Communication in any relationship plays such a vital role to understanding ones wants and needs to maintain a healthy relationship. However what happens when you and your partner speak two different cultures? You both appear to be speaking English though each of you uses it in context relative to your own culture. This can make for some heated arguments or lead to insecurities simply because your partner doesn't speak the same culture as you; lost in translation.
However managing with the cultural barrier can actually be more beneficial for your relationship, even if it sometimes makes communication more protracted. Because of the differences between cultures and at times even language, means you are going to ask more questions and never take anything at face value. Therefore not solely relying on what one has said verbally, which can bring you more in touch with one another emotionally and physically. Love can be expressed in many different ways and words is just one of those ways.
When it comes to my husband and I, I tend to use words literally and be more descriptive when communicating. Which means I pay attention to the finer detail therefore when using words with similar meanings it makes a difference to me. However my husband will use the same word in many different situations, mostly because in Punjabi one word tends to hold about ten different meanings depending on the situation. Unlike the English language there are usually several different synonyms that can be used for different situations, with each synonym slightly varying in meaning.
Unlike me, my husband will use words loosely, so it may not always hold the same meaning to the message he is trying to convey when translated. Naturally this means you really need to know your partner well to understand them, however at times it can be difficult. For the most part I am usually on the same page with my husband however when times are stressful it can lead to arguments and insecurities. More often than not it leads to disagreements, simply because one of us has misconstrued what the other has said, although we believe that we have understood. However disagreements are a normal part of any relationship and is another way that helps us to understand one another better in the long term.
Early on in our relationship my husband would always tell me that if he were to have children, he would only ever have children with me as I am a nice chick. Translated in my culture this says to me I chose you because you will be able to care for my children so that if I leave you one day for a younger hotter version of you, than it will be okay. However what he actually meant by this was; I want to be with you for life as I know you are the one which is why I want to have kids with only you. During times of stress you tend to automatically interpret something in your own culture rather than your partner's which can create insecurities early on in the relationship or lead to some heated arguments.
How you were raised also plays an important role in the way you communicate with your partner. Given your cultural beliefs influence how you communicate and identify with others. This forms part of learning to communicate with one another in any relationship, however can be more of a challenge between cultures. As it is more likely that you have been raised with similar cultural experiences when dating from the same culture.
For instance you may have been raised in a supportive and encouraging environment where criticism is conveyed in a positive and constructive manner. Whereas your partner may have been raised in a harsh and insensitive environment where criticism is conveyed up front in a callous manner. This might mean that should you be harsh with your partner although with good intentions they may construe this to be offensive even after explaining your intentions. Simply because they identify such a behaviour in their culture to be abusive despite all the best of intentions.
Without a doubt learning about your partner's culture when in an interracial relationship opens you up to new experiences, and is a great way to broaden your perception on life. It forces you to truly listen and understand what your partner is trying to convey, strengthening your relationship. Sure this can present with it many challenges along the way but remember to be patient, as all great things come with time.
Has the cultural barrier made your relationship stronger?