Advice for Cross-cultural Relationships
All relationships are to some extent cross-cultural, in that both parties come together from different families to build a new unit together. While for many couples this will be a natural set of compromises to which both partners will adjust naturally over time – for others the differences can be fundamental, with one finding it difficult to understand the others way of looking at the world and vice versa.
The loyalty we often feel towards our own culture and traditions can sometimes mean we find it difficult to understand another’s. In a relationship situation when two people have differing beliefs, it is these feelings that can be pushed to the forefront, overwhelming the individual feelings we have for one another.
Cross cultural issues faced by couples include loss of identity, conflicts over differences in fundamental beliefs, clashes in parenting tactics, struggles with unsupportive families and different interpretations of an event relating to some aspect of differing cultures.
Counseling for cross cultural issues can help couples step outside of their restrictive cultural identities to see one another with greater clarity, as individuals. By taking the time to listen to one another’s stories in an objective setting with a counsellor, a new level of understanding may be reached, obstacles can be overcome and a plan for moving forward can be made.
There is no single formula for a happy, long-term cross cultural relationship. Relationships are always different and what works for one couple might not for another. Whatever challenges you face on your journey, whatever complications arise from the differences between you, it is important to always remember that there was a reason you started your relationship in the first place. It might become tainted, marred, or forgotten – but that reason will never really disappear.