Cross-cultural marriage is weird. Let's just get that out of the way right off the bat. It's unusual. Cross-cultural friendships are weird, too. Relating to someone of a different culture can be both enlightening and frustrating. Communication is ridiculous. I think cross-cultural communication may be my first, and most recurring, topic in the series. (Then again, communication between a man and a woman is ridiculous regardless of culture.)
As I see it, there are 4 areas in which a relationship may be cross-cultural.
- Continent of birth
- First language
- Race/ethnicity/color/whatever you want to call it
Rodgers was born in Africa; I was born in North America. Rodgers' first language was Giryama; mine was English. Rodgers is black; I am white. We are both Christian! However, Rodgers grew up worshiping the spirits of his ancestors in wooden statues before he received Christ, and I was a Baptist pastor's kid. That adds a bit more spice to the mix. I'd say we're 3.5 out of 4 for cross-cultural-ness because our current religion is the same, but our birth religions were different.
Once Rodgers and I committed to getting married (this was before the proposal and official engagement), I wanted to prepare myself for what kind of issues we may face as a mixed culture marriage. I wanted to prepare myself for how I may respond towards negativism about marrying a black man and having mixed babies (mostly, I just stare in shock with my mouth gaping - I'm very eloquent). I wanted to see what made some cross-cultural relationships strong while others fall apart (keeping God at the center is key, of course, but beyond that???). I read several books before we got married. (I just finished the last one last week. The final section was something like But What About the Children? and I saved it to read after we had kids.) Here's my bibliography:
- Mixed Matches by Joel Crohn, Ph.D. (the most academic of the four, with guides to help assess your relationship)
- Intercultural Marriage: Promises and Pitfalls by Dugan Romano (discusses the 19 most common issues)
- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner by Brenda Lane Richardson (real-life stories, some happily ever after, some not)
- Just Don't Marry One by George A Yancey (collection of essays from different points of view - spouse, child, parent, friend - about interracial relationships)