Being in a relationship with a partner from a different culture or nation can be a challenge. In the following article, I compiled 10 tips from my personal experience and those of my clients to help them make the most of their experience:
1: ask questions
Personally I think this is the most important advice of all. If they allow each other to ask questions, they are willing to learn more about each other every day.
Tip # 2: Do not assume anything
Even if you have read about their culture or nation or have been in contact for some time, stop when you find yourself thinking: I know. Get to know your partner with freshness and openness.
Tip # 3: Learn the language
Enroll in a language class that teaches the language your partner speaks at home. If both speak a language other than their mother tongue, both must show interest in the other person’s world and an access point is their language.
Tip # 4: Be open to differences
The fact is that both are different, as much or more than any other couple. Remind yourself that you are open to different points of view, values and beliefs. It does not mean that you must accept everything, but acceptance is vital.
Tip # 5: Stop comparing
If you continually compare your culture or nation with theirs you will end up discussing who is better. Discuss the differences but do not make them a competition.
Tip # 6: Communicate
As in any relationship, communication is at the heart of it. You need to communicate early about your different points of view, values and beliefs before reaching a crisis point about whether your child should be brought up as Catholic or Islamic.
Tip # 7: Share your emotions
One of you will probably live in a different country or culture from where you grew up. It is extremely important that you share your feelings and emotions honestly along the way about what awaits you.
Tip # 8: Show interest in your partner’s culture and nation
Although you may be living where you grew up, make an effort to know your partner’s culture and nation. Plan to visit it at least once or several times if possible. Let your partner show you everything.
Tip # 9: Discuss future plans
Start talking about future plans at the beginning of the relationship: How do you want to raise your children? Where you would like to live? What religion do you want to practice? What does it mean for your family to be in a relationship with someone from another culture or nation?
Tip # 10: Talk about your past
Know the history of each one, talk about your childhood, show photos and share other important aspects of your life. This will allow you to enter into each other’s world model.
Many of these suggestions, obviously, not only apply to multicultural or multinational relationships, but can also add others from your personal experience.