Marrying a foreigner
Getting married and starting a new life with your newlywed husband is a big change in life. And when you’re marrying a foreigner who lives in a different country that it leaves a consequence for you to relocate far away from family and friends, the life change is even far greater.
When I married my husband more than fourteen years ago and decided to move to England, I knew that I would have a big life change. And many possible challenges ahead of me. I was kind of mentally prepared for things like culture shock and starting “everything” right from the start, i.e. making friends, finding a job, etc. They are the obvious things that will be considered before you decide to marry a foreigner and move out of your country though. Because actually, there are more than the obvious ones.
Throughout the years I’ve learned that it takes a lot of things to fit myself in without losing my old self and to keep growing in a hopefully positive direction since I left my home country a decade and a half ago.
So, here I am, sharing with you the things I wish I knew before I decided to have interracial marriage and to live away from my family and old friends. Although, I don’t regret my decision. But I think I would have been more mentally prepared. And I would have been able to deal with certain things in different ways.
Bear in mind that what I’m sharing with you here is based on my experience which may differ from others who are in a similar situation. You can just take it as a big picture and perhaps pick a few insights that may be helpful for you.
The benefits of marrying someone from another country
1. Seeing new places
The first and foremost common benefit of marrying a foreigner who made you relocate to his ‘habitat’ is obviously for you to see new places. If you like changes in scenery and appreciate the different beauty of nature, then you should find it okay to move to your partner’s place. Even if it’s thousands of miles away from your homeland. You can consider it as an adventure to explore the world 😄.
2. Learning different culture
Marriage has always been a meeting of two different personas with differences to adjust between the couple. But when you marry someone from a totally different culture, you’ll be at the next level of mixing and mingling 😃. Because you’ll come across so many culture shocks that require understanding, compromise, and adjustment.
So you’ll learn about the culture and tradition of your partner. You may also want to learn basic knowledge of his mother tongue if it’s not English. So you can understand a little bit when his family and others speak it.
3. Meeting new people
What I mean by meeting new people is meeting people from totally different cultural and social backgrounds that you learn more about people in general. When you take the differences in a positive way, you’ll become more understanding and tolerant about others. You’ll realize that you’ll only need to respect others’ being different from you if you want others to respect you.
4. Getting to know new food
This is my favorite 😉. If you’re adventurous in food, then you shouldn’t find it a problem to move to a new place that has a different style in gastronomy. And if you’re not, perhaps you want to train yourself to enjoy your future partner’s traditional cuisine. My top advice is, try to enjoy different food so that your new life will be more enjoyable and will have less hassle. Because I’ve met many people who can’t eat anything else apart from their own food. I find it boring, not practical and too much 😆.
5. Start afresh
Some people may find it daunting to start their lives in a new environment. But the thing is when you start afresh, you’ll have more room and flexibility in setting your new goals. It’s like drawing on a blank canvas. It’s easier to do than doing it on a canvas that already has a picture on it. Starting a new life in a new place can be very exciting.
6. Teaching you to be more resilient
We all know that life always offers good and bad, the ups and downs, happiness and sadness. And when you’re far from your family and old friends, you’ll train yourself to be more resilient when things get difficult. Especially at the beginning, as you’ll have a more limited number of people whom you can turn to for bits of help or even for a bit of comforting advice. You’ll learn about how to pick yourself up and sort things out when things become overwhelming for you.
7. Improve your patience and perseverance
Everything in life is a matter of perspective, isn’t it? Some people may think that patience and perseverance as the downside of marrying a foreigner. But I personally think that whoever I married, and wherever I live afterward, I’d always need patience and perseverance to live with my spouse. Because living with someone outside yourself will need compromise and adjustment anyway. So naturally, you’ll have to train yourself to be more patient so that you’ll be able to keep going. And when you’re thousands of miles away from your family and friends, you need to train yourself, even more, that being patient and persevering will become your strengths 😉.
8. Marrying a foreigner will train you to be more resourceful and creative
You’ll also be encouraged to be more creative and resourceful because you may not know many things about your new place at the beginning. So if you love challenges, starting a new life in a new place is very exhilarating. You’ll learn a lot of new things and you’ll learn how to depend on yourself more often than not.
The disadvantages of cross-cultural marriage that takes you away from your homeland
1. Judgmental comments and views from others
No matter what and how you think about others, you can’t really control or stop them from thinking differently from you. So, when you marry someone outside your culture who is considered as a foreigner among your home community, you’ll come across people who may have judgmental comments and views about you or your spouse.
2. A different interpretation of the same thing
Because of our cultural background, my husband and I sometimes understand the same thing differently. In the beginning, this difference used to create problems between us. As time goes by, we realize that we just see things from different perspectives sometimes. Things that my husband meant as a joke, I saw them the other way around. And vice versa.
3. Different family tradition
I suppose this difference can happen even among couples from the same ethnicity. But when you’re far from your own family, you find the differences very obvious and you can’t help comparing the two.
4. Missing links with your family and old friends
No matter how hard you try to keep in touch with your family and old friends back at your homeland, you’ll always have missing links with them. And you can feel them whenever you see them next time. But then again, nowadays people get so busy with their lives that they hardly have time for others anyway. So even though we live close by our family, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’d see and connect with them often. Equally, just because we’re far from them and hardly see them, it doesn’t mean we can’t keep our relationship with them nicely. The missing links between people will always be there. I always try to remind myself that everybody changes regardless of wherever they live and how often we see them. So I try to see the missing links as the process of self-growth for everyone 😄.
5. One side extended family
This one is the thing that often makes me sad. Because my family can never be there for me, my husband, and my children at important times or moments. Childbirth, birthdays, Eids, or even just getting together for summer barbecue are things that I can’t spend time with my own family. Although I try my best to fill in my kids with stories about my family, I can’t really expect them to have a connection with my family the way they do with my husband’s. So what I can do is whenever we do see my family, I try to make sure we all have a quality time with them. I think this works well because my little one still remembers every nice thing that my sister did for him.
6. Become a stranger among your family and an outsider among your extended family
The missing links with my family sometimes make me, my husband, and my children feel ‘far’ and become a stranger in my family because we hardly see each other. Although things normally get better in a few days’ time whenever we go to see them. Because we normally visit my family for at least 3 weeks. So it’s good to catch up. Even if you can’t catch everything😃. On the other hand, no matter how nice my extended family from my husband is to me, and no matter how close my relationship with them, sometimes I still feel like an outsider among them. I suppose this one is just a typical in-laws problem and not a problem due to marrying a foreigner?? 😄
Things you should prepare before marrying a foreigner and relocate far from home
- If you move to a different country, you should find out and learn about the legal and law-related issues for immigrants. Make sure you know your rights and duties as an immigrant and as a spouse to a local. Don’t leave everything to your partner. You need to understand as well.
- If you’re marrying someone from a totally different culture, then try to learn about his cultural things. Get to know and like his food. If his mother tongue is not English, try to learn to understand and speak his language a little bit. Find out and learn about his cultural tradition as well as their customs, etc.
- Discuss in a sensible way about financial matters for when the two of you get married. Make everything clear for you so that you’ll know what to expect. Don’t shy away from money issues. Because we all know that money plays a very big part of any relationship. So you’ll want to learn to deal with it sensibly right from the start.
- If possible, discuss the plan on how often you would see your family and how you and your partner will achieve the plan. Talk to your partner about the financial side of this. Be open, honest, and realistic about everything.
- Discuss with your future spouse if and how the two of you will have a family, i.e. having kids, parenting style, etc. Talk about what you can expect when you have a baby. Whether you’ll have any of your family members coming to help you or not. Because having a baby far from home where you have no one to help is a very lonely journey. This caused me a very long baby-blues that I now think it might have been a postpartum depression.
- Find out and learn as much as you can about the place/ region you’ll move to after the marriage. Things like demographics matter, cultures, social politics, economics, etc. Because this can help you to fit in better as you’ll understand your prospective new environment and its people better.
- Do some research about job or business opportunities if this will be something you want to do eventually. It’ll give you a headstart and more excitement about your new life plan.
- Do yourself a lot of self-talk and self-affirmation. Write a list of everything you want to achieve through the marriage you’re doing and everything you may lose because of the marriage. Be true to yourself. And then write a ‘working plan’ of how you think you will handle the possible problems or cope with a big change.
- Pray and meditate. Listen to your inner-self more often than you listen to the outside noise. So, whatever decision you come up to, hopefully, it’ll be the best for you and you’ll be ready to accept everything that happens with a positive attitude.
If you read up to here, I take it that you’re in the middle of thinking about marrying a foreigner or relocating far away from family and friends. I sincerely wish you all the best for any decision you make. Please feel free to share this post with those who can take some benefits from it.