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Help for Intercultural Relationships
Cross Cultural Coaching © Martyn Carruthers

Online Life Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

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 important.

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. Vancouver

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 especially fulfilled.

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.

Important Topics

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 businesses.)

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.

Explore Partnership

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?

Lasting relationships 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.

Online Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2009-2018
All rights reserved

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email