Marriage is a complicated a mess. I am not just talking about planning the wedding and all the lovely details that come with it. No, I am talking about the marriage life itself. Sure, people get married because they love each other. But, the longer they live together, anger starts brewing and sometimes it even transforms to hate. Any normal person in a relationship would agree that no one is capable of angering him or her like the person they are with. Sure, this does not happen in every relationship or marriage but it is too common. And that occurs in a normal relationship when the couple comes from the same background and culture. Imagine when they come from different backgrounds?
I am a huge believer in diversity. I believe that two people coming from different backgrounds can be more creative and share with each other the best of both cultures. However, in a bi-cultural marriage this often turns into sharing with each other the worst of both cultures. The more diverse the cultures, the higher the likelihood of problems. That is due to the fact that every culture is different in how they deal with conflict resolution, in how they view the other sex, and in how they communicate.
Each culture has a way to solve problems and these ways can conflict with each other in a marriage. Some cultures tend to resolve conflict by talking about it and sharing solutions. Other cultures tend to take their time in approaching a problem and seem to others more tedious and slow. Thu, as you can imagine if a couple come from different cultures and there is a conflict they would both want to solve it in different ways and thus create more problems when they are actually trying to solve it.
Viewing the other sex can be very problematic in different cultures. Some cultures view the man in a marriage to be the dominant force and therefore the woman must fully obey her husband. Other cultures tend to think the opposite, as the woman is the source of life. Other cultures view that there should be equality in how each person views the other. Thus, a man who grew up in a culture where he is regarded as superior to women marries a woman who grew up in an opposite culture then certainly problems will occur daily.
Then of course there are different communication styles. Again, different cultures have different ways of dealing with conversation. There are cultures where having eye contact is key in communicating while there are other cultures that consider this to be confrontational. There are cultures that appreciate silence in a conversation. Some consider it a sign of thought-fullness while others look at it as a lack of intelligence. Then of course there is body language, tone and even the manner of talking. Some cultures are more explicit in talking and some prefer to be more implicit. Some like to ask a direct questions and some like to keep circling around the topic until they get to the point. Communication is normally a difficult task and in a bicultural marriage it could be even more challenging.
But the relationship extends to other areas. For example, there is the couple’s friend or friends. In a bicultural relationship, each person has his own friends who most likely will be from different cultures. So you can have friends who speak different languages, have different traditions, and different sense of humor and who like to do different activities. The couple will feel that they either have to spend time alone with their friends, try to force both friends to spend time together or try to spend time with each friend’s culture separately.
Different cultures also mean different personal habits. There is hygiene, bed manners, cooking, eating, and napping and even television manners. Some cultures take excruciating details to personal hygiene. There are also bed manners. British people for example cannot sleep without a glass of water by their bed and a handkerchief tucked under their pillow. While, these are minute details, they could be unnerving at moments.
That is how cultures are. Sometimes, there are no explanations for it and sometimes the explanation is stranger than the tradition itself. That does not mean that there is a right culture and there is a wrong culture or even a better culture. The fact is there are different cultures that handle issues differently. Due to that difference, there is an added pressure on the marriage. This does not mean that every bi-cultural marriage is doomed to fail or that you will have problems. No, sometimes a bi cultural marriage is going to be even more successful than a marriage where the couple comes from the same culture. The key point is that the couple must understand that there will always be difference in opinion or different way of doing things and they must take that into account.