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How to Build a Successful Intercultural Marriage

Written by Stephanie Siam

wedding-silhouetteMarriage is a commitment that requires unending devotion, conscientious effort, and a lot of patient practice. Selecting a suitable husband is quite possibly the most important decision a woman will make. So much rests on who she chooses to be her life partner:

  • Will he be kind and patient?
  • Will he support me through good times and bad?
  • Will he be responsible and mature when necessary?
  • Will he be a good parent?

Factor in religion, culture, and nationality, and a woman can just about go insane trying to satisfy her need to fulfill what many consider to be an obligatory rite of passage in Islam.

It’s no secret that many Western, female converts look eastward when searching for a husband. Perhaps their attraction to the dark, brooding males of the Orient is what initially drew them towards the study wedding-hennaof Islam to begin with – no, I’m not saying women convert to Islam for their men, reread the sentence.

While there are plenty of Western, female converts who find successful marriages with Western male converts (see: Corbin, islamwichs founder and person extraordinaire), an overwhelming number of women ultimately marry men from the Levant (Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine), Arabian Gulf Peninsula (UAE, Saudi, Kuwait), India, or Pakistan.

However, no matter where these men come from initially, almost all of them share similar traits as Husbands to Western Convert Wives. And these traits can sometimes – read: always be challenging negotiations when trying to merge two cultures into one marriage.

I mean, marriage is hard enough as it is.

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Audio

Life as an American Muslim in Indonesia: Podcast ep. 5

islamwich-the-podcast

 

In this episode of the islamwich podcast, Kaighla interviews her friend Alta, an American convert living in Java, Indonesia.

We talk about:

  • Her journey to Islam (up until about minute 10:00)
  • Some of the ways culture and Islam are mixed in her world (around minute 15:00-24:00)
  • The differences between the experiences of converts among Arabs vs. that of converts among Asians (starting minute 26:00)
  • The astonishing fact that many Indonesian cultures are still matriarchal, giving women a leadership status in families and society, so the ole “Muslim women should silently obey their husbands” doesn’t really create any conflict in her marriage to a Sumatran Muslim
  • Around minute 27:00, and again at minute 34:00, we talk about the prevailing notion that Arab culture= Islam, and how Arabs actually make up a very small percentage of total Muslim population, while Indonesians alone make up more than 13% of all Muslims.
  • Her struggle to assimilate and become an active member of her community because of the language and cultural barriers, despite the overwhelming kindness of her Indonesian sisters (around minute 31:00)
  • And her invitation to American Muslims to come to Indonesia and see a whole other way Islam is practiced than what they are accustomed to in the states or in Middle Eastern countries.