CROSS-CULTURAL PRINCIPLES TO MARITAL BLISS
There shall be several parts to our discussion on this new topic. Some people may be considering in their minds, “How is this topic relevant to my situation since my wife and I are from the same tribe or same country? And for bachelors and spinsters, you might have taken a position that “I will choose a partner from my own tribe.” That’s o.k. But as the discussion progresses, everybody will agree with me that we all need a good understanding of these cross-cultural principles to help make our marriage relationships better and more romantic. What then is the first principle?
Who are you? Many people do not really understand who they are. It is therefore important to spend time to understand who you are – study your temperaments, gifts, talents, likes and dislikes, strong and weak points etc. After you must have studied who you are, and how imperfect you are as a person, you will become sober. Can you run away from yourself? Definitely NO! You will likely not approve of everything about yourself, yet you have to accept yourself as you are. For example, a man may not like the shape of his nose, or a woman may not approve of her looks, but the Bible says in Psalms 139:14a, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Since you cannot run away from yourself, how then do you treat your partner?
ACCEPTING THE OTHER PERSON AS HE/SHE IS
A woman got married to a man of her dream, and she was so excited that she got the best among the men in her community. She is highly romantic by nature and she was looking forward to enjoying a married relationship full of kisses and all the attendant excitement. Alas! The husband could not meet her expectations. He is someone who wants to spend most of his time in the presence of God by observing regular fasts and prayers, coupled with prolonged days of prayer vigils, and he would always ask her to be part of the spiritual exercise. What a disappointment! “I didn’t bargain for this kind of ‘dull’ lifestyle,’ she said to herself. After sharing her dilemma with a Christian friend, she was made to realize that she can still enjoy her husband if only she will learn to accept him as he is, instead of trying to force him into becoming a different person.
She therefore changed her mental attitude and began to appreciate her husband, though not necessarily approving of everything that was going on. Having learnt to accept him as he is, and vice, versa, their marriage relationship took a new and happier dimension. What are you ‘fighting’ to change in your husband or your wife? You can not approve of all his or her character traits, but you can lovingly accept your spouse and appreciate him or her for who he or she is. Remember you are relating with God’s creature.
RECOGNIZE WORLDVIEW CHANGE
For married couples to really enjoy the joy and peace they long for in their marriage relationship, it is pertinent for both of them to become conscious of worldview change. As human beings we see things differently using our cultural lenses, therefore, the husband and the wife must constantly remind themselves that “though we are one, our perception of events differ from time to time.” There was this Hausa guy who had lived among the Yoruba people for almost three decades of his life. His elementary, secondary and university education had been shaped by the culture of this people, and during all those years he had interacted with other students with different cultural backgrounds-some of them were Igbos, Ebiras, Eguns etc. By implication the Hausa man has been shaped by several other cultures. When he was matured enough to choose a wife for himself, he went back to his homeland, and got married to a Hausa lady who had spent most of her lifetime in the Northern part of Nigeria. She also had gone through many schools and interacted with various cultures. My question at this juncture is this: Is our couple 100% Hausawas? Definitely No! This truth must be acknowledged that there had been changes in their worldviews, and this knowledge will either make or mar their marriage relationship. Therefore, dear married couples, be conscious of worldview change!
RECOGNIZE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
People come from different cultural backgrounds, and that gives rise to differences in culture. Married couples or would-be couples must take cognizance of this fact in their relationships. There was the case of a man and a woman who hailed from two separate cultures, and were planning to get married. In the woman’s culture, wedding ceremony takes place at the groom’s family, contrariwise, on the part of the man, wedding ceremony takes place at the bride’s home. What a conflict! The husband -to-be took time to explain his culture to his bride-to-be and her family, even though it was a ‘strange culture’ to the in-law, they agreed and the wedding was conducted at the woman’s place.
In marriage, there is need to respect each other’s cultures. It is pertinent to study the differences in both cultures, take time to ask questions about behavior that is not clear to either of the partner, and spend time to understand each other in love. By so doing you will enjoy your home. There is no perfect culture anywhere, so do not insist that your way is best. Learn to understand each other and adjust where necessary. May God bless your home and make it a haven of rest.