Cross-cultural relationships

Cross-cultural relationships
Cross-cultural relationships

With increasing globalization in the world, there is more interaction among different races and cultures. This inevitably leads to more and more cross-cultural relationships and this can turn out to be a wonderful thing. However, we need to be realistic about the challenges and obstacles that such relationships face and that most of them are not external problems.

The politically correct view, and certainly one held by the couple is that “yes, there are challenges, but love will conquer all”. You may hear many such couples say it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks, they love each other and that is all that matters. It is difficult to accept, but the reality is that love does not conquer all, and unless there are certain conditions that make the challenges easier to overcome, the marriage will fail. The obvious and more familiar challenges are the cultural differences within the families, but the most important is how the partner’s culture has shaped the way they think.

Indeed, the more difficult challenge is bridging the cultural gulf between the couple themselves. Popular belief is that with enough understanding and patience, they will understand each other’s cultural differences, or that it wouldn’t even be a factor as long as there is love.

Clash of the family values again …

The focus here will be on cultural clashes between partners from Western and Eastern cultures. The first cultural difference they are likely to encounter is the importance of family. The importance of family is consistent throughout the East, while not as much in the West. The likely problems here would be the ones high- lighted in the passage on “Family matters” above. A Westerner would have to think about whether they would be willing to have a much greater family interaction in their lives. An Easterner with an uncompromising Western spouse would have to think about whether they are willing to “give up” their family. If not, then this match is unlikely to succeed.

Connor was divorced and had lived on his own for many years. He was overjoyed when he met Lucy who seemed to be everything he had always wanted in a woman. However, what he couldn’t understand was why she visited her parents every week, and why she constantly received phone calls from them, and from her siblings and cousins as well. Not only that, they were often calling on her to help them with all kinds of matters.

She didn’t know how to explain the culture to him. She just said that was the way things were with them. He said that she had her own life to live, they should solve their own problems, and that she was just being used by her family.

After a while of listening to him about it, she started believing him and started to withdraw from her family. So much so she started giving her own family the cold shoulder and repeated to them his line that they were just using her. Sometime later Connor and Lucy had a big argument and they broke up. She then did some thinking and finally realized that her new-found attitude to her family was wrong and sheepishly she went back to her family fold again.