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. My daughter met a wonderful, godly man through our church. He loves the Lord and has such a strong desire to live a life glorifying to God. He was born in Peru but has lived in the U.S. since he was about 10. He is not currently a U.S. citizen. Her father and I have shared our concerns about marrying a non-citizen. Been praying and seeking God’s wisdom. Will trust the Lord to make straight our path concerning her/him. Want to be able to answer any questions they may ask regarding what it means to marry a non-citizen. Currently, we are not at peace about it and would want to ask if he’d be willing to become a citizen before we give our blessing. I have explained to her how God placed her in our care since the moment she was conceived and we must consider these things as part of our parental responsibility. She is my only child and very precious. It matters for her and any children she may be blessed with. What a new season we are walking in. Does anyone have info about their experiences with this? What difficulties do we face? I’m not even sure what to ask. Help or advice?

  2. I am in love with an international student from Saudi. I am an American. He is in love with me, but will not marry me because his family would frown upon it. Is there any hope in changing his mind? He only has 9 months left before he graduates :(

  3. (USA) I’m a non-us resident here in the US. I’m in my senior year in a university here in California. My girlfriend is an international student from Myanmar. My girlfriend went back to Myanmar for a vacation. Her parents found out about our relationship because one of her relatives told them about us. She is already in Myanmar when her parents told her about what they’ve found about us and promised not to send her back in the US anymore. They’re trying to control her so much that they’ve already planned an arranged marriage for her.

    I don’t know what to do anymore. We love each other. I could not sleep. I want to go to Myanmar and prove to them that I am a good guy and will never do something bad to her. Her dream is study here in the US. I feel like I will get in her way because of the current situation. I’m thinking about sacrificing myself by letting her go for her to come back in the US to study. I’m planning to go to Myanmar and beg them to send her back to the US and study here in exchange that I will never have contact with her. I don’t wanna do it since a day without seeing her hurts me. But I love her so much that I’m willing to sacrifice everything I have. I hope this one works, but I’m willing to consider more options. Please, help me.

  4. I am 24 years Congolese and planning to get marriage with a 28 years old Nigerien man. After reading all those questions I am so afraid. I am in love but I love so much my country that I am asking myself if I can be far away from my people all my life. I am confused.

  5. I came accross this site for the first time today, and the title made me wonder to read further or not. I stared for a moment then temptation got the best of me. I would like to share a woderful exprience …my personal experience. I am a 45 year old divorcee (well I was)… came to a point in my life that I really didn’t want to have another relationship. I was at a point of depression… almost at the point of suicide. Then some friends suggested a dating site… very anti… but I tried with no interest. Then saw this one beautiful angel… a smile glowing and eyes that sparkled. Should I or shouldn’t I? I did… I sent this Angel a message… in the hope that she would contact me.

    There was no reply… for days. Then one day a reply in my inbox… wow! I couldn’t believe that this Angel actually responded. The reply was in Spanish, later to find out that she only speaks Spanish and I only English. So I began to use the great google translator. It worked wonders… even with skype… translators. I forgot to mention that she is from a totally different culture to mine, and we have an amazing understanding… even though we use translators to communicate.

    I have learnt to speak Spanish for her benefit. I never feared a different culture. She in return has learnt my culture. We have the greatest understanding and both truly believe that GOD placed us together. We both have the same needs, we both enjoy the same foods, we both practically have the same likeness for everything. We fell in love at first site.

    We met in March. I traveled to her country to visit her and we got engaged. Then last month I traveled again to visit her and we got married… the most amazing experience. Never be afraid of different cultural adaptations. It’s a win/win situation if you both have an understanding. Today I am the happiest man alive. My wife is the reason I am alive today. She is my everything and the center of my universe… alwyas will be.

  6. 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.

  7. 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….

  8. 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?

    1. 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.

          1. A non Muslim from the United States teaching Islam to a Muslim in the Middle East. Lol. Arrogance at its finest.

      1. Hi
        I am an Iranian. I am really sorry for your problem. In every culture some behavior like this can be seen, any way I want to talk about Ana’s comment. Ana has a good information about Iranian laws in marriage, but it is only on papers. In Islamic rules, men can have 4 wives but our culture doesn’t accept this at all. It is shameful for someone who has more than one wife and it is unacceptable in society. For temporary marriage it is worth, in your case I think it is more personal and doesn’t relate to Iranian culture.

        About financial support from the family it is true, and the amount of support depends on family power for helping and about dealing!! It is only an old custom and no one cares about it.
        I hope your problem will be solved.

        1. Thank you for this insight. This will be most helpful to Ana and others, I’m sure. You are very appreciated here… please know that :)

  9. 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?

  10. 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?

    1. 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.

  11. Hello. I just found your website and found it quite interesting. At first glance this seems to address people who marry from different countries. What about people who have grown up in the same country, but still have very different cultures?
    My husband grew up in California USA, and comes from a very Welch-English family. He was in the military when I met him, and military service is quite common in his family; my father was also military, and we moved quite a bit. I lived in California as one of many different places in the USA. I come from a Jewish-Italian (primarily) background (4th or 5th generation American).

    As a young person, I did not know or even think about my ethnic background, nor his. Only in the last few years have we learned it. It explains a great deal about our likes, dislikes (not only in food, but music, lifestyle, etc.). What brought us together was our mutual love for the Lord Jesus Christ. However, knowing our ethnic backgrounds, how they differ culturally (the reserve of the English, the outspokenness of the Italians and often of the Jews), etc. would not have kept us apart, but maybe would have helped us get past some of the “hard knocks” we experienced the first 5 years of marriage.

    Sometimes we still “speak a different language”; that is not driven from our sex, but from the way our nationalities think and respond. After 36 years, who would have thought it would be so distinctively different? Our children are an amazing mixture of us both. Our oldest is a great deal like my side of the family (while looking like his father). Our youngest is nearly an identical twin to me at her age. Our “middle child” has traits of both of us, but highlights some of the “etc.” on my side. She is our translator and interpretrer at times; not just for my husband and me, but between all of us.

    Perhaps it would be good if “all American people” found out their ethnic backgrounds – even going so far as to take a blood test and do some geneological work – to understand their beloved before they marry. Then to learn more of the culture of the other person, if it differs from their own. It might lessen misunderstandings and increase love for one another.
    What do you think?

  12. I am a white American who married an older Hispanic man. We are 15 years apart. He was married before to a Hispanic woman and has 3 sons who are all married to Hispanics and all have children. I was married to a white man and had 3 children, 2 are married with children. I also have health issues.

    My husband’s children were raised here but when I go around them they hardly speak any English around me. I’ve been called a user by them and told how their father kisses my a××. I’m now uncomfortable to be around them. My kids treat my husband with respect. We moved to the country, which I also found hard. I’m on disability but get a small amount because I used to be a stay at home mother. I’m finding the older my husband becomes, the harder it is. I’ve had difficulty making new friends where we live while my husband hooks up with other Mexicans. I’ve been judged a lot as well even by neighbors. I fell and have another injury, which has me housebound a lot. I feel sort of lost now. What can I do, I wonder?

  13. I am having an extremely hard time being married to an Arabic guy. I am an extremely good cook but it is not good for him because it isn’t Arabic Food. I make hispanic & Italian dishes plus lovely pastries. When I can I make different variations From Arabic culture. But everyday is just too much!! I am also expected to do everything & not appreciated for ANYTHING at all. This was a mistake. Hopefully one I can fix before it’s too late!!!

    1. My opinion is marriage is work and when we marry someone whose values, religious and cultural upbring and belief systems are radically different than ours, it is more likely to lead to unhappiness. As Americans we will never fully understand the mind or emotions of a different culture, especially very different cultures. I have male friends from Columbia, Japan and the Middle East and all of them have expressed to me how differently they think and feel than Americans. This revelation was meant as a warning to me, to not assume or naively believe everyone is human and therefore the same; I was also given some very direct examples to get the point across.

      I have also lived in several other countries and traveled to many more. In my experience it is safer to date and marry someone in your faith, ethnicity (or a compatible ethnicity), nationality, race and maybe even intellect, educational level and interests that are similiar or the same. Life is hard enough with all the normal things that happen, it is much easier when you speak the same native language, have the same belief systems and are treated in the manner you are used to from birth.

      I’ll also add I was happily married for a long time until I was widowed; we were both from old Scottish/Irish/British families that have been here for hundreds of years. I’m now engaged to a man who was the best friend of my deceased husband for thirty years. Somehow I knew intuitively that I would be better off marrying someone who thought and believed as I did, that strategy worked very well for me, as we had the same interests and intellect, as well family backgrounds.

  14. Is it possible for a man to get married to a woman from Tunis if he is still legally married in Australia?

    1. I am an Indian planning to get married to an Australian guy. I love him so much. He is going to visit my family very soon but we both are scared about the situation and conditions, more how my indian family will react on this because this will be the first love marriage in my family. I told him about culture and other things but I don’t know anything about Australia and Australian culture and people.

      I found this website interesting so thought of asking my questions here. We don’t know the legal things about this. Please guide me.