Do you experience negative emotions
about your partner's different culture or country?
Do you suffer criticism from family or friends about your partnership?
We help people enjoy cross-cultural relationships.
Your partner may have a different cultural background
to your own. For people in love, countries are only geography, religions
are only beliefs and skin colors are only melanin. To observers, your
countries of origin, your religions and your skin colors may seem very
We help people manage predictable
partnership problems ... and this is common.
Wherever you were born ... you may identify with that location. If
your parents were also born there, you may consider that location to
be special ... and feel bonds to other residents of that area. Their
habits, traditions and idioms may seem normal and right.
If you are attracted to someone from
another country, move slowly. Are you or your passport most important?
Are you an immigration opportunity? Are you an exotic trophy? Perhaps
delay commitment until you are sure that your goals and values are mutual.
With appropriate diligence, most couples can prevent or
minimize many problems associated with different cultural
backgrounds. And often ... this is not so easy.
Is your Culture a State of Mind?
Culture is important in relationships. People from some wealthier
countries may be seen as spoiled children by people in less
developed countries. Your country of origin or your skin color
is sometimes assumed to indicate affluence.
I grew up with a loose sense of family,
but my Punjabi husband came from a large extended family where everyone
is close, all women defer to grandmother and family
members share resources. It took me years to get used to this.
People can enjoy secure, loving relationships with a
significant cultural differences ... if both partners understand the issues that
may arise and work together to manage them. Generally, maturity
and integrity are more important than skin color or religion -
maturity reflects life experience, attitudes and goals. If both partners
share similar maturity, other problems should be much easier.
An essential factor is shared values.
Most people prefer to be with people who have similar values. While it seems
healthy for partners to have some different interests, the enjoyment of
long-term partnership usually reflects shared values and the time together
invested in fulfilling those values.
While a cultural difference may affect activities
such as holidays or raising children; couples who enjoy activities
such as gardening, hiking, charity work or studying together can
help keep their partnership healthy and vibrant. Couples who work
together on activities that benefit their communities often feel
We thought that we supported each
other’s religious beliefs, but our expectations were too simple. We had to
deal with issues like clothing, religious holidays and diets. The question,
"In which religion do we raise our children?"
almost tore us apart. Toronto
Do your cultures interfere with your personal goals?
Does your partner support or at least not interfere with your desired
way of life? Do you want to concentrate on your career, have children
or spend your free time traveling? We coach people to find solutions
for these and similar challenges.
Whatever your choice of partner - your family, friends
and community may disagree. You may be under pressure to avoid or end a
relationship that offends their sense of propriety. You may
offend some people if you choose a partner from a different race, country,
region or part of town. You may offend some of them if you choose a person
with a different education, religious or family background.
You may offend some people with you
choice of partner ... no matter whom you choose!
I thought it would be fun to live in another
country, but the realities of cattle farming in rural Brazil are a very long way
from New England. Separation from my family, learning a new language and
misunderstandings with his relatives overwhelmed me. We still love each other
... and I couldn't stay with him. Portland
Some people seem obsessed to interfere - for your own
good of course. They may claim that their happiness depends on your
partnership choices, or that you somehow make them feel bad. Many people
will accept that adjacent countries are OK, but may not accept a partner
from another continent.
If partners have different skin colors, local
eyebrows may raise and lips become thin; and unpleasant comments or
criticism may be heard. (Such reactions seem to be more hurtful for the
women we have coached. Men generally seem to care less about community
perspectives, and more willing to tell people to go ... mind their own
Parental opposition to a person from another country can
stress a relationship. Their objections can range from silent disapproval
to noisy rejection.
My parents were angry when I told them
about my Pakistani partner ... they called him bad names and asked, “Why
does HE want to be with YOU?”
Arguing with them a waste of time ... all I heard was prejudice. They didn't
want happiness - they wanted control. London
People of some countries may be desirable for their beauty,
exoticism and sexiness. Some mates may be perceived as trophies -
ways to impress people - while other partners may be perceived as having
greater resources, wisdom and maturity.
A significant cultural difference can be challenging, and
can lead to a relationship based on more than just similar interests. One
partner may provide a different sense of integrity, maturity and emotional
stability, while the other may provide a sense of wonder and renewed
motivation for life experiences.
I'm happier than I thought possible.
I am Danish and my partner is from Uganda ... and he treats me well.
He is mature and caring ... most men I knew avoided commitment like a
disease. We have been together 5 years ... we enjoy doing almost
everything together. Denmark
Other important topics include finances, children,
retirement goals and career choices. We coach people to explore how
their cultural difference may affect their future lives together ...
and to manage, change or prepare for whatever requires work.
If you are in a serious relationship with someone from a
different culture, be sensitive to your partner's concerns and talk about
them. Discuss your own and your partner's feelings. Do either of you
believe that your traditions are better than your partner's traditions?
Does one of you feel threatened by attractive people from
the original culture? Does one of you believe that the other might be happier
with someone with their own traditions? Can they both enjoy each other's
family and friends?
from different cultures
require strong commitment. You may feel especially challenged when
relating to your partner's family, friends and co-workers.
Their judgments may reflect little interest about why you both chose
to be partners.
In many traditional cultures, relationships with outsiders
represent opportunities to diversify their bloodlines and increase their
communal wisdom. Outsiders have different experiences; they have
solved different problems and they can become community resources. Couples
in mixed marriages can gain perspectives of life that other
people can hardly imagine, and often ignore.
Cross cultural marriages have more chance
of success if both partners are open. Contact us to increase your
flexibility about solving your challenges.
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