Being the Odd One Out - When Getting Married

by MuminBusiness

Are you a first generation immigrant, feeling like the odd one out? Have you ever had to choose between getting married from your roots or from your present but new home?

Let me give you a little background before I start this properly - I am a British-Born girl with two Nigerian Parents. I have lived in both places for equal periods of my life and when asked, I will say I consider myself Nigerian but my passport begs to differ as it informs me that I am in fact British.

This has always been a source of conflict for me as I try to figure out where exactly I fit in the world. My family consider me too white to be Nigerian (Looking at my profile picture, there is no doubt that I am actually black!). My friends consider me too Nigerian to be British (On the face of it, they are right!).

I have finally decided that I do not belong to either place. I am mostly comfortable with this decision except sometimes…

To Whom should I get married?

As birds of a feather flock together, so do people who each feel like the odd one out. On the surface of it, we try to blend into the people around us, we talk to them, we act like them and we try hard to fit in.  However, while young and still under the thumb of our parents, we live a double life and fit in neither.

I was having a chat with a friend who is in the same position as me. However, she is at a different stage of life - almost ten years younger and unmarried. Her focus at present, is finding a life partner who she intends to make her husband. I have been chatting a lot to her about this subject as it does seem to occupy her mind a lot at the moment. This is fine; I think it is the way it should be at her age as she decides to make such a big life decision.

The point of this preamble however is to discuss the difficulty some of us girls face when we come to choose a life partner. Who should we choose?

1. Someone from Nigeria who in theory will share our inbred values, our background and some of our past or

2. Someone who lives where we do but who may be of a different race to us and have some differing views but will share our present life?

I know lots of people think we should all stay with our own kind but how do we decide what our own kind is, when we are struggling to fit into either society.

Let's hear your opinion - To whom should we get married?

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Is there a right answer? or should we all make our own choice?

Our Confusing journey to Getting Married

We have been brought up in Nigerian Homes but educated in British Schools. All our friends are British but when we go home, we are expected to remember that certain things are not done by ‘Good Nigerian Girls’.

Then the time comes to get married, and as Nigerian females, we are expected to fill a certain role which, to me, can mean a ‘lesser’ role.(Not too dissimilar from a lot of cultures.)

For a first generation ‘odd one out’ Nigerian girl, it is a big issue and if you are the first child as well, there is an element of pressure to marry someone from 'home'.

Where is Home?

Except where is home?

It really is a bit confusing as your parents have spent ages telling you to get educated and forget about relationships.  Then you graduate and all of a sudden, your Mom says "You remember that Aunty Maureen" (Every one is an Aunty!) "Well, her son, Charlie, was asking after you"

You vaguely remember Charlie as a really old fashioned guy that lives back in Nigeria and wants a wife that will look after his home and cook for him so you know that to marry him could mean dampening your new-found poise and education.  You will be expected to fill a role you do not even understand. However, not to marry from home could lead to your family disowning you! or at the very least, being very disappointed in you.  What to do?

Everyone must make a choice

Now, I married a guy from a different race and I am thankfully, very happy with him, much to the surprise of my family who felt all people outside of our culture were likely to divorce you in two seconds flat.

I still remember all the wahala (trouble) our getting married caused. In fact, one Aunt asked "How can you choose a man over your family?"  Ten years on, we still go strong. and now a different 'Aunt' tells me I am lucky to have married outside my race as no Nigerian male would be able to put up with my inability to cook and clean without beating me! 

So in the course of the conversation, I had to ask my friend – “ Are you sure you can marry a Nigerian guy?”. She feels that she must but I wonder, can she cope with the difference in culture?

Strange question, I know, as I am the one that seems to have two contrasting cultures in my home. However, it is one thing having Nigerian parents that you will leave to make a home elsewhere but what if you follow everyone's 'stick with your own kind' advice and end up in a home with a partner that stifles you and demands that you fit into a mold that does not suit you. Then what?

You feel even more like the odd one out...

Updated: 03/10/2012, MuminBusiness
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scar on 04/29/2012

interesting thoughts

MuminBusiness on 03/11/2012

@Brenda Thankfully, they are not all like that, ha ha!, Just some ladies' experience. But, I sense that would have been the end for me as well!

@Katiem I too hope people would choose from the heart as well but sometimes the pressure you are put under to marry into a 'good' family can mean that you choose peace over love. I still remember being laughed at by my cousins for marrying for love!

katiem2 on 03/10/2012

I live in a very diverse city. Many Nigerian's live here, they do tend to stick to their own, in fact always. Its probably odd for them as it's very common for couples to be bi-racial in our city, they may find that to be difficult as their youth sees this which must make them think about the idea of different races. In my own family we have all types of races joined together, we are a big melting pot. I feel this is common and it is my hope every adult chooses a mate by way of the heart. My most positive thoughts are with you.

BrendaReeves on 03/10/2012

Very interesting. I'm glad you didn't marry the Nigerian who would beat you for not keeping a clean house or cooking. That would be a deal breaker for me. lol

MuminBusiness on 03/10/2012

For some, race is a massive issue. My family still consider me lucky to have ended up well but anyone else in the same shoes is steered away and nigerian parents steer their children away from me when their children start to think of this issue.:-D

It is quite important when in the marriage as well - both partners look at things differently and in some ways you do not realize how bad this can get until you are in the relationship or you have children. On the other side, marrying from your own culture may also result in a situation where the expectations placed on you are outside your realm of experience.

In most developed countries, people do not always realize the problem first and possibly second generation immigrants face as they try to find their place.

Thanks for your input...

WiseFool on 03/10/2012

Although this is not a subject that directly affects me (yet, at any rate - I may fall in love with a man who is 'outside' my culture), I found this really fascinating! In my own very naive way, I thought that race wasn't such a big issue anymore when it came to marriage. But, I suppose, that was an uninformed opinion - because, as a white, British woman (living in Britain), who has had precious few relationships and none with someone of a different culture or background, what the heck do I know about it?! So interesting to discover that it's still such a pertinent issue. Am really pleased that, in your case, love conquered all.

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