Family traditions can clash.
Often influenced by religion, family traditions generally vary between cultures, so when and how you celebrate major holidays and other special days can easily cause clashes. Your partner’s family might celebrate occasions which don’t even exist in your own culture and it can be hard to muster up the appropriate enthusiasm. Good communication and planning is essential, but overall, I would recommend finding out how your partner’s family celebrates and try to fit in.
Pop-culture differences can surprise you.
It’s not a deal breaker, but you might be surprised at how affected you are by differences in your pop culture references to the point where you can feel you don’t have much in common. Try sharing your history with your partner. Sit down one night and play each other your top five favourite songs growing up, watch his favourite movie (possibly with subtitles) and find your common ground in other areas. You won’t ever love the same things, but you can learn more about each other in the process.
Food really is personal.
Haggis, sauerkraut, roasted guinea pig… One person’s delicacy is another person’s gag reflex trigger. Different cultures feature different food and you might be surprised at the meals your husband can wolf down without his eyes watering. If your husband enjoys food you can’t stand, just let him be. If you learn to cook his favorite meal and dish it up regularly, you’ll be in his heart forever.
Language barriers can freak you out.
Not having the same native tongue as your partner can unearth issues far beyond the obvious. One of you will likely spend your relationship speaking the other’s language, and this is usually fine until it comes to extreme emotions or complicated issues. Even if you’re fluent, trying to express your emotions in another language is generally a challenge. So if your partner is the one speaking your native language – be patient and kind.
His mom can be closer than you think.
I think there are mother-in-law jokes in just about every culture, but different cultural backgrounds can add fuel to this fire. In some cultures, boys are particularly doted upon and your husband’s mother might appear over the top in her affections and attentions. If he’s got a loving relationship with his mother, it’s actually a pretty wonderful thing. Pushing up against it rarely ends well, and if you can accept and support their bond, he’ll be very grateful.
Family can complicate things.
All families have their quirks, their skeletons, and their unique way of communicating; but in some cultures, there are norms which can take some getting used to. Cultures may be completely the opposite – normally ones where societal hierarchy exists – and you’ll be unlikely to find someone sharing their differing opinion openly. My advice is to share stories of your differences and come to an agreement on how you can make it easier upon each other when you spend time with family.
Sacrifice is hard.
You may have met your partner while travelling or perhaps temporarily working in another country. One of you leaves your home country and settles in the other – and this is a move of great sacrifice. If your partner has come to your country, they’ve given up closeness to family, friends, and hometown comforts. You might feel they’ve received the better deal because they came from a country with several disadvantages, but the truth is that most people leave their heart in the place they grew up.
Gender norms can’t always be changed.
You may be surprised to discover that your husband has expectations of gender norms and roles in a relationship. In some cultures, women who balance work, family and marriage are respected and others are expected to stay home. My best advice is asking lots of questions and getting to know beforehand how your partner feels about key issues related to gender roles. Once you’re married, it might be too late for either of you to expect the other to change!
Other people’s prejudice will affect you.
Suspicion, prejudice and judgment are alive and well in our society and it’s easy for people to jump to the wrong conclusion. When I met Andrés and told people I was engaged to a South American in his 20s, I often encountered a lot of judgment. This is just one of those things you cannot change. People will always have their opinion, and if you believe in your love, you have to ignore the doubters.
Dating and Relationship Advisor Cathryn Mora has done a lot of living compared to other 40 something-year-olds. She feels passionately about saving relationships and works with researchers and psychologists to show people that one small action per day can change everything. To refuel your commitment and reignite passion, check out LoveSpark.me.