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When you are in love with someone it feels like everything is just beautiful and you are excited to know about the other person. Have you known someone who constantly brings up their culture background and use it as a justification for their behavior (In our culture we don’t do this etc..). These various influences can sometimes create challenges in intimate relationships with a person from a different cultural background. For that matter, even couples from seemingly similar cultures may still have some navigate differences.
In my experience I have seen couples who struggle mainly because of the differences in their culture both in love and arrange marriages. In my opinion there are few things that can probably help to deal with these challenges
- Understand and Explore: Celebrate the festivities unique to your partner’s homeland or religious tradition. Spend time getting to know his/her family. Relish the foods from your partner’s native country. You don’t necessarily have to adopt all of your significant other’s cultural practices. However, willingness to understand your partner’s culture demonstrates love and respect. The more you know the difference the better it is in future.
- Respect Differences: Legitimate cultural differences exist and should not be glossed over; however, neither should these differences be blown out of proportion. If and when differing perspectives arise, seek to understand, rather than to judge.
- Look for Commonalities: While it is important to be aware of culture differences, also look for common ground. Identify similar values, preferences and interests. You don’t have to share everything with your partner; however, sharing certain core values (such as honesty, hard work, Respect etc.) can help reduce tension in your relationship.
- Keep What Matters Most to You: While understanding your partner’s culture is important, you shouldn’t feel pressured to discard cherished parts of your own cultural traditions. Inter-cultural relationships require compromise but should not force one party to abandon core parts of his/her identity.
Don’t Make Assumptions
You may be dating someone from a traditionally reserved culture; however, your partner may actually be quite extroverted. Don’t let cultural stereotypes dictate your understanding of your partner. Instead, let direct knowledge of your partner (his/her personality and opinions) inform your understanding. Additionally, some aspects of your partner’s cultural identity may be more (or less) important to him/her, so learn what matters most to your partner. Carefully discuss any expectations for the relationship and/or marriage that may be influenced by your upbringing; these factors may include perspectives on gender roles, intimacy, finances and the holidays.
One of the most important aspect of the culture differences comes to the planning of the future if this is discussed before you most likely won’t end up in the differences of opinion too often
Plan for the Future
Cultural differences often become more acute when it comes to getting married or having children. Once a relationship becomes serious, you may have to make important decisions about where the wedding will be held, if/where you will worship and how your children will be raised Cultural differences can also affect parenting decisions such as discipline, helping your child define and understand his/her cultural identity and what language(s) will be spoken in the home.
Our culture is part of our worldview—and our worldview influences how we see everything, including relationships. Loving your partner means loving him/him for who he or she is and culture is a distinct part of that. While cultural differences can introduce certain challenges, these challenges are certainly manageable within the context of respectful and supportive relationships.
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