It goes without saying that Islam sets tranquility, love, and mercy as the ideals upon which marital life is to be based. In order to attain these supreme goals the spouses are guided by Islam to be gentle, kind, patient towards each other, to try to understand one another, and to seek Allah’s support as the assured way of achieving this and leading a peaceful and enjoyable marital life.

There can be no special formula that deals with all cases of cultural differences. Indeed, even spouses who grew up in the same culture will have differences due to family customs and personal habits and preferences.

But in cases where one spouse was raised as a Muslim while the other is a non-Muslim or a revert to Islam, differences can be greater. Unfortunately, the “native” Muslim partner—usually the husband— often thinks that the way he does things is correct because it is “Islamic”, when in fact the customs in his country or family are not based on Islamic teachings at all, but on un-Islamic traditions. In this case, it is imperative for both spouses to learn as much as they can about the correct teachings of Islam and to purify their intentions so that they strive to live according to the guidance of Allah.

Here is the fatwa issued by European Council for Fatwa and Research in response to the issue you raised:

“Marriage is described by the Glorious Qur’an as a sacred bond and a mighty attachment. Thus, marital must be based on certain principles illustrated in the Qur’an: “And among His signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them and He has put between you affection and mercy…” (Ar-Rum: 21)

Therefore, mental repose and heartfelt affection as well as mercy are the main pillars of marital life, as confirmed by the Glorious Qur’an. This is to be appreciated by both partners, who must cooperate together to establish harmony and a blissful environment within their marital home.

Each must also be patient with the shortcomings of his or her partner and must also be entirely tolerant towards the disagreements that are bound to exist. It is important that they both understand that emotions must never rule their marriage and that their life together must be governed by good behavior and beautiful manners.

This was prescribed and emphasized by the Qur’an when it reminded men to control their emotions and not to respond to the very first feelings of resentment they may feel towards their wives. Indeed the Qur’an encouraged men to look at arising problems in a rational and objective manner which takes into consideration advantages and disadvantages and draws comparison between the present and the future, as reaching hasty conclusions in such situations brings mostly regret. Allah, Mighty and Exalted be He, stated in the Glorious Qur’an: “And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.” (An-Nisa’: 19)

Although this verse is apparently addressed to men, its meaning is true even for women, as a wife must also be tolerant towards her husband and must be patient with his occasional shortcomings, as well as all the inheritance of his cultural background and traditions which may be difficult to change or alter. And since a woman agreed to marry a man, she must also be as patient with him as she can. Indeed, each must attempt to make concessions to the other so that they both meet half-way. The one that cares more for the marital relationship ought to be more patient, tolerant and gentle, as all matters that are dealt with in a gentle manner result in good, while all matters that lack gentleness give adverse results.

It is important to note that there is no magic potion for such problems, as they are solved by understanding, gentleness and patience, after depending upon and drawing support from Allah Almighty, Who states: “O you who believe! Seek help in patience and prayer. Truly, Allah is with those who are patient.” (Al-Baqarah: 153)”