Resolving Gender Roles and Family Values in Intercultural Relationships


Often, people have many differences in relationships; this is why the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus was a real success. It seems like men and women have really different takes when it comes to relationships, marriage, work and children. If you add cultural differences to the mix, a relationship can become even more explosive. So here are a few things to keep in mind when you embark on a cross-cultural relationship.

Gender Roles

Women the world over are becoming more independent, both financially and emotionally. However, in certain parts of the world, the man is still expected to be the breadwinner while the woman takes care of the home. It's possible that, within a relationship, one of the two spouses might believe in a more traditional division of labor while the other one might not.

Just because you have different ideas doesn't mean that you should have issues in your relationship. You both need to sit down and figure out a way of doing things that works for both of you. If both of you compromise a little bit, you should be able to come to an arrangement that works for you.

Of course, neither of the two partners should feel like they are being forced or pigeonholed in any way. So it's important to keep the channels of communication open. If a certain arrangement is not working for you, then express how you feel and trust that your partner cares enough about you to make some adjustments.

Family Values

In certain countries like India, Italy, Puerto Rico etc., family is considered very important. It's very rare for people to be completely out of touch with their families or only meet them once or twice a year. People spend time with their families on a regular basis and they help each other out whenever necessary. For example, if someone needs help babysitting, they can always call their parents, siblings etc. for help. People go on vacations with their large families too. And they look up to their elders, often doing what they say even if they don't agree with them.

As opposed to this, we have the Western paradigm. Most Westerners leave their families when they go to college and live independently as adults. If they move out of state, they might only meet their families a couple of times a year.

If you're marrying someone from a more family-oriented culture, you might have to get used to the idea of marrying an entire family! Most people find that once they adjust to the idea, they actually start liking this new way of life because it gives you so many people to fall back on. Still, if you feel like you need more privacy, this is also something you can discuss with your spouse and come to a compromise.

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