When I think of my marriage I can think of very few books that have helped me. There are no lack of marriage books on the market, it's just that there aren't many who speak to a bicultural girl married to a white guy who felt called to China. You don't find tips for my American girlfriend who lives with her Chinese mother in law on their way to adopting Ethiopian child. Who can give advice to my recently married friends (Chinese/American) who are moving to study in the US? Each marriage is unique. My marriage (and those described above) are very unique.
I'm back from vacation with my in laws and spending time with my American family always disorients me as the stark differences between my upbringing and my husband's are magnified. I found myself pondering, "wow, how did we work?" So here I am, inspired to write and share some thoughts on how we've managed to be married, going on almost ten strong years. Hope it is helpful to some of you out there who may be considering an intercultural marriage. You know who you are.
First of all, I'm a firm believer that culture is all encompassing. I remember intense debates in our Anthropology class about whether faith supersedes culture with absolute truth or is even faith in Christ passed down to us within a particular context. I hold the latter position which leads me to believe every fiber of our being is colored by the culture we are raised in. J, in small town America, and me, well, that's complicated, suffice it to say I am bicultural. The longer J and I have been married, the more we discover those cultural differences surfacing, from managing a household to raising the kids (that's a biggie). Tackling these difference in our marriages have been a beast. Try defending the very core value of what you have always believed to be true to the person you consider the most intimate person in your life. There is much pain in the process, but so much to be gained. To understand your husband more deeply and appreciate the culture which made him the way he is; to turn towards the beauty of your own culture seen in a different light and knowing your children have the privilege of encountering both is the precious gift our amazing Creator gives to us intercultural marrieds.
Stay tuned for the next post: how we prepared for our marriage.