June 29, 2009

The Odd Couple

I know you're expecting them: 

Instead I'll give you a picture of me and Mr. Swan.

(Here we are moments before getting engaged)

You see we're an odd couple. I couldn't be marrying a man that is so different from me in so many ways possible. Mr. Swan and I come from such drastically different backgrounds and life experiences that early in our relationship I often wondered if it would really work in the long term. I will admit something to you. In addition to being oblivious that I was even on a date during our first date, I also had pretty much ruled him out as a dating partner without truly getting to know him.

Hear me out, folks. I had been in a few relationships  with men that were very different from me (race, nationality, spiritual beliefs, etc. ), and they had not worked out. Some because of differences in outlook and some for other reasons. I know in 2009 we don't want to talk about these kinds of things, but our cultural and other life experiences do shape us. 

In case you're wondering, here are the ways Mr. Swan and I are different:

Miss Swan
1. Raised by single mom

2. Grew up in large racially and culturally 
diverse city

3. Strong faith orientation

4.  Working class immigrant family

Mr. Swan
1. Parents have been married for 37 years

2. Grew up in small racially and culturally 
homogeneous town

3. Not much into issues of religion and faith

4. Upper middle class family

Plus we are also an interracial couple, if you haven't noticed. :)

I'm not gonna front, e'erbody. When I first started dating Mr. Swan, I thought, "What the heck am I doing? How is this going to work?" There was times when I wasn't sure how he would ever fully understand me as a person and really provide some of the emotional support that I needed. It's bad enough having to deal with the dynamics of being in a relationship with all of our quirks and nuances as people, but then we had to deal with race, cultural, spiritual, class and sometimes political differences. 

I also wondered what this meant for me as someone who very much identifies with her racial and cultural background. Would being with Mr. Swan mean that my culture was less important to me than I thought? The outside world even in the 2000's is sometimes not the most helpful either as I engaged in my own internal struggles. We do get stared at even in my lovely New York City. I probably would stare a little at us too if I did not know us. Here I am with my long locs in some sort of funky outfit walking next to a very preppy looking blonde guy.

After being together for awhile I was determined to deal with our differences head on in part because I thoroughly grew to love Mr. Swan and felt in my heart that there was no reason we could NOT be together. We talked and talked and talked and talked some more about our differences. We both know that the only way to be with each other is to acknowledge where we come from and how we've grown and not act like that our background and experiences don't shape how we intereact with each other and our relationship. We will still have challenges?Ofcourse we will, but I think that we have come to an understanding about who we are and that our differences can be positive for our relationship and its future. We each will bring something to the table that will only help us grow together. 

I've also learned through our time together that we have very similar personalities. We're both sort of slightly high strung (depending on the issue), high energy types. :) 

Do you and your fiance come from different backgrounds, have different life experiences or different belief systems? How do you navigate those differences in your relationship? 

No comments: