Blending cultures in a marriage can be a complicated feat whether both families are open or accepting or not. The key is to respect each other, and compromise with your spouse on the important issues.
My mom always told me that she always knew she wanted to marry another Jamaican, that was a non-negotiable. She didn’t want to have to explain her culture to someone else. The moment I married into a family and moved to South Georgia, I understood her sentiments as I noticed the stark differences between people in South Georgia and Jamaicans.
Growing up on an Air Force Base, I was surrounded by a variety of cultural experiences. I didn’t quite realize how much my culture influenced my way of being until I got married. My husband was well traveled (and a travel agent at the time), so he embraced my Jamaican culture-the good with the bad.
I learned how to work hard.
There’s a joke about Jamaicans working several jobs. It’s true! In college I had 3 jobs at once, and there have been many times in my life that I’ve had 2 jobs. I’m no stranger to hard work. But I must say, that marriage (combined with parenting) trumps all the jobs I’ve ever had. However, working hard on my marriage (and parenthood) is the most fulfilling.
I still love to sing.
If you read my last post about being raised in a Jamaican household, you noticed that I said Jamaicans love to sing. We make up songs about everyday tasks in my house. Even brushing teeth turns into a Broadway musical event! My husband used to make fun of me for doing this. Now he makes up his own songs. The songs were more entertaining when they were at his expense instead of mine. I didn’t see that one coming.
By the time my children are grown, they will have a Jamaican dutch pot older than them.
Dutch pots are great for baked chicken, and a staple in my kitchen. In fact, for lunch this afternoon I made (mild) jerk chicken. This one of my husband’s favorite Jamaican meals. Lots of love (chicken) has been made in the Dutch pot.
Jamaicans are direct, and that is not negative.
In my experience, most southerners are passive aggressive when faced with conflict. Northerners tend to stick out like a sore thumb because they are more direct. My mom has always stuck out at her various places of employment because she always said what everyone was thinking, but too scared to say. People thanked her for her candidness, yet made cutting remarks about it. As a teenager, I was often embarrassed by my parents and their directness with people, but now I admire the courage it takes to be direct and have morphed into my Jamaican parents! I’ve learned that being direct cuts out a lot of confusion. Instead of assuming that my husband knows why I am angry, I tell him. If I have an issue with a friend, or coworker, I tell them. Simple. Being direct and talking through a conflict doesn’t mean that it has to be a confrontation.
Jamaicans tease and joke a lot. Thankfully I married someone easy going. When my husband is around my family, he even joins in on the teasing and doesn’t get offended if the attention turns on him. Lucky me!
Cutting people off and giving them the silent treatment.
Now this one I must admit is a challenge for me. My dad said that when he was growing up, if a person in one family had an issue with another, that was transferred to the family. You better not be caught interacting with the family in question. It was also no problem to cut someone off if they had offended you. Unfortunately, this treatment extended to love ones on occasion. When I first got married, I thought nothing of giving my husband the silent treatment for a long as possible (really to make him miserable). I realized that ultimately when we said our vows, we became one. If my goal was to make him miserable, I was really making myself miserable as well. My husband also wouldn’t give me enough time to be alone. He forced me to communicate and thankfully I’ve matured (some) since then.
I understand the roles that each of us play in marriage.
I admire the things that my husband does well, and I trust his area of expertise. In our marriage, we agree on the roles that we each play and respect each other. The roles we play may differ from how our parent’s marriages functioned, but we’ve made our marriage our own based on our strengths and weaknesses. In my home growing up, my mom was the main “chef” in our home and always fixed my dad’s plate. Some women say that they aren’t going to serve a man, but I take pleasure in serving my husband in a small way. When he cooks, he does the same for me. We share a mutual love and respect for each other.
This post really made me think! It’s amazing how much our childhood influences our marriage and family!
What aspects of your childhood (or culture) have influenced your marriage (or other relationships)? I can’t wait to hear all about it! Have a wonderful week! Oh, and if you enjoyed this post, please share on FB or Twitter. Thanks!