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Questions for the Cross-Cultural Couples


I've been pondering some different areas of multicultural marriage recently. I'd love to learn from the wealth of experiences visiting this blog. So I have a couple questions:
  1. Weddings: What ways did you represent or merge your cultural backgrounds into your wedding celebration?
  2. Church: Do you attend church together? How did you decide on a church home? Was it a challenge due to different race/ethnicity/language/backgrounds?
  3.  Overall: What have been some of your biggest challenges related to culture that you've met in your marriage?
I'd love for you to email me directly or leave your responses in the comments to any or all of the questions. Please leave a way for me to contact you as I may request to quote you in the future. Thanks so much for your responses!

Image credit: Carina

9 comments

  1. Ali Crabb5:11 PM

    My parents are British and I was raised by my American step mom and my british dad in the United States. I am married to a Colombian. He has lived all his life in Colombia except for 2 years living abroad and 2 summers working in the US.

    1. Our wedding took place in my hometown in the US, mainly because my mom works in the church and my dad at a hotel - so it was just easier to do everything there. We are both Catholic, so we had a bilingual mass. The 1st reading and the gospel were in Spanish and the 2nd reading and the homily were in English. The rest of the mass had some parts in English and some parts in Spanish. I said my vows in Spanish and he said his vows in English. The reception was pretty traditionally American except we did the Paso Doble for our first dance, tried to include some music you would hear at a colombian wedding and had la hora loca which everyone loved.

    2. We attend church together as we are both Catholic. He is not as practicing a catholic as I am-was and I think this has affected our church attendance. He goes more and I go less. When we were living in Colombia, there was an english mass that we attended occasionally. And now that we are living in the US, we occasionally attend mass in Spanish.

    3. A big challenge has been language. I learned Spanish after meeting him, so our language together is English and that has been hard to change even though we have tried. I consider myself pretty fluent in Spanish but it was definitely a process throughout 5 years living in Colombia. Sometimes, socializing with his friends was difficult because of language and other cultural aspects (mainly longer time at parties). I have also had to learn to communicate with his family.

    Our plan is to live in Colombia long term and I lived there for 5 years during which time we got married. We are now living in the US for a while and his making the usually adjustments to American culture (as am I). A fear that I have about living in Colombia long term is the class system and the fact that my children will probably go to private schools and I will be a teacher in private schools as opposed to public schools which is what I would prefer in the US.

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  2. I'll answer!


    1. Our wedding was very traditionally "American." I asked my Chinese in-laws if there were any cultural traditions they wanted to incorporate in the ceremony, but it wasn't that important to them. We had my father-in-law pray over the meal in Chinese, we incorporated a traditional Chinese symbol used in weddings, we gave Chinese candy favors...little touches here and there.

    2. Finding a multi-ethnic church was very important to us as an interracial couple. We both grew up in mono-cultural churches (African-American for me, Chinese-American for him), but we wanted a place where we felt like both of our cultures were being represented and where our future kids could feel at home. We found a great church that is extremely diverse that has many other interracial couples!

    3. I think there are some big cultural differences that we had to work through in the beginning of our marriage regarding communication, dealing with conflict, etc. I also have had to learn a lot about Chinese family structure which has helped me integrate with my in-laws.

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  3. Thanks so much for your responses, Alyssa. I'm curious about church... if finding a good fit was easy or challenging? If there are ways that though you both feel your "cultures are represented" that each of you feel disconnected because it's different than your background?

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  4. Thanks, Ali! Your response about longer time at parties made me chuckle because I sometimes have a hard time with that as well. I'm super impressed that you learned Spanish after meeting your husband and that you're now fluent. You inspire me! :) Also, will you please tell me more about "la hora loca"? Because I believe that translates to "the crazy hour," which pretty much sounds amazing. Am I right?

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  5. Growing up in mono-cultural churches, we were both craving a church that represented the diversity we enjoy in our everyday lives. Because this church is so diverse, we both enjoy aspects of it that remind us of our home church. The pastor is Asian (and biracial!) and the music style leans towards gospel (which is what I'm used to). Neither of us wanted to force the other person to attend a church where they were the obvious minority. In a church with so much diversity, we don't feel like we stand out in an uncomfortable way and we are both able to see people who look like us and have similar backgrounds. More importantly, this diverse setting will be hugely beneficial to our future multi-racial children and nurture their identity as a mixed kid.

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  6. Sounds like such an idyllic situation! I'm so glad you all have found a church home that connects with your family in so many important ways. Thank you for sharing. I want to come visit! :)

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  7. A couple of you have emailed me responses as well, and I just want to say thank you so much. I am truly honored to hear your stories and to see all the different themes that emerge from this shared experience of cross-cultural marriage. I just wanted to share this note because if you stumble upon this post in the archives, please know that I would still love to hear your responses! I get notified whenever someone comments and I receive the emails directly, so please respond if you feel so led. Thank you for sharing your stories!

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  8. Nadia (la esposa de Byron)5:11 PM

    1. I was born in Russia and immigrated to Israel as a teenager. I came to US to study and stayed here after graduation. So, at this point I'm a mix between Russian, Israeli , American and now Latin cultures. :)


    I always wanted to attend American wedding , but never expected that the first wedding in America I will go to will be my own. So, since I'm not sure about the precise flow of American wedding I can't comment about how mine was different.


    Our wedding was relatively small: about 50 adults and 15 kids. We wanted a small wedding with only closest people. So, we had guests from Guatemala, Russia, Israel and Canada :)


    Before the ceremony, we went with a couple of friends and 2 flower girls (one is my daughter) to take wedding pictures on the beach. This beach has a sentimental value for us: we spent a lot of time there while dating.


    Since I'm Jewish and Byron is Christian, one of our challenges was to decide what type of religious ceremony we will have. At the end we decided that Judge of Peace ceremony will be the most comfortable.


    I met Byron while dancing, it is our most loved activity and hobby, and our first dance was Bachata and Salsa. At the wedding we had mostly Latin music and Latin food.



    Because I and suegrita don't drink, Byron drinks just socially, and we had guests from Byron's church we decided to have non-alcoholic wedding.


    2.
    Byron and I deeply respect and support each others religions.


    Though I was raised as Jewish, my father is Christian and I feel very comfortable in Byron's church. His church also supports Israel, which is of a paramount importance for me: it would be against my values to attend services if it would be the other way. We go to services with my suegrita, but not as often as we should : we live a little far from them.


    His pastora is from Guatemala, so the sermons are in Spanish, but they have the translator. I really love the music and songs in his church, it so uplifting! Some time ago Byron played guitar in this church band.


    Also both Byron and I I love to listen to Joel Osteen sermons and listen to them very often.



    We also celebrate major Jewish holidays at home, so Byron know now more about Judaism than before:)


    3. I always loved Latin culture, music and dance, warmth, energy and kindness of people, so I feel very at home at this community. Because I'm a social person and experienced a few cultures by now, I didn't have a lot of troubles to integrate with Byron's family and friends Since the time I met Byron I study Spanish, so now I understand a lot , though I don't speak very well (just yet, but I will:)).



    Everybody is really nice with me and I really enjoy listen to Spanish language , even though sometimes I don't understand. Byron also learned a few Russian words by now and wows my parents, and his English is excellent.


    My suegrita is really great! I heard some "horror" stories, but Thanks God I'm so lucky. She is a wonderful and the most kind person I ever met, and she has the patience to talk to me Spanish:)


    We are very close with Byron: we share values and views on many important things. We also share hobbies , such as dancing and Tae Kwon Do. It is funny, but often we think or say the same things at the same time.


    But we have our challenges too: and sometimes we would say to each other "in my culture you do or don't do this":)


    I think one of our serious challenges is food: I love to cook when I have time and try to do Latin food, but I always modify it for more healthy versions (I like healthy food). Of course it doesn't taste so authentic, and I never can cook same as my suegrita (and she does cook great!) :) But


    In addition, the fact that all dancing begins and ends late is a challenge for me: I'm an early bird. But once I set my feet to a dance floor, I don't see the time and can dance for 4 hours.


    Wow, this came out as a very long post :):)

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  9. Thank you so much for your honest feedback, Nadia. You all are certainly integrating a variety of multicultural traditions into your shared life. That's beautiful! And I'm with you. I have heard horror stories of suegros, but I have been very blessed. Glad your experience is good, too!

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