In this Peter’s Wife, I want to introduce you to an excellent resource. I have been reading Married in Mission by Alexis C. Kenny. It is a comprehensive, practical, and useful resource for everyone, especially married people, serving outside their home culture.
Alexis has divided her book according to the periods of time, or stages, involved in serving cross-culturally. She takes the reader through the various stages of our calling: discerning our calling, preparation, life abroad, and finally re-entry and integration back to the home culture. In all of the stages, her focus is how cross-cultural experience affects the marriage.
There is no way I can summarize this excellent book. But for this month, I will focus on some of the stresses of beginning cross-cultural life and suggestions on ways to deal with these. Although some of my readers are veterans, perhaps Alexis’ book will provide some help for those you are mentoring.
When we first arrive in a new culture, we don’t know how the locals act and what their behavior means and what is expected of us in return. There is real stress as we observe, come to understand, and accept our new social cues. The key here is openness, not isolation. When we share what we’ve learned with our family, and even share our personal struggles it can help everyone feel more comfortable in the new culture. My husband and I wish that we had done that more with our own sons. Looking back, we sometimes wonder how they actually experienced Africa and Malaysia.
Grief and Loss
No, we are not talking about a death in the family. But as all of us know, we do feel grief and loss when we leave our comfortable world of meaningful relationships and established roles. Each member of the family handles their grief differently using various types of coping mechanisms. So we need sensitivity to our spouse’s grief over the losses they are experiencing. That helps them, and us, to move on in a healthy manner. [Read more…]