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 Boundless.com web site link will take you to an article where you can read about several couples and their experiences within:

CROSS CULTURE MARRIAGES

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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Comments

82 responses to “Thinking of Marrying Someone From Another Culture?

  1. I am Jamaican dating a Nigerian. It’s hard just for him being a doctor and doing his residency, mostly at work and long hours. Culture is a big factor and do have our daily challenges. Can anyone give some info on the Nigerian marriage/culture?

    1. Hey Carlene, I’m Nigerian and I’m also in a similar situation like yours. This is a tough situation for me and I want to help you, that’s why I’m writing this. I’m gonna give you some information about the Nigerian culture and some other truth that can be hard to see. I’m a Nigerian guy and I’m dating a Dominican and We kind of already have plans for marriage. Since I don’t know if that’s the same with you, I will state some factors you may want to consider, if you plan on marriage.

      Nigerian is very diverse when it comes to culture. We have 3 main tribes in Nigerian and each tribe has different values and culture. I’m Yoruba which is one of the main tribes. Yoruba people value family relationships a lot and the same goes for Igbo people (the other main tribe). If you plan on marrying him know that there may be some frustrations when it comes to raising your kids. His parents may want to have easy access and close relationship to their grand kids and that means they may want them to be close by. They will definitely want them to learn a lot about their culture. This may be a problem for you if you don’t want to live in Nigeria or raise your kids in Nigeria. Also, you may not be able to completely blend in with our values.

      Honestly some of them are just outright strict and ridiculous – lol. If your partner is Yoruba, they take greetings seriously. They also take cooking seriously. In most Nigerian culture, a good partner should be able to cook very well and not just any food, but the Nigerian food. Also the weather may be too different for you and may not first suit your lifestyle; it’s super humid over here so I hope you’ll adjust quickly – lol. Also I like that you know that you may not really earn full respect from all of his family members but that’s okay. As long he loves you and his parents are okay with you.

      Another thing is his parents may not fully support your relationship. When our parents see that something will benefit/harm us, they can go to any length to support/protect their boy from It. In regards with the social status, he may also lose some respect from people that know him or his family just for marrying a foreigner. I don’t want to overwhelm you. I believe you should be able to have a heart to heart talk with him about his culture and the support of his parents. And I hope at the end of the day, you both fully understand and accept the frustrations that may come with inter-ethnicity dating.

      One last thing is you will both need each other’s love and support to make this thing work. I know that because I’m going through it right now. I mean you have to love your partner to leave your country, family and friends and move to his own country and raise your kids there. Good luck Carlene

      1. Hi Muktar Your comments are so useful. I’m a french woman dating a Yoruba guy. I dont know a lot about his culture but he already told me that he wants to go back to Nigeria one day. We love each other but I have no idea about how I will react about the difference of culture. I will be going to nigeria soon for the first time. God willing we will get married next summer. I will love to have more advice about ur culture. Thanks.

  2. I’m a 22 yr old Muslim girl from Malaysia. Unlike my friends, I have no interest to get married within my own race. I’ve been keeping a wish to get married to someone who is the same religion as me, but not the same ethnicity as me or someone from another country. I love the idea of a mixed marriage, different culture etc. I wonder if is it only me who feels this way? Is it a good idea for my future?

    1. Hi Hana, Even I like the idea of mixed marriage. But the thing is people have mixed their culture with Islam. For instance, if you attend a marriage in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, you’ll find that the men and women sit in the same wedding hall, which is the opposite in Saudi Arabia whether men and women are segregated (which they are serious about). So it depends how religious you are and whether you can adjust to the other culture. You might find it difficult to digest some of the things that are normal in other muslim countries.

  3. I was in Iraq 3 months and I led a man to accept Christ and he was baptized. We have strong feelings for each other.
    His family does not accept his decision for Christ. It’s complicated but I have fallen for him. Advice?

  4. Hello everyone, I’m Indian; I fell in love with a Brazilian girl. We both want to get married. I want to move to Brazil but I don’t know if I can live there without a visa after marriage, because it’ll take time to find a job there. I want to live there with her, but I don’t know how. Suggestions please.

  5. I’m from India and I am in love with an Australian man. Now he is in the U.K. working there and I’m in India but he is going visit my family next month. I don’t know anything about international marriages. I come from a very much family oriented culture from Rajasthan so things are very different there. But I love him and he loves me as well. We don’t know about the legal part of this marriage.

    For both of us these are second marriages. His family knows about me but I didn’t tell anything yet to my family because I’ll tell them they will not allow me work and ask me come back home. I’m very much confused with all these things. Please guide me.

    1. Reply: Dear Trivani, I have to say that I really don’t know what the legal requirements are that your country and your fiancé’s country will require for you to get married. You need to contact your embassy to see what the requirements will be. That is an international legal matter. You need to find out what the requirements will be for you and what they will be for him.

      As far as marriage matters, that is something different. I have to say that I am very concerned. Not only are you facing great cultural differences, but the closeness of your family’s —whether you will live together near your family or his, and all that this will entail is a concern. Right now it may not seem like it’s as much of a problem because I’m sure you believe your love will conquer all. But love grows thin as circumstances and time take their toll. That’s especially true when you are so deeply steeped into a “family oriented culture” and you aren’t able to maintain that type of closeness to your family or your home town when you are located a far distance away. Plus, it may get to be too much for him (as an “outsider” trying to fit in), trying to adapt to your family orientation.

      The ONLY way this will work is that you BOTH decide that you are committed to each other NO MATTER WHAT and you commit to MAKE your marriage work FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES, no matter how many sacrifices you both will have to make. If circumstances are such that it’s necessary for you to move far away from your family and country, then you must be willing to make that work… and keep your husband as your #1 family priority. The same is true for him moving away from his family and country… that no matter where you both live together, you are his #1 family priority. This is true whether you live in India, the U.K., or Australia, or elsewhere. You are both to leave behind the mindset of “me” and “my” and embrace the “we” and “our” home and family… wherever you BOTH decide is best for your married life.

      I’m concerned that you haven’t already told your family. That shows that you are still tied to them in such a way that you aren’t willing to push the concerns of your fiancé in the forefront of him being your #1 future family priority. You seem to be more concerned about your family’s reaction to all of this rather than him being your major concern. You have not flipped over to the “we” part of your relationship, except in private or away from your family. If you are going to have to take strong stands, and make a marriage work for the rest of your lives together, then now is the time to start taking that stand. If it just won’t work for you —if the pull is too strong to keep your family as your #1 priority, then that’s okay… it’s better to know now. Later, especially if you have children together, would be much more painful.

      Sometimes love can be very, very strong. It definitely can also be very romantic. But sometimes the pull from cultural and upbringing differences just can’t keep that commitment as strong as it needs to be through the span of years and years when the sacrifices that must be made are too heavy. And yet, with some people it can. BEFORE marriage is the time to figure that out. CAN you live away from your family and town for the rest of your life together (except during visits), if that is what needs to happen for one reason or another in your married life? Can he? Someone is going to have to make that sacrifice since your families live so far apart. Are you both willing? If not, now is the time to face that reality. Don’t marry if you BOTH aren’t willing to make that sacrifice. Your commitment to each other must be that strong to make it work.

      If you both aren’t able to do that, then please know that this doesn’t make you or him a weak or lesser person… your inner pull is what it is. But you must face the reality of it and not romanticize it or ignore it.

      You haven’t even mentioned God in all of this. If you have great differences in this area of your lives together, there may be an even greater pull away from each other. Please weigh all of this very seriously.

      Please go into the “Marriage Prep Tools” part of this web site and start asking each other the serious (and not so serious) questions that are provided. Each of you needs to answer these questions 100 per cent truthfully (to the best of your ability). They will help you to better know more of your differences and similarities, that will help you to know if you should build a future together.

      Everyone going into marriage intends to have a happy marriage, but not everyone going into marriage puts into place the PLANS to build a happy marriage. There IS a difference. Intention and planning are two different things. And you need to know that the planning and learning continues for the rest of your lives with NEVER-ENDING COMMITMENT being a HUGE part of the cement to glue you together so you “cleave” together as the Bible tells us to do. We are to first “leave” our parents and family as far as them being our #1 priority, and then “cleave” together so the new family that the husband and wife make as soon as you say your wedding vows, then becomes your #1 family priority. The question is whether or not you are both ready for this serious of a commitment and then the question is whether or not you are both ready to make this commitment with each other, despite the great amount of differences you will have to work through. Some people make a great boyfriend or girlfriend for each other, but that doesn’t mean that they would make the best marriage partners for each other. You have to seriously decide this together.

      1. Dear Cindy, Thank you so much for replying very soon. When I was writing this message I was in a little hurry and was very much confused what should I write actually. Then I decided to write a very short thing.

        As you said, I’m still worried about my family then I would say yes because this will be the first love marriage and one of its own kind of marriage that ever happened in my family’s generation. So I’m worried about that and a few days back I told everything to my sisters about my plans about future marriage. She was very much happy but again worried about my parents reaction… she even asked the same questions and things what you asked and said.

        The other thing is my commitment with my fiancé is strong enough as I can feel and now I’m just waiting for him to come and talk to my family regarding all this. I’m not romanticizing anything; I’m ready to face everything to stay with him life long. Now everything depends on him and if in any case my family doesn’t allow me then I will still marry him.

        Everyday I pray to God to help us in this situation. But I would love to see my family in my marriage. This will be my second marriage and his too. We both want family and the company of each other. We both love each other, and are very well prepared to face anything.

        Well now if we talk about culture differences and habits then I will be adjusting for sure and sometimes will make him understand about my things. You asked about the parents thing; will I be able to stay away from them life long? My answer is I didn’t visit my home for the past two years. I’m mentally prepared for these things. Just want them with me when I will be marrying him. Just pray for me that God will help me in this situation. Just need all you prayers and wishes.

        1. Glad to hear it… you definitely have my prayers and best wishes for a great marriage… that from the moment you marry you will work with each other to be the best together. You don’t always have to think alike, you just have to think together and make it work the best for your sacred union. May God bless and help you and may your parents be persuaded, as they see the way you will both work to make this marriage a good one, that you made a wise decision. My grandmother eventually liked my dad even more than my Romanian uncles. She saw how good my dad was for my mom and that persuaded her to eventually give him a chance and love him as a preferred son-in-law.

        2. Hi Trivani, I would like to contribute here if I may…. I am WP (Work in Progress) and I wrote the text here below from 1 July, since I have been in an inter-cultural marriage for the last 36 years. All of what you said sounds very good! Yes you are venturing into the unknown ( as I did) and you seem to have thought things out very well.

          Cindy’s comments are very well stated… namely, “CAN you live away from your family and town for the rest of your life together (except during visits), if that is what needs to happen for one reason or another in your married life? Can he? Someone is going to have to make that sacrifice since your families live so far apart. Are you both willing? If not, now is the time to face that reality. Don’t marry if you BOTH aren’t willing to make that sacrifice……….you need to know that the planning and learning continues for the rest of your lives with NEVER-ENDING COMMITMENT being a HUGE part of the cement to glue you together so you “cleave” together as the Bible tells us to do.”

          Cindy is right about your BOTH being willing…. we have experienced this first hand. I too, like you, had lived away from my family for several years before getting married, so I was used to it….. My wife had not however… yes she was “willing,” but of course she did not and could not know what that really means. I went to her country and we married directly after I finished my education, with the idea that I would live in the Netherlands for good. I began to learn her language, (her father was my teacher). 1 year later we both realized that I was not able to find a good job there… so we decided to go back to the USA. We lived in the US for 4 years. My wife was still willing… VERY willing, but she DID miss her family to the point where we decided together to move back to the Netherlands. To make a long story short, it took us about 7 years to actually return to live in the Netherlands. In those years we both lived in Belgium and Germany, not our own nations, so we were both living away from our families in cultures not our own. All I am trying to do here is to give you a “real-life” account of what Cindy’s words mean… “You BOTH need to be willing.” I would add, “At least ONE of you needs to be ABLE” . We have now been living in the Netherlands for the last 25 years :))

          One statement of yours concerns me though, namely, “Now everything depends on him and if in any case my family doesn’t allow me then I will still marry him.” The Bible tells us to “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged” (Exodus 20.12). This means to “carefully consider” and “respect” the opinions of your father and your mother, “so that your days may be ‘longer’ and ‘happier.'” I would really like to encourage you to listen carefully to your father and your mother on this – carefully consider what they have to say… IF they “do not allow you” to marry, then you should know their reasons and concerns… and be willing to admit to yourself if they are valid. I had to do the same with a girl with whom I was engaged to marry before my present wife. My parents disagreed. OHH that was difficult!! They had two main reasons- one was that my fiancee was from a different culture (Italian) and the other was a character question- that my fiancee was very dominant, and that I would not be happy. The first reason I respectfully discounted, but their second concern… I had to admit, that they were probably correct. So I broke my engagement… one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Later I married my present wife, and, looking back, I can see more clearly that God had His hand in this whole progression (though my parents are not Christians as far as I know.) I knew that then, and I can see that far better now.

          I certainly can identify with your position…just walk carefully and prayerfully, keep talking, voice what is on your heart, and be confident that God CAN and WILL lead you. Hope to hear from you… WP (Work in Progress)

  6. Dear all, I have been married for more than half of my life now in an intercultural marriage.
    I am an American man married now for 36 years to a Dutch girl, (who is the love of my life.) We are now living in the Netherlands. We have 2 adult children and 3 grandchildren.

    While our marriage is “intercultural,” I think the differences between us are less than some of the differences represented in these most recent texts. In a nutshell here is what I have learned. Please understand, my intention is not to “elevate myself,” – no, but rather share what I have learned.

    For the men, the Bible tells us to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. That means, in my opinion and experience, preparing to: leave your own family, your own culture and your own past, find gainful employment in your wife’s nation, learn your wife’s language, appreciate her culture, and integrate into her family.

    Get to know each other very well before getting married!! Take your time!! This is not something to be rushed! Visit with each other’s families when possible! Listen to your parents (both wife and husband to be)! Consider carefully their opinions. (“Honor your father and your mother…..”) Notice I did not say “blindly obey” but rather “consider.” Get premarital counseling.

    My wife and I are both Christians. This has been the biggest single factor which has kept us together and happy for almost 40 years.

    I have no experience with marriage in which the religious conviction of husband and wife is fundamentally different. I can imagine that a difference here needs to be VERY carefully (and prayerfully!) weighed, talked through, and considered.

    My best wishes to you all.

    My wife lived in my nation for 4 years. This was a big “plus” in our mutual understanding of each other’s backgrounds. I mentioned the man’s role…. I think the woman’s role is to be willing to follow and support her husband. My wife was willing to do just that. We ended up living in 4 mations, and moving 7 times in the last 36 years.

    Simply said, We take care of each other. We love each other. We own our mistakes. We admit our failures…. until death do us part. WP (Work in Progress)

    1. Peggy, you will have to look into those. The laws are different in every country. Be diligent… find out what you need by persevering.