We live in a world where everything has become so accessible, opening endless opportunities for people to interact through work, study, or travel. Such avenues have made it possible for so many people to meet with their spouses, thereby, giving rise to intercultural relationships.
Cross-cultural relationships or better yet intercultural relationships bring with it a wide range of new experiences to every spouse and even the family members. As much as they may appear to be so beautiful and exciting, they also come with their fair share of misunderstandings, challenges, and hardships. For instance, trying to bring that unity between two families from a completely different background is not always easy.
On the other hand, there are so many moments that define intercultural relationships that can make one to appreciate each other regardless of their underlining difference. To make it even more interesting is how those differences can turn out to be thrilling. However, every good thing has its negative side and so does intercultural relationships.
The good side of intercultural relationships
Intercultural relationships help to break negative stereotypes or perceptions about a particular race/community being looked down upon as bad or not worth it. By doing away with stereotyping, it helps create an environment of acceptance between the couples and those around them.
Learning of new experiences and skills
One of the greatest advantages of any intercultural relationships is that it opens up abundant ways for couples to gain new experiences and skills from each other. This can range from learning about their different cultural traditions, food delicacies, religion, and the family structure.
There is that exposure that couples can gain when they visit each other’s home countries during the holiday season. The advantage of this is that both will be introduced to different new things that they might have never thought of, never seen, smelt, felt, did or even tasted. For instance, a spouse from Africa can really learn a lot when she visits her partner who lives in America and vice versa.
Learning of a new language
Since both couples are of different nationality or race, then there exists a foreign language between them other than that of their home country. For an effective communication with each other and even with the family members, couples should learn their spouse foreign language to make communication much easier and very comfortable. Learning the other party’s language plays a pivotal role in strengthening the bond between couples. It’s also quite romantic and fascinating when couples teach each other their different languages.
The ugly side of intercultural relationships
Negativity and frustrations from friends and family
As much as couples may find comfort in each other, the stumbling block might lie with the family and friends who may not recognize and approve of the relationship. Friends and family may end up developing a negative stereotype regarding your partner especially if he/she is of a particular race or country. Alternatively, having that belief that you will end up forgetting your culture and traditions simply because you are committed to someone from a different culture might seem unacceptable for the family.
The negative reaction can go as far as being treated differently, being judged unfairly, or even people making disturbing and inappropriate comments about your spouse or you as a couple. In some cases, stereotyping can be too much to the extent that it may discourage couples from getting married.
There is the possibility of one spouse losing their cultural identity partially or totally due to the difference in cultural backgrounds between the couples. This can go as far as having to forget about your own cultural traditions, celebrations/festivals and adapting to the other as some cultures may demand it.
Since both couples come from different countries then the major challenge they may face is in deciding which country to relocate to. A spouse may find it challenging to relocate because it may mean not being able to frequently see his/her family members, a situation that may lead to conflicts or even breakups. Therefore, both parties should discuss it ahead of time and agree.
Minor culture based disagreements
Disagreement may arise from minor things like preparation food, eating, clothing, gender roles when it comes to distribution of chores, money/finances among other things. The disagreement between couples can be endless and at times may lead to conflicts within the family if not resolved.