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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have been wondering recently how cultural background affects the likelihood of marriages succeeding.

I know a number of friends who are in a multi-racial or multi-faith relationships and are very happy. I also have a few friends who are married to partners from a different country/continent. I for one being British, am married to an American lady but sadly, I have filed for a divorce. I have also read some relationship guidance books which give advice on what couples should do with and for each other which got me thinking (now that's a dangerous thing;)

Question is:

DO you think there is a cultural context which some of these books overlook? How much do you think culture affects the way couples are able to relate to each other? I am very interested in your views.
Feel free to use your own definition of 'culture'
 

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I will give my 2 cents. I haven't been involved in any inter-cultural relationship though. My observations are based on growing up in one of the most culturally diverse countries and then living in USA for a good part of the last decade.

What I have seen so far, in inter-cultural marriages, the chance of survival is better. IMHO, both partners tend to put more effort in understanding the difficulties and challenges due to possible differences in views and hence tend to be more open in communications. My experience might be conditional on the background of the people I associate with, but I have often seen inter-cultural marriages being happier and longer.

My definition of cultural difference is any variation in language/religion/race.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I will give my 2 cents. I haven't been involved in any inter-cultural relationship though. My observations are based on growing up in one of the most culturally diverse countries and then living in USA for a good part of the last decade.

What I have seen so far, in inter-cultural marriages, the chance of survival is better. IMHO, both partners tend to put more effort in understanding the difficulties and challenges due to possible differences in views and hence tend to be more open in communications. My experience might be conditional on the background of the people I associate with, but I have often seen inter-cultural marriages being happier and longer.

My definition of cultural difference is any variation in language/religion/race.
Nice definition!
 

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I don't know about religion. That seem like a hard barrier to cross if you are a born again Christian married to a Muslim or some other kind of religions that are oppose to one another.

It seems people have really made stride crossing racial barriers.

However, customs also seem like it could be a little difficult, especially cusoms that are deep seated and highly regarded, like arrange marriages.

Languages - I really don't know about that one. Racial, customs, and religion differences I have all seen in play, but not language barriers.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I don't know about religion. That seem like a hard barrier to cross if you are a born again Christian married to a Muslim or some other kind of religions that are oppose to one another.

It seems people have really made stride crossing racial barriers.

However, customs also seem like it could be a little difficult, especially cusoms that are deep seated and highly regarded, like arrange marriages.

Languages - I really don't know about that one. Racial, customs, and religion differences I have all seen in play, but not language barriers.
You raise a good point about religion. I see far fewer inter-faith relationships as I do inter-racial, cross-continent/national ones
 

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A person's personality is shaped by culture, family background, and religion( if they have one). And I think family background and his religion affect a person a lot.

My husband is from Canada (western culture), and I am from China (eastern culture). He wasn't good with money, he spent whatever he earned. I think that's cultural influence because in western countries, you have good welfare system, you don't need to worry about saving for your old age. He is also more open about sex, like trying different positions and various places, I think that's also cultural influence.

But his other personalities like loyalty, being responsible, and good at self-control, I think he got them from his religion. After so many years of going to their meetings, you get that gradually. I am glad that he grew up in this religion.

He is a loner, and sometimes cheap, I think he got these from his family (mostly his father's influence).

So when you look at a person, there are lots of things to consider.

I think it's important for couples to understand each other's background, no matter if they are from the same culture or different cultures. Very often when we have argument, it's due to misunderstanding. How do you have less misunderstanding, the only way is by honest and open communication.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
On a more specific note, I am wondering is TAMers consider that cultural factors are ignored in some of the relationship guide books.

For example, I would guess that a huge proportion of these are written by North American authors (I haven't read that many so I have no evidence for this statement). However, I have come to understand first hand that American culture is rather different to British culture as are the general styles of communication (dangerous generalisation - I know but ...)

If my generalisations are accurate, should I then be worried by some of these books, if I was say from the Middle East, Africa or South-East Asia - perhaps even Europe?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
A person's personality is shaped by culture, family background, and religion( if they have one). And I think family background and his religion affect a person a lot.

My husband is from Canada (western culture), and I am from China (eastern culture). He wasn't good with money, he spent whatever he earned. I think that's cultural influence because in western countries, you have good welfare system, you don't need to worry about saving for your old age. He is also more open about sex, like trying different positions and various places, I think that's also cultural influence.

But his other personalities like loyalty, being responsible, and good at self-control, I think he got them from his religion. After so many years of going to their meetings, you get that gradually. I am glad that he grew up in this religion.

He is a loner, and sometimes cheap, I think he got these from his family (mostly his father's influence).

So when you look at a person, there are lots of things to consider.

I think it's important for couples to understand each other's background, no matter if they are from the same culture or different cultures. Very often when we have argument, it's due to misunderstanding. How do you have less misunderstanding, the only way is by honest and open communication.
Hey thanks for broadening this to also include family background in to the culture. I think this is so important. How have you been able to overcome any cultural differences in say attitude to finances, sex, show of affection, domestic responsibilities etc?
 

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Hey thanks for broadening this to also include family background in to the culture. I think this is so important. How have you been able to overcome any cultural differences in say attitude to finances, sex, show of affection, domestic responsibilities etc?
Finances: I just showed him how good I am with money. I know how much money we make; I know what our expenses are, and there is a plan right away. I told him how important it is for us to save. I don't want to live a life which I have to worry about money. If I don't want that problem, I know we have to work hard and make a certain amount. But I also know we shouldn't live beyond our means. He agrees with me. Now he is grateful to me because we are in a very good financial situation. He lets me manage our money, never questions.

Sex: I love sex, and I need a man who is good at sex. So we are a good match. He helped me become more open about sex. A good match between western and eastern culture.

Show of affection: My husband is very good at showing his affection, and I love it. I think that's cultural influence. That's what eastern culture needs. We are very reserved and subtle. All the hugging, kissing, caressing, and groping are what we lack.

Domestic responsibilities: I just assumed that I would be doing all the cooking and cleaning. I never expected my husband to help me. But after we got married, he started helping me right away. Before we bought our apartment, there was only laundry. We did our laundry together. A studio didn't need much cleaning or organizing. Since we bought our apartment, I have been doing the cooking and cleaning; my husband has been doing the dishes and laundry. I appreciate the fact that he is sharing house chores with me. I didn't even need to ask him to do it, he just took the job himself. My husband thinks that he should do house chores because I also work and contribute financially. This thinking is different from eastern thinking. A lot of men in Taiwan don't do anything at home. I don't think I would like a man who doesn't help out at home especially if the wife also works. If I don't work, then taking care of everything at home is my job. I won't expect him to do anything at home.
 

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I think that before two people from different cultures get married, they should do their best to understand their soon to be spouse's back round, customs, and religion. A persons religion for example is very personal and should be respected. IMO it doesn't matter what name you use for the Almighty, when in fact it's the same God, just different name.

I think the biggest problem is not the two people that are in love but the families who really make it tough for them. They put so much pressure on the couple that if you go against the family your an outcast.

Just a really small example. When my second daughter was born, we had to decide where to get her baptized. I was raised Catholic and my now ex wife was Methodist. We solved the problem in a simple way. We flipped a coin. She won so we had her baptized in a Methodist church. I told my parents and my Mother wouldn't attend. I asked why and she said it went against her faith. I said this is your grand daughter and she wouldn't budge. The only thing I wanted was for her to be baptized and when my Mother refused to come, I looked at her and calmly said "fine, stay home, it's your loss not mine" and that was that. The Minister sat me down and assured me that the Methodist version was almost the same as the Catholic one and I told the Minister that he didn't owe me a explanation, I just want her baptized. Be damned if I was going to be put in the crosshairs by anyone. My kid and my rules and too bad if they couldn't compromise a little. Like going to a baptism in a non Catholic church was a one way ticket visit Beelzebub.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Finances: I just showed him how good I am with money. I know how much money we make; I know what our expenses are, and there is a plan right away. I told him how important it is for us to save. I don't want to live a life which I have to worry about money. If I don't want that problem, I know we have to work hard and make a certain amount. But I also know we shouldn't live beyond our means. He agrees with me. Now he is grateful to me because we are in a very good financial situation. He lets me manage our money, never questions.

Sex: I love sex, and I need a man who is good at sex. So we are a good match. He helped me become more open about sex. A good match between western and eastern culture.

Show of affection: My husband is very good at showing his affection, and I love it. I think that's cultural influence. That's what eastern culture needs. We are very reserved and subtle. All the hugging, kissing, caressing, and groping are what we lack.

Domestic responsibilities: I just assumed that I would be doing all the cooking and cleaning. I never expected my husband to help me. But after we got married, he started helping me right away. Before we bought our apartment, there was only laundry. We did our laundry together. A studio didn't need much cleaning or organizing. Since we bought our apartment, I have been doing the cooking and cleaning; my husband has been doing the dishes and laundry. I appreciate the fact that he is sharing house chores with me. I didn't even need to ask him to do it, he just took the job himself. My husband thinks that he should do house chores because I also work and contribute financially. This thinking is different from eastern thinking. A lot of men in Taiwan don't do anything at home. I don't think I would like a man who doesn't help out at home especially if the wife also works. If I don't work, then taking care of everything at home is my job. I won't expect him to do anything at home.
Did you discuss/investigate any or much of these key areas of your relationship before you got married or you worked it out as you went along?

BTW, very well done you two. Fantastiche
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Did you discuss/investigate any or much of these key areas of your relationship before you got married or you worked it out as you went along?

BTW, very well done you two. Fantastiche
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I don't think we did any discussion about how to run a marriage before we got married. We spent a lot of time talking about our past and getting to know each other.

When I met my husband, I just felt he is the man I yearn for. My husband took it slowly and he made sure I am the woman he wants to spend his life with. That's his personality.

For the past eight years, we have just been working as a team to make our life happy. In a marriage, there are usually two happy people or two miserable people, two winners or two losers.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I don't think we did any discussion about how to run a marriage before we got married. We spent a lot of time talking about our past and getting to know each other.

When I met my husband, I just felt he is the man I yearn for. My husband took it slowly and he made sure I am the woman he wants to spend his life with. That's his personality.

For the past eight years, we have just been working as a team to make our life happy. In a marriage, there are usually two happy people or two miserable people, two winners or two losers.
I think you raise some good points there.
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Show of affection: My husband is very good at showing his affection, and I love it. I think that's cultural influence. That's what eastern culture needs. We are very reserved and subtle. All the hugging, kissing, caressing, and groping are what we lack.
This is interesting. Was it hard for you to receive/give affection since you grew up like that as you say "very reserved and subtle."

I ask because with the 5 Love Language people here on TAM say if affection is not their love language it is awkward and hard to give it. But the interesting thing about you, Greenleaf, is that perhaps it was there but would never have come out were it not for your husband of a different culture?
 

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This is interesting. Was it hard for you to receive/give affection since you grew up like that as you say "very reserved and subtle."

I ask because with the 5 Love Language people here on TAM say if affection is not their love language it is awkward and hard to give it. But the interesting thing about you, Greenleaf, is that perhaps it was there but would never have come out were it not for your husband of a different culture?
In our culture, there is no hugging from our parents. No hugging from friends or relatives either. When we are little, our parents would hold us or carry us around, but I think the hugging and cuddling stop when we are about ten. Lovers hug and kiss each other when they are still infatuated with each other. But after they get married for some time, a lot of physical affection stops. We don't say "I love you" either. We show our affection from doing things for one another.

I didn't get much hugging or cuddling when I was little, maybe I need it even more because I didn't have it.
 

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iBolt,

Sad to see you here fella, I'm originally from across the pond and yeah I found huge cultural differences when I was married to my ex wife, the biggest for me was the family unit I didn't just marry her I married the whole family, I guess they look at like your away from your family so they make up for it. But in general as you know stuff upper lip and a cuppa will get you through anything.

I hope proceedings go well for you.
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I live in an extremely religious, culturally and ethnically diverse country.
No " dominant " races in our society, and inter religious / cultural marriages are the norm in every single strata of society.
Even the " first couple " [The president & his wife ] are a
mixed race / mixed religious marriage.
Hindus marry Muslims , Muslims marry Christians etc.

Interfaith and inter cultural couples tend to be more moderate in their religious beliefs and cultural customs. A lot of compromising takes place.
 

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iBolt,

Sad to see you here fella, I'm originally from across the pond and yeah I found huge cultural differences when I was married to my ex wife, the biggest for me was the family unit I didn't just marry her I married the whole family, I guess they look at like your away from your family so they make up for it. But in general as you know stuff upper lip and a cuppa will get you through anything.

I hope proceedings go well for you.
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If you marry someone from the Philippines and China, that's something you have to be aware of.

We are instilled strong family responsibilities into our brain. We feel the need to look after our families.

If the spouse is from a rich family, then they will support you financially; if the spouse is from a poor family, then she feels the need to send money home. I have been sending money home ever since I left home. 17 years already.
 

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I live in an extremely religious, culturally and ethnically diverse country.
No " dominant " races in our society, and inter religious / cultural marriages are the norm in every single strata of society.
Even the " first couple " [The president & his wife ] are a
mixed race / mixed religious marriage.
Hindus marry Muslims , Muslims marry Christians etc.

Interfaith and inter cultural couples tend to be more moderate in their religious beliefs and cultural customs. A lot of compromising takes place.
I didn't have a religion before I got married. I am not against my husband's religion. There is a lot of wisdom in the Bible. I am not against any religion. I like to study Buddhism too. There are a lot of good things in these religions, but there are a lot of things which I find hard to take into. I study them, take what I want to take to shape my personality, but I won't challenge them either. I keep quiet when I don't agree.

I do find my husband's religion strict, and I have to do something which I don't feel happy doing, but I still do it, just to keep my mother-in-law happy. My husband and I are on the same team.
 

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I think intercultural marriages are successful when people compromise. My ex husband was from the middle east, and while we may have shared the same religion, we disagreed about a lot of other things, from how to pay for expenses and how often to visit family. I used to blame a lot of those problems on culture, but after being divorced and remarrying someone who is also from a different culture, I see that wasn't the case.

Yes, culture clashes can cause problems in marriage. Clearly, as you have mentioned, communication styles are very different. This even occurs between people who come from different parts of the US. I know my cousin, who is from the south, married a guy from NY. Her whole family had a hard time with it and it put pressure on her, which ultimately impacted their relationship.

I can see in my current marriage that things can work out quite well if you are willing to be OPEN about your feelings and honest. You have to compromise together to make a good agreement that will help you sort out small disputes. Besides, the cultural differences can bring a lot of flavor to a relationship, but the people have to be willing to be open minded and not feel that "MY WAY IS THE RIGHT WAY". I find that many times people who think there is only one way to do something are terribly boring anyway.

Also, in my current marriage, our families are supportive of us being together. At first, my family was very angry, but as they got to know him, they have calmed down. It can put a lot of pressure on a couple if one of the families is not supportive. And age has a lot to do with it. I am much more flexible as I have lived longer because I see now the benefit of it, where as in my first marriage I was more rigid.
 
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