They say every marriage is cross cultural, but I’m not so sure. I understand that every family is a culture by itself, but I also know some folks who say “I do” to their second cousins. You can talk to me about your cross cultural marriage, maybe if your mother tongues don’t match?
I’m not trying to say we’re something special, those of us lucky enough to catch a fish from another sea. Sometimes I say you have to be especially fierce, but maybe that doesn’t sound pleasant. You do have to be brave.
When I met Hj I wasn’t brave. Maybe a little reckless, but not terribly. Marriage looked like an awful lot of hard work and messy like all relationships, and being tethered to the same person forever, always getting along, settling down!? Not for me. I wanted the easier way, traveling the world alone, tethered to no one and nothing. I wasn’t very brave.
Hj said he loved film, and I shuddered. My iTunes library made him laugh out loud. “Wow, if you have any taste in music, it’s really bad.” Ok. He wore a purple sweater for the first three months I knew him, and I hate purple. (can we pretend it wasn’t actually lavender?) He would talk to me for hours about his favorite music and say foreign words like “Sufjan Stevens” and in the end he would sigh at my blank looks, and raise his voice a little for pretend and say, “What are you!? Amish!?” I did think he was hilarious.
Somehow because God, and love and trees and maybe stars aligning, we got married despite our differences. “Differences” because we didn’t actually have a clue. That is the beautiful thing about getting married, that there is plenty of time and space to get to know each other for real, after the lofty vows and true commitment. You finally get to see each other naked, figuratively of course, and then you discover how some people actually wash dishes and you can’t believe you married an alien.
Remember, don’t judge unless you married someone with a different mother tongue, which in legal terms can be called aliens, depending. We discovered we were so different that I cried about it once, living over in Holland in the foreignest land I had ever seen with the foreignest people ever to ride a bike. I thought our differences were just insurmountable, that we would never be the same, never think alike, never like the same things!
A few years in, I say let’s all thank God for that! Let’s all thank God that we aren’t ever going to be the same and let’s thank God that we’ll never think alike. And let’s thank God that we have such a vast variety of interests in our family, to keep us interesting.
The differences that seemed insurmountable weren’t, but they were pretty steep mountains that we were forced to climb… sometimes with grace and dignity, but mostly not. There are still a few more mountains within sight but they don’t look insurmountable anymore because I know that after the blood, sweat and tears of climbing them together, we are in for the glory of a lifetime.
Next month when we go to Jamaica, (because we both love to explore new lands!) I bet Hj will be playing reggae in the square and I will be making friends with a fascinating little lady from a land down under. And I bet I won’t try to get Hj to be friendly to strangers and I bet he won’t try to get me to dance in front of those selfsame strangers. On second thought, he probably will. Haha.
I love you, lieverd.