There are a few things that Evans and I are learning how to handle while courting. So we’ll share 3 Tips we continue to use while courting cross-culturally.
Tip # 1 Remember to be open to how your partner communicates.
After dating for a few weeks we soon realized that our communucation was very different. I liked hearing quick stories and main details. But Evans would give recounts of events and stories in order to share information with me. I realized this was a cultural difference. Most Americans like hearing details quickly, but some cultures (like in Ghana) recount a full story to share information. No one way is better than the other, it’s just different.
So Evans and I work hard to balance how we communicate with each other. Now, Evans communicates main points at the beginning, and then shares more of the story after (this shows me love by helping cater to the way I best receive information while still allowing him to share fully). He is human and sometimes he forgets, and that’s when I simply give him my time and appreciate however he chooses to share his life with me (even if it takes more time than expected).
I sacrifice my time and he sacrifices his usual mode of communicating, in order to relate better with each other. Communication is a beautiful gift, be sure to work with one another to do it well.
Tip #2 Remember that your way is NOT always the right way.
Each person in a cross-cultural relationship must realize this. Just because everyone you have ever known does something one way, and your partner does it differently, does not mean they do it wrong…THEY JUST DO IT DIFFERENTLY.
This realization is hard if your partner has never been fully exposed to your family, country, or culture. That’s why I recommend each partner goes to visit the other person’s family and experience their culture. Then you can see the BIG PICTURE…OTHER PEOPLE AROND THE WORLD DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY THAN WHAT YOU MAY BE USED TO. This is a HUGE thing to realize in a cross-culture relationship…You are NOT always right (even when you think you are).
If you have a hard time appreciating people doing things differently...FOR EXAMPLE: if you like eating food a certain or particular way, and your partner makes it differently and you can’t appreciate it…you probably need to find a way to mediate the difference, or you need to find somone else from your own culture who can cook the way you like (especially if food is important to you). This is just one example of many differences you could have.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW YOURSELF… IF YOU ARE A PICKY PERSON and LIKE THINGS DONE YOUR WAY, THEN YOU NEED TO grow and CHANGE A LOT before you date someone from a different country and culture than yours. Just remember Philippians 2:3 consider others as better than yourself.
Questions to consider when courting/dating Cross Culturally:
– Which Holidays will you all celebrate if you get married? All of one culture? All of both cultures holidays?
– What language(s) will you teach your children…yours or your partners or both/all languages?
– Who should do the cooking in your house after you marry…you or your partner, or both?
– How should you discipline your kids (time out, reward system, candy, chores, caning, spanking, pinching, etc.)?
– Who should discipline your kids your partner or you… or both?
(And the list could go on. I’ll write a post with more of these considerations/questions later this week).
Cross-cultural dating takes HUMILITY and HARD WORK.
Tip # 3 Talk about where you want to live, and be aware that one or both of you may have to let go of some things
This is a BIG DEAL! Leaving your culture and what you know to be home is hard! When I go to Ghana what I consider proper or right may be improper or wrong. For example…eating with your left hand in the United States is totally fine…but doing that at someone else’s house in Ghana is improper. In the United States it is considered very rude to visit someone without at least 1 or 2 days notice, but in Ghana it is very common to visit some without notice, or with less than a few hours notice.
When you date cross-culturally you realize that each of you have to lose some parts of yourself in order to accommodate the other person. You will also learn that sacrificial love creates greater unity between you and your partner, and losing for the sake of gaining is so worth it.
Cross-cultural relationships are both terribly beautiful and terribly difficult. They represent the beauty of God’s creating many different peoples that reflect many differing qualities of an Almighty God. The unification of two people from two differing cultures magnifies His supernatural ability to unify.
I love you, and God loves you so much more!