There is more to Cross-cultural relationships than expansive plane tickets to visit the other’s family and serving a mixed array of food in the home. Sure it seems incredibly romantic to fall in love with someone with a different background than yours. Hell, just the discovery aspect to being with someone from a different culture can keep a relationship interesting for years.
And then there is the backlash. It can be annoying having to constantly explain to a confused partner why you do a something a certain way because they think it is weird. It is even more exhausting having to be logical during an argument and ask if what they just said is as offensive in their language/culture as it is in yours. And then there is the issue of having to use all your vacation time and/or travel money visiting the other person’s family/country.
It isn’t all feijoada and donuts people.
Be Spoked broke the Cross-Cultural relationship issue down into Pros and Cons. Let’s take a look:
You get to develop interpersonal abilities. Here they go into being open minded and tolerant. That is politically correct talk for learning to deal with crap that is different from the crap you are used to. I ditto this point. You really do become flexible when it comes to dealing with other people in an overall sense. I am quite overly blunt, as if you haven’t noticed, and I can now soften it so that I am only blunt in another culture instead of being considered rude. It is handy because as much as I do it, I really don’t like the aftertaste from having my foot in my mouth.
You stay on top of worldwide current events. This is very true. As an American living abroad I have noticed that the American media seems to be quite focused on our country. The foreign section of our newspapers are embarrassingly small in comparison to other countries. Not only that, most people in other countries seem to know what is going on around the world. It would be pretty embarrassing to be the only one at a party who doesn’t know where Syria is. Actually, it would be even more embarrassing to be at a party where no one knows where Syria is. I bet I could find one stateside…
You can cultivate appreciation with regard to variety since you are opening up your senses to a different culture…: It’s true. I can smell garlic a mile away after living in Brazil, even when it is just because someone didn’t brush their teeth after lunch.
As an individual, you open yourself up to life’s options. : It is like spending your life swimming in a lake and finally seeing the ocean. There is nothing wrong with the lake but once you see the ocean you understand how restricted your vision of life had been.
You may need to give up your most cherished beliefs.: Sadly, with partnership comes compromise. I love Christmas on the morning of the 25th. Mr Rant’s family celebrates on the 24th until about 2am. Both Mr Rant and I have had to compromise when and where Santa will come, what time lunch is on the 25th, etc. It works for us. Of course I do love spending the holidays at my Mom’s where we have a total American Christmas. Honestly, Mr Rant loves it too because it just rocks. Nonetheless, when in Rome, or Brazil, do as the Romans or Brazilians do… with a twist.
You may need to make a huge leap of adjustment, particularly when you don’t come from same region. This is the religion and politics part. I thought I was safe because Mr Rant’s extended family is Catholic like my extended family. Of course that would be too easy and Mr Rant actually believes in a more N. American Shamanic type of philosophy. Yeah, he may be kinda Pagan but what can a girl do? At least we have the same political beliefs and money spending habits.
You may need to deal with practices which are acceptable in the other person’s society but prejudicial to your own. I did have to get used to PDAs but then discovered that I absolutely love them. It is awesome to be able to tongue your significant other at any point anywhere at any time. How could that ever be a bad thing? And if you tell me to get a room, I happily will as long as you are willing to babysit my children.
All and all the author makes some good points. You hit a lot of bumps when you marry someone from a culture different from your own. At the same time, I think life is that much more fun because of it. Maybe that is why I have always been attracted to foreigners, that or because their accents in English are so DAMN sexy.
The point is that sometimes cross-cultural marriage seems more difficult. You have different things to overcome and, many times, have a slight language barrier. I don’t care if the other one is fluent in your native tongue, something that would normally be said in their language will end up being said in a questionable way in yours at some point. And then there is the whole family thing…
While the people in the cross-cultural relationship are normally fairly well traveled and/or have some sort of experience with people from other places, that does not mean that the families will. The biggest culture shock comes in the form of family. At the same time, it can be one of the most rewarding parts of adapting. Being a part of two families who are so very different is fulfilling in so many ways. You have all your bases covered in terms of family love. I know I can go to the Brazilian family for positive words even if they are doubting me. And I go to my American side to get constructive criticism/advice even though I know they support my choices 100%.
Personally, I have found it to be an adventurous and entertaining win win situation. How about you?