My Head in the Sand – By Helen Hollister



People marry for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health and share each others’ cultures. Many marriages today are not only mixed by color or race but by culture. But will marital bliss be disrupted by family traditions that one of the two did not grow up with?

You have two people from opposite sides of the world. One from the west and one from the, let’s say, third world country where the culture and family traditions are quite different. The language is not your language, the food is not what you are accustomed to, and on top of everything you have to live in a desert.

So now meet the family, it’s customary to kiss the mother’s hand out of respect for her. That’s wonderful for them, but what if you don’t kiss your own mother’s hand?! You gracefully decline and hug your mother in law as if she were your own. Ok great that was liked and accepted. You are the oldest son’s wife and it’s expected of you to cook for the whole family since you are all living in one house. It’s your duty. Not to mention when you go out with your new family your mother in law must sit in the front seat next to your husband oh, but wait he is her son first and she is the mom. So, you reluctantly sit in the back seat while the mom carries on a conversation and you have no idea what she is saying.

As time passes you learn to love the mom, the sisters, and the whole family, even if they are different from you. After all they are your husband’s family. You love him so you should love them, right? One day the sister is getting married. Everyone is full of joy and happiness and they say since you joined the family wonderful things have blessed their lives.  Then one day the new groom brings over all the bride’s gifts; Sets of gold jewelry and a box full of money, thousands as a matter of fact.  You wonder why you didn’t receive this for your marriage?!

When two people of different cultures unite in marriage, do you think they should be treated the same as if they are from the same tribe? For most families, traditions, , expectations, and obligations do vary.  What one family may practice may be unheard of in another. Like the mother in law sitting in the front seat, some do and some don’t. So is it better to marry from your own culture, or not?

Really, it depends on you and your spouse. Are you willing to learn and join in or are you going to be the bystander in everything your husband’s family does? Does marrying from a different culture put more pressure on a marriage? I think it can, but living in a multi-cultural marriage can be a wonderful experience as well. Start your own traditions by blending the two worlds.

What about children? Whose culture will they follow most, mom’s or dad’s? That’s another issue. Just keep your head out of the sand.




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