Help! Marrying into an African family and I need advice

posted 3 years ago in Intercultural
Post # 3
Member
3338 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I don’t have much advice to give but what is your FI’s stance? He is going along with them or is he on your side? Are you depending on his family financially for the wedding? Ultimately this marriage is about the two of you and you need to do what’s best for you.

Post # 4
Member
1627 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Congrats!

I’m confused as to why they have so much influence over your marriage/ wedding. Do they hold the purse strings or something?

Post # 5
Member
2155 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

I don’t understand. How do they have any say on when or whether you get married?

Post # 6
Member
432 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2014

@DaniellaM:  I’m sorry you’re going through this! I understand and I will tell you first hand, Africans can be VERY set in their ways when it comes to big time events like marriage. They have a lot of traditions they love to uphold and thats why they typically do not like their men or women marrying other races/cultures….I dont agree with this but thats just the way most of them are. Also, what part of Africa ? Africa is a continent, with many, many countries! Nigeria? Ghana? Is your FI Edo, Ibo, Yoruba, Kalaba (all different tribes)? There are cultural differences between those tribes as well.
And it should come as no surprise, they all value education REALLY highly so many of them are in graduate/PHD/Doctoral type programs.
However, his family cannot have the ultimate say in everything. It is YALLs wedding! How does he feel about this? At a point, he will eventually have to put his foot down and tell his family “this is the way it is”.This is why a man eventually leaves his family and cleaves to his wife….What kinds of traditions are they trying to incorporate? Have you been open to his culture thus far? 

Post # 10
Member
4698 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@DaniellaM:  Sounds like your guy needs to stand up to them, I wouldn’t be comfortable with “tests” either. A compromise is in order here, I suspect. He needs to say “listen, me and DaniellaM are both adult citizens with the right to marry whenever we please. We are willing to do [things you’re OK with] here, but we are absolutely not doing [things youare not OK with.] If this compromise is acceptable, great. If not, you are kindly not invited to our wedding.”

You will have to pay for everything yourself to wield this power, but I strongly reccommend that anyway as it reduces a lot of complications. I would have rathered have a simple, small wedding that DH and I paid for ourselves and thus had total control over, instead of a lavish wedding that someone else controlled.

The important thing here is that it’s HIS family so HE has to be the one to piss them off and make it sound like it’s HIS idea and what HE wants. They might act angry at first, but they love him and will come around to him, unlike how they might respond if you were the one to fight. If he’s not on your side, you’re sunk, but if he is, I see no reason you two can’t do what you want and ignore outside opinions.

Post # 11
Member
432 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2014

@DaniellaM:  He has already proposed and yall have had a fulfilling relationship thus far so of course you “Deserve” him! And I think 4 years is more than enough time for them to have accepted you and gotten to know you as someone who would eventually become a part of their family. FI needs to consider your opinions/feelings and put his foot down in this. I also dont see why the marriage cannot occur while he is pursuing his studies-this involves your life plan as well, not just his.
Personally, I think you are going to have to get your FI on board first, as you dont want to risk being seen as an “outsider” and “troublemaker” by his family-as backwards as that would be anyways. FI needs to know that he is engaging in a journey that will eventually require that you come first in his life. He needs to start practicing that now. 

Post # 13
Member
4698 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@DaniellaM:  He should be prepared to be shunned for you. To my mind, that’s a part of getting married – it’s great if everyone can get along, but if they can’t, spouse/future spouse comes first. And if they are really so cold-hearted that they’d make you both in to paraiahs and *never* come around over something so petty, do you really want to be involved with them at all?

Post # 14
Member
1627 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

@DaniellaM:  do what you feel comfortable with, but are these traditions (door knocking and tests) for real or more ceremonial? I would have a hard time telling my husband to choose between me and his family. So, let’s say you play along with the traditions do you think that would ease the cry to delay marriage? 

Post # 15
Member
122 posts
Blushing bee

@DaniellaM:  There are several problems. First, I’m just wondering how you or your FI could not have known that there are cultural and traditional things that go into this type of marriage? For 4 years? But anyway that’s neither here nor there.

 

The main problem here is that your FI is taking his family’s side. How old are you two (out of curiosity)? A man that is ready for marriage is ready for all of the things that come with it, meaning being united on one front, and that you, his future wife, come before everyone else on this earth except God. Have you guys discussed this? My SO and I have discussed several situations that may occur that would have the chance to put either of us on the opposite end of family, just to see how both of us would react and to see if we are on the same page about the roles of a husband and wife in marriage, and their family. This is so critical. If your future hubby is putitng his family before you now before you are married, TRUST ME IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE. I am Nigerian and I know how we can be. Many times, it takes families a while to get used to their child’s new spouse, especially if he is a man. They tend to get very jealous and in this early stage, your unity is very important. 

 

African parents greatly value education, so I can see why they would say not to get married until he is finished, but that is not fair to you. That is completely unreasonable, and MANY, actually all of the africans I know who are married, married while they were finishing school, almost all of them had their first degrees already, but married while in pharmacy/medical/law school. However, this is you and your FI’s wedding, so you guys need to come to an agreement together and stick to it – don’t budge for anyone.

As far as the cultural aspects, try to have fun with them. You will get to dress up in beautiful clothes and experience a new part of your FI.

Post # 16
Member
110 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

@DaniellaM:  I am an African woman marrying an American man. I understand your point of view because my FI struggled with some of the demands and how much say my family had in everything. 

The best thing to do here is to compromise. In my case, I was willing to stand up to my parents and suggest some changes to some of the things they wanted done. It is tough for you because your FI is not doing this. His family needs to understand that the wedding needs to be a convergence of two cultures and not focus on only doing things that one family wants done. If your FI is right now not standing up to his family and taking your opinion into consideration, then I am afraid that it does not bode well for your married life. Parents, no matter how traditional and overbearing, only get away with doing as much as their daughter/son lets them get away with. If they are already dictatorial now, they will want to dictate when you are married as well. The boundaries need to be set now.

5-6 years is ridiculous honestly. How old are you guys and is FI still dependent on his family financially? If he is, it definitely would make things a bit tricky.

In the end, if they are still unyielding, you will have to decide if a) you want to marry this man who will not stand up for you against his family, b) whether it is important for you guys to keep his family involved in the wedding and c) whether it is that big a deal for you to not do things their way. A good way to overcome any issues is to have a traditional wedding ceremony to appease them, and then have a second and separate celebration with your friends and family in the US.

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