Handling The Challenges of a Cross-Cultural Relationship
We have heard it said so often that the world is becoming smaller. A natural implication is that people from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds are coming closer to each other and getting more opportunity to mingle. In this scenario, cross-cultural relationships have become fairly common, and so have cross-cultural ‘failed’ relationships. Such relationships bring their own challenges, and it is better if you are prepared to deal with them, before you marry or move in with your partner.
Be Prepared for Differences
This may sound fairly commonplace, but are you really aware of what all ‘differences’ might entail? Maybe your partner has a different way of eating, different food preferences, different ideas of how the décor of your house should be, how the kitchen should be run or how your bedroom should look. Sometimes rituals and prayer methods might also come into the picture, not to mention festivals and celebrations. In order to be prepared to handle new and unfamiliar customs and habits, it is important that you and your partner talk about your different ways of living and what kind of adjustments will be required. If you are both prepared to help each other through, that is a perfect beginning to your cross-cultural marriage.
Accept Differences and Respect Boundaries
You not only need to be prepared to face your partner’s differences, but also accept them and blend them in with your lifestyle, if you want to maintain a successful cross-cultural relationship. For instance, if your partner eats her daily meals in a traditional way, seated on the floor, while you prefer a dining table, it is best if neither of you gets flustered and irritated. Try to hit a compromise, where you both take turns to make adjustments for the other person. Also, she may have what may seem to you odd ways to celebrate festivals. Try to participate, enjoy and learn. You won’t get a better opportunity to sample a different way of life. However, if you are uncomfortable participating in something, you need to be open with your partner and tell them that. Communication is an invaluable tool, and it is important that neither of you forces the other. Respect each other’s boundaries, and you will have much less occasion for grief.
If both of you are open and communicative, you may find that the best solution to some of the differences in your cross-cultural relationship is mutual adjustment. So, if you are French and your partner is Australian, your best bet may be a multi-cuisine kitchen, with ingredients and cooking styles to suit both your palettes. Adjustment may also be essential in the matter of space utilization. So, if your partner must have a prayer room, don’t argue with that. However, in this case personal outlooks matter just as much, or even more than, cultural upbringing.
If your cross-cultural marriage necessitates that your partner relocate to your country, you will need to be especially sensitive, cooperative and supportive. Everything will be new for your partner, and they may have made a lot of sacrifices just to be with you. If it is you doing the relocating, make sure you are prepared for the change and comfortable with the idea. The worst thing you can do is make a hasty decision, spurred on by your love and attraction. You don’t want to end up regretting your cross-cultural relationship and grudging your partner.
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