Friday, June 01, 2007

Cross cultural differences?

Last weekend, the writer of the regular Sunday column, 'Hubby Tubby' in The New Paper was writing about cross cultural marriages. Like me, she had married an 'ang mo'- an Englishman. She was asked if there was any cultural differences (ie, difficulties) in her marriages. It got me thinking....did I ever have any cultural differences with my hubby?

I thought long and hard about it and like her, I honestly can't think of any. What we do have are individual differences. Of course, I can't discount the fact that these individual differences could be due to cultural differences. Afterall, we are who we are because of the way we were brought up. But they are no different from a normal couple from the same race/ culture.

So he prefers proper English tea to the regular 'tei' in the coffeeshop. And I'm not too keen on soup and crackers for lunch. He can't really bring himself to call my father 'dad'. I find it impossible (not to say totally rude) to call his dad by his name. They are not major issues.

What keeps a relationship going, in any relationship, whether is is an inter-racial one or not, is an open mind and an open heart. Plus the ability to know when to shut up and just listen. ^^

However, there is one thing that I've picked up from hubby (as part of the cultural difference), it's saying these four phrases often in our everyday life:

Thank you
I love you

Just because he's my husband and we've each other for 10 years does not mean I have to be rude to him.

If I can say 'please' to the hawker when I'm ordering that plate of char kway teow, then all the more I should say 'please' when I ask him to do something for me.

If I can say 'sorry' to a stranger for blocking his way, then all the more I should say 'sorry' when I make him wait for me.

If I can say 'thank you' to my friends, then all the more I should say 'thank you' to the person who's done so much for me.

And as for the 3 words, 'I Love You'. Well...I don't only love him on birthdays, Christmas and Valentine's Day, so why should I limit myself to saying those words only on those occassions?

In this aspect, I do believe that the Westerners are on the whole, better in this. Asians will generally feel that there is no need to say them out loud. We think it's enough to let our actions show if we're grateful or sorry.

Luh Luh wrote about 'expressing gratitude' recently on her blog. The Chinese is normally incapable at expressing gratitude. Actually, I think it's not just the Chinese who are bad at expressing themselves, but Asians in general.

As the Chinese saying goes- 礼多人不怪。(Nobody will mind if you are more polite than usual). But often, we think this phrase only apply to the friends, strangers but not family.

Perhaps if we are a little less reserved.
Perhaps if we start with family first.


Luh2 said...

I cannot agree with you more! Always feel that you should also have a column in print. 加油!

PS. In KL, Sunway Lagoon (Pyramid Hotel) with the family at the moment. Been catching on lots of movies!

yeelee said...

這一篇寫的真的很不錯. i like! Hope to see more of such posts! ^_^

Anonymous said...


I think you are the 1st person among my friends that has married someone from another culture.

And it's always interesting to see how peple from 2 different cultures can be together and yet avoid conflicts.

Thanks for sharing!!

Any cultural differences on the ways you drive the car?? =P

the silent visitor


tiffany said...

Hi Luh Luh...are you still in Malaysia? Have fun!

Aiyoh..cannot lah..cannot write like you....cannot have a column in print. ^^

tiffany said...

YL- you trying to stress me? Me blogging for fun leh...

For serious blogging, I'll refer everyone to you and Luh Luh. hehe!

tiffany said...

JC ah...

A inter-racial marriage is no different from any other marriages. You have to learn to compromise and accomodate each other.

Hmm... cross cultural differences in driving...don't know leh..I tell you when I pass my driving ok?