I’m back! I must admit I have been craving writing after my little hiatus away. After I said I was having a break from blogging, I had many people from around the world contact me to say that my blog had been an important outlet of advice for them, helping them to navigate many issues they have faced in their own intercultural relationship. So, thank you for all the support, I am very heartened.
My husband and I just got back from our honeymoon in Europe and on the way back to Australia, I was on the plane looking at R thinking to myself ‘look what he has done for me’.
That might sound weird, but let me explain.
Most Nepali people don’t even know what a honeymoon is.
I know a few Nepali couples who have lived in a Western country for most of their life who have gone on honeymoons but a quick poll of my 40-50 Nepali friends is evident enough- no- they didn’t go on a honeymoon.
After marriage in Nepal, it is very uncommon for a newly married bride and groom to go on a holiday together somewhere for a romantic time.
To be honest, the whole notion of romantic gestures in Nepal are rare (yes some people will disagree with me) but compared to Western culture, romantic gestures such as honeymoons are very uncommon (happy to be challenged on this if any of you have any evidence!)
So, I had to explain to Rabindra what a honeymoon is and why it’s important to me. Yes it’s part of Western/Australian culture but it’s also a helluva good idea to have a break after a stressful year with the wedding!
It took Rabindra a while to get used to the idea of a Honeymoon…(hhhhmm a good two years) but he came around and agreed to my idea of an overseas honeymoon.
Anyway, back to the point of this blog, which is this: how much should you change to adapt to your spouse’s culture? In a recent interview I did with a magazine, I was asked about what advice I would give to others in an intercultural relationship.
My answer was something that has only come to me very recently, only in the past year or so. It was this: “It’s important to compromise but it’s also important to hold on to our own culture and not lose who we are. If you change yourself too much to adapt to your partner’s culture, you will lose your own identity.”
This is still the most powerful advice I’ve ever given myself.
I often think about the changes both of us have made to adapt and be apart of each other’s culture.
It’s virtually impossible to not change when you are married to a person whose entire culture, background, and even basic ideologies are different from your own.
I feel like I have made many changes to adapt to Nepali culture, but Rabindra has too.
For me, learning the language, dressing up in sari etc, taking tikka, wearing sindoor, marking Nepali festivals, cooking Nepali food etc and trying to understand the different parts of Nepali culture, are just some of the changes I have made.
While I am open to making compromises there are some parts of Nepali culture which I will stand firm on because they are against my core values, something which I am not willing to change.
I disagree with many parts of Nepali culture, for example, the exclusion of girls during their periods because they are ‘unclean’, the inequality women and girls face in all facets of life and many other patriarchal parts of Nepali society which are too extensive to list here.
Essentially, I try not to sweat the small stuff. If it’s an important matter, I will try really hard to understand him and where he or his family is coming from. But if it’s important to me, I will express myself and not give in.
Maybe the next time you are facing an issue with your partner or in-laws, ask yourself , is this really important to me? Is it a part of my identity and what matters to me? Or is it more of a small problem which we can discuss and face together?
It may sound like simple advice, but I hope I have explained a clear enough distinction between the two.
The honeymoon is just a small example of what Rabindra changed for the sake of me. This was also not a part of his core values or ideologies therefore he could openly change.
Other parts of his culture such as not eating beef and honouring his elders, just to name a few, are part of his core values and ones which I do not expect him to change.
I honestly belief if you change your own values, it will only lead you to have regret, dissidence and resentment in the future.
In all relationships, there is give and take. But in intercultural relationships, a great deal of effort and understanding has to occur to ensure there is an equal balance of give and take.
How much have you changed for the sake of your partner’s culture?
Are there things you will stand firm on, against what your partner or in-laws believe in?
Or have you changed for your partner and regretted it later?
Have your say