In yesterday’s column I talked about my effort to adjust to Philippine Culture. Thinking back, I remember how Feyma made a great effort to adjust to American Culture during her years of living there. But, regardless of where we live, one thing that always comes to my mind when the subject of culture comes up is that Feyma and I generally live by the “Bob & Feyma Culture.”
Well, think about it. When a Filipina and a Filipino get married, they generally have a shared culture to fall back on. Sure, there are regional differences – somebody from Baguio might not have exactly the same culture as somebody from Cagayan de Oro, but there is a great deal in common between the two. The same can be said when two Americans marry – they have cultural backgrounds that are similar to each other.
What happens when two people from completely different cultures join in marriage? Well, each of them must make adjustments. In fact, in my opinion, they cannot live by either the wife’s nor the husband’s culture. They must create a culture of their own. Some may do this without even realizing it, but it is something that I’ve been aware of in our marriage for many years. Basically, in our case, Feyma and I have adapted some things from Filipino culture and some things from American culture to create the “Bob & Feyma Culture.” On some issues, we probably still don’t share a common culture, she still falls back to her Filipino culture while I remain American. However, I would say in 99% of all issues, we have a common culture of our own.
I think that this is true to an extent for all couples, but in a marriage of people from completely different cultures, it is surely more pronounced. On almost every issue, we had to confront the two cultures and make a common choice of one, the other, or something in between. Mostly this was done subconsciously without even realizing that it had happened. Other times we had to struggle a bit, go through a little back and forth and finally settle on what was good for “us.”
How about you? If you are married inter-culturally, have you noticed this in your relationship? If you are not yet married, do you think you can make this adjustment? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts!