Relationships come in all forms these days. The world has gotten a lot more accepting of certain types of relationships that, until a few decades ago, would be rare to find. Much of this acceptance remains limited to the West, though, and several parts of the Middle East and Asia are places where tradition still rules supreme.
Despite the different approaches to love and relationships that each culture has, it is not uncommon to see people from polar opposite cultures meet and fall in love. Interracial and intercultural marriages are an increasingly common occurrence in melting-pot cities, such as New York City, where the entire world seems to come together.
Interracial and cross-cultural relationships can create beautiful stories, but it would be wrong to gloss over the many difficulties and challenges that their inherent dynamics bring. A lack of support and guidance often results in many of these relationships failing or facing serious roadblocks. Let’s explore them.
Child-Rearing Attitudes and Perspectives
Once the relationship stabilizes and the initial challenges that every relationship faces have been resolved, there is a period of peace. It is at this point that conversations slowly start to move in the direction of future plans, and the topic of children and particularly child raising comes up.
This is when the relationship can hit a new roadblock.
Many people will make adjustments and set aside their differences when it comes to the good of the relationship, but when the matter relates to “how to raise MY child,” their attitudes become very rigid.
For instance, one side might want to raise the child in a religious way, preferring the child to be brought up in an environment that matches a particular religion or sect, while the other prefers a more open-ended approach. Who is right? Who “wins”?
The Discipline of Children and Family Involvement
Differences may also come up in terms of disciplinary choices. It is common in some cultures for parents to discipline children with physical punishment. This can often come as a huge shock to those who consider the practice a form of child abuse. The use of such a term can then offend the other, sowing the seeds for more disagreements.
Some cultures also like the family and extended family to be closely involved in the raising of the child. The other partner might find this abhorrent, preferring privacy and a nuclear home.
Any objection from either side can be quickly viewed as an insult and a sign of disrespect for the culture. It can be very difficult to find common ground in such situations.
Sudden Shifts in Attitudes
Cultural differences also tend to become more prominent after marriage, or once a relationship reaches a significant milestone like an engagement. What might have been a mutually respectful relationship where partners treated each other as equals until then may suddenly experience unpleasant changes.
This is often the case when the woman is suddenly expected to change her style of clothing and make drastic changes in lifestyle for the sake of “modest behavior” as per the tradition or religion of her husband or partner.
One can understand why such situations often lead to flare-ups and arguments that can be serious enough to jeopardize the entire relationship.
Couples Therapy Can Provide Assistance
Each of the instances looked at above are common instances that these relationships can face. The negativity and strife can be avoided and handled constructively if only more couples decide to seek therapy. In this current age, there are so many options for couples therapy near New York City or any big multicultural city for that matter.
Many times, trying to rely on family members for guidance has the tendency to worsen the situation, as finding objectivity is rare. Finding an experienced couples therapist can be one of the few ways to work through the particularly challenging moments that these cross-cultural relationships can bring.
Of course, the first step in going to couples therapy is broaching the subject and having a conversation with your partner. If you are in a situation like this, try your best to speak out and take this first step.
Things don’t have to be as tough as they are right now, and therapists in cities like New York City have a lot of experience, having dealt with several similar situations due to the level of ethnic diversity that the city sees.
The presence of a reliable and trained therapist who is well-versed in cross-cultural counseling can be a real relationship saver.
Interracial and cross-cultural relationships have the potential to bring each partner the best of both worlds. Nature has shown us that genetic diversity is often good for the species. Unfortunately, social factors and cultural factors tend to play spoilsport for us humans and make it tough for these unique relationships to thrive naturally.
The couples that do find success often need to overcome a variety of challenges that conventional relationships escape. Couples therapy does offer hope, though. The extra guidance and support that therapy provides make it possible for a cross-cultural relationship to work.