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15 Hacks For Inter-Cultural Lovers

15 Hacks For Inter-Cultural Lovers

A Norwegian friend of mine once told me how he had to pass a very severe test before he was accepted by the parents of his Italian wife. He had to stay in a hotel and was invited to various meals, where he was vetted. As well as coping with the language barrier, he had to display an understanding of Italian cultural values as regards marriage and family. Fortunately, he passed the test and yes, they are living happily ever after!

Now that was easy, really. Consider where two lovers come from very different racial backgrounds and where religion, ethics, family values and beliefs about marriage will, sooner or later, be present on the stage. But, before you even reach that point, let us look at what hacks you can put into practice so that the relationship will be on a much firmer foundation.

1.  Learn about the culture

There is no shortcut here. You really have to do your homework. You can ask each other about the family background and the values that were instilled in childhood. But you also have to find out a lot more by reading, watching films and getting down to the very core values that determine life attitudes in your partner’s country.

2. Speak the language

This is essential if one partner lacks confidence in the other’s language. Communication will be key in understanding attitudes, beliefs, political views, opinions, and values. Very often, these are tied to the language by having words, expressions and idioms which reflect their world view perfectly.

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3. Talk about religion

You may be an atheist, very religious or something in between. The problem is that there is often a clash when your partner has strong views which are based on a religious upbringing which will determine attitudes to sex, child rearing, religious practices and customs. Use your time together to explore these and try to understand where your partner is coming from.  If you are both from a much more secular background, this may make things less complicated. However, this does not remove the obligation to discuss these matters sincerely and honestly.

4. Be aware of pressure from outside the relationship

Very often, inter-racial and inter-cultural couples are perfectly at ease. It is when they encounter the prejudice of family and society, that problems may raise their ugly heads. There is some useful advice in an article mentioned in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. The best plan is to be prepared for this and also assess whether you can really cope with all that. Fortunately, things are moving in the right direction. In American society, according to the Pew Research Center, 1 in 12 marriages are now inter-racial.

5. Celebrate your differences

There may be customs and rites that should be celebrated together, rather than ignored. This can strengthen the relationship. There are some excellent stories about mixed couples who more or less coped with these issues in the book, ‘Guess who’s coming to dinner’ by Brenda Lane Richardson.

6. Fight stereotyping

Be prepared. There are commonly held views which make sweeping generalizations about different races and religions. Asian women are supposed to be very meek and submissive. Be on the alert for those friends who will spout all sorts of prejudices about races on the pretext of offering advice!

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7. Talk about how you would raise children

Many people are put off by the fact that any children they have may be bullied or discriminated against in some way. It is important to discuss this openly. If your relationship is sound, any children will benefit from a loving home and grow up to be mature, balanced adults. Being bi-racial will teach tolerance.

8. Adopt your partner’s culture

You may get a lot of indiscreet questions and sneering references such as going for the ‘jungle fever’ if you happen to be dating an African or that the Japanese are workaholics. The best questions are those that ask you what is the part of your partner’s culture or traditions that attract you most. Think about this and have your answer ready.

9. Broaden your horizons

A great way to explore your partner’s culture and traditions is to experiment and try ethnic dishes. It is a great way of bonding and can open up new horizons, while becoming an expert cook as well.

10. Travel and explore

Travelling to each other’s country is one of the greatest experiences ever. You get an inside view and understand much better your partner’s background and upbringing.

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11. Talk about what religion you would like your kids to have

Many inter-faith couples have to decide which faith their children should have.  They may decide to bring up their children in both faiths. The benefits may well override any concerns about confusion, as outlined in Susan Katz Miller’s book, called ‘Being Both – Embracing Two Religions In One Interfaith Family’.

12. Inter-cultural relationships make you stronger

Going into an inter-racial or inter-cultural relationship can be a challenge. It is an excellent training ground in that it makes you think of issues that may arise. The great advantage is that you are both able to cope with differences and obstacles and that can make the relationship so much stronger in the long run.

13. Show tolerance in your arguments

At times, there may be arguments and rows. The best advice is never resort to racial slurs or stupid prejudice against your partner, because of an issue about his/her background.

14. Think of human diversity

Learn to look ahead. Forget the racial and religious differences and look forward to a society which is not based so much on race, but on human diversity. Your children will learn to do the same when you set the example.

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15. Follow Kayne West’s advice

Kayne West has made no secret of the fact that the press hates his inter-racial relationship with Kim Kardashian. Follow his advice: ‘Write that… headline when you try to make me look like a maniac or an animal, because you afraid of inter-racial relationships, because you afraid of the future, because you afraid of a rapper that was raised by two educated parents.’

Let us know in the comments how you have coped successfully with an inter-racial or inter-cultural relationship.

Featured photo credit: Strange things are happening these days/Koshy Koshy via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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