How Culture Can Affect Your Relationship

Intercultural-MarriageCultural can affect your relationship more than you may think even if you or your partner seems perfectly acclimated to the current culture in which you’ve been raised.  In my practice, I’ve seen a number of clients who are in intercultural or bi-racial relationships and, over the years, it’s become clear to me that, in many cases, what the client thought was a negative dynamic due to a personality or attachment issue was really a cultural belief being looked at through the wrong lens (the lens of their own cultural bias.)

A relationship can be considered intercultural even if both partners were born and raised in the environment where they live.  The question is really HOW were they raised and with what cultural values? In the case of many people I’ve worked with, we have talked about parents who are from a completely different culture, who coming here as adults, raised their children according to the cultural customs and mores of the country from which they came.

This does not mean that the (now) adult child in question who is my client or the partner of my client is not also acclimated or assimilated into the larger culture in which they find themselves. They often grow-up possessing traits of both cultures.

Going into cross-cultural relationships KNOWING that there are bound to be differences in perspective directly related to cultural differences is half the battle in many cases.

The following article by Fouad Alaa outlines a few of the ways in which culture can cause controversy between couples.  However, you can add to the list: level and type of attachment to family members (including extended family), the way in which emotion is expressed  (or not) and the way material goods are prized (or not), just to name a few.

THERE’S a beautiful honeymoon phase at the beginning of every relationship where couples fall madly in love with each other regardless of any major differences.

After the honeymoon phase comes the adaptation phase. Personal quirks that used to be cute become annoying. Discomfort, issues and even fights take place; doubly so for interracial couples.

Every culture affects our personal habits and preferences. In interracial relationships, personal habits might cause issues the same way they would when they are acceptable in one country but not tolerated for long in another.

A lot of interracial couples mistake cultural influence for personality flaws. The ability to differentiate between a cultural norm and a personal quirk is very important to prevent any misunderstandings or issues regarding compatibility.

Click here to read the entire article in The Good Men Project.