April 12, 2015 sistatalks

I Married an American: This Is What I Get

7. He does not just give money away: When asked to contribute to Church, family activities, village causes or just to lend some money to someone who needs it, he questions the financial implications on him. I never have. In Samoa, when someone asks you for something that you can give, you give, no questions asked.

8. He does not eat canned food: I have an Uncle who is named ‘Apa’ which means ‘can’ as in ‘canned meat.’ He was named this because in the year he was born, the American marines popularised the canned pea soup. Canned meat is a luxury in Samoa, and it is frowned upon in America. I still eat corned beef when he is not looking.

9. He is not violent: Violence in subtle forms is very much a part of my culture. The first word that many children learn is “sasa” which means “smack,” it replaces the words no, doesn’t and stop. He has not once threatened me with violence or our daughter.

10. When he dies no fine mats will be used: Upon the death of any Samoan, beautiful mats are exchanged as a sign of respect for the departed, and to adhere to traditional funeral rites. Because he is not Samoan, he is not a chief nor the son of a high chief; I do not have to worry about fine mats, cooked pigs, dead cows or dozens of tinned fish when he dies.

Many Samoan women have married Americans, and our experiences are all different yet similar, we marvel at the cultural differences and our perceptions, but ultimately we appreciate what we gain from marrying outside of our culture. My husband may not eat corned beef, sing or dance, but he is a responsible father, who adores our daughter and he appreciates nature more than many Samoans do.

The author Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson is a titled taupou, and daughter of a High Chief from the island of Savaii in Samoa, her husband, is from Santa Barbara.