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Coping With A Mixed Culture Relationship

Nov 12, 2007
As the world continues to shrink, and people become increasingly accustomed to moving country as one time they moved town, there is an increasing trend for mixed culture relationships. At one time, such relationships met with society's disapproval, but nowadays it's commonplace to see couples of obvious mixed backgrounds walking hand-in-hand in the shopping mall. If you find yourself involved with someone from a different cultural background to your own, there are ways of merging the two cultures so that rather than having two separate ones, you create a special mixed one that you can both happily live with.

Mixed culture could mean different ethnicity, different religions, different languages, or even different social status. It could even mean a combination of some or most of these! In order to merge the two, you both need to first have a good base of respect for your partner's culture. You need to learn what is important to that culture in order to see where the blending areas are. In the case of religion, this may not be possible - but if you love and respect your partner, it's not necessary for you to convert to their religion, only that you both mutually respect the other's right to your own belief system.

Things can fall apart when it comes to your respective families however. They didn't fall in love with your partner - this foreign person (even if they are from the same town and have lived their all their lives - if they are different, then to some families, they will be foreign!) has come into their lives and upset the plans they had for a traditional type of in-law relationship, and they aren't usually quiet about their displeasure and disappointment. Any mixed culture couple will anticipate trouble from this part of their life and will present a united front against both families. Sometimes it can mean that you need to reinforce your opinion that you love this person and they are 'the one' for you, and you aren't going to apologize for it, and sometimes it can just mean keeping a low profile until the family finds something else to complain about. You know your families best, as long as you both stand strong with the love you have for each other, you are taking care of what's important - your relationship.

When you realize that the mixed culture relationship is serious, you should both take an interest in each other's culture. What traditions are there? Which of these do you like? What about special days such as religious days or festivals? Make a list of the ones that are important to you as individuals and combine the list so that as a couple you have a combined list. You may not celebrate the same religious days, or you celebrate at the same time but for different reasons, for example - but that doesn't mean that you can't both enjoy the time together.

Once you have children, this combined mix will help them grow in an environment that's enriched from both cultures. They will learn the heritage supplied from both parents. Children brought up in mixed culture homes grow up accepting that both cultures are good. If there are two languages in the house, somehow they work it out and are bi-lingual at a very young age. Religion is a little more complicated, and that's an issue that you and your partner should discuss before you get to the baby stage as if one, or both, of you has strong views on this and can't or won't compromise then it could destroy your relationship. This is probably the biggest threat to your relationship - remember both families are going to be also having strong opinions about the issue - and you need to ensure that it's sorted well in advance of any babies coming in your lives.

A mixed culture relationship is one where you have two people from two very different backgrounds combining their lives to create a third. Respect for each other's culture as well as each other will ensure that even a relationship between people who have very different traditions will succeed.
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