Challenges in Multi Cultural Couples
Couple relationships are fraught with challenges. These are often based on differences in values, expectations, style of thinking, desires, life goals, career goals, personal drivers, behaviour patterns adopted from family of origin, etc. Cultural differences add an extra layer of complexity to cross cultural relationships, and can also intensify existing challenges.
Culture has a deep impact on how we behave, our value systems and the relationships we form. Two partners from the same culture often assume, rightly or wrongly, that their partner will think or behave like them. Or that they will have similar values. Mixed race couples or people in any type of cross cultural relationship often make the allowance to understand the difference and align their values. But how deep the culture impacts our lives still surprises them.
Understanding Multi Cultural Relationships
There are many categories and sub-categories in which to understand cultures, and there are many books to explore. People from different backgrounds tend to be from different cultures based on race, religion, region, language, class, caste, and various other things. I am outlining below the top three things that tend to come up in my counselling room.
Individualistic or Collective
A person from an individualistic culture is sometimes unable to understand the need for conformance in the collective culture or the pressure on those who do not conform. They might even experience this as dependency. And the person from the collective culture may not like the isolation they feel the individualistic lifestyle might bring.
Flexibility or Discipline
Time flows freely in flexible culture because it might be seen as transitionary whilst the rigidity of the disciplined culture may view the importance of time in a contrasting way.
Egalitarian or Hierarchical
A person from the egalitarian culture may not understand the obedience expected from someone from a hierarchical culture. And the person from the hierarchical culture might experience the individualistic ideas as disrespectful.
There are many other categories and sub-categories to understand cultures and their influence on peoples thinking and lives.
The challenges for cross cultural couples are hidden in the cultural maze. Often couples lack the knowledge and the objectivity to be able to work through the challenges themselves.
How I can help you
With most couples, I would work with them to help them understand each other better and address some of the underlying issues around their arguments. As communication increases and trust is rebuilt the relationship starts to improve.
In cross cultural relationships, I help couples identify the differences so that you can better understand each other. Rather than arguing about the difference, or trying to label things as right or wrong, a greater understanding of the other emerges. And this in turn brings more tolerance in the relationship.
I do not take sides, nor is it my intention to resolve an argument for you. I see my role as helping you understand the reasons for the arguments and replace the endless, cyclic arguments with healthier ones that are resolved when they finish. I help you understand each other.
How I work with you:
- Session 1 - I work with both of you to understand the issues and struggles in the relationship.
- Session 2 and 3- I work with you both individually to understand you both separately. These sessions carry a ring of confidentiality around them and anything discussed with me in these sessions does not come back to the together session from me. These sessions are pivotal to increasing understanding about you as individuals and what you both want from the relationship separately.
- Session 4 onwards- Ongoing couples counselling.
We explore things in the relationship as the sessions progress. How that impacts the relationship can vary from couple to couple. Each couples needs are different. It is not unusual for couple needs to change as the counselling progresses. As they become aware of things in the relationship, they start to explore it in new and different ways.
How long does it take
The speed of change is not determined by me but by you, as a couple. The work progresses faster than it does in individual counselling. This is because it does not go as deep in addressing individual needs and the focus is maintained on the couple and the relationship.
In my experience, once the key 2 or 3 issues are overcome, the relationship gathers momentum. And once the couples start to have the difficult conversations they have been putting off, the work is normally done.
I work with mixed race couples, couples from different cultural background, heterosexual couples, gay or lesbian couples, couples in open relationships and couples from various backgrounds.
Call me on 07881 400 200 to have a free no obligation chat or contact me to make a booking.