So you are from one culture and your partner, spouse, or significant other is from another. At first it’s so exciting and feels exotic. But as with all relationships, when the honeymoon phase is over, differences of opinion can arise. It’s important to note that all people have similar wants, needs and desires. Oftentimes, people from different cultures express them differently. Americans tend to be more direct, for instance, whereas Europeans and Asians are generally more indirect with problems and inquiries. Being so direct isn’t considered polite in some other cultures. So what tools can you use to construct effective communication within a cross-cultural relationship?
First, have patience to talk with your significant other and discuss any misunderstandings. Use a variety of ways to say the same thing if you aren’t being understood. In an attempt to avoid immediate miscommunication, study your romantic partner’s culture in depth. Read books, search websites, and talk to people from within that culture. If you are part of an expat community in a foreign country, there should be loads of people you can connect with in foreigner bars, the English language newspaper, and through online communities.
If you are in your home country, there are cultural and language programs at the embassy in your nearest city; read expat English newspapers, reach out to professors on the local college campus, and if your lady love or handsome beau is from a place that has a community near yours, say a China town or the like, visit it. Get to know the meals, sayings, language and literature of the person you are in love with. It will be an uplifting and beautiful experience.