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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

More by this author

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 January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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