Today’s post was inspired in part by Whitney’s testimony and the culture shock she experienced after moving to North Africa.
In the translation industry by trade and a communicator by passion, I find the concept of culture shock all too familiar. Anyone suddenly submerged in an unfamiliar culture is prone to feelings of disorientation, confusion, and uneasiness.
|Starbucks in the Louvre, Paris|
Even as travels or new homes can provoke feelings of culture shock, marriage can do the same. We’ve had weeks, months, or years to get to know each other, but the assimilation of two lives into one (Genesis 2:24) initiates a whole new leg of this adventure.
Here are four tips I’ve found helpful along our marriage adventures:
1. Don’t buy the lie.
The honeymoon phase only exists if you let it. Some will say it lasts six months, others a few years. Ignore the naysayers. Jared and I are five-and-a-half years in and people still tell us we’re in the honeymoon phase. It’s a myth. Your marriage can be happy and enjoyable as long as you make it so. Sure, some periods are harder than others and you’ll have issues to work through, but expect good from your marriage rather than waiting for it to fall apart.
2. Communicate expectations.
Nothing causes marital culture shock quite like silent expectations, and they can spring up even in little life occurrences. Jared’s mom hung photos in their home. My dad handled that responsibility. When we first got married I would get frustrated if Jared didn’t help with interior decorating projects, and he didn’t realize that I wanted him to. We able to commingle our expectations only after we started talking about them.
3. Remember, you’re creating a new culture.
You’re setting a new life and culture for yourselves as a married couple. Neither one of you should feel the need to assimilate to the other’s way of life and completely disregard your own. Instead, you can each intentionally choose aspects from your past that you’d like included in the new life you share. Tag-team responsibilities in a way that makes sense for your relationship. Figure out your family priorities and align your lifestyles around those precepts rather than defaulting to what worked when you were single.
4. Find common ground.
Do the things you enjoyed when you were falling in love. Spend time dating each other. Remember what you have in common and celebrate the new details you’re learning about your spouse. When you find yourselves in unfamiliar territory, find your relationship Starbucks—the place or activity that feels normal and familiar—and relish in those moments together.
Use these helpful tips to navigate the adventures of married life and you’ll beat the culture shock blues in no time!
I’d love to hear from you! What or where is your relationship Starbucks?