I want to start out this post by saying I am not a typical American and my husband is not a typical Punjabi. Each of us has aspects of our culture ingrained within us but there are so many ways each of us doesn't fit into our respective cultures. Some of what I'm writing in this post is culturally normal in our respective societies and other things mentioned here are our individual personalities.
I'm the type of person who likes to celebrate differences. I didn't want to marry someone who had everything in common with me. I wanted someone who could make me think, challenge me in new ways and open my eyes and heart to things in life I wouldn't get with someone who was too similar to me.
I mistakenly thought that one my husband got to the U.S. and began to learn the ins and outs of living here that one particular difference would change. My husband has an intense sense of how society perceives him and he always insists that it's negative. He's sure they have something bad to say or think. He has the same perceptions over people he meets. He's sure if he tells them certain details they're going to not like him.
This ideal of his comes partly from his culture - buri nazar or the evil eye as well as the societal pressure to fit in, excel and be the best at everything. He's been raised to do what is socially acceptable even if it is the wrong thing to do (within reason of course). So it's okay to break a rule if you're making someone happy and fitting in socially.
It also comes partly from his personality. He has an image he wishes to portray and he's hard on himself if he doesn't think he's portraying it. He wants to blend in with society here while still maintaining his Indian identity. I think he's doing quite well, he's not so sure. This causes him a considerable amount of stress and anxiety.
I was raised to do what is right regardless of what society and my peers feel or think. It's only okay to break the rules under limited circumstances and even then it has to be for the right reasons. If people hate you they hate you but at the end of the day you can rest your head soundly on your pillow knowing you did the right thing.
For the most part I don't seek societies approval. Yes, I want to fit in but not if it's going to cost me my soul (so to speak). I take pride in doing things the right way and doing them well. This makes me somewhat of a social outcast. That in turn causes me occasional sadness. I feel like I have trouble fitting in....actually I know I have trouble fitting in. I have difficulty connecting with peers my age. I can maintain shallow friendships but it's not often I make close connections.
To some of you that's going to sound awful and you may think I'm sad and lonely all the time. That's not true. The friendships I do have are absolutely fabulous. I can be 100% open, have deep discussions on religion, politics, and any other dangerous issue without ever causing a rift in my friendship. I love it.
My husband simply couldn't handle those type of relationship. He has some strong friendships but I never hear him discussing politics or debating religious aspects. His friendships are much more light-hearted and about more fun topics.
Oddly enough, though you may think this vast difference would cause barriers in our communication, it doesn't. It's the strangest thing. Though he doesn't have these type of discussions with his friends, he and I do have them. He also doesn't stress over the cultural pressures he feels when we're just hanging out together. I don't fret over rules and guidelines and we tend to connect really well.
These differences are good. Because of the way he feels, thinks, and acts makes him the kind of man I find desirable. The way I feel, think and act seems to keep him interested. I don't have to be rude or disrespectful to my own culture to appease his and the same can be said for him.
What are some differences between you and your spouse? How do you feel they make the relationship work better?