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Intercultural Marriage: Challenge or Advantage?

Since the beginning of humanity, people have married and developed intimate ties across cultures. This cultural phenomenon always has been an intricate part of history. Changing and evolving global demographic patterns, where different cultures are continuously exposed to each other beyond the continental divide, often propel intercultural relationships.

And today, intercultural marriages have become a natural part of our globalized world.

By nature, worldviews of people, in terms of knowing, living, marrying, and interacting around others, are shaped, by a range of cultural influences. Many of these factors affect the beliefs, norms, and practices of human beings, including their marriages and courtships.

Intercultural marriages: influencing factors

The most common external factors influencing intercultural marriages are the acceptance of the family and the society in which the couple lives. Sometimes, the families of the couple display rejection, resistance, hostility and lack of acceptance for their partner. Dealing with refutation from outside sources is a common area of potential conflict.

R. Markoff suggested two possible solutions to problems related to the dual-culture marriages. They are both symmetric and asymmetric. Symmetric ones are the solutions in which one partner gives up his/her culture and fully immerses to the other’s. And vice versa, the asymmetric solutions are ones in which partners produce a synthetic new culture by discussing and negotiating about their common life.

The concept of multiple solutions to problems in a dual-culture marriage has been explored by Tseng and has resulted in the use of a five-fold order. First, one-way adjustment, which means that one partner adopts the cultural patters of the other one. Second, alternative adjustment – that’s more complicated to my mind as it means that sometimes one cultural pattern is consciously chosen, and sometimes the other. To be honest, I’ve never met this in real life. Then, the mid-point compromise – when partners mutually agree on a solution between their respective positions. In my opinion, this is a baby step towards the negotiation. The next one – the mixing adjustment, which is a combination of patterns, habits, etc. that represents some of both cultures and is constantly adopted. And finally, my favorite one, the creative adjustment: partners decide to give up their respective cultures in favor of a new behavior. For me, this means the creating of a new “family” culture, which is unique and only yours. But both partners should be ready to use the principle of two “C” in their relationships, which is Compromise and Creativity. And the bonus is the adventure mindset, which naturally comes to your couple when you do the thing you’ve never done before.

Well, normally every marriage requires dozens of doses of love and patience and respect and humor and tolerance, etc. But when it comes to the intercultural marriage, partners need to be twice more flexible and open-minded and to this hard work which leads you to the successful marriage. And once the couple grow older, the romance converts into a balanced, relaxing, happy and meaningful companionship. A strong desire and will to face and overcome all challenges together with your partner are fundamental to make such relationships thrive.