Sunday, July 19, 2009

International Relatinships Part 4 - Long Term Relations

Well, after carrying on an international relationship for a long time new challenges can become a factor. It’s easy to find things to talk about as you are both in different worlds so talking about every day things is not boring at all. It’s fascinating to discuss the differences in your average daily life. You can tell each other about going to the store and it has a whole new meaning. They don’t see the same stores you do, and stores in every country are vastly different. It’s amazing how in-depth a conversation about a store you are used to seeing every day can become. Not to mention the things you can learn about your significant other (SO) while talking about things like this. You may not have known they had a tendency to straighten the shelves or racks just because they don’t like things messy lol, or many other things you could find out this way. Talking is easy in an international relationship, even if there is some challenges with the differences in languages.

The challenges I’m talking about is when the relationship becomes more serious. Sure, up until now things have been intriguing and spicy. You’ve been infatuated by all there is to know about your SO. You may still be infatuated and that is wonderful, after all we should all be infatuated with the people we love for life, that keeps the relationship healthy and vibrant. However now, things are reaching all new heights. You are beginning to tell your family about your SO, your SO is telling his/her family about you. This is when things can get a little scary! There are likely huge cultural differences between the two of you. Some of you may be from the same culture but have grown up in a different country so the differences may not be as huge, but they will be there. Just like an offline relationship with the guy/girl next door will have family differences, so will your relationship. However in your relationship, they will be very different. For example, an average American girl could be very independent and used to being on her own. She could be in love with a man who comes from a very family oriented culture and no one is ever on their own, families work in groups and for the benefit of each member of the family. This is going to propose certain challenges of course. That doesn’t mean they will be bad or hard to deal with, you just need to prepare for these things as best you can because they are different than most relationships.

You should have communicated enough with your SO by now to know what kind of differences to expect so you can have some idea of what you are up against. I don’t ever recommend trying to change yourself completely or lying to his/her family to make them think you will fit in. Keep in mind your SO is with you because he/she likes YOU, not what their family wanted a guy/girl to be. He/she likes the qualities you have exhibited thus far enough to tell their family about you. This is a big step in moving forward in the relationship. It’s a time of getting to know the culture full scale, a time of learning about your new family and them learning about you. They haven’t excluded you yet (hopefully) so try to be on your best behavior lol. Now’s not the time to disappear for several days and be too busy to return your SO’s phone calls or emails, etc. Now is not the time to get cold feet and start acting like you can’t handle the distance either. You got to this point because of the feelings in your heart, don’t back down now. You just may be surprised at how receptive his/her family is to you. After all they did raise your SO and your SO likes you, so they may not be as bad as you think. Sometimes they may need time to adjust and if that is the case, don’t take it to heart anything they may say in haste. Given time, all things can be worked out if you don’t give up.

Of course, there is always the positive side - that’s when they accept you. You should be prepared for this too as in some cultures once your SO introduces you to the family, they start talking marriage right away. After all, not all cultures are like America and take all their SO’s home to mom and dad. This could be a much more serious event in your SO’s life than you perceive it to be. Some parent’s may go as far as to request your birth details to run your astrological charts to try to find the best date for your marriage before they even know your name! It happens lol, trust me. And it’s not bad. Those parents have faith that they have raised their children well and that their children will make quality decisions in their life, this is a good thing. Just don’t let them push you or your SO into a marriage you are not ready for based on their society’s norms. Only you and your SO will know when marriage will be right for you. I’m going to save that for my next installment though lol, otherwise you will need hours to read this post.

For now, my best advice - take the time to enjoy this point in your relationship. It’s a beautiful time. It’s a time when you get to realize what your relationship is truly made of. You can see some feelings in yourself and your SO you may not have seen or allowed yourself to realize before now. Take your time, don’t rush any of this and just keep communicating! Communication is the key to every relationship. Till next time!

The Excitement and Challenges of International Relationships
International Relationships Part 2 - Logistics
International Relationships Part 3 - Communications
International Relationships part 5 - fighting over email

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