It is no secret that the older generations were often strict with their requests on who their children should marry – these often included someone within the same culture/background/town/cast. Sadly, some families still do this, when of course, the focus should be on deen. However, more and more these days, we see people becoming open to the idea of their children marrying outside their own ethnicity.
This is how our Ummah should be, as Allah tells us in the Quran “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other” (Holy Quran, Chapter 49 verse 13)
A couple may have both grown up in the same country, but their families can be from different parts of the world, and hence their upbringing may be very different. When a couple is newly married and trying to deal with the (many) compromises that come along with a marriage, a difference in culture is yet another compromise or understanding that must be approached with care. So here are some tips we’ve put together to help with the transition:
* Having respect for each other’s culture is key, as neither is better than the other. The Prophet (saw) said “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” We must remember this at all times, especially with our in-laws. If they do things differently to what you are used to, this is no reason to disrespect them.
* If your spouse speaks another language, why not both go the extra mile and take classes trying to learn their native tongue? Or, just ask them how to say certain words that you use everyday? Especially terms of endearment for your spouse, like “my love” and “sweetheart”. This will be very much appreciated by your spouse, your inlaws, and being an individual who is bilingual is always a bonus.
* Be the mediator between your parents and your spouse. If you notice that your spouse is being left out of conversations/practices then kindly yet subtly respond to your parents in a language or way that your spouse and your parents understand.
* Don’t take things to heart. It is expected that there will be certain cultural gaps that maybe difficult for us to understand. Take everything with a grain of salt and give your new family the benefit of the doubt. Talk to your spouse about this and prepare for it ahead of time.
* Remember that your spouse is not going to cook the same meals as your mom. Have an open mind and an open palette and appreciate them for their efforts on cooking.
* If possible, take a trip to your spouse’s native country. What a great way to learn and understand more about your spouse and in-laws than to see where they grew up first hand.
* Encourage your children to learn both languages. Some parents tend to dominate and request the child only speaks their language, or only teach the language of the country they live in. However, children are like sponges and can pick up much more than we give them credit for. A multilingual child is a blessing, so encourage them to learn each other’s mother tongue.
The most important tip of all, seek the guidance of Allah and continue making dua to him to bless your marriage and family relationships with understanding and patience.
Allah knows best.