The United States is a united states in more ways than one. Today’s society is a multicultural mix that often bares little resemblance to the many original cultures that have gone into this mix. Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on point of view), there are still large ethnic pockets throughout the country. That doesn’t mean that cross-cultural marriages don’t happen – they do, and they bring their own set of problems.
Many of these marriages have an added burden – one or both families have opposed the marriage and this has effectively created a schism in the family – the result is that one or both partners have little or no family that they can fall back on for advice. Even in situations where the marriage has the families’ blessing, advice can be difficult since they often have little knowledge of the each other’s culture.
Cultural or ethnic difficulties in marriage has often been a difficult issue for counselors to deal with in the past. Fortunately, these difficulties were identified many years ago and training programs are now in place to help counselors to gain skills in dealing with these situations. If you are looking for a marriage counselor, it never hurts to ask at the outset whether or not they have any training or skills related to mixed cultural marriages.
For couples from different ethnic backgrounds who are considering marriage, deal with some of your cultural differences before you tie the knot. Don’t put these issues in the ‘we’ll resolve them after the marriage’ basket – by then it is too late. Be sure to deal with important issues such as religion, children, money, and employment. Marriages from different cultural backgrounds do work – our nation has been built on them. However, while we welcome those cultural differences, they can create special issues in those marriages.