Marriage Missions International

Thinking of Marrying Someone From Another Culture?

Husband and WifeMarrying someone from another nation can be exciting! There are so many things that are new and different, interesting and challenging. These same things can be a source of frustration and conflict, misunderstanding and hurt. Before you marry someone from another nation, take a look at this list. Perhaps you will see some things here that you have not considered.

We are not trying to convince you that marrying someone from another culture is right or wrong. That is something you will have to determine for yourself. But the Word does say that a wise man calculates the cost before beginning construction on a house. Hopefully this will help you consider the cost of cross-cultural marriage.

Marrying someone from another culture [could] mean that one of you will be living outside of your home nation permanently —which means that you will not be able to see your family very often. That means your children will see very little of one set of parents (their grandparents).

[The following are a few questions to ask yourselves before you go any further in considering marrying someone from another culture.]

Are you willing for your children to not really know your parents?

Not only will your children not have the opportunity to know one set of grandparents very well, if there is a language barrier, one set of parents will not be able to really communicate well with your children.

Are you willing for your family members to not be able communicate well with your children?

Marrying someone from another culture means that you will have a hard time understanding each other’s humor. Things that are funny to one will not be funny to the other. You will have to explain the humor to one another. (Example: Jokes from TV shows, childhood games, comic strips)

Are you willing to take the time to explain why something is funny to you?

Have you considered that you might get tired of having to explain jokes to one another?

Are you ready to just accept the fact that you won’t be able to share each other’s humor?

Marrying someone from another culture means that one of you will not be experiencing your cultural traditions and/or national celebrations.

Are you willing to let go of some of your traditions and celebrations?

Marrying someone from another culture means that one of you must be willing to not give your children the cultural traditions and national heritage that you have.

Are you willing for your children to grow up with a different set of family traditions than your own?

You need to be aware that the day may come when you may need to move to your spouse’s home country.

Are you willing to live in your spouse’s home country indefinitely?

You may need to consider that the socioeconomic class one holds in one culture, may not cross over in another culture. For example, a well educated man from Latin America may not receive the same respect he enjoys if he lived in the United States or Australia.

Are you willing to lose your place in society?

Have you considered how both of your cultures view cross cultural marriages? Light skinned people marrying dark skinned people may be perfectly OK in Venezuela, but frowned upon in S. Korea.

Are you willing to face the possibility of being prejudiced against because of your spouse’s nationality or color?

Growing up in another culture means that the gender role models for your children may not be what you would consider to be good role models. (Example: Machismo in Latin America, outspokenness in American women)

Are you willing for your children to grow up with gender role models you don’t approve of?

You may need to consider the effect of the “home court advantage” on your marriage. If a foreign man marries an American woman and they live in the United States, she would be cast in the leadership role in some aspects of their relationship. (She would better understand the language and protocol of the nation) Whereas if they lived in his nation, he would be able to lead out more effectively in their marriage.

Have you considered how the “home court advantage” may affect your marriage relationship?

The above article was written by Bill and Carol O’Hara who are former missionaries and were involved with Marriage Ministries International. They also formerly had their own web site along with their children Kim and Ryan. This is where we found the above article posted.

— ALSO —

To give you further insight as to some of the positives and negatives when one marries someone else from another culture, the following web site link will take you to an article where you can read about several couples and their experiences within:


If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.


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55 Responses to “Thinking of Marrying Someone From Another Culture?”
  1. Alfredo from Colombia says:

    It will sound stupid but I am married in Peru but working for 2 years together with a Myanmar woman (Asian). I fell in love and I’d like to spend my life with her. What should I do? I don’t have kids yet.

  2. Rajan from India says:

    Pray for my ministry in India.

  3. Vishal from India says:

    I am Indian and i have a girlfriend from Venezuela and i want to marry her….
    What shall i do in order to marry her i am confused about the required documents and procedure….

  4. Shirley from United States says:

    I am an American married to a man from Iran. We married in the U.S. He went back to Iran and married an Iranian woman. We never divorced. Is that legal?

    • NJ from United States says:

      It is legal if he is a Muslim.

    • Ana from United States says:

      According to his Iranian culture and family, your marriage does not count. You are a foreigner and not muslim so you do not exist. You are, at best, considered a “temporary wife”. The Iranian family will only recognize his Iranian marriage/wife. Please note that his family will negotiate a financial deal for his iranian wife – it is a set amount of money he is legally bound to pay in case of divorce. Kind of like a prenup. The amount is usually very high to deter him from leaving his wife. The amount is announced at the wedding (so there are many witnesses). If he marries an Iranian woman, there is serious money involved and think about how that impacts you.

      Also — his family will set them up financially — buy them a big house, luxury cars, country house, pay for the grandkids private schools etc etc… so marrying an Iranian woman is a big payday for him too. He has no financial worries. His family takes care of everything.

      In the muslim religion, men are allowed to have 4 wives. He is also allowed to have an unlimited number of “temporary marriages” = contracts for concubines. You may not be his first wife. He may have other legal wives back in Iran. Not likely, but possible and legal for him.

      In the US, bigamy is illegal — only the first wife is recognized as legal. So whichever wife he married first is the only one US law will recognize. That might be you or it might not. In any case, his family is not going to recognize you. They consider you to be a temporary contract wife (=slut/whore) and unimportant.

      If you do marry (again) under Islamic law, know that you automatically become muslim — meaning if you travel to a muslim country, you are bound by Islamic laws. Under sharia law, you cannot travel without your husband’s consent, your husband can divorce you at the drop of a hat, or kill you for some imaginary infraction (honor killing) and it is legal.

      Muslims operate under a completely different set of rules and morals from Christians. The middle eastern people are charming and attractive people, but their basic social mores are incompatible with those of the West.

  5. Mega from Hong Kong says:

    Hi…I am Indonesian. I have a boyfriend from Pakistan but as long as we have known each other we just see from a web cam and never met face to face. But we make friendship very well, and we have plans to get married. I don’t know when, maybe it will still be a long time. So what we must do, because from my boyfriend’s side all the family knows me already, and from my family also the same… so what we must do?

  6. Angela from Myanmar says:

    I am a Myanmar (Asian). My boyfriend is native American. We have plan to get married. We came to an agreement that i will move to America. Which documentations should we complete to get Fiancee visa and get married?

    • Steve Wright from United States says:

      Angela, I’m afraid we can’t answer that question for you. You may want to contact the American Embassy. We’re sure they have had this question asked many times and will be able to give you there best “legal” counsel on this.

Marriage Missions International