Intercultural marriages are not so rare, but before the marriage almost no one thinks how two families will blend. We mean not you and your spouse, but your in-laws. They are from a different culture and after the wedding you might be surprised to find out, how many problems can arise just because you've handed the gift in a wrong way. So how should you deal with in-laws from a different culture?
All cultures around the world can be divided into two groups of Collectivists and Individualists. These cultures have differences not only in geographic position, but also in the way how the members of the families interact with each other.
Individualistic cultures, like Americans, place emphasis on independence of each and every person. Every member of the family is motivated with individual desires, and will do everything to achieve them, even if they harm the family. On the other hand, Collectivistic cultures focus on family desires, and often the desires of one single member of the family are not taken into account. They do everything, that benefits the family.
None of these two approaches is wrong or right, they are just different. And making a person from the Individualistic culture live in a Collectivistic family will cause great misunderstanding. However, everything can be changed, if you want it.
First ask, then do. If you're about to marry a person from another culture, you should first ask yourself, whether you will be able to interact healthily with your in-laws. People from Individualistic cultures think, that their interaction with in-laws from Collectivistic culture will be nothing more than rare visits. However, it's wrong. The Collectivistic in-laws will either live with you, or you will live with them, or you will visit each other very often. Now it's time to ask you, do you really know, what's expecting you in the future? We think, it's high time to talk about the culture with your second half, and ask, how they and their parents envision your family life.
Cultural problems. Accept the problems with your in-laws as cultural ones, not because your mother- and father-in-law are from hell. And it's very important to understand, that these problems in your family are real. Don't pretend that they don't exist at all, because they will not disappear, instead of this they will multiply your sorrows. So discuss with your spouse, how you can change your life and what you can do to find common language with your in-laws.
Determine to leave in peace with every member of your spouse's family. Even if your in-laws are from different culture and you do not always understand, why they act like this, be determined to live in peace with them. Constant fights and arguments with them won't help understand each other, and this way you can also make your spouse turn away from you (you never know, how much family relations mean for the Collectivistic cultures). So try to solve the problems as an adult, think positively and try not to impose your traditions on you in-laws.
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