A-Z of Intercultural Relationships (Pros & Cons)

Want to know more about intercultural relationships? This is my complete, compact A-Z guide, the pros and the cons of falling in love with someone outside of your community, country or colour.

 

Acceptance

The first obstacle you may have to overcome is that your family, and maybe even some of your friends, will not accept your relationship. It may take a while for the people you love to overcome their prejudices or get used to the idea, but have patience.

If your family or friends are struggling to accept your intercultural relationship, read this.

Breaking boundaries

Interracial marriage didn’t become fully legal in America until 1967 and intercommunity marriage in India is still quite rare. When I first came to India, my cousin-sisters-in-law thanked us for breaking the boundaries. They have since married men from different states and castes.

If you are in an intercultural relationship, you may find yourself an inspiration to others like you!

Communication

Every relationship requires quality communication, but when you have cultural differences, communication is even more important. Values and traditions will need explaining, so you can understand why your partner or their family do certain things, and vice versa.

Decisions

An intercultural relationship may force you to come to some tough decisions.

Which country will you live? Which language will you speak? Which religion should you teach your children?

Exciting

Falling in love with someone from another culture has an extra dose of excitement because not only are you discovering another human, you’re discovering a whole new way of life.

Food

The food we eat says a lot about our lifestyle, our heritage, our culture. This could be a revelation to your taste buds, or you could end up eating separate meals at dinner.

Gossip

From “he’s only using her for a green card” to “why is he with her?”. When you enter an intercultural relationship, it will surely set some nasty tongues wagging.

Happiness

If you’re in an intercultural relationship, you put your happiness and love for your partner above the fear of prejudice and cultural conflict. When you combine two cultures, you may have extra things to argue about but with good communication, these things usually are resolvable .

You followed your happy!

Immigration

Immigration may become a huge, life consuming, soul shattering part of your life. It’s getting even harder for those in international long distance relationships to unite with stricter border control.

If you need to bow down to immigration, prepare for your relationship to be thrust under a magnifying glass, every detail dissected. This is not for the faint of heart.

Jokes

You may not share the same sense of humour. My husband definitely doesn’t have a British sense of humour, but we still make each other laugh. We just don’t enjoy the same television shows.

Kids

Multicultural kids are gorgeous (okay, I am bias) and can grow up enjoying the best of both worlds. Diwali and Christmas, for example.

Languages

For some it’s great opportunity to learn another language, others come up against a frustrating language barrier.

Language barriers are toxic to relationships. You and your partner may communicate well, there more often a barrier between you and their family. This can cause conflict and misunderstandings, which can result in problems in your relationship.

Misunderstandings

Language barriers and cultural differences can lead to a myriad of misunderstandings. Speaking a common language doesn’t mean the language barrier doesn’t affect you. If something is translated literally, it can result in misunderstandings. For example, if Marathi is translated word for word into English, it can mean something different.

Nonsense

There are some traditions, habits, or values that may feel like nonsense to you. However much your partner has tried to explain them. Sometimes you are just not going to “get it” and respect that it’s gone over your head.

Open Mind

Not only do intercultural relationships blaze the trail for others who fall in love, you also help educate people who hold negative stereotypes. An intercultural relationship is a symbol of the progress we have made.

Connecting two cultures in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise. Two families come together who otherwise would never have met. With exposure and education, stereotypes and prejudices slowly slip away.

Personal Growth

When you find yourself immersed in another culture, you are thrown out of your comfort zone and into a situation where things are done differently. If you stick around for long enough, your ideas of what is right and wrong are challenged. Here, you have an opportunity for personal growth.

Questions

You will get asked the same questions over and over, ad nauseam. Friends, family, waiters, people in the queue for at the airport. People’s curiosity will follow you around like a hungry dog.

“Are you allowed to celebrate Christmas?”, “can you speak Marathi yet?”, and my personal favourite: “how did this happen?”.

Religion

If you are in an interfaith relationship, some of your partner’s beliefs may contradict your own. It may take a lot of soul-searching and honest communication to resolve some of these issues. However, you may find yourself spiritually rejuvenated by your partner’s faith.

Alternatively, you may both follow you own religions separately without any issue. Reaffirming that religions can life together peacefully, even in the same bed!

Social etiquette

Taking my shoes off before you enter someone’s home, touching the feet of elders, eating with my right hand. These are all examples of social etiquette I had to get my head around when I first joined an Indian family.

You may have to learn a couple of things to avoid seeming rude to your partners family, and you might have to teach your partner a couple of things before they meet yours.

Travel

Oh, the people you will meet and the places you will see.

Your intercultural relationship doesn’t have to be an international one for it to expand your travel horizons. Even if you both were born in the same country, if either of you have roots elsewhere, you have more of an excuse to go out and see the world.

Unity

Intercultural relationships help us see that our similarities out number our differences. Beyond the food we eat, clothes we wear, language we speak, habits we grow up with, we all have similar hopes and dreams.

Values

Whilst all cultures value similar things, some may hold certain values higher than others.

For instance, in India it’s traditional for a son to live with his parents and a daughter to go and live with her husband’s parents. In England, children leave home and start their own family in a separate house. Therefore when this English Wife started her Indian Life, it was pretty difficult to get my head around joint family living.

However, our personal values don’t always reflect our cultural identity. You may share the same values as your partner and that may be one of the reasons your intercultural relationship words so well.

Weddings

You can have a fusion wedding, or even two weddings! I know several couples who have had both Hindu and Christian ceremonies, and others who have had beautiful fusion weddings!

Xenophobia

It’s an ugly word but the chances are, if you are in an intercultural relationship, you will experience xenophobia at some point. It may come from an aged family member or a stranger from the street. It hurts and something you, sadly, have to prepare for.

Your Own Culture

You can create your own culture with your favourite parts of each others, the best of both worlds. I don’t think there is any need to continue traditions purely for tradition sake if it isn’t fun, functional or life affirming.

Zoo Animal

You may occasionally feel like a zoo animal because, even in multicultural societies, intercultural relationships are not the norm. People will stare, and may even take photographs.

Remember: by being seen, you are normalising intercultural relationships. You are opening minds to the possibility that people from different cultures can love each other and live together in harmony.

That’s a beautiful message to spread, one the world needs.

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