Conjugal Bliss

A failed attempt to connect over "great American music."

A few years ago I saw the phrase printed on one of my wedding favors and was mortified.  Yes, that's right, a WEDDING FAVOR that said: "CONJUGAL BLISS."

See, what had happened was, one of my well-meaning relatives who flew in from Nigeria for our wedding, brought along some custom-made wedding favors. In Nigerian culture, whenever there is a party or celebration, it's completely normal (and expected) for family members and friends of the family to make favors to hand out to the guests.   Well, this favor happened to have a message wishing me and my husband conjugal bliss and I started freaking out:

Me"Mom! We can't give these out to our guests! This is disgusting!"
Mom"Tinu, it's not what you think."

My mom went on to explain that while Americans might interpret the phrase to mean "Hope you have good sex after the wedding!" in Nigeria, the phrase meant more like "Happy married life."  I still wasn't convinced, so I made my mom promise to only give out the "conjugal bliss favors" to our side of the family so I wouldn't have to explain to my in-laws.

But the scenario poses an interesting question: How do you react when someone's well-meaning attempt to connect with you through their own cultural lens, rubs you the wrong way?  Any better than Chris Tucker?


  1. This just reminded me of an episode of the reality show I Love New York (don't judge me o! lol) when one of the hispanic guys called NY "negrita". Basically, negrita = little black girl. So of course i screwed up my face. I happened to be watching it with one of my besties (who is hispanic) and she tried to explain to me how it was such a huge compliment to be called Negrita and that its not to be taken literally as 'little black girl' but more along the lines of sweetheart. But considering the color issues that exist in Latin/South/Central America I found it quite hard to believe and even harder not to be offended. Its like 4 years later now and i still am not really buying it.
    When it comes to culture clashes all you can do is be open and ask questions instead of being offended.

  2. @LadyNgo
    Girl, this is a reality-television judgement free zone! You don't even want to see all the stuff I have on my DVR on any given week.
    Thanks for your suggestion. I agree that communication is key because everyone involved learns something. Like now, I know that "conjugal" has more than one contextual interpretation.
    I just remembered a previous trip to Nigeria back in 2006 when my Aunt and I were visiting the slave museum in Badagry, a former slave port. During the tour, the guide referred to the offspring of Nigerian slaves and Brazilian slave owners as "half-caste." My Auntie was like "EXCUSE ME?! WHAT DID YOU SAY?!" and proceeded to go off on the tour guide. Poor guy. Thankfully, we were the only two on the tour. Needless to say, the guide had no idea that the term was offensive, but now I'm sure he will never forget!