Cross Cultural Couples and Therapy

cross cultural couple gazing at each other

All over the world, and especially in Canada, there are more cross cultural and intercultural relationships than ever before!

My experience with cross cultural, interfaith and international couples in Manila, Philippines continues to inform my counseling work. As one of my clients in Manila said, “Irene’s curiosity and anthropological spirit about diversity helped my partner and I adopt that attitude with each other — with very helpful results.”

Cross Cultural Couples: The Pleasure

What attracted you to your partner? Was it the mystery of a different faith, culture, or nation? Did you enjoy exploring your cultural similarities, and the intriguing differences in your backgrounds? Undoubtedly you believed your love would be powerful enough to overcome all differences.

Cross Cultural Couples: The Pain

At the same time, when you and your partner are rooted in different faiths, cultures or nations, your couple or marital relationship is more complex than that of couples who come from similar backgrounds.

One or both of you may be grieving the loss of a childhood culture or faith. This loss may not have seemed significant to you in the early stages of your relationship but it certainly can become so. Meanwhile, your partner may not understand the depth of your grief.

Or perhaps the biases and prejudices of your ancestors are beginning to impact your relationship in surprising and hurtful ways.

Over time, the pleasure you experienced in exploring cultural similarities fades. You begin to realize that some of the differences go deeper than you imagined. You may still hope that your love can overcome these differences, but you also see that for now, they are driving you apart.

couple arguing

How Couples In Step Can Help

Love may tempt us to deny or ignore issues of culture and faith. However, even though such avoidance is the result of good intention, it leads to isolation and estrangement.

Facing these issues is tough and frightening but, ultimately, it’s a more promising strategy than avoiding them. In fact, sometimes those “perfect” couples that suddenly and mysteriously split up turn out to have been the most flagrant issue avoiders.

I’ve seen that couples who immerse themselves in a lifelong process of facing their differences become and stay strong as couples. That’s what I share with the couples who come to see me. I’ll help you work out a way of blending your mutual cultures in a way that honors you both—and builds your marriage and relationship.

Cross Cultural Couples: The Gain<