As an expat, we are exposed to the possibility of being romantically involved and eventually, maybe end up in marrying a foreigner. I have number of close friends, including myself, who have been married to a different nationality. For me, every day is brand new as my husband and I continue to embrace our differences and honor our uniqueness.
I am sharing this not as a hard rule, but just a friendly reminder. Bear in mind that your promise of ‘for better or worse, till death do us part’, is not only witnessed by people, but also by God.
- Audible confirmation. Very important. If you have been praying specifically for a foreign husband or wife, make sure that it is the audible voice of God that you hear for confirmation and not just the voice within you. Sometimes, we only listen to what we wanted to hear and neglect the rest of God’s specific instructions. At the end, we interpret and manipulate the ‘voice’ we heard. Be careful, you might just be listening to your own. God’s ways are unique and His voice is gentle. Be sensitive.
- Food galore, get ready to explore! Prior to my marriage, I couldn’t eat spicy food at all. I wouldn’t dare to touch nor try anything with fresh or cooked chili on it regardless of its size or color. Contrary to ‘my man’, he wouldn’t enjoy a bland dish or a meal without the piquancy. My ‘no-no’ to spicy food somehow needed revision and so was his, if we both wanted to enjoy our dining together. We then decided to meet halfway; I have moved forward from non-spicy-to-mild spicy, while he moved backward till where I can endure pungency. Start telling to yourself – ‘no harm in trying’!
- Chum Ree-uhp Soo-uh (a Khmer Salutation). Study says that children can easily learn three to four languages simultaneously. I wish I could say the same thing for adults unless mastering a new language is your passion. Not that ‘effortlessly’ for me. I have twisted every muscles in my tongue to learn my husband’s Cambodian dialect but still lots to learn. He is doing a much better job though in mastering my mother tongue. Well, I am not giving up and hoping that one day, I will finally conquer. You may start early with a tongue-twister. 🙂
- The possibility of leaving your home, for good. The first time I have told my mother that I am marrying a foreigner, she didn’t agree although she eventually approved of our wedding. It wasn’t because she disapproved of my choice but mainly because, it was not exactly a mother’s wish for her daughter to live so far away from home and the possible chance of maybe, to leave permanently. Of course arrangements can be made for visitations but no guarantee of the frequency. Your foreign spouse may understand and respect your parent’s concern, but your heart must be ready for this inevitability.
- He might not be as romantic as your Dad nor will she be as a good cook as your Mum. My mom-in-law is one of the best cooks I’ve ever met. I am nowhere to stand next to her in the kitchen as far as cooking is concerned. I can prepare a dish alright, but nowhere closed in comparison to hers and I do not intend to compete. 🙂 My husband knew my limitations in the kitchen prior to our marriage; but had he not accepted that fact, it would have been an everyday struggle for him to enjoy his meal. I might have had slightly improved on my cooking, but I was grateful that no ‘comparison’ had taken place. On the other hand, I could have expected for him to be as funny and romantic as my dad, but I preferred not to. He is a unique individual who has a great capacity to love. No comparing please; otherwise, you’d be spending the rest of your married life being unhappy and dissatisfied.
- New status, new friends – be flexible. Once you marry, the number of your single friends will reduce and will be replaced by married couples. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. And since you might marry a different nationality, your type of friends will also change. Be open-minded and try to fit in as long as your ‘free will’ is not being compromised. You will also be invited to various gatherings that you are probably not accustomed to. You will need to learn your ‘new crowd’. There may be things acceptable to you but not to them; you know, differences in culture, habits, food choices (as I pointed out in No.2), etc. Always remember, your spouse may also take interest in knowing your ‘own kind’ as much as you will adjust in knowing his’/hers. The more, the merrier!
- Know the law. Regardless of what nationality you are getting married to, you must recognize the law. The local embassies and government courts will help you and guide you with all the necessary requirements needed to legalize and register your marriage. Do not commit into anything you will regret before checking first your options. Do not assume or it may be too late.
- Be one in faith. Both my husband and I came from different religious backgrounds, however we already shared the same faith when we met each other. It was our destiny to get married. Not only we pray and believe to the same God, but we’re both committed to serve Him. There is no such thing as perfect marriage; one way or the other, your relationship will be tested. But it brings us joy and so much peace when our unity in faith aids us during those challenging times. My prayer for you – may you not only find who your heart desires, but the one who God desires for you…
Well, that’s it from me! I am sure the list can go on more than eight! Do feel free to share your own thoughts by leaving a comment below:)
As I end, allow me to share to you a brief encouragement from one of my dear friends, who has been blessed with courage and love. Meet the Elavia Family!
Joan is a Filipina, happily married to Zubin, an Indian Parsi. They are now based in Canada with their son, Nathan. This is what she says:
“To be on an inter-racial marriage is challenging especially in the beginning stage as we have to learn and adjust with our way of living, beliefs, religion, culture, and even on our food preferences. These factors can sometimes lead to disagreements and misunderstanding, but we never allowed them to affect our love and respect for each other. Just like a typical couple, we remind ourselves every day to honor the vows we made to each other 20 years ago. We also wanted to make sure that our son will be raised knowing and loving both our cultures. I guess the most important ingredient to maintain peace in our marriage is RESPECT”.