Discussing topical issues for women in cross-cultural and inter-continental relationships


ethics puzzle piece

Today at work we had a PD (professional development) session all about work-life balance.  My superior wanted us to choose one of her ‘life cards’.  They are cards with words on one side and a related sentence on the back.  My colleagues chose words like patience, honesty, integrity, adventure, and freedom.

I chose Ethics.

When I had to explain my choice I relayed that for me ethics are important because I find even though mine may be a very different set and I may be quiet about it, because it doesn’t quite fit with others’, I still have to live according to my ethics.  Of course, I said it in a general sense and used pronouns other than ‘I’.  The sentence on the back of my card read something like ‘we must live according to our ethics even if it is in silence, or quietly’.  If I knew my colleagues better (I am new this year) or if they were friends I may have explained further, probably not actually.  But I can write it here.

Being married to someone from a very different culture isn’t easy.  You are constantly juggling a different set of expectations and beliefs about how to live life.  For example myhusband doesn’t understand the concept of holidays.  Africans don’t take holidays.  If you do you don’t get money and you therefore don’t eat.  Well, for his socioeconomic group at least.  Sometimes I give up on fighting our differences and I often look back and wonder whether I gave up too early in our relationship on certain things, especially those that are very important to me, such as… holidays, or looking at me when I am talking and actively listening, or engaging with our daughter through play, or cooking dinner once a week. I feel like I gave up, or give up, when I am feeling insecure, which can sometimes be very often.

Other times, when I am more at peace I know that all I am doing is being patient.  Change takes time and what I am purposefully and carefully doing is building bridges between our expectations and the two very different ways we were raised and have lived most of our adult lives before we came together.  My ethics teach me to be calm and patient because this is the way to build stronger, long-lasting relationships.  Family should be forever and family ties are more important than anything in this world.  I have learnt this from being a part of his family.  When I remember this I look back at how far we have come and I feel strong.

Really, we have done well. It’s terribly difficult but we are okay.


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