Cultural Differences Within Relationships And How To Deal With Them
*Disclaimer: This article is in no way scholarly nor am I a professional. I am merely relaying my experiences in hopes that it will help someone*
Culture is everywhere. In the language we speak, books we read, clothes we wear, and inside every person on this earth. Culture is an amazing set of beliefs shared between people and countries. With 8 billion people in the world, you are bound to run across someone from another culture at some point in your life. This can happen at school, a supermarket, a Starbucks, or even while dating. Dating can be really hard, everyone is focused on finding their perfect someone. Dating can be even harder if you are dating someone from another culture.
Dating someone from another culture will make you revision how you view the world. Suddenly the views you have on the world are challenged by someone you care for. I personally am dating someone from China and I know how difficult it can be when cultures don’t mix. Dating someone from a different culture can be intimidating but it is not scary, I swear! There are many exciting things about dating someone from another culture; you get to learn many new things, maybe travel or learn a new language! Even so, there are some problems that will arise between cross-culture relationships. I have applied my personal experience with dealing with cultural differences and listed them below for you!
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
In every relationship this is true, but even more so when you are coming across someone with a different mindset and culture as you. With things like language barriers and contracting expectations there can be many aspects that you may not understand. Something that is very important is bluntly asking, “What do you mean by that?”. While this seems like a very easy question, when freely communicating with a partner we may assume that what they mean when they say something. A lot of fights can be solved by simply asking what they had meant to say rather than just jumping the gun.
TRY TO IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THEIR CULTURE
The best way for you to understand their culture is to experience it for yourself. I had met my partner after I came back from China. I believe that this gave me a god head start in the relationship. I understood some of her culture, the do’s and the don’ts. Common thoughts and ways of thinking. For example, girls should not drink or eat cold things while on their periods. I learned to like different foods. I also learned to expect less. The less expectations came because after going through culture shock, you learn to accept a culture for what it is, not how you imagined it to be.
ACCEPT THAT YOUR CULTURE AND THEIRS WILL CLASH… AND THAT MAY NOT CHANGE
This may seem like a stubborn phrase, but it can be true. Culture is engrained in everybody since they are children, it is not something easily change. Opinions and values cannot change overnight, or sometimes even at all. Part of being in a relationship in general is accepting your partner even if they have different opinions and values than you. This can also cause fights, after a while you learn how to openly talk about your different opinions/values without causing a fight, but when you first start a relationship it can be hard. It is normal that you will not agree on every aspect of their culture for the longevity of the relationship, it is important to accept that early on.
FAMILY VALUES ARE ALSO DIFFERENT
This one is a thought that is often looked over. If you plan to have a long-term relationship with someone it is important that you speak about the expectations that their family has for them, yourself included. Some families may not accept their child dating someone outside of their culture while others will have no problem with it.
PLAN TO WORK EACH OTHER’S CULTURES IN TO YOUR FUTURE TOGETHER
While planning an exciting life full of adventure you may forget that their culture can affect how they plan for your future together. This can include finding a great job within 3-5 years so their parents can retire and you will be able to take care of them. Another thing is buying a big enough house close to areas your partners parents enjoy so when they move into your house they do not feel uncomfortable. Things like these did not sit right with me the first time it was mentioned. In my culture parent live independently as long as possible. And it is not that I didn’t feel happy about the aspect of them moving in, it was just earlier than I had expected and change my plans for the future.
While there are many things that can be difficult in a cross cultural relationship, there are many rewards that come with it. You get to experience more culture than any one else, you learn to be more open minded, you learn how to communicate better so that there are not too many miscommunications, and you get to learn how to love person through different ways that you have never thought of before.
I hope you enjoyed reading! Leave me comments or feedback below! Tell me a story of you and your partner!