Deal with Cultural Differences in a Relationship
Cross-cultural, interracial relationships are quite common nowadays. The term ‘culture’ encompasses a wide range of characteristics that define an individual’s way of life. It includes factors like language, religion, cuisine, music, arts, social habits, etc.
When two people belonging to different cultures and backgrounds come together to form a partnership of a lifetime, one of the biggest challenges faced by them is overcoming the cultural barriers between them. It is not too hard to bridge the cultural gaps if we follow the tips provided below.
Tips to Deal with Cultural Differences in a Relationship
1. Get to Know Each Other
The first thing you should remember is that you are individuals first who have decided to stay together because you have fallen in love with each other’s personalities. The fact that you are a product of culture should come secondary. Try to find out the similarities between you and build your relationship on those similarities. Cultural differences should never define the love in your relationship.
2. Explore and Celebrate Cultures
Being in a cross-cultural relationship gives you a golden opportunity to learn about a new culture. You should explore and gain in-depth knowledge about the culture of your partner, their customs, and traditions. Try and learn the language spoken by your partner.
Linguistic barriers can often create communication problems. Spend time with your partner’s family, celebrate the festivities and relish the cuisine. This will not only make you aware of your partner’s culture but will also make the bond between the two of you stronger. It is not necessary that you must adapt to all the beliefs and traditions present in your partner’s culture.
As an individual, you have the right to stick to your own religious and cultural beliefs. But, the willingness to accept and understand the culture of your significant other is an indicator of the love and respect you feel towards them.
3. Avoid Stereotypes
Every culture is made up of a different set of values and beliefs and the society surrounding them tend to make their assumptions about the people of a certain culture. To make your interracial relationship work, it is essential that you avoid falling into the trap of such stereotypes.
Keep an open mind and get to know your partner directly as a person in the absence of underlying presumptions. Culture has many aspects; try and understand what aspect of the culture matters the most to your partner.
If you are unsure about a particular thing or are willing to know more about something, directly ask about it to your partner in a respectful way. Assumptions are the termites of relationships. Never let them destroy you and your relationship.
4. Maintain Your Own Identity
Accepting your partner’s culture does not mean that you have to let go of yours. The effort to understand should be from both sides. If you are forced to sacrifice your faiths and beliefs to please your partner, it is not the sign of a healthy relationship. Abandoning your own identity to overcome cultural barriers is the last thing you should do in your relationship.
5. Seek Social Support
When you begin dating a person from a different background, the initial period may be hard. Owing to the rigid mindsets of the previous generations, you may even face resistance from your own family or friends.
At such times, getting involved in activities that include people from multicultural backgrounds will provide solace to you and your partner. You cannot change what others think about you and your relationship. All you can do is mingle with the ones who have your best interests at heart.
6. Think Long-term
Cultural differences not just impacts the bond of love between two individuals, it also has a strong influence on your parenting decisions. When you start thinking about marriage and having kids, you need to think over all aspects of each other’s culture thoroughly. Also, how they will affect your life and your kids.
Questions like ‘Where to get married?’, ‘What religious procedures to follow during marriage?’, ‘What faith will the kids be raised in?’ Are essential to be asked and pondered upon. Getting answers to such questions beforehand will help you navigate smoothly through the cultural workings and establish a strong foundation for your relationship.
Our cultures play an integral role in our lives. We are raised by our parents adhering to the various norms in our culture. Many characteristics of our culture get ingrained in our minds. They affect the way we think and see the world before us.
Such deep-rooted faith and beliefs can pose significant challenges when we embark on a new life with a person from a different background. However, all problems can be conquered through love, mutual respect, and understanding.