Humor generally comes as a savior for cross-cultural relationships, at least most of the time.
It doesn’t matter how, it could be folkloric humor, or strange phonetics outburst of language imitations, or smart criticism with a splash of lemon and a twist of dark demographic observations. It is one of the best allies to bring your partner closer to you. But, it can also be a source of arguments, momentary let downs and eternal silences. At times it seems very unkind, especially when one of you feels strongly about a particular topic. Humor touched with sarcasm is detrimental for everyone in the world. So, avoid crossing that line as much as possible, nobody likes to be criticized and make fun of.
Every time I read studies about cross cultural relationships one of the topics that repeats itself over and over is the boundaries that need to be settled. One of these boundaries is the respect we must show our loved one for who they are and what it means to them to be from the nation they come from. It is easy to accept the one we love for who they are, but it is important to know when being funny turns into not being so funny.
This doesn’t mean we have to be prudes or be afraid to touch on certain topics, but knowing what triggers our loved one and talking about these subjects, will help in the long run for your spontaneous joke-telling evenings, definitely saving you from an awkward moment during the next stand-up comedy event you guys go to, especially if you are sitting right in front of the stage. You know how much comedians love to play with race and couples that don’t really look alike, for them this is ground for a flowing river of jokes, and they really know how to swim in it. Knowing how to be that funny has its ups and downs, but nonetheless a good laugh is a good laugh, right?
We all have our own way of expressing emotion, or our personal views of things. But, as much as possible, when being funny it is very important to remember that the sarcasm we are so much used to in our day to day lives is not as accepted or needed in other cultures. We are so saturated by how the media portraits relationships and family environments that emulating what the screen shows us while trying to be funny can cross that line between a practical joke and a truth hidden in a sarcastic way. Be conscious of how the other reacts to your inputs on humor.
I always attempt the shortest route when telling a cultural joke, it’s like one of those three spiritual laws. I ask myself: Is this really nice? Would I enjoy hearing this reflected back to me? Is it really funny? If the answer is yes, I proceed. If not, I halt.
Some sarcasm can be funny, it has a way of getting to us, allowing us to choose between a laugh and the feeling of our skin being burnt. It gets us mad with rage, shame, or the desire for distance. Not everything we see on TV is a healthy tool for being funny. Most sitcoms use sarcasm as one of their most important tool for creating expectations in us: “- what is she going to do now? Oh my God, he didn’t go there! Oh no!” Sit back and see yourself as the observer and the doer, and vice versa. You will see where the lines are crossed.
The notion of humor as a powerful tool needs to be nurtured and understood. Our minds are usually running in the middle of a traffic jam, processing all information at the speed of light and we could lose our sense of partnership in an instant, stepping over the boundaries of respect towards our loved one. To be funny is also to be elegant and when you love somebody you wildly give your most beautiful self to the other, so that in return, the same is given to you.
Laughter is a beast in need of companionship. Make that companionship so infatuated with good natured humor that when called to the stage at the next open mic for comedy, it is felt in your jokes. All that elegance you have mastered will be obvious when you use cultural demographics. I am one hundred percent sure your cross-cultural relationship partner will find this very attractive. Give the respect you wish to receive. Acknowledge that you are in a distinct relationship and that the water that feeds such a special plant must be from a well of caring and accepting certain boundaries.