Making Cultural Adjustments
In Dennis Rainey’s book Staying Close he lists various small things that could cause conflicts within the marriage. The list included things like sleeping in complete darkness or with a light turned on, leaving windows open or closed, setting the thermostat in the house, the way we eat, how we blow our nose, the style of music we play and the volume we put it, where we leave our dirty laundry, how we hang the toilet paper roll, the way we squeeze the tube of toothpaste, how we make the bed and lock the doors at night.
In marriage, although we are two, we are two personalities, coming from two different cultures. Our backgrounds have made us what we are and whether we are conscious of it or not, we bring these to our marriage. Our way of thinking, our disposition, our idiosyncrasies; all follow us into marriage. Adding to this are our male and female differences that cause us to think and feel differently. When we realize these differences we shouldn’t let it upset or discourage us, it should challenge us to start understanding each other, adjusting ourselves to each other and preferring one another. I Peter 3:7 says, “Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way.”
By trying to understand our spouses culture it can enlarge and enrich our lives. Imagine if we were all the same, we would only become more stereotyped. Two introverts make recluses. Two extroverts make hyper pleasure seekers. Having differences allows us to “give and take.” The extrovert who likes to be active can learn to spend some time in quietness. The introvert can learn to go out and meet people. Intentionally doing this causes us to move toward each other.
Jesus said in Matthew 16:4, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” One of the hardest pains in life is crucifixion of self. It is very hard to die to self. How tough to say, “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me . . .” (Galatians 2:20) This displacement of self is hard, but critical for marriage to succeed.
The other key to understanding other people’s culture is to have a humble opinion about your own. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” Your way is not always the best way.
No life or marriage can stand when it is built upon self and cannot take the necessary steps to exalt the other and move towards each other despite cultural differences.