Marrying a foreigner seems like something straight out of a fairy tale, at least at a glance.
There is almost always a captivating and odds-defying story of how a couple met. Maybe it was in a passenger terminal after grounded flights. Or it could be one of those unicorn successful international online dating stories.
In addition to the magical meeting, you get bragging rights on being a strong couple. I mean, who else can say their love has survived cultural differences, language barriers, and being continents apart?
While these success stories are heart-warming, it is important that you appreciate that there is so much more to them than happily ever after. International relationships take a lot more work than any other relationship, including long-distance relationships in the same country.
If you are already in one or planning to find love abroad, here are a few bits of advice for international couples and how to make this challenge-ridden setup work.
The Challenges Of International Relationships
International relationship love stories are hard. Here are four unique setbacks and how you can work through them together.
The Language Barrier
The language barrier is usually the biggest of all the challenges when it comes to international romances.
If you happen to fall in love with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you, then it’s guaranteed you will have problems with communication. Yes, there are online translators and apps that you could use, but it is not the same.
The best thing to do here is to make an effort to learn your partner’s native language. And in the meantime, you can use all the online resources available.
You will have a lot of learning and adapting to do when you and your partner come from different cultural backgrounds. It includes everything from making yourself familiar with their traditions to getting to know their dating norms. All you have to do is have an open mind and be willing to compromise where you can.
As if speaking a different language and having cultural differences didn’t make things complicated enough, some international couples who don’t yet live together also have to deal with hundreds of miles between them.
If you’re in a long-distance relationship, you may know very well what life in different time zones means:
When he’s asleep, you are wide awake at work. When she is at home chilling, you are deep asleep into the wee hours of the morning.
The distance can take a huge toll on your relationship, especially when it comes to setting the best time to catch up and bond. You will have to do a lot of sacrificing to find a communication schedule that works for both of you.
If you and you’re loved one are in a long-distance relationship or if one of you still has a big part of their life in their previous home country, you can add frequent traveling to the list of challenges online couples face.
Traveling back and forth adds a new level of challenges to the relationship, including the tiresome and long process of applying for visas, long flights, and high travel costs.
The best thing to do here is to plan and prepare in advance for your trips and start saving as soon as possible.
12 Pieces of Advice For International Couples
Learn The Language
As said above, marrying someone from another country can mean that there is a language barrier. And although there are many apps and online services that allow immediate translation for easier communication, these will only serve your relationship well for a while. A time will come where you will have to learn to speak for yourself, and the sooner you do it, the better.
Set Your Expectations Clearly
What are you working towards in your relationship? How do you wish to be treated by your partner? What are your expectations for them and you as a couple?
All these expectations need to be communicated clearly and as early as possible if you want your international dating setup to be a successful one.
By laying it all out there and communicating maturely, you will be sparing yourself a lot of disappointment and frustration in the future. It is your best chance at making this difficult relationship work out.
Accept That Things Can Get Difficult
International partnerships have never been easy. You have to prepare yourself for the many inevitable difficulties that you and your partner will face through the journey.
The first and most common of these is culture shock. It will take some time to get used to everything from the dating culture to the new language. Adapting and learning to respect and accept your partner’s courage will not be a walk in the park, but it has to be done.
You need to be prepared for all of the challenges, including homesickness, miscommunication, and more.
Prepare For Cultural Differences
According to most international marriage statistics, cultural differences are a major cause of issues in LDRs where international borders are crossed. Cultural misunderstanding is the leading cause of relationship failure.
It does not necessarily mean that your relationship is doomed to fail, and you should give up. What you need to do is to, first of all, appreciate that the differences are inevitable. After that, all you need to do is be willing to appreciate the different cultures, compromise, and create new traditions of your own.
Make Sure to Understand Every Nuance
One thing people always underestimate when getting into an international relationship is culture shock. Even if you come from countries close to each other and share a common language, the culture, dating norms, and social communication may be very different.
For example, different words can have entirely different meanings and intentions.
It helps to take time to understand your partner’s background while also teaching them about yours.
Make sure to focus on the little things, from how they interact with friends and their family members to subtle ways they use to pass important messages.
Make Their Country Your Second Home
It is crucial that you embrace your international partner, their culture, and the country they come from. A great tip, in this case, is to find projects and hobbies that will help you explore and develop a more personal connection to the country.
Furthermore, find ways to form your own social networks either through or independent of your partner. It will help make the otherwise foreign country feel as close to home as possible.
Let Go Of The Stereotypes
Do not view your beau as a novelty prize or a twisted realization of your ethnic fetish. It is ok to appreciate that your partner comes from a country whose people you typically find attractive but do not reduce them to just that.
In the same way, make sure to avoid negative stereotypes that paint your partner into a box. Go in with an open mind and let them surprise you. They will!
Get to Know Each Other’s Family and Friends
Whether your partner comes from a large and loud family or a smaller, more intimate home, it is important that you make an effort to get to know your partner’s family. They will give you great insight on what to expect as those dynamics often spill over into the relationship.
Getting to know your partner’s close friends is also awesome as it gives you an avenue to be a bigger part of each other’s lives.
Make Friends with Other International Couples
While most multi-national relationships face the same issues, every international couple is different. Making friends with people in the same shoes as you offers you and your beau access to invaluable advice.
Why make mistakes when you can learn from those of couples that have gone through the same challenges?
Having such friendships is a fantastic way to share experiences and find creative ways to work through common problems. It is also nice to have people who understand to talk and complain to when you need that outlet.
Make Each Other Feel Like Home
Once you take your international relationship to the next level and move in together, you will find yourselves suffering from homesickness. It will affect the spouse that moved abroad or both of you if you chose to relocate to a new country together.
In these cases, it helps to find ways to remind yourselves of where you’re from. It could be something as simple as having your home country flag in the house to watching films or TV shows from each other’s countries.
Think About the Big Things
If you and your partner come from different countries and are lucky enough to finally get married, do not think that your job is done. If anything, the hard work is just beginning!
You need to think about things like which cultural traditions to maintain, how to deal with your finances, and how to raise your kids.
These are the kinds of discussions that will either make or break your relationship. Failure to communicate and make decisions early enough means you have to deal with them when tensions are high.
So spare yourself the trouble and start thinking and talking about the important things that actually matter as early as possible.
Get Your Head Out Of The Clouds
Finally, do not feel the need to stay in that international relationship out of duty or feeling that you worked too hard to keep it.
As with any other relationship or marriage where the couple is from the same cultural space, these types of relationships sometimes fail too. The international marriage divorce rate as of 2018 was at about 50%.
The good news is that if you are open and honest, and determined to make it work, then you might not have to worry about this.
As if married life was already not hard enough, international marriages are a whole other ballpark.
That said, it doesn’t mean they are impossible and that you have to give up! I mean, what are translation apps and computers for if not to make your relationship easier?
You need to approach your relationship with a realistic, focused, and determined point of view. Don’t hesitate to ask LDR questions from your partner to make sure that you are on the same page.
That, plus a little bit of hard work, and it shouldn’t matter what is working against your relationship. It will be you and your beau against the world – and with these tips, you stand a chance of winning!