International Marriage

Facing Many Challenges

Chinese bride and bridegroom
Lisa B./Getty Images

Every marriage requires commitment, dedication and work. An international/intercultural marriage requires even more attention because of the many obstacles that a couple faces. These obstacles can come from family, friends, personal values, expectations, and bureaucratic procedures.

Obstacles of International Marriage

Some of the problems these relationships face include:

  • Language Barrier
  • Differences in Values
  • Religious Conflicts
  • Sex Role Expectations
  • Economic Adjustments
  • Fear of Abandonment by Family, Friends, Spouse
  • Political Issues
  • Legal Complications

Overcoming These Obstacles

To overcome these barriers, intercultural couples need to:

  • Learn about one another's cultures.
  • Communicate well in at least one language.
  • Be open and honest with their families.
  • Accept that cultural roots go deep and that people don't change easily or quickly.
  • Focus on the positives.
  • Look at what they have in common with one another.
  • Talk with one another about which traditions they want to carry on as a couple and with their children.
  • Discuss their expectations in the areas of mealtimes, holidays, finances, sex, chores and roles.
  • Look at why it is difficult to let go of a tradition or expectation.

Keys to Success

It isn't easy to deal with the legacy that we've all grown up with in our ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. Couples have said that the first five years of this type of marriage are the hardest.

The key to a successful intercultural marriage is to develop understanding and patience.