Patterns

puzzle pieces

Much has happened in the past few years, and as I have been looking back and reflecting on all the events that have occurred, lessons I’ve learned, thinking about where to start with my blog, the major, overall theme that jumps out at me is patterns.  I can categorize nearly everything into a pattern of some sort, things that have happened before might have had different forms, different faces, different details – but the underlying story is the same.

As human beings, we are all creatures of habit, and thus we all have patterns and certain ways of doing and thinking about things.  Our patterns are formed when we are babies and throughout early childhood, when our impressions about the world and the way things work and who we are are being created and solidified.  Habits are often passed down from generation to generation, as our early habits are formed through our interactions with our caretakers – our families.  Children in families grow up to have their own children, and they pass down the same habits to them – and so it goes.  These habits are mostly unconscious, yet deeply ingrained and rarely challenged.  Everyone around us behaves a certain way, and that becomes our ‘normal’.  In our minds, this is how the world operates.  Those who don’t operate in the same way are seen as outside the norm and strange.  Some of us may dismiss those people and not take the time to consider why they behave the way they do; we don’t give them any importance and simply forget about them and move on.  When we don’t allow ourselves the time to reflect on the basis for the behaviors of others, we cut off any opportunity for growth and positive change in ourselves.  We stay stuck in our ingrained, unconscious habits and patterns, and continue to encounter the same problems, the same difficulties, the same people, our entire lives.  Nothing will ever change.  We keep thinking if only this person would stop doing that, if only people could understand me, if only the world weren’t so messed up, if only other people didn’t have all these problems… But the truth is, when everyone and everything around us is flawed and problematic, the reality is that the problem lies in YOU.  If, for instance, you find yourself always ending up in relationships with people who treat you badly and don’t respect you, the problem is not them.  The one thing all these relationships have in common – is YOU.  The question you must ask yourself is not what is wrong with them, but instead, what is wrong with me?  What is wrong with me for allowing and tolerating such behavior?  For not standing up for myself early on and walking away when the red flags first began popping up?  Why did I continue to hang on?  Why do I not believe that I deserve better?  And on and on the questions go.  It is in this kind of reflection, reflection about the self, that change can occur and we can truly begin taking steps to stopping unhealthy patterns once and for all.  We must stop looking at others, and start looking inside.

It is sometimes said that like attracts like.  It is also sometimes said that opposites attract.  But, the truth is that neither are really the case.  Newton’s law states it best: for every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction.  What that means is, whatever you put out there will attract its match in return.  If you have low self-worth and don’t believe you deserve to be treated well, that is exactly what you will get.  You will get others who don’t think highly of you and who will not treat you well.  Your psychological and energetic state will draw in your match.  When relationships fail, the last thing to cross our minds is that we were well-matched… but the truth is, you were.  You were the exact match for each other at that point in time; the matching piece of the puzzle.  A good match doesn’t equate a healthy match; it simply means two people fit the needs of the other, healthy or unhealthy, conscious or unconscious.  One thing I’ve heard therapists and life coaches often say is that relationships are a dance.  It takes two, and each of you dances in a specific pattern that fits exactly the pattern in which the other person dances.  It is not an identical dance, you are not doing the exact same moves at the same time for the same reasons – rather, it is a symbiotic, complementary dance.  And then relationships fail because one partner changes and the dance no longer works; it falls apart.  Relationships also fail if one partner becomes aware of the dysfunction and no longer wants to continue in it.  However, too often that person does not look at their role in the dysfunction, and continues on with the same patterns and will eventually end up in yet another dysfunctional relationship.  That particular partner changed, but the patterns – the source of the dysfunction – did not.  That is not to say we should continue on in dysfunctional relationships or continue to tolerate inappropriate, disrespectful, or abusive behavior.  Rather, we should look inward to work on changing our internal patterns, and the relationship will reveal itself and work out in the way that it is meant to.

Now that I’ve begun to take a critical look at myself and my life and have seen the clear patterns neatly tying everything together, I am astounded at how obvious it was all this time – and yet I never saw it.  I was too stuck in them; they were so deeply ingrained and a part of what I thought “normal” was that I never once questioned them; I never took a step back and really examined my patterns and habits.  It’s also amazing that now, after discovering this about myself, how clearly I can see the issues of others all around me.  It all comes down to patterns that were imprinted upon us during childhood.  So simple… and yet, the hardest part is seeing our own patterns, seeing ourselves as we truly are, and our central role in the problems that plague us.

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Self-control: Anger as Weakness

My new venture in posting hadith has turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would.  I’m finding that I’ll decide on a hadith that I’d like to post and then as I begin reflecting on it, many more hadith come to mind, along with relevant research, ideas, examples, experiences… and then I realize that I need to do a lot of work getting sources and making sure all my facts are straight – and suddenly I find that a few days have passed now and I still haven’t posted anything!  So, my task for now is to try to keep it simple! 

“The one who angers you, conquers you.” -Prophet Muhammad (saws)

(Bismillah arrahman arraheem.)

This hadith, although seemingly simplistic and basic, has massive relevance to our daily interactions, and is much harder to put into practice than one might think. 

Essentially, the message is that if we become angry or upset in response to someone else, we have effectively allowed them full control over our emotions.  They win, basically.  You could have the best comeback in the world; you could succeed in making them upset too – but they still have won by being able to exert that much power over your emotions.  Yet, it is important to remember that your emotions are yours and no one else’s.  You have the ability to conquer and control them, and allowing others to do so instead reveals the lack of control you have over yourself. 

Some people thrive on getting a rise out of other people, as they understand quite well that once the other person gets upset, they’ve won the game.  One of my brothers has always enjoyed this ‘game’ ever since we were kids.  He would pester my other brother and me until we started getting annoyed and responding back negatively.  The more upset we got, the more he laughed.  The more he laughed, the more frustrated we got!  Eventually he would walk away, satisfied and entertained, and we would be left fuming and powerless by our inability to affect him.  He won by succeeding in making us upset – and we lost because he simply smiled and laughed off our vicious attacks intended to hurt him or make him angry. 

Similarly, when we find ourselves getting upset by another person, we need to take a deep breath and take back control of our emotions.  It doesn’t mean that we should repress our negative feelings altogether, but it does mean that we should take a more logical approach to responding to others.  Even the Bible encourages responding without negative emotions, as Proverbs 15:1 states, “A soft answer turns away wrath.”  Instead of becoming angry and emotionally attacking back, we should first look at the bigger picture to see what is really going on, and then decide what is the best way to proceed in order to achieve the desired results. 

If we approach the people who we interact with on a daily basis in this way, many small fires can be put out easily and huge arguments can be prevented.  Many times, fights with a spouse or a family member often stem from something very minor, but spiral out of control when one or both parties relinquish control of their emotions. 

Reacting to someone with full control of your emotions and assessing the actual intention behind the words or action can cause completely different results.  For example,  let’s say a father starts to lecture his daughter about her habit of being late and the importance of being on time.  She could deal with his words on a surface level and ignore the intention behind it, which could cause her to feel angry, become defensive and start arguing back.  Or, she could understand that his intention is only to help her be more successful in life (but perhaps he just chose to deliver the message ineffectively, by lecturing), and instead thank him for his concern, ignore his gruffness, and agree that being on time is important (while not necessarily acknowledging any accusations).  She has now de-escalated the conflict, he feels that his message has been received and will likely stop lecturing her, and she has retained full control of her emotions and both can walk away feeling positive. 

Of course, not all words or actions have a positive intention behind them, so in those cases it is important to first recognize their intention and then determine the source of their intention – while still retaining control of your emotions.  Then you will be in a position to rationally determine what the appropriate course of action should be. 

For instance, perhaps someone is ridiculing your faith.  In this situation, you may determine that a. their intention is to make you upset, and b. their intention stems from ignorance.  So, instead of responding to their intention, you could instead go to the actual source and address their ignorance. 

Of course, all this can be challenging to actually put into practice, and it is unlikely that you will be able to be fully successful on your first attempt.  It will take a great deal of practice, time, patience, and above all, self control.  You have to constantly remind yourself to look at the bigger picture and not be tempted to give in for short term satisfaction (with long term negative results).

Hadith for Saturday, March 20th

Bismillah arrahman arraheem,

I have decided that in addition to writing lengthier posts (such as the series on intercultural marriage and other topics), I will also post hadiths with a brief explanation periodically, as doing so takes much less time and is something I can do throughout the week.  It usually takes a lot of time and mental effort to write the longer posts, so in lieu of going for a few weeks at a time when I’m too busy to post, doing smaller, more manageable posts in the meantime might be a good solution to keeping my blog still active.  So, I’ll post hadith that I particularly like, as well as expand my knowledge by finding new ones as well. 

“Uncover your secret only to one who is nobler in faith than you, and thus you will find nobility.  If you do this, you will find well-being.”  -Imam Jafar as-Sadiq, Lantern of the Path.

The message of this hadith is essentially that if you have a problem or issue in your life, it is unwise to discuss it with others at random.  Instead, you should think carefully before opening up to anyone, and consider that person’s position in relation to yours.  Is this someone who could really understand your situation?  Is this someone who has a great deal of knowledge about the religion?  Someone who is wise and experienced? 

For example, if your car is making strange noises, you wouldn’t tell the cashier in a grocery store about your situation – the clerk may be sympathetic, but they are unable to actually help you.  In fact, if they do attempt to advise you, they may even give you misleading or incorrect advice.  Instead, if you are having an issue with your car, you would go to a mechanic and ask an expert. 

Likewise, if you are dealing with a specific issue in your life, be cautious in revealing it to others; only reveal your issue to someone who is in a higher position to advise you.  Disclosing your problems to others thoughtlessly can cause a host of other problems.  Others may give you poor or false advice.  They may turn around and gossip about you behind your back.  They may misunderstand your situation, or they may use it against you.  Others’ perceptions of you may change as well – perhaps they previously saw you in a certain way, but may subsequently attribute all sorts of other assumptions to you when they find out that you are dealing with a certain situation. 

A common issue that comes up frequently is when a female having an issue in her relationship confides in her close female friends.  The friends provide sympathy, perhaps may comment on what they would do in that particular situation, and will typically always side with the female.  Yet, when the issue is resolved later, the female will move on in her relationship while her friends still retain a bad image of her partner, and may begin to give suggestions based on that negative image – even to the point of suggesting that the female end her relationship.  Thus, the friends, while trying to be helpful and sympathetic, will subsequently have a negative impression of the partner that is unlikely to change since they aren’t directly involved in the situation and likely don’t hear about the partner’s positive attributes as much as they hear about his negative aspects.

Instead, the woman in this situation may be better off talking to a professional or someone who she deems to be experienced in this particular area about her relationship issues.  She could also talk to a religious leader, who also has training and religious knowledge of how best to deal with the situation.  Both of these individuals are unlikely to hold a grudge, gossip about the other person, or allow this particular situation to inappropriately color their perception of the other person. 

One thing to note is that Imam as-Sadiq mentioned specifically talking to someone who is higher in faith than you.  In Islam, this is by far the best option, as someone more advanced in Islamic faith and knowledge will have a well-rounded knowledge of life and the human experience in general, due to the wisdom and incredible knowledge available from the Quran, the Prophet, and his family.  This person will not only be able to speak to your situation, but they will also give you advice grounded in the religion.  Someone who is merely experienced in a certain area but not in religion may be able to understand your situation, but may not give you Islamically sound advice, and may lead you in the wrong direction. 

This particular hadith has made a huge impact on my own life.  I used to have the attitude that my life is an open book and I have no secrets and nothing to be ashamed of – so I would talk to anyone about practically anything in my life.  After converting to Islam, I realized the folly in such an attitude, because I noticed that sometimes some people would start to treat me differently or not respect me as much, and at one point several vicious rumors had started about me that were based on what I had said but had been exaggerated to the extent of being untrue and very hurtful.  So while it relieved some stress initially to get my problems off my chest, in the long run the effects were quite deleterious and damaging.  I would have been better off holding my tongue and seeking out someone who is in a better position to understand my particular situation and who can offer sound advice.

Intercultural Marriage: Sex

Sex.  It seems like such a basic, simple process – how could there be any disagreement about that?  But alas, such is not the case, and sex, even among same-culture couples, continously ranks as one of the top most argued about subjects (money, sex, and kids).  There are many issues surrounding sex that stem from unconscious beliefs and views that few have taken the time to reflect on.

Purpose

The purpose of sex may vary due to the culture or religion of an individual.  In some cultures (i.e. Western culture), sex is seen as a pleasurable, loving act between a couple, in which mutual enjoyment is key.  Yet others might believe that sex is necessary for procreational purposes and little else.  Female enjoyment is not necessary or even desireable in some cases.  On the extreme end, in some FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints) Mormon circles, sex for pleasure between a married couple constitutes adultery!  Even if a person does not espouse the beliefs of their childhood or culture, having grown up in such an environment can have a profound impact on their ability to feel comfortable sexually.  Even in the US, women from more conservative backgrounds often have trouble combatting years of sexual repression, and struggle to be able to express themselves sexually in a healthy manner.    

When

When to have sex is a conflict common even among same culture couples, as ‘normal’ frequency depends solely on an individual’s unique needs.  Nevertheless, culture plays a role in determining our beliefs regarding how much is enough.  Even some religions weigh in on the debate: Islam stipulates that a certain number of months without sex is grounds for divorce, and recommends sex every few days. 

Further muddying the waters, once a woman becomes pregnant, many men the world over have difficulty seeing mothers as sexual and may no longer desire their partner.  In fact, Western studies show that the ‘best’ time for a man to have an affair is when the female is pregnant or has just given birth!  This unconscious belief that pregnant women/mothers aren’t sexual is unfortunate, as pregnant women often experience an increased libido due to the hormone changes (particularly if she’s pregnant with a boy).  Yet, it is not just a belief common among men – some women hold this belief as well and may not feel comfortable having sex while pregnant or just after giving birth. 

Many religions and cultures deem sex during menstruation as taboo, so that could cause conflict as well if a couple is from differing religions or cultures.    

Birth Control

Beliefs regarding birth control also vary greatly.  Some religions prohibit birth control altogether (i.e. Catholicism, FLDS, for instance).  Even the types of birth control allowed may vary.  Some women may not want to take birth control due to the numerous negative side effects, and some men may not want to use condoms due to discomfort or allergy.  Clearly, the potential for conflict regarding birth control is great.

Closing

Clearly, open communication is essential for navigating the sensitive, yet elemental waters of sex and all that it entails in an intercultural relationship.  Many are hesitant and feel uncomfortable discussing sex, yet since it ranks as one of the top three most argued about issues plaguing married couples, it is of utmost necessity to do.  If talking to your partner directly about it seems too overwhelming, start first by finding out what your partner’s culture believes about sex, and work your way inward.  Then move on to their subculture, religion, community, family, friends, and so on.  A person is unlikely to escape from all these spheres of influence unscathed and unaffected.

Conflicting Values in Intercultural Marriage

Everyone has values, regardless of how conservative or open-minded one might be.  From the stern, long-bearded Wahabi to the college student who hits up the clubs every weekend, we all have beliefs about how every action in life should be governed, which can cause a great deal of conflict when intimately dealing with someone who holds different beliefs.  Values tell us what we perceive to be good or bad, right or wrong, important or trivial. 

While all human beings share the same needs (food, shelter, companionship, etc.), the way we go about satisfying those needs differs from culture to culture, and even person to person.  People from the same cultural background may have different values in some areas.  The key to successfully navigating a relationship in which many values are vastly different is to being highly self-aware of your own values, being aware of the values of your partner, and realizing that values are merely different, and not inherently right or wrong. 

Romano cites researchers Edward Stewart and Milton Bennett as providing a model that divides values into four areas: form of activity, form of relations to others, perception of the world, and perception of the self.  

Form of Activity

Form of activity refers to the beliefs surrounding activities.  For example, mainstream Americans have an attitude of ‘doing’: activities are ‘done’, a person is responsible for their own actions and their own lives.  To succeed requires doing something.  A successful American person is measured by what they have done and activities they have accomplished.

Other cultures value ‘being’ with regard to activity.  A successful person is valued for who they are intrinsically – a good personality, kindness, sincerity, etc. 

Other cultures focus on self-growth, striving for constant personal change and reflection. 

Conflict could arise in the area of activity as an American may want to have their children involved in extra-curicular activities, whereas a non-American spouse may see that as a waste of time and ‘worthless’, and would want the children to perhaps spend time outdoors, communing with nature and becoming more in-tune with their inner spirit. 

Relation to Others

The second area of values is in relations to others.  Americans often see connections with others as easy to make and equally easy to break.  Relationships form quickly, but may often remain largely superficial or based on some external activity (study friends, drinking buddies, church friends, colleagues).  These friendships are frequently compartmentalized and often do not cross the boundary into another domain (for example, drinking buddies may not be interested in meeting you for lunch Wednesday.  Work friends may not want to help you move or put new tiles on your roof). 

In other cultures, friendships take time to initiate and develop, yet are long-lasting and deep.  These friends can be counted on to be at your side during both the good times and the bad.  Fights and disagreements may arise, but the bond of friendship is never shaken. 

The differing concept of friendship can cause problems not only within a romantic relationship, but also for anyone in a foreign society, attempting to make social contacts and fit in with the natives.  I have heard international students often complain that they ‘know’ many Americans but have a very hard time forming any real connection with them.  A foreign student may have no trouble finding something to do for fun on the weekend, but when it comes to more serious issues, these surface friends are nowhere to be found.  On the contrary, an American in another country may feel lonely and find it difficult to just have a conversation about the weather, and may not understand why people aren’t very ‘friendly’.  An intercultural couple may scoff at the other’s friends, and may not understand how important these types of relationships are to the other person’s sense of well-being. 

Perception of the World

The third realm of values lies in perception of the world – how the self and humanity as a whole is connected to nature.  Are humans separate or integral with nature?  Should we engage in respectful or exploitive treatment?  Do we fear nature or conquer it?

An American may see humanity as separate from the environment, having full mastery over it and the right to exploit it for our own needs.  A Native American, on the other hand, may see humanity as just one piece of the larger picture of life, and everything we do must be in balance with the natural rhythm of life. 

How a couple deals with even their trash could be a source of conflict (recycle or not? Throw trash in the trash can or out in the street?), or what kind of car to drive, what sort of products to buy, companies to support (or boycott), and so on.  Are the weeds in the yard a nuisance or a beautiful part of nature?  Is a yard or having anything green even necessary at all?     

Perception of the Self

The final area of values is perception of the self.  How do we see ourselves?  As separate entities (individualistic) or as part of a tightly knit group (collectivistic)?  This area of values in particular can cause a great deal of conflict, as the collective spouse may be seen as ‘spineless’ and the family too ‘controlling’, and the individualistic spouse as ‘selfish’ and the family ‘unloving’ and cold. 

The classic example of this is the collective partner breaking up with the individualistic partner because the family doesn’t approve.  The collective partner does what is best for the family unit, as they don’t perceive their own needs as separate from the family’s needs as a whole.  Yet, the individualistic partner is heartbroken by the perception that the other person must not ‘love’ them enough to stand up to the family and live their own life. 

Fortunately for me, I understand this concept and admire my (collectivistic) partner’s deep devotion and commitment to his family, and I actually deeply long to belong to such a close, devoted family.  I am relatively collectivistic due to my own unique background (conservative Christian, moved frequently, and was home schooled). 

As a result, I fully understand the dilemma my own collectivistic partner faces.  He is willing to take on the ridicule and ostracization from his community and society at large for his decision to be with me, but his more conservative, mostly uneducated family does not understand why he can’t just be with a girl from their city, and most certainly do not want to be constantly ridiculed, treated badly, and gossiped about because of a foreigner, that they don’t even approve of, entering the family.  As a result, they see his actions as selfish – and I fully understand.  His actions could cause their family unit harm.  It isn’t about the degree to which he loves me, on the contrary, it is about the fact that he is harming those who are an integral part of his concept of his own self.  His family is part of him.  To hurt them is to hurt himself.  The unavoidable fact remains that his family will be the ones dealing with the consequences of his decision for the rest of their lives.  

Many relationships have been destroyed and several hearts have been broken due to a lack of understanding on both sides about the very elemental value of what the self actually is, and who/what it includes. 

This is not to say that those who are collectivistic will never be able to have a relationship with someone who is individualistic – not in the least.  There are many variables involved: politics, education, religion, city/country of origin on both sides, and so on.

Closing Thoughts

Mostly, no one is ever aware of their values until these values have been challenged and stepped on.  Values can cause a great deal of conflict and anguish, as we usually automatically perceive our values as right, as the natural, most logical way of doing things, and don’t realize that in reality, values are just different ways of achieving the same goals.   As a result, it is imperative to take a step back and consider who you are as a cultural and value-laden person, and how that may differ from your partner.  Additionally, the next time you have an argument (and particularly the arguments that seem to come up constantly and are never resolved), don’t rush in blaming the other person for being ‘stupid’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘illogical’.  Instead, realize that the difference may lie in differing values.  When both parties respect the other’s values as valid and simply different, communication and compromise is much easier to achieve.

*Concepts taken  from “Intercultural Marriage” by Dugan Romano*

Phases of Adjustment in an Intercultural Marriage

Just as in a same-culture marriage, there are several phases of adjustment that couples commonly experience after marriage.  Intercultural couples face unique challenges in each of the adjustment periods which can seem confusing and can even cause serious issues in the relationship if not fully understood and dealt with appropriately.  These phases of adjustment are very similar to the phases common to culture shock – so imagine if you are going through the phases of marriage AND the phases of culture shock at the same time (which is probably common for many intercultural couples)!

Phase 1: Honeymoon

The first phase of adjustment is termed the honeymoon phase.  All couples go through this, although those who dated extensively beforehand may have completed this phase prior to marriage.  Couples in this stage are blinded by their attraction for one another, hormones and chemicals abound in the brain (see Helen Fisher’s work on YouTube for info about ‘the brain in love’), and as a result, often fixate on all the positive aspects of the other person, and ignore or downplay the negatives.  Differences are fascinating, thrilling, novel, and romantic.  Research shows that couples typically stay in this phase anywhere from a few months to 2 years. 

Phase 2: Settling In

After the initial excitement starts to wear off (as is necessary for normal life functioning, and helps the couple to spend their energy on raising children instead of solely on each other), the next phase begins – the Settling In phase.  The couple begins to relax and be themselves and show more of their true colors.  True habits and differing ideas about manners begin to show up, and characteristics (both personal and cultural) may start to be more of a concern than they were before.  An Arab husband’s penchance for protectiveness may seem a bit controlling to a Western wife, and a Western spouse’s individualistic outlook may start to seem a bit selfish from Asian (collectivistic) standpoints.  This is the stage when arguments may start to creep in, and the rosy glow of a picture-perfect, fairytale romance begins to fade.  Reality hits, and the couple begins to see how similar or different they really are, and their own, deepset, often unchallenged or even unnoticed beliefs and views are now being challenged and questioned.  Ideas about husband/wife roles, how to raise the kids, appropriate relationships with family members and in-laws, food, table manners, religion, and on and on will be brought to the forefront.  If a couple finds themselves having many cultural differences as well as individual and personality differences, the relationship may be so ridden with problems that it does not last.  Others, however, are able to work through their differences and make it to the next phase.

Phase 3: Life Patterns

This is the point where the path of the relationship can take a drastically different course.  Some couples end up separating due to the differences being too great and not being able to compromise and work through them.

  Others may give up dealing with ever-recurring problems and ignore them and sweep everything under the table (i.e. the head-in-the-sand method).  Tension, anger, and unresolved conflict still exists, but neither partner is willing to find a workable compromise.  These relationships tend to result in separate, loosely connected lives, and the relationship is experienced superficially. 

Still others choose to focus instead on all the positives of their partner and the relationship, helping put the problems into perspective.  The problems may still exist, and some of them may be ignored, but at least the couple is determined to see the glass as “half-full.”

The last path a couple can take is to willingly accept the fact that in order to have a fulfilling and successful relationship, they should constantly  communicate and negotiate with one another, realizing that although there will always be new issues to solve, finding a workable solution involves exploration, creativity and flexibility.  Differences can instead be viewed as an exciting, welcome challenge as opposed to a stressful, anger-filled, emotional nightmare.  Such couples also become less rigid in their thinking, and begin seeing many issues as less life-shattering and more minor.

Maintainence/Regression/Resolution

Although a couple may fall into one particular pattern of coping with differences, this pattern does not have to remain static; it can change and fluctuate.  A couple may move forward to a more healthy way of functioning, and then suddenly regress backward, due to an unexpected or stressful event (which often sends us back into our comfortable, familiar and cultural ways of coping and dealing with life).  If you find yourself stuck in a pattern that isn’t working, try to figure out what exactly that pattern is, and begin to introduce healthier ways of coping with conflict (i.e. communication, honesty, respect, and flexibility).  Certainly, you can’t change your partner, but you can change yourself and how you react to your partner.  When you change your part of the interaction, your partner will have no choice but to readjust along with you in some way or another.

Final Thoughts

After all, if you married someone from a different culture, the differences are what you drew you to them in the first place, right?  If you desire a relationship free from differences, a. first of all, such a relationship doesn’t exist, and b. you definitely should not be married to someone from a different culture! 

If you are in an interculteral marriage/relationship, what phase are you in?  What difficulties have you faced, and how were you able to overcome them?

*Concepts taken from “Intercultural Marriage” by Dugan Romano*