Let’s be real, like really real. Sometimes relationships that cross cultural lines can be funny to say the least. It’s fun to dive into another culture, and even to possibly learn a new language, and new customs.
But there are also those moments where you feel completely awkward at the other person’s family gatherings, where you may not get their jokes, or where you don’t know what your in-laws are saying about you in Spanish, Mandarin, French, English, Twi, Swahili…or whatever language they may speak.
This is a brief list of some of those quirky things that you may encounter in a cross-cultural relationship.
I want everyone reading to know that you are not alone. We all experience rejections, hurts, awkward situations, and also great joys when courting, dating, and marrying across cultures.
Honestly the best thing to do about these differences is to “take a chill pill” which means just laugh, learn, live, and love.
You cannot take everything so seriously when you cross cultural lines. Sometimes it’s so much better to humble yourself, be willing to learn and become child-like in your approach to learning about your partner’s culture.
Yes, it may be frustrating in the moment. But you’ll adapt eventually and someday, you’ll know exactly what to say in response to that uncle who jokes with you in Spanish at EVERY family gathering (knowing good and well that you don’t speak Spanish) lol!
But I digress… here’s a little list of the things we’ve encountered, feel free to comment below if you have anymore to add!
1.) Missing the joke…completely
Okay, so a majority of the time…when Evans and I first started dating, I would miss the point of his jokes completely. He’d be waiting for me to GET the joke and I’d stare at him with a blank face… literally blank (lol)!
Now I am realizing that this is a totally normal symptom of cross-cultural encounters. You may have grown up in a culture that values wit, or sarcasm; whereas your partner may value slap-stick humor more than sarcasm. When these moments happen, just laugh, learn, and make a joke out of it together for the next time. And try hard not to make a sarcastic remark…if you are coming from a sarcastic culture 😂
2.) Tastebud Tantrums (lol)
If you happen to marry someone from another culture. Your tastebuds may cry. I know you’re wondering what I mean, and I promise I’ll explain!
A tastebud tantrum is when your tastebuds are craving something your spouse doesn’t like, cook, or eat on a regular basis. This is seriously frustrating in cross-culture relationships because the food preparation in different cultures is radically diverse!
You may love dairy and you may crave cheese, milk, and all things cow (or goat) and your partner may not like (or value) cheese at all!
This seems like a small thing when you’re dating. You may be like me and say, “I like my partners food, what’s the big deal?” But after eating stew for Every. Single. Meal…you may crave a casserole, or dare I say it…a sandwich/burger every now and then (maybe this is just an American craving). And that craving that occurs my friend is a tastebud tantrum.
Your spouse may look at you like you are #crazy as you scarf down your favorite meal, but at least you will be satisfied.
3.) Tomato, Tomato, Potato, Potato
Yes, my friend. You will have hundreds of debates on the pronounciation of hundreds of words. Okay, maybe not hundreds, but there may be funny arguements you’ll have about (if a word is legitimate), how a word should be spelled, AND how it “should be” pronounced.
Quick Tip: To save yourself early on…just google it.
4.) Mind over Matter
The mind is a beautiful, terrible thing. Sometimes our partner will confuse us…and our job is to accept it. We may have no idea why s/he doesn’t throw brushed hair away, but instead flushes it @Haitians and @Dominicans.
You may not understand why your boyfriend/girlfriend puts hot sauce on (already) spicy Cheetos.
We may never know why our spouse wakes in the wee hours of the morning (3…4am) to clean, or sweep the floor @WestAfricans
You may not understand why your spouse needs to have a dessert after EVERY SINGLE MEAL and/or three different flavors of ice cream in the freezer at the same time @Americans
There are very logical answers to these very quizzical realities. But the answers may not make sense to us. That is why we have to realize that our “common sense” is not the same as our partner’s “common sense.”
Common sense is shaped by our environment. Our common sense is shaped, in part, by our cultural surrounding.
So folks, let’s be gracious to our cross-culture partners. Let’s learn to love without judgement and realize that we are all image bearers of God, no matter where we come from.
Love you! And God loves you so much more!