Being in a relationship with somebody from a different culture to yours can open you up to a beautiful new world you have never experienced before. You get the opportunity to learn about a new culture first-hand and engage in lively conversation about cultural differences with your partner. However, there are also some challenges and boundaries that you may need to overcome for the relationship to be successful. 

Here are some ways to overcome the cultural boundaries and differences that may arise in your relationship. 

1. Respect

This first step is an obvious one, but still one that we may forget from time to time. It is extremely important to always respect your partner’s culture and any differences that there may be between you. Whether these are religious differences, language differences, or others, the respect for each other must always be present. When the relationship is just starting out a cultural difference may jump out at you both when you least expect it, like when you are cooking your first meal together. The more time goes on, the more you may realise that there are differences in some of the bigger areas in your life and values you hold. Keeping open communication about these differences whilst using respectful language will allow your relationship to grow.

2. Compromise

It is important to note that if your partner is a foreigner, and you both live in your native country, it does not mean that your partner has to be the only one to make the effort to fit into your culture. Sometimes your cultural differences may arise in situations where you may both need to compromise and find a solution that will be good enough for the two of you. For example, if you decide to get married or to have children you may need to find a way to combine both cultures in the best way possible. Planning ahead for these situations and keeping open communication about them is important. 

3. Experience Each Other’s Cultures

Sometimes the best way to understand your partner is to experience their culture first-hand. This can be done by travelling to their country of origin and spending time getting to know the people and traditions that they love and hold dear to them. Experiencing these things rather than just talking about them can help you to understand the feelings and emotions tied to your partner’s culture.
Making an effort to learn their language or attend festivities from their culture can show your partner that you are making an effort to understand them in this way too.

4. Couples Therapy

Sometimes some couples may feel the need to talk through their cultural differences in therapy. Having an objective therapist that can guide you both to have respectful discussions with each other can help you to overcome these difficulties. The therapist may be able to facilitate conversations between the two of you that you were struggling to have alone. If there is a major difference regarding religious beliefs for example, the therapist may be able to help you talk about what part religion plays in your relationship or in your individual lives and how you can accept each other’s beliefs without letting go of your own. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Lisa Laspina is a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist who is currently working with Willingness. She is reading for a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy.