Why is it important to learn about your Ukrainian wife’s culture?
As we all know, marriage is one of the most rewarding things that can happen in a person’s life. It is also the hardest. Marrying someone from another country brings a whole new level of compromise to the table.
Western men who wed Ukrainian / Russian women expect their wives to integrate into his culture and lifestyle and often overlook her background. They may think that more important issues need to be dealt with in a marriage, than learning about her past. This mindset can be the death of an otherwise great relationship. A woman’s culture – her country, her upbringing, her values – these are all a part of who she is. Her culture impacts her daily life as well as every aspect of her relationship. If you want a strong one, it is important to learn about her.
The biggest issue in relationships is communication. If you cannot discuss your problems you will never solve them. Your Ukrainian wife will learn your language, and you should learn some of hers. Learning phrases that she uses and discussing which words in your language are offensive in hers will help you avoid fights. If you do happen to disagree, being able to communicate without confusing your languages will help you negotiate instead of argue. Keep an open mind while you discuss things since one of you may misinterpret the connotation of a comment.
Being able to communicate and compromise will come in handy when the issue of contrasting customs comes up. She may have different ways of doing things than you do. Your wife may be willing to do it your way, but you should try to learn her way too. We are all taught the way things are supposed to be by our parents, who all have different ways that the world is “supposed to be.” Your Ukrainian wife’s customs may conflict with yours. See if you can compromise before you ask her to sacrifice more of herself than she needs to. She will appreciate your consideration and the bond between you will be stronger.
Some of her customs may come from religion. Holidays are important to a person and chances are hers are a bit different from yours. Most people in Russia and Ukraine follow the Russian Orthodox Church and those that are not religious still respect the church as part of their country’s heritage.
The Russian Orthodox Church holds religious holidays like New Year and Christmas thirteen days after the Catholic’s hold theirs. Russia and Ukraine also have public holidays that your wife will not want to miss out on. Your wife will probably want to celebrate the holidays you celebrate, but her family will be celebrating on days you are not and it would mean a lot to her if you recognized those days too.
Marriage is not about her becoming a part of your family but the two of you starting a new family, together. You should both be able to bring your traditions to the table. For example, I and my Ukrainian wife celebrate together Catholic Christmas and Orthodox Christmas. Moreover, we celebrate Valentine’s Day as well as March 8 (International Women’s Day).
Your new family may one day include children, if it does not already. The way your Ukrainian wife was raised will affect how she raises your children just as much as your upbringing will. You may disagree on behavioral expectations and discipline, or on how involved extended family should be in regards to how the children should be raised. They are her children too and should learn about where her mother and maternal family come from. You and your wife should both be able to share in this experience. She will have pride in her country and you should have pride in her.
Your Ukrainian wife will integrate into your country. She will learn your language, your customs, your habits, and your lifestyle. She will call your country home; but she will not forget hers. She will want to talk about the places she misses, the current events affecting her homeland, and the history of the country she loves.
Your Ukrainian wife should be able to talk about these things with the man she married. She will be willing to do all she can to make your life happy. Why not go the extra mile to make her feel at home? Ukraine’s culture covers every aspect of your wife’s life. Knowing Ukraine is knowing your wife. That mutual support will create a lasting bond that is well worth the effort.
Questions? Feel free to ask Sid 🙂 (s. here: Contact with Subject “Ask Sid”)