Sunday, 29 July 2012

III. Cross Cultural Marriage

For more than a decade I was partnered with a man from another country with a completely different upbringing, culture and religion. We have had two extraordinary children together. I left him one year ago, almost to the date. Walked out on our marriage and broke apart my little family.

I met him at a university in Australia where he was attending as an international student. I was 22 or 23 and recently returned from my own first trip overseas and completely fascinated by other cultures at that time. My eyes had been opened. My head full of the dark eyes of the language teacher I had fallen for during my time overseas. A sweet gentle person who touched my young heart. He loved horses. We wrote letters to each other for many years afterwards back before email was so common. Letters on paper written by hand and sent by international post across the sea. Seems so old fashioned now. I've kept a few of them. I wrote some poetry about him. That's just the romantic girl I am. I'll see if I can find one to post. Young love.

So when I turned up to a student meeting back at my university in Australia and laid eyes on the man, who I would ultimately marry, I was intrigued. He was the first Muslim I had ever met. And I, a young Westerner, who believed that love could overcome any cultural differences. Was I naive?

This is harder to write about than I thought.

It is very difficult to get through all the obstacles of life alongside someone who perceives the world so differently. Whose family you can't always relate to. Whose beliefs you don't subscribe to. Enriching too. I've learnt some wonderful things along the way about different ways of cooking, celebrations, customs, languages. But a hard path, involving, for me anyway, compromise. As do all relationships.

In retrospect I should have compromised less, stood my ground, not allowed my individuality to be eroded, shaped by my partners ideas. That makes me sound like some sort of weak victim. I wasn't, I fought. But against someone whose convictions were just stronger, than my more open fluidity of mind. Buried resentment destroys love, completely. Suppression of your unique voice makes you feel lonely.

I'd like to record some of the extraordinary moments of the relationship first though, before deconstructing it.

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