Whether you’ve just begun a steady relationship or you’ve been married for a while, being in a relationship with a person from a different country can be a journey. When I started dating my Canadian husband you can bet your bottom “loonie”* that we learned a lot about each other. Our differences are not as pronounced as other couples I have met, but here are three tips I’ve gathered for couples with different nationalities.
*a loonie is the Canadian dollar coin. Look, you just learned something new!
- Expect differences, and embrace them. When I say “expect differences,” I mean you shouldn’t assume that your significant other is going to do things the same way as you do. Regardless of whether your honey is from South Africa or South Jordan, there will always be differences. I really like this quote from a previous blog post:
“I wish I would have known that when two people get married, they bring two entirely different cultures into one house. It’s important to understand that while your spouse may cook rice differently, clean the bathroom differently, or do the dishes differently, it doesn’t mean that their way is wrong. Be willing to compromise on these things!” –Kaitlyn, What I Wish I Would Have Known (part one): Marriage
(see full post here)
The compromising Kaitlyn mentioned is one way of embracing the differences between you two. Another idea is to praise your significant other for things they may do better than you. Luckily for me my husband is way better at driving in the snow. Praising him for this always makes him feel good and needed. For two more ways to embrace your sweetheart’s specialties, keep reading!
- Try new things. My husband loves ice skating (a product of all the frozen water in Canada). Because I was raised in the desert of Nevada I only went ice skating a couple of times. For our first date we went ice skating… and it was embarrassing. I barely shuffled along as my husband literally skated circles around me. Ever since then I have begrudgingly gone skating with him at least once a year, and slowly I have gotten better. The only way to get better at things is to try! Even if you don’t particularly like your significant other’s favorite sport, food, or music, giving it a try shows your love for them and opens up your own mind as well.
- Get the facts. Do you know anything about llamas in Peru? Could you locate Yugoslavia on a map? When you’re dating someone from another country, pull out your atlas! This may seem obvious, but if you know nothing about their country there’s a chance you’re missing out on important aspects of their personality. This can also be true for couples from the same country but differing cultures. Fundamental to understanding someone is knowing where and how they grew up. When my husband and I were dating I spent at least a few hours researching hockey teams. I did it because I realized that if I didn’t understand hockey, then I didn’t understand Canada, and if I didn’t understand Canada, I wouldn’t understand this guy I was dating. My husband really appreciated it, and his family did as well (brownie points)!
Keeping these tips in mind has always helped me and other couples that I have talked to. Hopefully you and your foreign sweetheart will find meaning in them too!
By Sam Jenkins, Social Media Advisor