One of my favourite movies is My Big Fat Greek Wedding. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It tells the story of this Greek chick who is not the most attractive girl around, mostly because she just doesn’t care about her appearance. She’s inches away from turning 30 and she works at the family business, a restaurant. Basically her life is going nowhere fast, her immediate and extended family don’t think she’ll ever get married unless she goes to Greece and meets a man there. Well one day a man comes to the family restaurant and he so captivates our heroine that she wants to be the best person she can be. All of a sudden we see this girl wearing contact lenses, dressing stylishly, being more outgoing and upgrading her education.
And of course it’s only a matter of time before she ends up with the guy who she first saw in her family’s restaurant. And horror of horrors: he is not Greek! Before you think “Thanks GNG, now I don’t have to see the movie!” you should. The movie deals with what it’s like to be the child of immigrant parents who have high expectations of their children with respect to who they marry (a countryman), how quickly and often they procreate, and also about how everyone in the family thinks it is their right to control as many aspects of your life as possible.
(Is this ringing a bell for anyone?)
It’s clear that it’s not only the Greeks that go through this. Many Nigerian (and other) immigrants want their children to keep the family background/heritage going by marrying fellow Nigerians (or countrymen and women). A lot of parents will start to inquire when the blessed event of marriage will happen if it seems like nothing is happening. They will even try to set their children up with someone they know, or send them back home to find a husband or wife.
In the movie, the Greek girl deals with the fallout of going against the family’s expectations. She deals with the disappointment of her parents, especially her father, she deals with the clash of cultures between her own family and that of her boyfriend and of course when it comes to organizing the wedding, you can imagine how complicated things can get!
I felt that Nia Vardalos (who wrote the script and starred as the main character) did a good job of showing the conflict that goes on in such a relationship (look at me analyzing it as if I’ve been through it!). If my parents were strongly against a guy I was interested in, I can see myself trying to nip the relationship in the bud early on to avoid any drama. I personally want to have a relationship with my parents in the future so I know that if I was truly in love with someone they disapproved of it would be very hard for me to completely ignore their wishes or concerns. I honestly dont know how I would handle such a situation.
So my solution is to say that “Well, if they know how in love I am they will respect my wishes and leave me alone.”
However, this is Naija parents we’re talking about.
Have you ever had to deal with the cultural differences or the disapproval of family members because of who you were dating or who you ended up marrying? How did you end up dealing with it?
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