Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Perks and Perils of a Cross-Cultural Marriage

This morning I woke up bleary-eyed, to find a tall, dark and handsome stranger asleep on my lounge...

It's not what you're thinking.

You come to expect these sorts of things, when you are married to a Tongan.

I managed to rouse my husband awake, in between snores, to ask who the guest was.

He mumbled something like: "Oh... that's Kini Junior. He's coming to play football with me, today."


I barely raise an eyebrow about the nocturnal happenings in my house, anymore.

Being married to someone from a completely different culture has certainly given me a whole other view of the world.

There are a few perks that come with the job: being sent home with huge platters of leftover food after every social occasion, knowing someone who'll do the job for free, every time you need something fixed/built/moved/made, and getting treated to heavenly singing all the time.

If you have never heard a Tongan choir sing, then add it to your bucket list.

I happened to be in Tonga in 2006, when King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV passed away and I got to attend the funeral, along with around 10,000 other people. Listening to 10,000 Tongans singing is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and still gives me goosebumps.

But the joining of two cultures in holy matrimony, is not without it's perils.

My husband and I were together a whole five years, before he thought to tell me that, when at a social occasion in which people are sitting down eating, you should never stand and eat, because it means you think you are better than them.

Well, thanks for telling me now...after five years of social occasions, in which I stood around eating and showing my superiority over everyone else.

I've had to take a few lessons in generosity, and sharing. Most of us Westerners don't know the meaning of generosity. We only think we do...

We are happy to give, so long as it's not too inconvenient...

The Tongans really know how to do generous. They will share whatever food, money, talents and time they have, which is all wonderful...

Except to the person in charge of paying the bills. (Yep, you guessed it...)

The man has managed to blow my budget out the window, every week for the last seven years.

But in spite of that. I love him to bits.

And wouldn't have him any other way.

All together now: Awwwww....

PS. The handsome stranger turned out to be a shy, polite young man who is visiting Australia for three months, after finishing a tour of duty in Iraq.

He isn't the first, and surely wont be the last. I am certain that our lives are richer for the many friends who started off, as strangers on the lounge.

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