International and multicultural couples must usually cope with a higher degree of stress. Many stress factors affect couples but multicultural and international couples undergo a decisively more stressful environment. Can you think of what are the stress factors for you and your couple? Interestingly enough, many of the stress factors you may come up with will be included in the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. Does it ring a bell?
What are these factors and more importantly, how can they be mitigated?
We are a bilingual couple, will we truly understand each other?
Closely related to intra-couples communication is the communication that takes places among friends and with family members. A related stress factor shows when family members and friends stare at you as if they wanted to say: ’This is a joke, do you really understand each other?’.
In such cases only more language study can help. The best approach is to find out which language you are both more passionate about and concentrate on that in order to create a sort of couple-official language.
Will I have to relocate abroad?
The stress of relocation can also be mitigated by a rational approach to the pros and cons that the process will involve. Many resources are available to the couples that are about to move. I reckon that the most precious advice one can give is to talk to similar couples that went through that already (Dealing with the stress of international Relocation). What are the symptoms that such changes can bring and the techniques to reduce the relocation stress? Take a look at what the military, very experienced relocators, suggest in ‘Overcoming the relocation stress’. (for more resources go to http://moving.about.com/).
Cultural differences and different faiths
How can cultural differences be mitigated? According to Marriage Success Training, these are the main 5 patterns for managing religious and cultural differences (for more hints on the topic read Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial, Interethnic, and Interfaith Relationships by Joel Crohn, Ph.D.):
- Transcendent: Couple adopts beliefs, traditions and rituals from multiple sources, including ones outside the cultures, races and religions of origin. Spiritual practices may be nontraditional.
- Secular: Couple takes a nonreligious approach to life and is minimally involved in the practice of cultural and religious beliefs, rituals and traditions.
- Bi-cultural: Couple tries to balance the beliefs, traditions and rituals from each partner's cultural, religious and racial backgrounds. If there are two languages, the children will probably speak both.
- Modified Bi-cultural: Couple adopts a single religion - either from one partner's background or a mutually agreeable "compromise" religion - yet tries to honor the beliefs and traditions of both partners in a selective, but relatively balanced way. If there are two languages, the children may or may not speak both.
- Assimilated: One partner assimilates and converts to the beliefs, traditions and rituals of the other partner's cultural, religious and racial background.
Personally, I do not think that a unique scientific approach to accept and overcome cultural differences exist, but I do think that if two persons love each other, then they should do whatever it takes to overcome those and move on. After all, is the survival of the couple that matter, is it not?
The frequent traveler’s stress