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pdaDriving home yesterday, I was waiting at a red light when I looked at my rear view mirror. I saw the couple in the car behind me kissing. In my mind I was wondering what would warrant that, just a random kissing session at a red light.

Being from Kenya, Africa, PDA is something that is frowned upon, this is not only PDA between lovers but even PDA among anyone is not the norm.

Growing up we never saw our parents kiss or hug or show each other any physical affection. Also we were never kissed, or hugged or told we were loved by our parents. It just doesn’t exist in our culture. We never thought we were missing out or it was weird because that was the norm, everywhere around us and in every family this was the norm. I remember my husband telling me the first time he hugged his dad was when he was leaving Kenya for the US, in his 20’s, this is not surprising to me, that’s very normal for us.

I think we only started realizing or thinking it was not the norm the more globalized we got, with movies and music showing us people kissing and hugging and constantly saying ‘I love you.’ Reading romantic novels and magazines telling us how we are supposed to be loved. You will see a person in a movie sitting on a chair talking to a shrink about where his/her issues stem from, saying something like my parents never hugged me *sob sob* and they never told me they loved me or they were proud of me *sob sob* in my mind I would think, then I guess all of us Kenyans (and I think I can speak for Africans at large on this topic), should be serial killers.

All this conflict of culture between our African culture, and the western culture has caused a lot of conflict in male/female relationships. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried because I didn’t get flowers on valentine’s day or how many fights we have had because you didn’t say ‘I love you’ and having relocated to the states and seeing people express love for each other has not been easy for our relationship either. Talking to many female friends I know that this fights go on with a lot of couples, it’s like our women became westernized and our men stayed African.

However, the older am getting the more am starting to appreciate and realize that we may not show it the way movies show it but we have our own way of showing our love. Our parents never said they loved us but they provided a loving environment for us, they never kissed us but they always made sure we were warm when It was cold and had a cold treat when it was cold, they never tucked us in but they were the first on your bedside if you woke up sick, they never showed affection towards each other but they never fought in front of us or called each other names, they were always respectful to each other, they never told us they were proud of us but they always showed us off to their family and friends. And at the end of the day, don’t actions speak louder than words and to be quite honest I would prefer to feel the love, than to have someone say it and not show it.

Having come to this realization has helped me grow in my marriage too, I think we need to stop having idealistic ways of how love should be, and actually appreciate peoples ways of showing love, different people love differently and once we realize how people in our life choose to love us, we then become happier , more content and much easier to love.