April 8, 2013

You are Married to Someone From a Different Culture

During my Pilates class, some of the women were discussing various countries and their cultures.   The conversation turned to food in different cultures and it was amazing the quick reactions to foods that other people in the world eat but is not part of our American culture.  Comments like – “I would NEVER eat that.”  “They really eat that there?! !”  “And that’s why I am never going to visit that country!”  Humorous comments only because it shows how we all react to what is different from us.  Humorous too because if they went to the countries in question they would come back with stories of food that they did love as well as food that they just wouldn’t choose.

But all this discussion, reminded me that marriage is the merging of two cultures.  Two people who have two very different ways of doing things, different traditions and different expectations.  Each person’s “culture”, if you will, is a result of the family in which they grew up.  Typically, people think either how they grew up was normal, the way it should be or they think the way they grew up is definitely NOT the way it should be and they come up with their own plan of how it should be.

So, when your husband doesn’t leave the light on when you get home late at night or when your wife doesn’t wash the dishes in what you consider a timely fashion, stop and think “culture”.  Instead of reacting with anger at how your spouse is thoughtless or lazy, stop and consider that your spouse has a different “culture” from you.  And then ask questions – What did your Dad do when your Mom was coming home late at night?  Did your Mom wash the dishes right after dinner or did she rest first and then wash?

Approaching potential hurtful or maddening situations with an awareness that your spouse is different from you and has a different way of doing things, may help reduce the anger.  Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and ask questions designed to learn more about your spouse’s family background and what went into their “culture” of family and relationships.