Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Intercultural marriages even more difficult

That marriage is tough we all know. Starting with the fact that men and women have structural brain differences, that people evolve and change over the years, that life’s disappointments and major changes can impact the marriage, that it is hard to keep lust alive after a while and that some couples do not have the interpersonal skills to communicate and handle their differences, it can become even harder when you add to this list the fact that each partner may have been raised in a different culture.

More and more intercultural and international marriages are happening in America, especially in big cosmopolitan areas such as Los Angeles, Washington DC, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. When it comes to marriage between an American man and a Brazilian woman, there are those cultural differences I already alluded to in my post about dating between these cultures.

The David Goldman case brought to light how sometimes the cultural differences become too much. There is the risk that the foreign partner may want to go back to their country and the consequences of that for couples with minor children.

There were probably several elements as to why Bruna, his ex-wife, decided to return to Brazil:  she probably felt more comfortable in her own society, she probably liked having her folks around and spend the holidays with them, she might have missed the food and weather and the lifestyle and she probably thought it is easier to have a husband who speaks your language and shares your culture.

In the website, you can read that Bruna felt neglected. She also did not like the fact that her husband was always busy doing “things around the house”.  As a Brazilian living in the USA, I can understand that comment: in Brazil, labor is still cheap, so people with more money hire handymen to fix things in their properties. Brazilians do not spend their Sundays working around the house or fixing things. They spend it in leisure: the beach, a “churrasco” with friends, lounging by the swimming pool with family, a visit to the mall or the park, visiting with friends or relatives, or simply relaxing over a movie on a rainy day. It is almost as if Sunday is a “sacred” day not made for working.

Second marriages, merged families, different religious beliefs and marriages with different educational and financial levels all have added stress.  International marriages have the added pressure of overcoming different worldviews, and sometimes even some language barrier. Even though I am fluent in English,  sometimes there are little misunderstandings with my husband that can be caused by a different interpretation of a certain word.  Some habits are hard to break, and things we grew up with sometimes stay with us forever.

While it is enriching to be married to someone from a different country, it is also more of a challenge. Immigrants sometimes are in  a difficult situation because once adapted in their new country, they find themselves not being a typical citizen of the country left behind either, which makes them have cultural differences with someone from their native country. Almost like having a split identity.

As my mother says, “if there is love, all these things can be surmounted”. She is still a romantic and believes in the concept of everlasting love. I would like to be so optimistic, but my cynical side does not allow me to. Instead, I think men and women who are married to a foreign-born person have to create with their partner their own habits, their own family culture, and be open to discuss their different perceptions and views about things. You can end up with a lot richer marriage at the end.


April 20, 2009 - Posted by | Difference between cultures, Relationships

1 Comment »

  1. hey cool blog…very interesting topic

    Comment by Scott Palmer | April 21, 2009 | Reply

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