Being in a relationship with a partner from a different culture and or nation can be challenging. In the following article I’ve collected 10 tips from personal experience and those of my clients to help you make the best out of your experience:
Tip #1: Ask questions
I personally think this is the most important tip of all. If you allow each other to ask questions you are willing to learn more about the other every day.
Tip #2: Assume nothing
Even though you might have read about their culture or nation or have been in a relationship for a while, stop yourself when you catch yourself thinking: I know this already. Meet your partner with freshness and openness.
Tip #3: Learn the language
Enroll in a language class teaching the language your partner speaks at home. If you’re both speaking a language different from your mother tongue you will both have to show interest in the other person’s world and one point of access is their language.
Tip #4: Be open to differences
The fact is that you are both different, as much or even more than any other couple. Remind yourself to be open to different viewpoints, values, and beliefs. It does not mean you have to agree to everything, but acceptance is vital.
Tip #5: Stop comparing
If you continuously compare your culture or nation with theirs you will end up arguing who is better. Discuss differences but don’t make it a competition.
Tip #6: Communicate
Like in any relationship, communication lies at the heart of it. You need to communicate early about your differing view, values, and beliefs before you hit a crisis point of whether your child should be raised Catholic or Islamic.
Tip #7: Share your emotions
One of you will probably live in a country or culture different from where they grew up. It is of utmost importance that you share your feelings and emotions honestly along the way about what’s coming up for you.
Tip #8: Show interest in your partner’s culture and nation
Even though you might be living where you grew up, make an effort to learn about your partner’s culture and nation. Plan to visit it at least once or multiple times if possible. Let your partner show you around.
Tip #9: Discuss future plans
Start to discuss future plans early in the relationship: How do you want to bring up your children? Where would you want to live? What religion do you want to practice? What does it mean to your family to be in a relationship with someone from another culture or nation?
Tip #10: Talk about your past
Find out about each other’s history, talk about your childhoods, show each other photos and share other important aspects of your life. This will allow you to enter into each other’s model of the world.
Many of these suggestions obviously don’t just apply to multicultural or multinational relationships and you might add others from your personal experience.