For the final part of this cross-cultural marriage series, I am going to get all philosophical on you. When I was brainstorming this series, I naturally asked my other half what HE liked about our cross-cultural marriage. And do you know what he said?
“I like that we had to take everything we thought we knew, throw it out, and start from scratch together.”
I couldn’t have said it better. When we grow up, we learn things from our family, friends, neighbors, and people in general around us about how the world works or should work, and this forms our culture. It shapes how we understand the world, how we believe we should act, what we value, eat, drink, pretty much almost everything we do. It also informs our expectations in our marriage. When I married my Turkish husband, I began sharing my life, and possibly more difficult – my living space – with someone who thought differently than me on a lot of issues. I gave some examples in the first post – from when one should eat ice cream to when one should go to the doctor, that first year we were discovering differences almost every day. But beyond these there were bigger issues, like what is really important in our lives and how we spend our time and money.
Instead of getting in a cultural tug of war, we look to our mutual “most important” – God, His Word, His grace. Since we committed to follow and serve Christ together on our wedding day, we realize that we have to evaluate every other thing, including our cultural values, in light of Him.
So, that first year, I had to let go of things I thought were my “rights”, but really turned out to be materialism and selfishness because the Bible says things like “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” and “Wives, submit yourselves to your own to your husbands as you do to the Lord.” He had to let go of the macho male attitude that most other Turkish men have because the Bible says things like “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” He is really, really good at doing this, by the way, whereas I have a ways to go in loving my neighbors and submitting.
I love that our cross-cultural marriage doesn’t let us go with what feels right or what everybody else is doing. When we encounter a big difference, it’s a chance to look to God and see what really is the right way to go.