Ten Tips for Protecting Your Cross Cultural Marriage

Wow!  It has been a long time; I have been so busy with my studies that I have not had any time to keep up with this blog.  I hope to do better in the future.  So, to get started once again I thought I would post this article about how to protect your cross cultural marriage.  Good advice indeed!

Read the entire artice here:  Ten Tips for Protecting Your Cross Cultural Marriage

Ten Tips for Protecting Your Cross-Cultural Marriage

By Dr. Harold L. Arnold

Despite the stressors and disappointments in your cross-cultural marriage, if you desire God’s gifts for your marriage, He promises you a more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31). As you and your spouse attend to the following ten tips, I am convinced that you will see each other and your marriage the way God sees it – a vessel of honor:

  1. Prioritize your spiritual identity as a Christ follower over your cultural identity.
  2. Prioritize understanding over judging.
  3. Do not minimize what your spouse maximizes. (If your spouse thinks it is important, it is!)
  4. Everything important to you should be explained to your spouse rather than assumed.
  5. Honor and value your spouse’s parents and extended family.
  6. Negotiate boundaries with your extended families that are acceptable to each of you. (Caution: In a healthy marriage, parental loyalty should never exceed spousal loyalty.)
  7. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. (Grace asks that you assume the best of your spouse rather than the worst.)
  8. Embrace your identity as a cross-cultural person. (Value the fact that you represent the fusion of two cultures that enhances your perspective.)
  9. Integrate elements of your respective cultures in your daily living (e.g. food, language).
  10. Pray daily for the wisdom, grace and patience necessary to treat your spouse with trust and respect.
Copyright © 2008, Dr. Harold L. Arnold, Jr.


Did you know?

In follow up to my last post, I found this really interesting video showing just how quickly the world is changing.  Wow!  Check it out!

The World is Changing…

Why are Intercultural Marriages on the rise?

The world is becoming increasingly interconnected and globalization has had a tremendous effect on all facets of life. “Everywhere the process of change is accelerating like never before. Traditional social restrictions are breaking down, creating gaps between generations and leaving some young people feeling rootless and more open to marriage with someone from a different land” (Romano, 2001). Travel for business or leisure is now easier then at any other time in history. Moreover, due to the dramatic effects of globalization on business, more firms are sending more employees on international assignments. There is no official record of the number of employees stationed outside their native countries, but it was estimated that within American multinational corporations alone, there are at least 1.3 million people working and residing temporarily or permanently in a country other their own (Shepard, 1997). This number only represents American corporations and does not reflect the millions of other employees working abroad for foreign owned international firms. Marion, a German national whose parents came from Hungary, and his wife Isti, an Indonesian, met in Hong Kong. Marion is a biochemist and was doing some research at the University in Hong Kong.  Isti had moved to Hong Kong from her village in Java, Indonesia to pursue an opportunity to sell jewelry. They represent a growing population of international couples who meet while working abroad. Likewise, study abroad programs have also grown significantly over the last decade. In fact, according to the Institute of International Education (2006), the number of American students studying in foreign countries has more than doubled over the past ten years. Additionally, more then 560,000 international students were enrolled in American universities and colleges in 2006. Again, these numbers reflect the trends in American society and therefore give only a glimpse of the actual numbers of individuals crossing borders to study worldwide. Missionaries are also being called to foreign lands now more then ever; many of these people are singles and find potential marriage partners while abroad. Scot (USA) and Lydie (France) first met while serving as missionaries in Haiti. They were both called there to serve God and found each other in addition. They now serve as a missionary couple in her homeland of France. In 1970, there were a total of 240,000 foreign missionaries serving worldwide; today the number has risen to a high of 453,000 (Barrett & Johnson, 2007). The growing numbers are not only a reflection of American missionaries. “In 1973, CT (Christianity Today) reported there were at least 3,411 non-western, cross cultural missionaries in the world. That number has now exploded to 103,000, according to reliable estimates” (Moll, 2006). Indeed, with the direction the world is going, Intercultural marraiges will continue to grow.

Quote From Soren Kierkegaard about Marriage

Marriage brings one into fatal connection with custom and tradition, and traditions and customs are like the wind and weather, altogether incalculable.
Soren Kierkegaard

I was spending some time reading some of the writings from Soren Kierkegaard and came across this quote about marriage.  This is so true, and I thought how much truer this is for an Intercultural marriage where ones customs and traditions are radically different from those of the spouse.

I particularly like the comparison of traditions and customs to the wind and weather…altogether incalculable.😉

Interview with Chinese/American Couple

This is a very interesting video of an interview with a Chinese/American couple. It covers such issues as: living in a third culture, children’s identity, religion, financial differences, as well as issues of being married to an Asian woman.


A Must Read Book on Intercultural Marriage

Intercultural Marriage: Promises and Pitfalls

By Dugan Romano

Being in an intercultural marriage myself (American/Austrian), I have found this book to be a wonderful reference, covering many aspects of being with someone from another culture.  This book is a MUST READ for any couple who is in an international/intercultural relationship or about to enter into one!

Romano outlines in simple terms just about everything a couple should consider before taking the big step into marriage. Romano uncovers the many areas where international/intercultural couples may find significant differences between them by addressing such topics as:

  • Values
  • Food & Drink
  • Sex
  • Place of Residence
  • Politics
  • Friends
  • In-Laws
  • Religion
  • Raising Children

By demonstrating how much of ones personality and worldview is shaped by their culture, Romano challenges couples to better understand how this affects all aspects of their marriage. She writes that couples often “don’t know where culture leaves off and person begins. What they mistake for anger or indifference…may instead be cultural differences; they must begin the long process of learning to interpret one another’s behavior correctly”.

Additionally, Romano helps couples who are already in an intercultural marriage shift through the many thoughts and emotions that are naturally apart of being partnered with someone from another culture.  She directs readers to examine their own adjustment by answering a series of questions about how they ended up married to someone from anther culture.  Among other question, she asks “What was it that attracted you to one another in the first place…and what was it that appealed to you in the idea of marrying a foreigner- romance? prestige? adventure?”

Intertwined throughout the book are many stories of real life couples who have shared about their experiences, struggles and joys of being in an intercultural marriage.

You can order the book from Amazon by clicking on the link below:

Intercultural Marriage: Promises and Pitfalls

Bridge Building

Japanese Gardens bridgeIntercultural marriage, cross-cultural marriage, or international marriage, whatever you call it, when you put two people from different cultural backgrounds together, the outcome is the building of a bridge between two worlds.  “Culture is viewed as a lens through which life is perceived.” (Diller, 2007)  It includes a shared worldview of language, beliefs, values, sense of time, rules of interaction, as well as norms for behavior. Therefore, what happens when two cultures merge as one, as part of the most intimate relationship available to humans, marriage?  What then will become the lens in which life is perceived?  What will hold the bridge between the two worlds together?  Each week I will cover a range of topics that contribute to the building of better bridges within the intercultural marriage. So, if you are in an intercultural marriage, or are just thinking about entering one, be sure to check back!

Coming Soon!  Building Bridges of Communication

Until then, learn how to protect your intercultural marriage by reading the article below:

Ten Tips for Protecting Your Cross-Cultural Marriage From Outside Influences

External stressors are magnified in cross cultural marriages because of disappointments when cultural assumptions are unmet. Developing a shared identity is the key to growth.

by Dr. Harold L. Arnold, Jr.


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