I met my first husband through his mother whom I’d chatted with at the hairdresser we both attended. She immediately phoned her son and said he should come pick her up. He did, and within a few months we were engaged.
What I didn’t know was that she “chose” me because I was smart, practical and headed towards a profession. She knew what I didn’t: Her son, though he came from a similar background to mine and ticked off the same cultural boxes, would always choose short-cuts in life.
When he found that marriage was meant to be a partnership of both give and take, he just took - first, my trust, and eventually my ability to ignore the signs that he was cheating and gambling.
After we divorced (no kids), I dated a few men I met through work but I found them like cookie-cuts of each other.
Then a completely different man came into view. He worked in another field but brought the same energy and ethics to it that I bring to mine.
We’re otherwise different in background, faith, race. But it didn’t seem to matter - and still doesn’t after eight years of marriage.
No one in my family was surprised because it was obvious that we were a match in how we think, and how we react to people and situations. His family showed some hesitation, but only because they feared I might’ve just been curious about being with someone different.
But everyone who knows us now realizes how strong our love is, how committed we are to our marriage, and each other’s needs. We’re alike in the ways that matter.
Why do so many people fear “the other” over race, religion, or cultural background? Why do so many Canadians pay lip service to diversity, yet are privately suspicious of people who express and practice their diversity?
What relationship advice do you have for those contemplating dating people who are “different?”
My Lucky Choice
You’re a voice of what’s good and hopeful about our welcoming of new immigrants. Years back, those who emigrated to this vast country with its wide-ranging opportunities, stayed feeling as outsiders and often were treated/held back as such.
Yet those with the perseverance to get ahead, did so... or their children did, or their grandchildren of which your husband is likely one example.
Through this column, I’m aware of many “mixed” partnerships that have been successful and gratifying like yours.
But of course, many same-background couples have also prospered within their own cultural/racial/religious norms, while also enjoying the larger society.
It isn’t skin colour nor prayers nor first language that defines us. It’s character, ideals, dreams for ourselves and our children. It’s valuing freedoms - of speech, faith, choice of partner, and access to equal education.
You’re already there. Your professions have obviously given you both a head start of acceptance and respect. But every ordinary person in this country also deserves that chance.
Privilege is not a dirty word. It’s the equal right of every person to access to the tools and needs to thrive and succeed whenever possible.
In relationships, what’s most important to your choice of partner is their integrity and commitment to make it work.
Your first marriage was to a man of your same background, so much so that his mother hoped you’d help him walk a conforming line. But he had neither the character of your current husband, nor yourself.
FEEDBACK Regarding family estrangement (June 21):
Reader – “Of my two brothers, one lives in my city, never calls, invites nor visits. When I host him with his wife and children, they arrive hours late and declare that they need to leave in under an hour.
“For years I’ve initiated conversations and travel to visit the other brother. When I ask for a good visiting day, they’re always “busy.” The only thing my brothers haven’t yet done is tell me openly that they don’t want to see me.
“I’ve learned to accept that they have their reasons. So, I do what my heart wants. After a period of estrangement, I reach out. But it hurts and saddens me. They’ll never discuss it, so I don’t ask. Any advice?
Stay with your heart’s needs. Their distance may not even be related to you but to past issues with one parent or both, or incidents unknown to you.
Tip of the day:
Relationships thrive on commitment, trust, love and respect, irrespective of shared backgrounds if the former are absent.