In a society where interracial marriages are becoming commonplace across the US, intercultural marriages are increasing as well. Interracial relationships contain partners that belong to different races, while intercultural couples are partners from different ethnicities, races, faiths, or geographical locations. Divorce rates are higher among intercultural couples, so it is vital to pay more attention to preparing well for marriage.
To marry into a intercultural relationship is to enter a new world. The best predictor of success in an intercultural marriage is the couple's ability to set aside assumptions and talk about differences with curiosity and respect. So as you work through this list with your partner, do your best to ask questions rather than making statements to respond, recognize that you get the honor of exploring the world through the eyes of the person you love, and see where it takes you.
Here are 7 conversations to have before tying the knot in an intercultural relationship. Take your time exploring your partner's world. Plan a date for each topic or simply set aside time for a long walk or sit by a fire to give these questions (and your partner) your full attention.
1: Family and In-Laws
What does family mean to you?
How did your immediate family operate? Who did you go to if you wanted permission or help? Who set the tone for your family?
When did you see grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles growing up? What was their job as ____ and how did you show them respect?
What role will our parents play in our marriage? What role will they play in our day-to day life, or raising our kids as grandparents?
What expectations do your parents have of their future son/daughter in-law?
What religion were you raised in? What did it look like to follow that religion?
Has your view/experience/value of religion changed since growing up? How?
What does your religion say about marriage?
What would you like for the practice of religion to look like as a couple? Family?
What holidays do you observe and how did you celebrate them growing up?
How does your culture observe weddings? Funerals? Birthing children? Becoming an adult?
Which traditions would you like to keep from your home culture, and where would you like to create new traditions?
4: Gender Roles
What does manhood/womanhood mean as it was modeled to you growing up?
A good husband does____? and a good wife does____?
A man/woman never___, because it means ___?
How did you know your parents loved you growing up?
What did your parents expect from you as a child?
What type of parent do you imagine yourself being?
What aspects of your culture do you hope your child embraces?
How will you divide the responsibilities of raising a family?
In your mind, the perfect family is______?
What will the effects be on your child of your intercultural marriage? Racially? Culturally? Locationaly?
6: Prejudice and Society
How have other people reacted to your relationship as an interracial/intercultural couple positively or negatively?
How do you see your partner's culture?
What are common stereotypes that you can identify about your own culture, and do you see any of them in yourself?
Which cultural aspects do you have a difficult time understanding or relating to?
Are there aspects of your partner's culture/situations that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe?
7: Home Country
Where do you want to be living short term and long term? What about when kids come along?
What would it look like to live there?
Will there be access to home culture/people?
What language will we speak at home or around family? Will I need to learn a different language to engage with your family, for where we live, or when we raise kids together?