Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Enriching ourselves through other cultures.

In my last post I announced my recent engagement to my sweetheart of almost four years. We met in grad school, and we are doing the long distance thing while he does his postdoc and I finish my Ph.D. We are from different cultures, so we have had a lot of discussions about making sure we respect one another, and each others beliefs.

Recently (in fact, on the eve of our engagement) our parents had the opportunity to meet one another, and I finally got to meet his parents for the first time. Of course the thought of this was quite nerve wracking to me, because I wanted to make a good impression on the people that are so important to my future husband. But I reasoned that anyone who had raised someone as wonderful as my fiance must be just as kind, fair, and thoughtful as he is.

And I was right! Not only did our parents get along well, but my fiance, his parents, and I had a wonderful week together. Before my parents left on their several hours drive home, my Mom said something that touched all our hearts.  

She spoke about different cultures, and that when you meet someone from another part of the world and invite them into your life, everyone becomes enriched by the relationship. We deepen our understanding of others, and learn so much more than if we just stayed in our little area of the world. She hoped that all of us could learn from and grow with one another.
That being said, sometimes the lessons learned can be difficult ones, as we grasp on to aspects of our upbringing that we suddenly realize our partner has no appreciation for. These can be rude awakenings, and if not handled properly can become the basis of bitter disagreements. This calls for a good dose of mindfulness, and compassion towards our partner and their family. As everyone agreed, we should make sure we give each other a lot of slack, and show tolerance for one another as we journey through our relationship.

As I look at the kindness and love my fiance has always shown me, I have confidence that we can do just that.

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