[A brief interruption in the First Year Fails series of blogs because this is fresh in my mind.]
A few weeks ago, we were on vacation with my family and we met a woman who was sitting near us at the pool. Somehow we got to talking and she asked where we were from. When she heard Albin was Costa Rican, she said that she was married to a Peruvian. Thinking I had found a kindred spirit, I asked her how being in a bicultural marriage has been for her. She seemed puzzled, so I asked her if it had been challenging for her and her husband. She still wasn’t sure, so I clarified and asked, “You know, like with cultural differences and everything?”
Her response: “No.”
Somehow I always feel a little smaller when someone says that their bicultural marriage hasn’t been difficult. It’s definitely not the first time I’ve received that response, but it always takes some composure to not have a surprised look on my face.
Directly after the initial surprise, the myriad of usual doubts came streaming through my mind:
Am I just dramatic? Am I the only one who struggles with this? Is it a personality issue?
Do Albin and I just suck at marriage?
We chatted for a bit longer and then got back to baking in the sun. I kept thinking about that conversation and came to a conclusion:
She was lying.
Okay, maybe she was being truthful, but it made me feel a lot less like a loser to think that she was lying. I began to contemplate how I was a loser and my marriage was a loser-marriage, and everything I did was loser-ish, which I recognize is a completely unhealthy train of thought, but I promised I would be honest.
Anyway, the next day I checked over my email and received a message from a woman that is married to a Sri-Lankan. It was perfect. She said, and I quote,
“I’ve met a few other white, American women who are married to Sri Lankan guys and literally the first thing I asked them was, “DO YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS WITH THE CULTURAL DIFFERENCE IN YOUR MARRIAGE?” just desperately hoping for someone to understand what I’m going through. To my dismay THREE of these women thought for a second and said, “hm, no, not really.” So anyway, I’m really thankful for your blog and to find someone who understands the challenges that come from marrying someone from a different culture.”
Props to God for his always-perfect timing. What an encouragement it was to continue to be honest about my not-so-perfect marriage. There is something so powerful in knowing that I am not alone in this, that there are others who understand. Bicultural marriage is not impossible, it’s not a constant struggle, and it’s not miserable by any means. It’s a beautiful adventure, but it’s also a unique circumstance that can feel very lonely if you don’t have a support group of people who just get it.
Since starting this blog three months ago, I’ve received a lot of messages and emails from women all over the world who are in bicultural marriages/relationships and who all have one thing in common: they want to know that they aren’t doing this alone.
Well girls, the good news is that we’re not alone. I’ve reached two new (and healthier) conclusions:
First, our Creator sees every detail of our lives and knew we would marry a man from another culture before we even truly knew that other culture existed. He goes before us and behind us. He will not leave us alone.
Second, there are countless couples out there who work through cultural differences every day just like us. Some days are easy and some days are just plain hard, but every day that we choose to love our spouse is a victory.
I hope this encourages you as much as it has encouraged me. Sometimes we don’t want an answer, a solution, or advice; we just want someone to acknowledge the struggle. We realize we will become stronger through these things. We recognize that there is a purpose and that things could definitely be worse. That’s not the point. The point is that if we’re being genuine, we all can say that ANY marriage can be downright hard sometimes. It just is and that’s okay. You’re not alone. If anyone out there needs a kindred spirit, I’ll go ahead and answer the question of whether or not bicultural marriage has been challenging for my husband and me:
And that’s okay.
“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Deuteronomy 31:8, ESV