Marriage Moats- Two Sides

Published: Thu, 07/05/12

Marriage Moats Caring for Marriage

We invited two college students from Nepal to live on our third floor this summer while the dorms are closed.  They are perfectly polite, and spend most of their free time upstairs, unless they are cooking. We overlap in the kitchen when they are creating a traditional dish with more spices than ingredients, and I am chopping up veggies to crunch on a hot day. Sometimes they pay rent in cash and other times they write a check. I have been tempted not to deposit it, but rather to savor the elaborate script of his signature rich with letters I cannot even name. I heard that Picasso figured out that if he paid his bills with a check people would not redeem them, saving him the bother of coughing up lunch money. They would prefer to have his autograph. Cost effective choice.

But the other day I saw a young man I did not recognize going into the basement. Now I admit that I can only badly pronounce the names of our boarders, and dare not venture to spell them but I could pick them out of a crowd. A small crowd. Yet here was a third man of unidentified ethnicity brazenly using my washing machine. 

I asked John to investigate. 

They had heard that a student from Korea was also scrambling for safe harbor, and graciously offered to share their space. From their vantage point, it was the obvious and well mannered response. The inconvenience largely fell on them, and being from a nation where a twenty four by twelve foot room could typically house a tri generational family, they welcomed him.

But I am native to a culture where you do not move into someone else's house without asking. 

John and I are conveniently from the same country, and even the same church. Many things that are givens for me are for him as well. When I peruse my favorite book about multicultural living I notice that in some homes dinner is eaten without chairs, and goats sleep inside all winter. John and I have never debated those possibilities. Neither do couples in Japan or the Ukraine, but they make different choices. 

Yet there are lifestyle options that do rear their bobbing heads in marriage. Do you spend money spontaneously, or within a budget? Are vacations for smashing into a beach house with extended family or retreating to the mountains? Is the ideal family size one of each flavor or enough hands to reach around the table with three extensions?
What I learned from the Korean man who showed up unannounced is that even if I am blind to someone else's perspective, craning my neck to see around the corner can enhance the view.  


Photo by Brita Conroy
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