Photo by Pham Hoang Kha

A marriage can be a culture clash, especially if it’s between two people from different countries. That’s why you need to read The Seven Principles of Successful Marriage.

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, marriages between different races, ethnicities, and cultures have become very common. Yet, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s become easier.

First off, we need to remember that love knows no bounds, and in a world that is opening up to itself, intercultural marriages will eventually become something very normal. These marriages bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds, traditions, and beliefs, creating a tapestry that is rich in experiences and perspectives. 

However, weaving through the culture clash that an intercultural marriage brings to the table can be both exciting and challenging. It requires open hearts, clear communication, and a willingness to embrace the unfamiliar.

Navigating a Culture Clash

Every intercultural marriage is uniquely shaped by the specific cultures of the partners involved. Thus, it’s crucial to the success of the marriage that there is respect so as to prevent a very nasty culture clash that might result in divorce, which is why intercultural couples should always work towards diving deep into each other’s cultural values. This is especially true for couples whose cultures come from wildly disparate places. For example, a Korean-Canadian relationship. Always ask these questions:

  • What are the priorities in the other’s culture? 
  • How are decisions made in the other’s culture? 
  • What are the expectations around family, communication, and conflict resolution in the other’s culture?

Most intercultural marriages can result in a culture clash, but this is especially the case when there is a difference in religious beliefs. That’s why couples should always be open and honest with the tenets of their faith and the degree to which they are willing to discuss them. This is to preemptively declare or reveal potential conflicts and areas of accommodation. How to raise children is also greatly informed by one’s religious beliefs, so that becomes an important topic of discussion.

Different cultures, while they may coexist in one location, have different social norms. If you’re with someone from another culture, it is always great to be mindful of social etiquette and customs. Trying to understand them can go a long way to a healthy and stable relationship.

Perhaps the largest hurdle in a culture clash is language. There are many ways to overcome this, but all involve investing the time, money, and effort to properly learn each other’s languages, either via personally teaching one another or learning from a professional.

Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship, and intercultural couples need to find creative ways to bridge the gap.

How to Be Respectful with Other Cultures

Once you understand what’s at stake with intercultural marriages, it’s time to plan out how to overcome them. Here are some essential tips:

  • Open Communication: Talk openly and honestly about everything, from cultural differences to personal needs and expectations. Active listening and empathy are key.
  • Embrace Curiosity: Approach each other’s cultures with curiosity and a willingness to learn. Ask questions, attend cultural events, and try new things together.
  • Celebrate Differences: Don’t try to erase or downplay your cultural differences. Instead, celebrate them as unique strengths that enrich your relationship.
  • Find Common Ground: Look for shared values and interests that can serve as the foundation of your relationship. You might discover unexpected connections through hobbies, music, or even humor.
  • Compromise and Flexibility: Be prepared to compromise and adapt to each other’s needs and preferences. Remember, flexibility is essential for navigating uncharted waters.

Intercultural marriages, like any other, will encounter storms along the way. Here’s how to navigate them effectively:

  • Respectful Disagreements: Disagreements are inevitable, but approach them with respect and understanding. Avoid generalizations and focus on specific issues.
  • Seek External Support: Don’t hesitate to go to therapy, whether alone or as a couple. It’s important to always find another perspective in intercultural relationships.
  • Maintain Individual Identities: While building a strong couple identity, don’t lose sight of your individual identities. It’s important to maintain connections with your own cultures and communities.
  • Celebrate Milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate the milestones in your intercultural journey, big and small. This reinforces your commitment and strengthens your bond.

Remember, love is the anchor that keeps your ship afloat. By understanding your unique voyage, embracing your differences, and weathering the storms together, you can create an intercultural marriage that is not only beautiful but also strong and fulfilling.

If you want to know more about how to maintain a happy marriage, intercultural or not, grab a copy of Hilaire Louis Jean’s The Seven Principles of Successful Marriage.

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