Interracial couples/ Interfaith couples
In our diverse world, marriages and romantic relationships between individuals from different cultures are happening more and more. While celebrating this diversity, it’s important to recognize that choosing a partner from different cultural background and developing a relationship can bring its challenges. At the beginning, someone with different cultural background might be interesting; you might enjoy the differences, and the relationship can be exciting. However, intercultural couples, interfaith couples, and interracial couples all face unique obstacles in their relationships.
The culture that we were born into plays an important role in shaping our behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. Our culture has an impact on our values, expectations, and relationships at large. Many times, individuals are not consciously aware of what values and expectations are important for them. Additionally, they might not predict how their differences can impact the dynamics of their relationship. After a while, differences in faith, ethnicity, race, and/or country of origin may lead to relationship conflicts.
Country of Origin: When one partner is an immigrant, they can be more familiar with their home country and culture. In contrast, the local partner is usually not intimately familiar with the unique cultural elements of their spouse’s home country. While the immigrant partner is typically more prepared to engage in a relationship with someone from the new culture, the local partner might encounter issues. They may expect their partner to accommodate to their local culture quickly, and might not be ready to accept differences. In this situation, being culturally sensitive and not expecting your partner to abandon their culture is important. Moreover, visiting your partner’s home country, accepting the partner’s country of origin as a second home, and trying to learn more about their traditions can be helpful.
Language: Sometimes, each partner’s native tongue might differ, resulting in communication difficulties. In this situation, one’s choice of words, use of sarcasm, or use of slang might lead to palpable misunderstandings. Furthermore, when the couple has a baby and the child picks up each parent’s native language, that might lead them to speak different language in the house—an event that may cause the other parent to feel left out. Trying to master your mutual language and attempting to learn your partner’s mother tongue can benefit your communication, thus preventing many conflicts.
Faith: Practicing different religions and possessing different beliefs can be challenging for both partners, as they are forced to accept core differences. Many times, individuals might expect or demand their partners to convert to their religion or abandon their own beliefs. This is especially prevalent when the couple has a baby; the conversations around the child’s faith can escalate into conflict. While some couples are open to negotiate and more likely to compromise, others might be against leaving their values. Learning about one another’s beliefs, respecting holidays, and accepting each other’s values are crucial to the success of an interfaith relationship.
Race: Different racial backgrounds do not merely impact physical appearances. Interracial couples often experience conflicts regarding their racial background; moreover, they might be hurt or offended because their partner is potentially insensitive to their experience. In this situation, partners are recommended to have conversations about the challenges their partner has faced due to their race, and how that affected them emotionally. Hearing about their experiences, having empathy, and being more sensitive to their experiences will significantly help the relationship.
Relationship Roles: Couples from different cultural backgrounds might also have different expectations regarding roles in the relationship. For example, some individuals may anticipate men to be breadwinners, while expecting women to deal with household chores and take care of the children. Having conversations and reaching compromises about finances, household chores, and raising a child can be helpful.
Family of Origin: Sometimes, an individual’s relationship with their family of origin might cause some problems in their romantic relationship. In some cultures, an enmeshed relationship with the family of origin might lead to the parents’ overinvolvement in the couple’s relationship. One partner might share many details about their private life with their family, which can bother their partner. Alternatively, in some cultures, a disengaged relationship with the family of origin might lead the partner to feel unloved and unaccepted by their partner’s family. Having dismissive parents can cause more issues if the partner desires emotional support from them, such as expecting closeness during stressful situations or life transitions, or expecting visits on special holidays.
Furthermore, each individual’s different communication styles and ways of expressing their needs can affect their relationship dynamics. In some cultures, people might be unwilling to show love or affection in front of others. Many times, unspoken expectations can lead to misunderstandings and build communication barriers.
Forming a relationship with someone who has different cultural background requires both partners to contribute extra effort into the relationship. They must communicate openly about their differences and be willing to compromise. Accepting each other’s cultural heritage, having an open attitude toward differences, exploring what is important to them, negotiating differences, and creating shared values will help both partners to cope with challenges, making their relationship stronger.
Couple therapy (marriage counseling/premarital counseling) can be a great way to avoid a permanent separation, providing a solid foundation to deepen your current connection. I provide couples counseling in Bucks County, PA, and I welcome couples from culturally diverse backgrounds. I earned my second master’s degree in Couple and Family Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University. My approach involves emotionally-focused couples therapy, which is one of the most empirically validated and effective therapies for improving distressed couple relationships. I can assist both you and your partner as you learn to understand each other, address old conflicts, move past hurts and betrayals, and increase your intimacy. We offer couple counseling in Bucks County, PA for communication, conflict resolution, affair recovery, and rebuilding intimacy and trust. It is my mission to help you tackle relationship distress and increase your connection.