Monday, December 13, 2010

cross-cultural marriage intro: a new series?

I think this will be a good series, if I can think of enough things to write about. Surely there are many things to write about. The problem is that cross-cultural marriage is all I have personal experience with, so I may think something is normal when it is not. Conversely, I may think something is cross-cultural, when in reality it is just the differences between a man and a woman.

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.
  1. Continent of birth
  2. First language
  3. Race/ethnicity/color/whatever you want to call it
  4. Religion
So for instance, I wouldn't consider a white, protestant, first language English Canadian marrying a white, protestant, first language English American to be cross cultural. But, if either of those were British, or atheist, or of Asian decent, then yes. Or if it were a French Canadian. Or a first-generation-born-in-America who only spoke Polish at home. You get the picture.

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)


  1. I'll be interested in your series. I did no preparation when I got married. I figured I was fine with it, so was my immediate family -- everyone else should be, too! LOL. Maybe naivete of getting married young.

  2. I'm really interested, just because I'm always interested in experiences that aren't my own. As someone who's an agnostic Jew who married a guy who's atheist but was raised Catholic, you'd think we'd be more different, but my background & Eric's are oddly similar. So your situation is really interesting to me.

    And by the way, I'm gaping openmouthed at the idea that anyone could have anything negative to say about as gorgeous a baby as Nate. Sorry, but if nothing else is, he should be proof that cross-cultural relationships are a good thing.

  3. I knew you were looking into all of this, but the concerns of your parents are part of this. Knowing that the possibility exists that you will move to another continent at some point is something we still talk about. If you need a parental perspective, let me know. Otherwise, I will continue to "stay out of your business."