Nobody said marriage was easy. But for those entering into a cross-cultural marriage, things can be even tougher.
That's why it's important to prevent any issues from day one.
If you're thinking of entering into a cross cultural marriage and are planning your wedding, here are some tips to think about before you tie the knot.
Don't underestimate cultural differences. It's easy to say that you both were born in the U.S. and as a result, have common culture. But you're forgetting that your families might still hold on to old customs, especially if your parents immigrated here. Don't ignore this-- remember that when you marry a person, you marry their family as well. If you ignore cultural differences or pretend they don't exist, you could find your marriage strained years down the line, when reality hits.
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Get to know the other culture. Even if your partner is not that cultural, it's wise to get to know the culture of your partner's ancestry. Familiarize yourself with some of the common customs and norms, particularly as they relate to inter-personal interactions. It's also wise to get to know any other languages, in case you have to communicate with in laws who might not be fluent in English.
Be clear and open about wedding customs. If your families come from different cultures, sit down with the families and explain the other side's cultural norms. For example, in some cultures, it's customary for the groom's side to pay for the entire wedding.
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Marriage counselor Kamal El Shaarawy recommends pre-martial counseling for those entering into cross-cultural marriages. He essentially says that a couple entering into a cross-cultural marriage needs to be certain of their compatibility.
"Both of them need to be highly flexible or at least one must be flexible. They have to be adventurous as they would need a a lot of adjustment. The family of origin differences can affect any marriage," Shaarawy tells ILLUME.
A cross cultural marriage can be a beautiful thing, but if there's improper communication at the start, there can be many complications down the line. So remember: Communicate, be open minded and learn to adapt!
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