Did you know that intercultural couples in Finland have been found to have more conflicts than couples with the same cultural background, but at the same time intercultural couples are as same or even more satisfied with their relationship?
As can be seen there are two sides for every coin. Although it may be so that in general intercultural couples face more issues than partners who come from the same country, my own relationship with a Finnish man has shown many positive aspects which apply also to other intercultural couples. I believe that when partners keep an open mind, an intercultural relationship can be very enlightening.
You can get to know the values, traditions, customs, history, and ways of behaving of your partner’s culture and you can be exposed to new movies, music or food. While you learn about another culture, you gain knowledge also about your own. Wider perspective on another culture, new experiences and on ways of doing things differently gives a fresh look at the world and a more enriched life.
Another thing to consider is learning a new language. One does not learn a language without practice and having a foreign speaking partner at your side is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get more input and have more practice. It could be considered almost like having a personal tutor. Besides hearing your partner speak the other language, you most likely will hear it from his friends and family as well. As I know from I own experience, learning the other’s language can be very difficult at the beginning when the skills are just evolving. One can encounter feelings of exclusion, but always try to see the positive side – the more one is in an environment where people speak the language you are studying, the easier you will eventually learn it.
An intercultural relationship also gives you a chance to break stereotypes. You have learned that Finns are shy, reserved and quiet? By being in an intercultural relationship you will get new knowledge which will challenge your previous stereotypes. Also, you can introduce your own culture to your partner’s family and friends, and that is a good way to reduce any prejudice they might have. The relationship can show you that there is a lot of diversity within a culture and the preconceived notions are seldom accurate. This will give you a broader view on things and make you see life through many perspectives.
Moreover, by having a foreign partner you have the great experience to visit the other partner’s native country. It is easier to travel around in the other country because it is just like having a personal tour guide by your side. But it is not only about travelling – it is a way to connect with the partner’s family and cultural heritage.
When experiencing all this, one can indeed discover a lot of differences. But something that you have fought for so hard through such things as spending time in a long-distance relationship, waiting for resident permit or using hundreds of hours going to visit family back home, should not so be easily taken for granted. These differences could seem challenging, but they can actually create a beautiful mosaic with every piece being unique yet still somehow fitting together perfectly. And everything that does cause a conflict is just the spice in the relationship.
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