Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cross Cultural Marriages

You never know in entirety what you are signing up for in marriage. Add to that a cross cultural marriage. And you end up with a range of emotions and experiences as you go through life. Ranging from wonder, to confusion, to appreciation, to frustration, to joy, to disbelief, to endurance, to tolerance, to realization – of similarities & differences…And finally all leading to acceptance…

It does not matter what your ethnicity is (could be from Iyers to Iyengars to Reddys to Kaushiks to Sharmas…), what language you speak (German, French, Hindi, Malayalam…), whether you’re a boy or a girl, where you live (in Timbuktu or Bangalore).

The underlying truth is that “There are differences between any two homes. Simply because every home is made of people. And every individual is unique. So combine two, three or four unique individuals and you end up with a unique environment. And that’s what defines a home.

And then marriage is after all a unison of two people.. Who in turn come from different homes... and have had different upbringing which (to some extent) has been influenced by their cultural environment...

And just like every individual is unique.. So is every culture.. There’s no right or wrong. They are simply different. And every culture has its own evolution and its own celebrations which define it, which typecast it, which differentiate it.

From my experiences, following are extremely important to make a cross cultural marriage work

1) Basic Knowledge & Awareness of cultures: Both your own and that of your spouse. This is extremely vital to be able to understand the similarities and differences. And it is really not important to know every aspect of a culture (& probably not practically feasible either).However, the basics and a high level understanding will go a long way in making the marraige work. This is something which can be learnt if you keep your eyes, ears, mind & of course Google open J

2) Openness of mind: To listen, To appreciate, To accept. And only if one is “truly open”, is it possible to experience a different culture in totality. And also to be able to enjoy a variety of associated flavors of a new culture. And if one takes a minute to reflect, you will realize that at the basic level there are more similarities than differences. After all, the origin of the human race as a whole is the same.

3) Adaptability: To be flexible in molding oneself - According to the situation; According to the need of the hour and According to the ecosystem around. And adaptability is something which we are all inherently blessed with! Just that sometimes we choose not to adapt. And this is a personal choice which has consequences. And as long as we are conscious of the choice and are ready to face the consequences, then it’s fine.

4) Communication: This is probably a very important aspect of any marraige and of life. But more so in a cross cultural marraige simply because if you don't express yourself there's no way that your spouse will ever know, understand or appreciate your point of view - in the cultural context.

5) Managing Expectations: This is again one of the most important ingredient for a successful cross cultulral marraige. About some things, one is ready and willing to change after marraige.. But about some things, one probably cannot change (for whatever reasons). And hence it becomes important to manage expectations - To respect the other's point of view, To educate, To enable experience a new culture and Also to be sensitive on where to draw the line... And all this is integral to managing expectations of each other, of the families, of the cultural communities and of society at large...

1 comment:

  1. Have cross cultural friends train u:-p Kidding of course. My services are still available!