Multi-cultural Couples

Whether you both come from different countries, or you’re in a multi-race or multi-ethnic marriage, you’re likely to experience some significant obstacles. Coming from another culture and being in a bi-cultural marriage myself, I have a special sensitivity and awareness of the ethnic, cultural and religious differences multi-cultural couples face, which, if not dealt with adequately, can pose major stumbling blocks to a relationship. Multi-cultural couples are subject to special stresses and strains beyond those experienced in most marriages, because such marriages have a built-in difference in areas that can be especially sensitive. Areas of conflict faced by many multi-cultural couples are:

  • Family language
  • Religion and holidays
  • Child rearing
  • Extended family
  • Gender roles
  • Prejudices
  • What country to live in

At least by the time you have children, difficult questions likely arise such as: How much limit setting do toddlers need? What does a father’s role look like, and what role does the mother-in-law play in raising the children? Should babies be on a schedule for sleeping, eating? Get medication for pain, fever? Where does the baby sleep? How long should the in-laws stay when they visit? Will they live with us when they get elderly? Should moms stay at home? Can my spouse work in this country? Will one of us change their mind about which country we should live in?

Many of these questions might come up in any marriage, but with multi-cultural couples, they often involve assumptions and expectations that are so much a part of the fabric of your background and identity that you may not even be aware of them or their intensity.

On the other hand, there are special rewards for those who are willing to manage differences in core beliefs with their partners and families. Multi-cultural marriage and family therapy can help you draw out the nuances of your and your spouse’s understanding of family relationships, values and beliefs (which you both may never have fully thought through before) and help you negotiate a healthy balance.



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