Again, only if you have been reading my blog for awhile will you grasp the weight of this post. But even without knowing all, you can enjoy it.
My husband and I, as I said, are from different cultures. When we married, there were not many of our type of mixed marriage. It was a difficult engagement for both of us as all our friends warned us about each other. My friends and extended family said some pretty hurtful things about my husband and what he might do. My husband's extended family told him it would be better to marry a dog than a foreigner. Thankfully, both of our immediate families were very supportive - although they both struggled to cope with the cultural issues that we encountered.
In that setting, one where each of us had to continually defend the choice to marry the other to outsiders, we began to encounter typical marriage problems. They were perhaps heightened by culture, but not entirely caused by culture. Yet asking for help was difficult. Who would we ask - all these people who heatedly told us not to marry each other? Then they would say, "see, we told you so!" And they did. Others we asked only would say, "well, its cultural problems". So we struggled on much longer alone than we should have.
We hit some pretty rough lows and our family went through a lot because of it. We are grateful for one couple who decided not to tell us "we told you so" or "it is just culture problems and that is what you get for that type of marriage" and who did not get tired of the simple "being there" that it took to get us healthy again.
We are doing well now. We still have cultural issues, and recently with some family things going on, they have been interesting, but we know now how to manage as a couple. Peace, or as much of it as you can have in a house with four teens and preteens, reigns in our house, and we thoroughly enjoy each other.
In the last few years, there have been a few other marriages like ours. It's fun to see them start out. It's fun to have someone who thinks our life is completely normal. Most of these couples are involved in ministry, too, so we have more in common.
Last year, we began talking and praying about an idea. We wanted to gather these couples together for a retreat - a chance to be together, to develop relationships, to provide a place where we are normal, a safe place to talk, to encourage each other. To be able to say, "I am here for you". This year, we are going to do that. We are meeting with about six other couples. Some are doing well, I think; others I know are struggling. I don't think of myself as an expert, but I want to be able to tell them, "hey, we're here, and we get your life. We're safe to talk to."
If you knew me (or prayed for me!) years ago, this is the last thing you might of dreamed of us doing... but we are! It is grace. That is all it can be.