Thinking of Marrying Someone From Another Culture?

Another Culture - AdobeStock_74104510Marrying someone from another culture can be exciting! There are so many things that are new and different, interesting and challenging. But these same things can be a source of frustration and conflict, misunderstandings and hurt. Before you marry someone from another nation, take a look at the list below. Perhaps you will see some things there 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, as you seek God’s wisdom. 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

Marrying someone from another culture could mean that one of you will be living outside of your home nation permanently. This means that you will not be able to see your family very often. It also means your children will see very little of at least 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. (Examples are: Jokes from TV shows, childhood games, and comic strips.)

Also, When Marrying Someone from Another Culture Consider:

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. (Examples are: Machismo in Latin America, and 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?

This article was written by Bill and Carol O’Hara. They are former missionaries, involved with Marriage Ministries International. They also formerly had their own web site along with their children Kim and Ryan. Unfortunately, it is no longer available on the Internet. That 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:


Finally, here’s one last article we recommend you read and work through:


After reading all of this, please note that you may be a good couple to date each other. But it may be that the obstacles are too large to overcome for you and you shouldn’t marry. Or perhaps you will be good together. But whatever you do, make sure you both face the truth of what you will have to work through should you decide to marry.

Keep in mind that marriage is a lifelong commitment. If BOTH of you do not have the mindset and commitment to marry your differences together FOR A LIFETIME, you should not marry. But if you will both work through your differences in partnership, then take your request to marry to God and see what he tells you. But whatever you do, be honest with each other, with God and with yourself. Don’t marry unless you BOTH will work to make your marriage a good one.

If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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99 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.

        1. Cross cultural relationships can work but I believe that both sides need to be honest with each other. This means that in certain situations you might just have to admit that certain third parties cannot be part of your social circles. Unfortunately, not all people are comfortable with cross cultural situations. Sometimes you may have friends or family who simply are looking to subtly or directly create tension in your marriage. It is all about third party management.

    2. My goodness, people make life and relationships harder than it has to be. First, before you do all that sweating and worrying you should ask yourself is he/she someone you want to be in a long-term relationship with. Talk to them about where they see the two of you in the future. It’s foolish to worry about a guy/girl who isn’t on the same page as you.

      Even before this you should find out about their religious beliefs, criminal record, med history, financial health and bad habits. Maybe even subtly ask about past relationships… especially if they were married or in a very long term relationship in the past. This will give you a clue as to how they may have treated that them and what you can expect. Although people very rarely admit to their own faults in a split, you should be able to read between the lines and figure things out. Pay close attention to whether what they’re saying ..or isn’t saying points to the fact that their a cheat, liar, has kids all over town, split cause they didn’t want marriage or whatever. If you’re a man ask about kids she has… even if they are in someone else’s custody. If she isn’t raising her kids gently ask why and listen very carefully. For ladies find out if he financially support his kids and spend time with them. If not, find out why and listen very carefully and ask questions. If they aren’t willing to share openly and honestly, this might be a red flag.

      I always suggest people find out these things before hopping into bed. For some reason, shaking the sheets seems to give people an altered view of what’s, real, logical, even dangerous or unhealthy.

      Don’t make the fatal mistake of seeing someone is a hot mess or doesn’t have their life and priorities straight and thinking you can magically make them into another person. If they aren’t financially stable or don’t financially take care of their kids (doesn’t mean they have to be rich.), You might want to think about this hard and deep. Especially if you’re looking for marriage. In marriage their bad finances can and will effect you. Their back child support might become your obligation too. I’ve seen people have their tax return taken and wages garnished because they married a hot mess.


      1. There shouldn’t be a major communication problem or hard time understanding culture and humor, unless you both speak a different language and very little of the other’s. I’ve been in quite a few deep friendships and relationships with people from other countries. There were some hiccups, but we had too much fun launching as we tried to speak or understand each other’s language. Humor should be easy, if you both match.

      2. Instead of running to ask someone else, ask the person you are in a relationship with. Even people within the same country or culture do and understand things differently. So best to get info from the source. Also research and read their culture and discuss this with them. or even their parents if possible, they will appreciate the fact that you are taking interest.

      3. If his parents have a problem that doesn’t mean they won’t come round when they see the beautiful grands you’ve made them, should you have kids. Even if they don’t like who their child is with, doesn’t mean they’ll take it out on the kids or won’t respect their son’s/daughter’s mate. At the beginning if there is a problem, just try to calmly sit down with their parents and ask them humbly to treat you as they would want their child to be treated by your parents. If they are not heathens they’ll understand.

      And for God sake, if they downright verbally or physically assault you and the person you’re interested in doesn’t come to your defense, take your leave from them and family as soon as possible. Then severe all communications and dust your hands off…unless you like the idea of having drama in your live and a weak mate that will not even defend you verbally.

  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.

    2. My dear, I share the same ideal. I am an Igbo girl but I don’t want to get married to an Igbo man. I want to go outside of Nigeria, but still in West Africa. Aha!

  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.

    1. Hello Nehal, I am from Nigeria but live in Brazil. If you are married to a Brazilian, that gives you the right to live and work legally here. I suggest you get in touch with Brazilian consulate where you live.

  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)

          1. Good afternoon Sir. I am willing to marry a non-Nigerian true Christian, though I’m a Nigerian. I’m not in a relationship presently. I’ve been married before; I have a son. My ex, betrayed me. Right now I am willing to marry a Caucasian from America or the UK. Please help me with prayers. Thanks. God bless you. Teelee from Lagos, Nigeria.

  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. Wow!!!!!! Very romantic! I am also Christian and I really love multi cultural marriage but from the same religion as well.

    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.

  7. I have a Girl whom I want to marry and we are from different tribes. I am a man who knows her tribe but she does not even want to learn anything from my tribe. Now is it fair for me to sacrifice alone everything for this relationship to last for a life time?

    1. Emmy, If she is not even willing to learn about your tribe and how to build relationship bridges between your two different ways of living before marriage, then what makes you think she will join with you to build a good marriage together later? This gives you a peek into her willingness to be a cooperative partner to you. You will both need to make some sacrifices and compromises. It seems like you are willing to make sacrifices and compromises for her without her being willing to doing the same for you. I would not consider marrying someone who wouldn’t even be willing to make the effort before marriage to help to be good lifelong partners. That is my prayerful opinion, as sad as it may seem to you. You want a partner, not someone caught up in her own interests alone.

    2. Hi Emmy, Very true what Cindy says in her reply.

      I am a husband married 37 years to my wife who is from a different nation, language and culture. It is essential that you both are willing to learn and adjust to the nation, language and culture of the other. I would not consider marriage under the conditions you are describing at all, knowing what I know now.

      This does not mean that you have to forsake your own identity. It does mean that you both need to be willing to learn about, adjust to, make compromises for, and honor the nation, language and culture of the other. Take care, and take your time!! WP (Work in Progress)

  8. I am British female and hope to marry my partner in India next year. He is from a tribe in north east India. A tribe that has their own history and culture before converting to Christianity along with many other various tribes in north east Indian States when Missionaries came many years ago. As a family they used to practice cultural traditions, some of which they still do, many of which they have let go of.

    They don’t drink alcohol. Traditionally they would make rice beer and present it to guests entering their homes and drink it on special occasions.

    Regarding marriage, the families of both the female and the male on either side will come together to meet and either agree or disagree on the marriage. The female who marries an eldest son will go to live with her new husband along with his parents and possibly also grandparents.

    She will be not only responsible for her own children when she has them, she will also be responsible for her husbands parents and grandparents when they become old and sick and until they die. Traditionally she will be in the home to cook and clean, although of course nowadays there are many at University or who have studied and have great goals and talents. It depends on the families and on poverty. Most families traditionally live in this way and continue even after converting to Christianity. My opinion is that this way of living continues due to poverty as well as strong bonds between families.

    I went over to visit my partners family recently and live in their family home for around three months in order to meet the whole family and get to know them and for them to get to know me before I marry their son. It was a challenging three months. I knew it would be! I have spent time in both south and north India over several years for months at a time. Yet it was also deeply insightful to be able to live as part of the family and of course with my own room. Not shared! I learned a lot about the meaning of family and I learned to understand and appreciate how aspects of their culture works for them even though it is challenging for me because I am from a culture and family that influenced me and nurtured me in different ways to theirs.

    I attended their church which was all conducted in their tribal language. Several believers could speak English and many could not. I even wore the beautiful but very uncomfortable traditional tribal wrap skirt (though it is not called a ‘skirt’). I couldn’t understand a word of what the pastor said and couldn’t be free to worship when singing because I had to read from a book in their language.

    The family ate together everyday, depending on who was there at the time. Rice daily with various vegetable and meat including chicken, pork, beef and fish. WITH BONES!! That was my worst food nightmare!! I’m a real foodie, an absolute lover of good food. I love Mediterranean food from Greek to Italian. I just adore the flavors and ingredients and I also appreciate delicate flavors. The family accommodated me to the best of their understanding and care and they were welcoming and flexible in their approach toward me and my needs.

    I did go out most days, after one month of being there, with my partner to eat even if he didn’t eat with me. I tried to eat with the family as much as I could but it was a struggle because I did get ill several times and I could feel my body’s needs nutrition wise and I started to crave the foods my body needed and was used to. They steam their rice and don’t drain the water so it is more fulfilling for them to eat although for me it was completely unappetising and tasteless. They also bought a chicken, killed it, prepared it for cooking, cooked it and ate it. They serve it with the bones and I was once served organs of the chicken as a special meal before I departed. Of course I was always polite but I was also honest in telling them what I couldn’t eat and by the end of my stay we could all laugh about my adversity to bones!!

    Sometimes family came from far and wide just to see this white woman and see if I was a good one for their family member. On many occasions meals were prepared for extended family where they would share prayer, worship, food and conversations about when our wedding was going to be. I did often feel like the odd one out. Well I was but the language barrier was an issue for sure. Saying that, there is much we can communicate without speech through our actions, eyes and love combined while speaking our own languages. Even though I could not understand the daily family prayer if no one translated for me, the family always included me and invited me to share in the way that they did.

    The family did accept me and the father did have a chat with me one to one about future and he did tell me he gives his blessing for me to marry his son. There are many differences between our cultures and the way we have grown up and developed as adults.
    1. Food is extremely different, the way we cook and the way we eat is different
    2. I have lived independent since I left home age 22 (7 years ago). He still lives under the ruling of his parents at age 37 while he lives at home. He has never rented his own place…
    3. In his culture the female cleans the home and cooks and serve the men first, even when there are visitors to the home. In my culture females are encouraged to be independent from a young age and men also cook and help clean the home. Not too much emphasis is on these matters in my own culture. In his culture there is and it is important. It does work in his culture and the girls and women accept their responsibilities.
    4. Languages are different. I can’t speak or understand his. He can speak and understand mine.
    5. Families live together very closely. Parents and grown up children and grandparents. They even share beds when visiting family come. I have lived alone in my own flat and only visit family members. I could not live with my family members and nor would they want that. My grandmother is 90 and still lives alone and independently of her own desire. My partners parents are very reliant on their grown up children.

    However I understand the differences and reasons and having lived with them all I can appreciate their closeness. They don’t argue or shout at one another and there is a respect. They live as a joined family which is something I deeply respect and admire. Though for me it is hard to never have privacy in the home outside of my room.
    6. In church the males sit at one side and the females sit at the other. Only married couples sit together.
    7. Marriage can not only be agreed by the couple. The parents and siblings should also be in agreement. I can understand this because families are much closer than in my country and are accustomed to living closely.
    8. There are no old people’s homes at the standards of my country. The eldest son and wife and extended family look after parents when in old age.
    9. I have travelled in Europe and in developing countries and have a vast life experience. I have a work history from a young age. My partner has a very different background. Grew up in village and parents did farming work.
    10. His culture are not tactile. Family don’t show affection and in public married couples don’t kiss or hug or hold hands. My upbringing is the opposite.
    11. In my own country I am safe to travel alone as a woman day and night in comparison to in India.
    12. It is expected that a woman shouldn’t ‘overrule’ a man. This may be hard for an expressive and strongly communicative woman of the opposite culture who is accustomed to equality in the workplace, family and in friendships.
    13. Marriage day is very much focused on keeping the family, guests and church happy. There is no kiss or affection shown, no dancing or free expression like in my country.
    14. The weather is different in the extreme.
    15. My partners culture revolves around family and church. In my culture friendships are held as important if not more valuable than family relationships. I am more detached from family.

    My partner is willing to come to the UK to live after marriage in India. He recognises the difficulty for me to live as they do after seeing me get sick and struggle in various ways while I visited for three months. Practically we could not earn anything significant in India and do not want to live with parents after marriage. I actually don’t agree with it and think that after marriage a husband and wife should live separate. My partner is happy with the life they live and could easily marry a tribal girl and stay with his parents all his life. He is willing to work and live in the UK with me.

    I am telling him everything I think he needs to know due to the fact he has no idea of the reality of living here just as I didn’t know the reality of living in his place before I stayed there for three months. I hope he can visit before we marry but unless God provides a miracle he will have to come after marriage. Even that option is a challenge because for him to come and live here after marriage. I have to be earning £18,600 per year and I would have to sustain this level of income for him to stay.

    In the UK many couples and their children are living apart due to this rule in the UK regarding minimum income threshold. There are other options but we must remain strong in our faith in Christ and we need to trust in the Lord and in His perfect timing. This is something I’ve learnt and I have learnt a lot from the differences in my culture and his culture. I have taken the positives from his side, even when I don’t wish to live that way I can respect and admire their ways and also be prepared somewhat if I ever have to go and live there for a time. There needs to be a preparedness for sacrifice and commitment no matter what.
    We have lived apart since we first met two years and six months ago.

    We talk on the phone daily and we trust each other and are committed. We can’t set a date yet for our wedding due to the conditions regarding the requirements for him to come here. I would love to do ministry projects with marginalized people groups in India but living there and earning some form of living is a challenge. I think that being committed no matter what in a cross cultural marriage and pre marriage relationship is key and your shared faith will help you resist any temptation and issues that arise while being apart as well as when you are together. There needs to be a mutual respect for both cultures even if you don’t agree with aspects of it from your perspective. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and on what is important to you to your partner and the future of your relationship.

    I am interested to know if anyone has had or is in a similar situation. In the Bible it says that after marriage a man and woman should leave their parents and be together as one. From a Biblical perspective are the tribal and other cultures breaking the law of God by staying with parents after marriage or is it OK with God? My partner says this is in the old testament but there is different wording in the new testament with the same meaning. Does it matter so much if the cultures are OK with it and it helps them because they are living in poverty. Happy to read other experiences also. Blue Bird isn’t my real name by the way.

    1. Dear “Blue Bird” … How I love your heart, and your willingness to accommodate your fiancé’s culture and family and such. But I’m curious, why do you feel compelled to marry this man? He seems like a wonderful man, from a good family. But is that enough to try bridge this many differences? Once you marry, you are entering into a covenant agreement with him and God. There is to be no turning back. Red flags of warning seem to be waving… are you willing to have your life swallowed up into another culture within another country? It appears that this will be the sacrifice you will have to make (because of your countries requirements). I also wonder how long he would be willing to live apart from his family, and cultural ways. At first, it may be okay, but living like this for a lifetime, seems to be a bit much.

      You lived there for 3 months… most anyone can do something difficult for 3 months. But when a lifetime commitment is required by God, do you really think you can realistically handle this, or handle living in different countries, even though you are married. You both trust and care for each other… but are you compatible for marriage? Dating is one thing… but marriage? Please prayerfully consider what I am saying here. Both of you seem like wonderful people, but perhaps you need to consider parting, as far as marrying each other. Marriage to each other may bring with it more problems than you are considering.

  9. I was just asking God an answer to this question and I thank God I found your page. I have been talking to some one from Cameroon Africa. I am in love with the woman; I have told her so. The problem I am having is by the statement that she made puzzled me. The statement was she doesn’t think that her parent will accept if we get married, and I want to marry her.

    I respect her wishes; I don’t want her to be cut off from her family. I am thinking about ending the relationship because of this issue; I don’t want to hurt her. What do I do? I am at a cross road of do I back away or do I continue? Help me with this. I do know when God sends your (Adam or Eve) to you, you grab that moment/sign. I don’t want to hurt her but I’m stuck.

    1. David, the best advice I can give you at this point in your relationship is the slow things down. You may not need to break things off with this woman because of what she said, but look at it as a definite warning sign that before you would get married you both need to work through the issue. And as a word of caution this is only one of maybe 100 other things you need to work through because of your cultural differences. Whenever we “fall in love” there are all sorts of chemical reactions going on in our brains that can cloud good judgment. We believe this person is the “perfect match” for us. We idealize love and forget that after the wedding that’s when real life hits us – especially about our differences.

      Add to this the fact that probably the only connection you have had with this woman up to this point is it’s been over the phone, e-mail, texting and SKYPE. This is not how we should decide if a person is “the one for us.” Cindy and I believe that minimally a couple should be together (this means in person) for a year before they get engaged. That’s because almost anyone can conceal things about themselves that could be damaging in a marriage for a few months. But by going through four seasons with someone you really get to know what they are like in real life. And one of the most important aspects is how you would get along with their parents and whether their parents would accept you into their family.

      And The MOST important thing you both need to find out is are you compatible spiritually. Because she is from Cameroon and you are from the United States there can be some huge differences; and again the only way you can really find this out is by being with the person and not simply relying on what they tell you in a SKYPE conversation.

      A couple more things to do David: If you didn’t read through all of the comments at the bottom of this article you need to see what others have experienced and some of the responses/counsel given to them. Second, if you want to really start the process to see if this person is your “EVE” then you need to go to Cameroon for an extended period of time to experience her culture and get to know her family. And while you are there you need to start asking questions of each other so you start to prepare for a possible marriage. You can find all kinds of questions and helps to do this one our web site (

      If you’re up to do all of this David to invest in the potential of a life long relationship with this woman, then I’d say there’s a good chance it could work. Blessings! ~Steve Wright

  10. Hi, I am from Malaysia and met a Syrian guy. Both of us wanted to get married. His mom is rejecting the idea since we are from different cultures and she’s afraid that they will be lost in contact once we get married. Please help us by giving advice and how to win over her?

    1. Hi Bibi, It would be difficult to give you advice on this because we don’t know you or this guy. There are all kinds of variables that could be in the works that we don’t see. It may be that you both CAN and will work a lifetime to overcome your differences–and there WILL be differences… many of them. We also don’t know your commitment to marriage. Are you BOTH committed to marry your differences together over your lifetime together? This will take an enormous amount of commitment and work–giving grace to each other in the process.

      His mom may see something that you both don’t see. Or it may just be that she isn’t willing to see her son marry someone from another culture. You have to recognize and work with that. She may make your life together very, very difficult–more difficult than it would be otherwise. But you can’t dismiss what she is saying. Look to see if there is truth in what she is saying, whether you like what she’s saying or not. And then go from there as you look to God together to see what He thinks.

      After reading your comment, I did a bit more research and added a few more articles to the original article for you (and others) to read and work through that may help you as you consider marriage. Please prayerfully read them, talk about them together, and consider all that you have facing you. Marriage can be very romantic to consider before you marry. But once you marry, it takes a whole lot more than romance to make it a good one–one that lasts for a lifetime. Please go back and read the additions I made and make sure that you are both honest about all you could be facing.

      We have seen some good intercultural marriages. But we have also seen some horrible ones. You really can’t overlook reality and think your “love” will conquer all. That will wear thin at times over your lifetime. That’s when commitment and moral strength will need to kick in so you can get through the rough spots. You will BOTH need to give and take on the many issues you will have to work through. Just make sure you both have the moral, spiritual, and character strength to do so. I hope you do and wish you the very best whether you marry or not. “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” (Jude 1:2)

  11. Hi I’m Maham from Bangladesh. I am in love with a Indian boy who is from Kerala. We both are students. I’m 18 years old and he is 20 years old. We met through online and got to know each other so well….at some point I fell in love with him and at last I proposed him….he accepted my proposal and I got to know that he also feels for me like I do. But the fact is he won’t go against his mother if she doesn’t accept our relationship.

    It may sound kinda weird as we haven’t met yet but I know how much I love him. I’m so in love with him. I really think about my future with him and to stay with him for life. He is a shy person and doesn’t express that much romanticism, but he really means a lot to me. Now I’m in a mess thinking about the future whether we will be together or not and should I marry him. I’m ready to compromise anything for him though he won’t go against his family. I really need some advice regarding this issue.

  12. I am having the same problem while I am in a relationship with a woman from another culture. My question is do I really need to marry her? What happened is we belong to each other’s social network. I found a message on her social network. When I asked her she said it’s just a joke between her and another guy. Then what I did is I copied their chat to a translation app. I ended up getting different stories.