Insight & Reflections

Six Ways to Deal with Cultural Differences

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As a kid, it was my dream to marry someone from another culture. I guess my interest stemmed from growing up reading pocketbooks featuring handsome-rough Vikings who find great love in the middle of their sea voyages. I read with great fascination how these characters evolved and as always, ended happily ever after.

Just by reading, I saw and felt the characters and figured out that they were not different from me in any aspect. And I was thinking, if God answered my prayers of marrying a Scandinavian, I will never be troubled and live harmoniously with him because I knew the character so well. Quite sweet and dreamy, isn’t it?

Image by Eldar Einarson
Image by Eldar Einarson

However, when it came to me, my own theory on cross-cultural marriage was not applicable anymore. There have been a lot of differences and adjustments in my own marriage that only love, trust, and respect can patch up. Of course, having common interests helps. So, before you say yes, you need to check out if you and your partner are open enough to sort out misunderstandings in a way that will not create too much anger and noise. Learn to count to ten if you are provoked, and try to understand your partner so that you will avoid adding fuel to the fire. And if you have done something thoughtless, be quick to ask for forgiveness.  The following can serve as pointers on what to do when in an interracial relationship:

  1. Examine the situation and give it time. This is one of the biggest decisions in your life. Wait a little more and think about what you and your special someone are really looking for. Don’t let the temporary beach-bar atmosphere cloud your thinking. Are you really interested in a serious relationship or what? If you are more inclined on going the fast lane to gain things from the relationship, it will be a wise move to keep out of it.
  2. Don’t stereotype. An Asian girl doesn’t have to be submissive and domestic, and the foreigner dominating and demanding. Get to know each other well, show understanding, and be curious rather than stereotyping. Ask questions and seek answers which develop you both as human beings because when you stereotype, you are setting standards.
  3. Your relationship is different from others. Therefore, you cannot compare. If someone you know is suffering hell living with a foreigner, don’t be alarmed or feel doubtful. Uncertainty and comparing can actually create more frustrations and damage in situations where a calm and caring gesture could have easily solved a misunderstanding.
  4. Learn from others’ mistakes. Based on statistics, most intercultural marriages fail. However, it does not mean that yours will head in that direction. Think about the success stories of others, and check out if the assumptions for a healthy relationship are present between you and your partner. Are you sharing the same ideas about equality and relationship?
  5. Be willing to compromise. Compromising is a simple act of love that will make a big difference in a relationship with someone who differs greatly from you. What do you have to lose by being willing to compromise? In fact, by doing so, you will gain more respect not only from your partner but also from the people around you.
  6. Let the power of your love shines through your individual differences.

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