and children play an extremely important role in one’s life. It was hoped I would be pregnant on my honeymoon, have a boy and name him after my father-in-law. One thing you do NOT ask a newly married couple about in my culture is whether you are pregnant, and you would never ever tell the prospective parents what to call their child, and to even remotely think boys are better than girls is outrageous. After all, I am a GIRL.
On a visit to my native country with our first child, we were thrown out of a pub/restaurant as children were not allowed. There was a big NO ENTRY sticker on the door with a picture of a child on it. My husband, being a rule breaker, tried to hide our child under the table in his carseat. We were then discovered and thrown out for all to see.
Another time, on holiday in another country (known for its order), we entered a restaurant and sat down with our 4 children. Slowly but surely, all the other patrons got up and went to sit at the other end of the restaurant to get away from us. On both these occasions, I was as furious as my husband and am really thankful for the loving and relaxed approach to children in this part of the world .
Religion and Politics
It seems totally impossible to go somewhere where I live and casually chat about the weather and the carpet without the conversation somehow shifting to religion and politics, thus igniting a heated debate of who is right and wrong and what to do about it. I cannot count the times I felt the discussion went 'bad ' and our lifelong friends had just been turned into adversaries in what seemed like a full on argument (complete with shouting and exaggerated hand movements), only to be assured by both parties it was just a healthy chat.
When I start to feel uncomfortable, I usually bang my husband’s knee or kick him under the table. If no table is available, I will casually brush his arm or leg with my arm and give him a strong poke .Even though I have been doing this for about 30 years, he will look surprised and say 'what have I done?’ Giving the game away!
In my country, you should be less straightforward and more polite, even if you have to 'bite your tongue.’ You can get your opinion across without raising your voice and appearing threatening.
I must stop here but could go on and on. Want more articles on this?
My husband and I do pre-marriage cross cultural training (will not say counselling) but most of the time it is like a refresher course for ourselves.There is always something to learn .
Moral: Be willing to change.