Temp Article

Cross-Cultural Relationships

Jeff Jacobus

Simple Rules to Help Overcome the Barriers

Cross-cultural relationships can be rife with complications, even in this day in age – where different cultures have come to a greater understanding with each other than ever before. Some people have clung to their deeply-rooted traditions and refuse to date outside of their race/culture, but for those who exhibit a more enlightened cultural understanding, there's still some things that must be acknowledged before crossing the great, cultural divide.

Even though the gap is progressively getting smaller and smaller, you have to still respect viewpoints and traditions that have been hardwired since the beginning of time. When dealing with cross-cultural relationships, there's a few things that need to be considered, and these things are:

    1.    where to live

    2.    how to communicate

    3.    sharing the same values

    4.    the overall secret to success for international/cross-cultural relationships.

When you're addressing the first issue of “where to live”, it's best to choose a place that will work for both people. For instance, if you marry a Cambodian and you're Italian, you'll want to move somewhere where there'll be a lot of opportunities – work, school, parenting – for both parties.

Also, moving to a place where the race demographics are highly in favor of one race/culture, and not in favor of the other will lead to insurmountable tension between the couple in the future. A place like California that is a veritable melting pot of cultures would be the most conducive to a cross-cultural relationship.

This doesn't mean that that would be the only type of place to relocate to, but it would probably satisfy both people in the couple and ensure a long, healthy relationship.

The language barrier can be one of the biggest hurdles for any couple or potential couple. Learning how to compromise and showing each other that you're willing to gradually learn each others' languages is crucial to keeping a cross-cultural relationship afloat.

You would elect one language to be the common language – english usually works the best, especially if you're living in the United States – and then you should each set aside some time to teach yourself each others' respective, native tongue.

This way you'll both be in a better position to converse with each others' family when they come to visit. Also, another reason to share your mates native language is to bring the two of you closer together. It's often difficult to truly express what you want to unless you can express it in your companion's parlance.

When it comes to sharing the same values, time and lots of patience are the only two things that will bridge the divide. It usually takes anywhere from 3-5 years to fully understand each other's values and even start intermixing and sharing a lot of the same values.

The best thing to do is to keep a fairly well-balanced relationship where both people are free to express their individuality and their cultural norms without being scrutinized or persecuted (which is a surefire way to send any seemingly healthy relationship down the proverbial tubes).

Take some time to mutually integrate yourselves into each other's cultural backgrounds, and expect a prosperous relationship that isn't help back by ill-conceived preconceptions of cultural norms.

The secret to success for international/cross-cultural relationships is quite simple: understanding and tolerance are the raison d'etre for any healthy pairing. By understanding, it should be self-explanatory that both people in the relationship need to readily acknowledge and respect each other's way of life that pre-existed before the bond was made.

If either person feels the need to abolish any sort of traditional background of their partner and selfishly impose their background, then, chances are, the relationship will meet an untimely end. As far as tolerance is concerned, it is also a critical component to a healthy and prosperous relationship.

Tolerance and understanding aren't mutually exclusive – they need to coexist in a reciprocal fashion; if one is eliminated, the other will surely follow suit. Just think of it as the support beams for a building: remove one and the foundation will become undsteady; remove a few more and the building will be teetering on the brink of collapse; remove all of them and the building will come crashing down – killing all the people that occupy it and irreperably damaging the architecture of the building.

So, after all is said and done, these are the key factors of maintaining a successful relationship: 1) knowing where to live (usually in a location that is a 'happy medium' for both individuals'), 2) determining how to communicate with your mate (respecting each other's languages, but also showing an interest and a willingness to learn a new language in the process), 3) values, values, values – you must respect each other's values, 4) understanding and tolerance (before you met your companion, you lived seperate lives.

This distinction should still be made once the 'connection' is established. You're still both two individuals, but now you're 'sharing' each other's lives – both past and present; so don't neglect to respect your differences as well as what those things that brought you together.