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Overcoming the challenges of cross-cultural marriages  

Written By:
Syra Salam

With 7.89 billion people in the world, there are many different types of cultures to which different groups of people belong. Similarly, out of the 63.7 million people in the UK, around 5.3 are non-British. This shows that a good number of cultures are integrated into the UK alone. Mixing different cultures results in a better understanding of the rich and colourful world outside your home country. Cross-cultural marriages not only diversify your life but also introduces you to spectacular traditions. 

Simultaneously, cross-cultural marriages bring about many challenges. Some of the major issues and their solutions are listed below: 

Acceptance: 

There are many instances where parents don’t fathom their children marrying someone who belongs to a different culture than theirs. This denial can put pressure, strain, and stress on the relationship. 

For children, the approval and happiness of their parents in the significant other they choose is their utmost priority. Hence, when said parents do not approve of their partner, children feel obligated to do something about it. 

The easiest way to go about this is to give your parents time. The marriage of their children is a great step in their life, so obviously they want what’s best for them.  

Introducing your significant other’s culture, traditions and norms slowly will help the grasp onto the fact that their child is grown up and wants them to be happy in this decision. 

Instead of getting your partner to change and adapt, it would be best to integrate both cultures and devise new traditions, understand where each person is coming from, and stick with them.  

This will show your parents that you love your partner and that you are both extremely compatible despite different cultures. Surely, it will make your parents look at the cultural difference and accept your partner for who they are. 

Language: 

Language barriers between couples can be one of the biggest issues in terms of communication. This would be a bigger issue if the inlaws of each cannot understand your partner. 

The best way to deal with this is to make sure you or your partner have command over each other’s mother tongue, or that both share a common language. That way not only would you have issues communicating, but you can also convey your partner’s messgaes to your family, or better yet, get them interested in your partner’s language. 

Dowry: 

Many cultures do not accept dowry but some cultures do. This could cause issues with conflicting cultural marriages.  

Majority of cultures do not ask for dowry when marrying their daughters off. Whilst, many cultures are opposite.  

The best way to deal with this is to understand both cultures and come to a unanimous agreement. Working with a compromise from both sides is much better than having one side of the family be bitter – integrating both cultures as much as possible is the most important part of cross-cultural marriages. 

Naming Children: 

Whilst this can be an issue for same-culture marriages as well, it arises more due to drastically different names in different cultures. 

Naming children in some cultures extends from only the parents to extended family members which can also cause multiple conflicts.  

In issues such as, who matter the most are the parents. The parents should come to a solid decision of integrating names from both cultures, such as a European first name and an Indian middle name so both sides are content.  

Though, it is to note that whatever name you choose should be something the child will not get bullied for in school. 

Religion and Worship: 

Each culture and community have different methods of worshipping and different religions they believe in. 

When it comes to God, most cultures are sensitive. So, it is highly unfeasible to force your method of worship or religion onto your partner. 

Instead, the best way to go about this is to let your partner follow whatever religion they want to. People find solace in worship, so it isn’t right for you to take away their solace. Respect in terms of religion is the most suitable solution to this. 

Attire: 

Many cultures take pride in their traditional clothing, for example, the Hanbok in South Korea.  

Clothing is one of the most personal choices a person can have. Thus, it is advisable to let your partner wear whatever they want.  

Attire is the only thing that does not harm anyone at all, it is purely opinion-based. Dictating what your partner should wear and especially restricting them from wearing their traditional clothing will put a strain on your relationship.  

Therefore, let your partner wear whatever they want – maybe even try their traditional clothing yourself to see if you like it! 

Marriage Rituals: 

Marriage is a big deal in all cultures. Subsequently, each culture has its rituals and traditions when it comes to marriages. 

This could raise a conflict between couples; some rituals may be opposite to your partner’s culture’s rituals. A big example is how some weddings have white dresses for brides but some have red and other colours.  

The best way to deal with this is to satisfy both sides. Having more than one event for your wedding or choosing to wear two different outfits for the main event and the reception could be an option. Or creating a fusion outfit that gives a nod to both cultures. 

All in all, cross-cultural marriages are very unique. They come with their own set of issues and problems but so does every other marriage. At the end of the day, the ones who matter are the couple.  

The best advice that can be given to make any cross-cultural marriage a success is to love, appreciate, and understand your partner and their needs. Marriage is a huge step in your life, so taking it for granted for the sake of not compromising is a foolish mistake.  

Cherishing your partner and sticking by them through thick and thin is the perfect way to overcome the challenges of cross-cultural marriages.  

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