We all have various cultures. We have the culture based on our nationality, culture based on our demographics, and the family culture in which we were raised. The family culture I personally experienced growing up was different than the family culture of my next door neighbor… even though we played in the same yard, went to the same school, and shared the same friends. Behind the doors of each home, there is a culture, and these unique cultures shape us. As we grow older and are exposed to more life experiences, we are influenced by new cultures. We meet new people from different places and our horizon expands. Going away to college expanded my world view, helped me to realize the vastness of this world, and the value of everyone’s unique story and culture.
When you get married, your paradigms are stretched even further. No matter how much you thought you knew about your sweetie, you will find that he or she has certain quirks that are deeply ingrained. They may seem ridiculous to you, but to your spouse, these peculiarities are expectations of how life works!
For example, my husband’s Mom folded towels a very specific way. When we first got married, I folded towels the way my Mom had always folded towels. After Eric witnessed my towel folding, he requested that I fold them the way he was used to folding them. My initial response was, “What’s the big deal?!?!” But, I started folding them the way he requested and I found that I liked the new way better than my old way. It was something small, but my complying with his wishes in that area helped him feel a little more settled in our new home.
In my family of origin, having pizza was synonymous with having fun! We often went to Pizza Hut (or came home with pizza) and watched a movie. Any way you sliced it (no pun intended), pizza meant great times. In our first year of marriage, Eric ate more pizza than he wanted to eat in five years – and he used to work in a pizza shop for several years (it may have been one of his attractive qualities to me ~smile~)! Sure, he would’ve rather eaten almost anything else, but because having pizza on a regular basis made me feel more settled in our new life together, he sacrificed his need for quality ethnic foods, and ate scores of Little Caesars and Papa John’s. (Since that initial marital period, he has opened me up to a world of culinary delights!)
It is obvious that our cultures are important to each us. They represent who we are and bring us back to our roots. Every Christmas, as my Dad’s side of the family gathers together to celebrate, I remember being a kid, taking in the smells, and looking forward to ripping into gifts with my cousins. As I now watch my cousin’s kids ripping into presents, it brings back a familiar glee in my heart. It is important to remember from whence you came.
So, this is my suggestion for every new couple: Start making a list of activities you would like to do on your culture nights and start having them! Additionally, I recommend having one at least once a month. On the chosen night, one of you (and you should alternate) gets to have a night filled with experiences that remind you of good times in your childhood or from one of your cultures. Maybe you loved it when your Mom made hamburger helper and your family had Scrabble matches; if so, incorporate those events into your culture night. Next month, your beloved may have you hiking and mountain biking. Having such a culture night is a good way of getting to know your future spouse on a deeper level as well as a way to reconnect with your own roots.
Your culture nights can be as serious or silly as you prefer, but your beloved does have veto power over anything that is illegal or may bring disgrace to your family. Though, be open for some good-natured humility if the occasion arises and be open to trying new experiences with him or her. I always appreciate when Eric willingly experiences activities that are important to me and it is likely that your sweetheart will feel the same way. Have fun! Comment below about what experiences you choose to do together!
How do you identify with the roots of your culture (and have fun while doing it!)?
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