Cultural differences in love partnershipS

One of the most significant categories of people traveling from one country to another is marriage. The reason behind this movement move is LOVE.

In some cases is love. In other cases is duty or the wish to form an alliance, because of material needs, or because of pregnancy, and there are many reasons two people may choose to stay together. In all of them, there are compromises that people make because maintaining relationships is not easy all the time.

When it comes to multicultural couples, there are many issues involved, and the compromises or “the sacrifices,” as I have heard some people call them, have different natures. Sometimes they seem oversized for the person making them and minor for the person they were made for.

I often meet couples where one person comes from a western or so-called “civilized” country, and the other comes from somewhere in the east or “third world” country. The general rule (it does not mean that it is true all the time) is that in a civilized country, there were good possibilities to live in a democratic world freely, eventually study and travel. The parents were tolerant and understanding of the child/youth’s needs to explore and discover who they are and what they want. Men and women are brought up relatively equal, with access to all opportunities the society and the system offer. This means women earn money and have a career, can be independent and free if they choose to.

On the other hand, the general rule in some eastern societies / third-world countries is that they are built on more traditional values where the man builds the house, and the woman makes it a home. The man is the provider of the family’s material resources, and the woman is the caretaker who transforms the resources brought by the man into life by giving birth to children and being emotionally supportive.

The man is supposed TO DO, to act, and the woman is supposed TO BE, to let the man take care of her and the family and be passive. The psychologist David Buss has written a book called “When Men Behave Badly” where he explores the reasons men and women are attracted to and choose the life partners they choose. I recommend the book. There is plenty of good information.

Sometimes, the challenge is when one of these beautiful and independent women falls in love with a man with a traditional and patriarchal values. Because even if these men have emigrated in their 20’s to Europe or the States, they still have the upbringings from their birth land, and some of them would feel “emasculated” and diminished as a man if the woman offers to pay for rent, for instance, or any other material things which are meant for the man to provide in his culture of origin.

The woman does not understand this because she has already lived her freedom and pursued the studies and hobbies she wanted. Now, she wants to settle down, which could also mean a family with this guy who is smart, fun, and still has the joy of life, yet he cannot provide for the family and refuses to receive help from the woman. Why can he not provide, yet? Because he was busy surviving in all the other countries in Europe he has eventually lived in, at the same time as sending money to his family in his country of origin, as many immigrants do, you can read more about this particular issue in this article. Or because he spends his income on stuff and activities that give him more satisfaction than a family would. Who knows, there can be many reasons.

Every time I speak with women in this situation, I realize that it is challenging for them to understand why their beloved one cannot accept the help and the money. Because this is not an issue she grew up with in her birth country, where women were pretty “equal”. She moved countries or cities because of her love for him and is willing to “compromise” or “sacrifice” for a life together. I also see that the man did not necessarily leave his country to find love or a partner. He left the country to be free. To be able to do things he did not have the chance and opportunity to do in his birth country. To study, to pursue hobbies and passions. If they wanted a wife and kids, the family would have sorted that out long ago, and they would have probably stayed in their country*.

The roles in his world have changed, and he needs clarification. He enjoys the love he receives, yet he does not understand why he receives it and does not take it seriously because such frivolities are not allowed where he comes from. People, especially men, were not judged by their feelings but by the material things they could provide. People were not valuable for feeling feelings, which was a weakness. Being human was not a value except that humans could give material things. This is why we also have the “gift” cultures, where people are not considered important by themselves except if they have something material attached.

It is difficult for someone who has never been treated like a human being and to be seen as a human being to understand why a beautiful and independent woman would love them for them. First, a lot of work is needed so they can perceive themselves as human beings, which demands a lot of work.

At the same time, many people, both men, and women, take advantage of this “weakness” called “feelings. Yet, they will be the subject of another article, another day.

If you are the man or the woman who has already lived your life and you are falling for someone who did not, perhaps it could be a good idea to take into account that the person you love needs time, space, and support so they can also live their share of opportunities. You will have to see how you feel, and my suggestion is not to stay in a relationship where you feel you are “sacrificing” way more than you are willing to and do not feel you are receiving just as much in return. In the long run, it may not work.

For men, perhaps the time is not the same as for women since they are not giving birth. Their age does not “expire” like for women, and if you are not ready to be in a relationship where you can offer room and space for the other to develop and grow, then it is better to be honest with yourself first and then with the other.

Suppose you are a man and the only reason you marry a woman from another country is that she has traditional values and she will clean and cook for you. In that case, you should not be surprised that after some years, she will realize she has other opportunities and will want to enjoy them. There are plenty of examples all around, just like there are plenty of examples where the partnership works well until death does part them.

For women, it can be a bitter experience to be around a man who does not want or can commit. This is even more important if, at a particular time, you will wish to have children of your own. If your love is that strong, you can go into the relationship with eyes wide open, knowing that you will have to “sacrifice” more than you have thought.

I do feel I state the obvious, yet, after the number of women I see in the situation described above, it doesn’t seem to be that obvious for them. If you are one of them and you need to talk about it, feel free to sign up for a free one-hour conversation on this link. You can also be a man who needs to talk about his relationship.

And if you wonder what you can solve or achieve in one hour, you can find out more about that here.

Best from your best immigration/emigration therapist

*This argument is also valid for many women who choose to leave their countries. They want to live free. Marriage and children are not on their agenda; some stick to the dream of being free, whatever the cost. Because freedom has its price and “sacrifices,” too.

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