Brain-Storming 3

Situation: Mary is going to marry her boyfriend of three years. But there are some things that bother her. Her boyfriend is from a different culture and had a different upbringing. They are both open-minded people but they are different in food choices and family interaction. Her boyfriend tends to get a bit too jealous at times, which makes her worry. But then she decides that every man does it and he will tone down after they marry. They also have some personality differences: Mary is hard-working while her boyfriend is not so much. Mary is a good reader while her boyfriend prefers physical activities. Mary thinks that these differences are not a problem for their marriage because they will find a middle way.

Questions: The big question is: Should Mary marry him? Will cultural and personal differences prevent them from having a smooth married life? Or are the differences reconcilable? Should she take his jealousy as a serious issue or a passing fad?


80 thoughts on “Brain-Storming 3

  1. Why put so much pressure on this institution of marriage?
    Personally the only people who should marry are the ones who would be together monogamously even if they don’t get married
    Marriage will definitely end this couple

    1. So, you think that marriage should be the very last step and no further resolutions should be left to it (like, ‘he/she will change’ sort of idea). If people have lingering issues like this, they tend to get divorced, right?

      1. Marriage is going to crowd them and the “irritations” that they can recover from with a little distance while dating, will stop existing after they start living together
        This couple won’t last because they are not solution oriented – no couples therapy, no joint activity etc.
        If they don’t grow together when they have space, they will grow apart when they have to be together
        Sorry 🤷🏽‍♀️

      2. That is sad to hear:( But if something does not work, we have to take it as such and move on. Sometimes, what we feel doesn’t map onto what we should do.

  2. Mary should not marry him. I cannot explain all of my thoughts at this particular moment, I’m sick, but, in short, there’s an old saying, “As they approached the altar, she reminded herself repeatedly, ‘I’ll alter him’.” Sorry for not explaining further, I must go back to bed.

      1. I suppose the elaboration of the old saying is – accept someone as he/she is before marriage rather than expecting to change after.

        In short, “accept, not expect” is the key to happiness.

  3. I think there are a fair number of warning signs. “But then she decides that every man does it and he will tone down after they marry.” This is a particularly bad one; when you are justifying something that you already find unacceptable. Love is a tricky thing. We like to think it fixes everything. It doesn’t. I’m curious over why she is getting married. Is it because he asked? Did she want to say yes or was she uncomfortable saying no; the results are the same but the underlying reason is important. People like to say “opposites attract” but that’s not really true. People can have surface differences but the core similarities are very important too. I wonder if they have enough in common.

    1. Let’s say that she loves him and that is why she said yes. Then, we might want to differentiate between love and attraction. But in any case, what you are saying is that she should make a logical analysis of their similarities and differences and see whether their similarities are strong enough to hold them together against differences.

      1. I like to believe love is enough but I’ve found that often it isn’t. I think this is why honest friends and occasionally counsellors are important. They help us see things more clearly at times. In this case, though, in addition to the differences merely existing, some of them are concerning.

  4. Short answers: No. No. Yes. And it depends on the extent of the jealousy, how he acts on it, what triggers it etc.
    Long answer: Uh, if she wants to marry him? Differences are what make relationships work because you compliment each other. So even though they might seem incompatible to the outsider, you dont know what its like to be in the relationship. By all personality and compatibility tests, my husband and i are best suited as business partners, if that. I think there was a synastry chart that gave us a score of -30 and the average score was 10. LOL
    There are also those who should totally get along like a house on fire, but they just rub eachother the wrong way and end up setting the house on fire instead of their hearts.
    Its not up to us to tell people what to do because we are all informed by our own personal experiences. If they want to get married then that is their prerogative, so long as they do so openly and intentionally, not because “eh, thats how these things go i guess.” Because that sucks and no one should get married because “its what you’re supposed to do”. All relationships require work if they are to be maintained, and if the love is there, then theyll work it out. Just remember people do not usually change, so dont expect anything to change. Not saying they can’t change, just dont expect it.

    1. It is very interesting to see that the scores did not match up to reality in your case. I agree that there are different factors other than what we can observe from the outside. But there are many cases where marriages fail because of differences. Your case is different. Can you see how your case is different? What makes it work despite the surface incompatibility?

  5. No two people are differences in nature and temperament is very natural. Cultural differences are fine as it gives us opportunities to learn different culture and tradition than ours.But noone should expect u to leave your culture and just follow theirs.
    Jealousy is good sometimes as it keeps one on their toes to keep the romance alive but if gone overboard can be dangerous Mary should think with her brains and not her heart to judge about this.And yes marriage doesnt tone done anyone.on the contrary things may get worse sometimes knowing now the person is now already in the marriage.

    1. That means there is something that can help you to get around these differences. There is going to be a time for getting used to it, but it can be done. But it is not love itself that really makes this work. It is more of a logical analysis of the situation. Is that what you had in mind?

  6. The biggest red flag was her thinking anything would change. Its likely not, unless he’s already actively trying to.
    If she’s happy, she’s happy.
    Jealousy is normal, it depends how he reacts, what emotional work she has to do to change it, and if she’s okay with it.
    It’s on her and what she wants. But no one just changes

    1. So, Mary’s analysis should be based on the situation now and not on possible future situations. Marriage or having a child will not rescue an incompatibility if it is real incompatibility.

      1. Yes, I mean we’re all flawed and we can change and be better. But she needs to ask for that change and he needs to be putting real effort into changing that. And it might come to pass that he won’t be so jealous anymore for example, but maybe that also requires her to make some changes, is she okay with those?
        I’ve never seen marriage or a child really change a person

  7. Hi, loving these brainstorming questions!

    I think yes, if they want to get married they should -but they’re going to have to do a whole lot of work and communicating to keep it going.

    What matters to me in a marriage is if core values are aligned. My husband and I both want kids, both wanted to get married, and both have the same level of work ethic. We also are both committed to working hard on our relationship. If any of those things weren’t aligned, we wouldn’t be together.

    I’m prone to jealousy (which I don’t act on) because of traumas that have happened to me in the past and he’s from a different culture and country. These two things should (and do) cause friction but in the end because of our aligned values, working through the issues brings us closer together and strengthens our marriage.

    So I think it’s totally possible for them to get married, with the expectation that they’re going to both work on changing, growing, and aligning. If they can’t do that, it’s best to wait or not get married at all.

    1. Nice explanation! So, there are some things that need to be shared for sure: kids, work ethic etc. If we share these big values, the smaller ones can be worked out. Can it be that small differences might end up causing big problems at the end? Like, they pile up.

      1. Oh for sure, if you let those small differences build up, they can destroy any relationship.
        The trick is not letting them build up, which is easier to do if both partners are open, understanding, and willing to change.

  8. Well, my version of this, my first marriage to someone who was from another culture, had different values, preferred to work with his hands, and so on, was not successful. My present marriage to someone with similar values, is. I think Key Lamp’s example above is rare. Perhaps it is time to part. As my dad likes to say, men are like buses, there is always another one coming along… ; ) Rebecca

    1. What different values led to incompatibility? Is it different perception of what marriage is, for example? Does it have to do with family interaction values?
      Also, we need to get on the right bus, otherwise, we will end up in the wrong place. Don’t you think?

      1. Our moral values were different; like what we believed was the right thing to do with other people’s money and possessions. He “appropriated” at will. There are several correct buses, not just one perfect one, IMHO. Best wishes, R

      2. I agree that there may not be just one correct bus. After all, you can reach the same destination via different routes. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Well, that may be a part of your definition of marriage but I don’t think that is everyone’s definition. There has got to be complete and total communication. Marriage means different things to different people. We all (hopefully) grow and change in our lives but to make an assumption about how or when or even if someone will when entering into a lifelong contract where every single decision ripples into a each other, I think that is a recipe for failure. I’ve been married over 20 years. We have both changed tremendously and grown together, thankfully. But marriage is work and to lead into it with hesitation and presumptions is not a great start. If you cannot love someone unconditionally or if their flaws are dealbreakers the writing is already on the wall.

      2. Ok, this is a nice point. It sounds like growing will happen, but it should happen in harmony. Then, it will be a true life together. Otherwise, it will be a source of stress.

  9. On another note in reading some of the comments I do not feel that jealousy is normal or beneficial. It is a normal human emotion- we all experience it but to me jealously means something larger is swimming just beneath the surface. Major insecurity, trauma etc which can also impact a person’s ability to successfully cohabitate and create a life together.

  10. Your “Brainstorming” posts are really turning out to be successful! This was a great idea.

    This scenario strikes close to home. I’m married to a Muslim woman who often sees things very differently than I do. She is somewhat religious and I’m not. Arabic is her first language and English is mine. She is African and I’m North American.

    We have found a way to make light of our differences and to laugh about them. Some individuals try to cling so tightly to their beliefs and cultural norms that they find it difficult to laugh at themselves. Neither one of us take ourselves terribly seriously. Because of this, compromise comes fairly easy. Don’t get me wrong, there are times of conflict, but two people who spend years and years living together are bound to have difficult moments.

    I no longer think of myself as an American. My wife likes to let others know that she is Egyptian. For me, I belong to no country and no culture. I think at least one person in such a marriage should be sort of a human version of a chameleon. That’s me.

    Before getting married, this couple should be completely transparent about all their differences. If they both believe in commitment and they enjoy being with one another, they should go forward with marriage

    Life is about taking risks. Nothing in life is guaranteed. We often have to take a leap of faith. We often have to throw caution to the wind…

    1. This is a nice example! What I gathered from some responses that if some big points such as commitment to marriage and some main considerations such as not taking everything that seriously (and so not imposing values on others), then marriage could work. If these big points are not shared, then the smaller things become problems.
      Also, I am glad that these posts are initiating good discussions. I am enjoying them all😊

  11. Simple answer, you won’t be bothered if he is the right one for you.

    If it is God’s plan, everything will just fall into the right places. That’s all. 😉

      1. Well, for me, I could say that. But honestly, when things aren’t working, I just simply dont dwell on that. I was taught that if he is the right one, he will adjust. He will improve. And most of all, he will change for the better. 😉

  12. My response is purely based on what I have seen happen to a very close friend. She married someone from a different culture and while at first, they were over eager to partake in each other’s cultural and religious commitments – over time, it did wear them down. It was just one piece of why they drifted apart and eventually separated. Also, regarding jealousy – if Mary were my sister – I would not let her marry this person. The foundation needs to be solid on top of which the tower can be built. Last question regarding personalities being polar opposites – I would say it is a lot of fun to be with someone who brings a whole lot of other skills to the relationship. That piece does get my vote.

    1. I like the way you divided the parts of the situation! Too much of cultural difference could be a lot of work and it might lead to difficulties in relationships. And I think I agree on the jealousy point.

      1. Very true, but love can be incredibly powerful.

        One of my acquaintance married one from a different culture, where both faced objections from both sides’ family. Consequently, the couple left job, home, families behind and went to a different country altogether.

        Cinematic !

  13. I think no one should get married unless they are certain to an extent. Going into marriage with a feeling that “He will tone down once we get married” is an absolute NO. I mean I can understand the other differences e.g cultural as I like to say there is beauty in differences, at the end of the day, you will find a common ground. But once you are not certain about the behavioral characteristics of a person and you feel the person will change once you are together, that’s a definite recipe for disaster!

    1. So personal differences are more important to reconcile than cultural differences. I think we might hope that someone will change because of the feeling of love or attraction. But at the end of the day, marriage is more than love.

  14. Thanks for sharing!.. everyone has differences and the key is to work things out between themselves, willing to compromise… if not, it may be a rocky marriage.. 🙂

    “A home that is built with patience, understanding and love will withstand the strongest winds of difficulties and conflict , a home built with a closed mind, insincerity and haste will collapse in a mere breeze of discontent.” (Larry “Dutch” Woller )

    1. The main characteristic to share is having the willingness to be open-minded for you then, right? I agree to that, although too much of a difference might also cause exhaustion.

  15. (1) Personal differences are reconcilable through strong love and even little compromise.
    (2) Cultural differences are never reconcilable simply because it involves more uncontrollable people than merely the couple.
    (3) Jealousy, like greed, is a psychological extravagance of ownership that is usually not a passing fad.
    Question of marriage –
    Before their wedding, they should have a clearcut one-to-one discussion about their differences and concerns, to help taking a decision.

    If they cannot change, then let them practice the changes before marriage, and let the other verify after six months or one year etc. If their love or cause is strong, howsoever be the difficulty, then they would surely not breakup even after the trial of changes.

    1. I like this idea! I think giving each other time to make necessary changes until they reach a decision about marriage is a good practice of what can happen if marriage actually happens!

  16. Being jealous in that kind of relationship is normal. We all do feel jealousy at one point or another especially when someone we don’t trust is in the picture. But being over possessive is not good. If he is over possessive, it’s a bad sign.

    2. No two individuals are alike. We all have our individual differences due to upbringing, background, as you have stated. We are likely going to stay unmarried if we should wait for a perfect match.

    So my point is she shouldn’t reject him based on individual differences. But she should check herself and watch him closely and find out the following: are they able to condone, endure, tolerate each other’s annoying attitudes or behaviours?, are they in friendship, happy with each other despite their individual differences. Do they disagree to agree or do they always disagree? Does each one of them have respect/love for both families?

    She should listen to her heart, is she convinced about him? Or is there a part of her that is saying, ‘dont’.

    Marriage is a personal choice. No one tells the other to go ahead or stay back , to be honest. So, its her choice to make.

    The situation has not mentioned anything good about Mary’s boyfriend. Does it mean he doesn’t have a good side of him? I mean, the way he treats her and everyone else related to her? I’m curious. I didn’t get to hear any bad side of Mary. Is she very nice?

    1. Thank you for the great comment! Starting from the bottom, those points are up to imagination, I guess. But no one is entirely good or entirely bad. So, we can assume that he must have good sides, and she also must.
      I think your point on enduring and tolerating each other’s differences is a fundamental point that any couple must share. So, I agree with you on that. I also think that the heart tells a lot, so she should listen to it.

      1. Definitely Betul. Thanks for your reply. I wish her the best decision in the matter. I understand her situation quite well. However, she should listen to her heart- that tiny little voice.

  17. jealousy is like for me it’s a way of care. but, obviously everything is good if it is in limits.
    no less, no more. other than, that opposite always attract. if you’ve good understanding then you both have the opportunities to explore new things by living with each other.

    1. I believe that all emotions are neutral and it depends on how we use them. Jealousy is not bad necessarily and it is needed. But too much of it is bad. And yes, differences are an opportunity to learn!

  18. The first question is: does Mary love him? And if yes, why instead of worrying about these issues/differences she does not try to find out if they will be relevant for their marriage’s success or not? This means that if you somehow complain he does not read enough, why don’t you try to do a sport together or propose him to read a book together? Regarding jealousy, this is simply a personality feature, and it just needs to be distinguished from toxic behaviours. I am jealous of my partner, yet he’s still free to see friends, meet people, do solo-experiences and just be himself.

    1. Mary loves him, yes. What you are saying is that she should not be taken aback by differences on the surface but she should try to see if they are actually problematic. And the reason for that I assume is that any two people are different so there is no escape from differences, am I right?

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