Love Without Borders: Cross Cultural Relationships
Is There a Culture-Clash in Your Relationship?
How to Deal With Cultural Differences in a Relationship
As a marriage counselor and couples therapist l know that all relationships bring a variety of challenges and opportunities for growth. At the same time, some couples — particularly those in cross-cultural relationships — feel that they have further to go in bridging the gap. Cross-cultural couples can have vastly different relationship expectations regarding gender roles in the home, the role of extended family, how to communicate, and so much more. While, ultimately, the diversity of their union can lead to an enormously strong and healthy relationship, couples from very different cultural or racial backgrounds sometimes need to work harder to create understanding and compromise.
For the record, it is important to note that everyone comes into a relationship from a different family of origin that had its own values, belief system, internal culture and way of doing things. Even individuals who may, on a surface level, appear to be of similar backgrounds may have had entirely different “family cultures” that are influencing their expectations in their relationship with their partner. (This is the underlying reason why financial therapy for couples is so necessary!)
One big strength for interracial couples and international couples is an overt awareness that they need to openly discuss and respect these differences in order to achieve congruence. In contrast, couples who make the mistake of assuming that their partner’s life experiences were similar to their own run the risk of having unspoken assumptions and expectations lead to conflict and hurt feelings. Knowing from the outset that you both have perspectives, values and expectations that are simultaneously both different and equally valuable is a huge asset.
Navigating Cultural Differences in a Relationship
It’s very easy for couples to get entrenched in conflict rooted in a core belief of “right and wrong” when it comes to how to approach various aspects of their shared life. This can be especially true around hot-button issues such as:
- “How much influence should my mother-in-law have in our family?”
- “How do we handle money as a couple?”
- “How do we parent our children together?”
- “How do we communicate with each other when we’re stressed?”
- “Who is in charge of what, around our home?”
- “How do we handle racial prejudice directed at one of us, or our children?”
These are points of conflict for many couples. However, if a couple in a bicultural marriage or with a multicultural family background has very different life experiences that they each wish to replicate in their marriage with each other… the battles can get fierce and even nasty. In contrast, cross-cultural couples who approach each other from a place of sensitivity and openness to understanding have the opportunity to learn and grow, celebrate their differences, and take the highest and best from both of their backgrounds in order to create a unique, beautiful blended culture in their new family, together.
Relationship Advice From Cross Cultural Marriage Counselors
To tackle these questions, and provide some direction for how to begin bridging the gap and building bridges to the center, I’ve asked some multicultural relationship experts to join me for this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. Relationship coach Dr. Georgiana Spradling, MFT, Tania Chikhani, M.A, and Teresa Thomas, M.A., are marriage counselors who often work with cross-cultural couples and interracial couples, and have great relationship advice for how to create peace and harmony in your gloriously diverse family.
Specifically, we’ll discuss:
- Why cross-cultural couples often get into power struggles about various aspects of their shared life.
- The shift in perspective that can help you restore the empathy in your relationship and understand each other more deeply.
- How to find ways of creating agreement, while simultaneously honoring and appreciating your differences.
- How couples with different expectations of extended family roles can find balance between boundaries and togetherness.
- How interracial couples can become a united front in understanding and confronting racial injustice, together.
Whether you're in an interracial relationship, blending a multicultural family, or simply coming to terms that you and your seemingly-similar partner are actually coming into your relationship with very different perspectives, the perspective of marriage counseling experts Dr. Georgiana, Teresa and Tania can help. I hope you join us — click the player below to listen to the conversation!
All the best,
Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast
Love Without Borders: Cross-Cultural Relationships
Spread the Love Happiness & Success
Please Rate, Review & Share the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
Tania Chikhani is a Relationship and Career Specialist with an M.A. in Clinical Psychology, and an MBA in Global Business and Marketing. She has specific training in marriage and family therapy and relationship coaching, as well as mindfulness coaching, career coaching, executive coaching, and life coaching.
Her specialty is helping you create happiness and success in all areas of your life. Her work is focused on enabling you to create and maintain passionate and fulfilling relationships while continuing to thrive in your career. She is known for seeing the love and joy that’s possible for you, and for your relationships, even through your darkest days. Read Tania’s full bio…
Feeling lonely in a relationship? Spending more time together isn't the solution. Learn how to really develop a closer, more satisfying connection.
Do you have a control freak in your life? Learn what drives controlling behavior and the best way to handle it.
Want better relationships? Try getting over yourself first. In this episode, Terry Real shares tips for moving from “me” to “we” for a happier life.
We've all endured losses recently. On this podcast, two compassionate online grief counseling experts share advice for how to cope emotionally, how to heal your heart, and how to rebuild your life after loss.
Can you be friends with your ex? It’s certainly tempting to try. In this episode, we’re exploring when it works, and when it doesn’t.
Ever wonder why relationships fail? On this podcast, we’re exploring the anatomy of a failed relationship, so you can keep yours healthy and strong.
Attachment styles in relationships are a powerful force. Learn more about your own attachment style, and how it shapes the way you love.
Need some help building confidence in dating? You’re far from alone! This episode will help you feel more confident and ready to find love.
When you change your story, you change your life. Learn how to find your stories and challenge what's holding you back.