Issues In Intercultural Marriage


An intercultural marriage is a union of two people involving numerous cultures and backgrounds. When two various cultures combine together, there may be significant challenges they have to face. A culture may differ from one to another due socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. Culture is a system of shared beliefs and values and is constantly evolving and changing around the world. The presence of intercultural marriages and intimacy is clear and expanding in societies throughout the Culture may consist of shared language, religion, or ethnicity. America is the one of the greatest multicultural and multiracial societies in the world at the moment. Nevertheless, this may come across as a shock to most people but as lately as 1966, 17 states in United States actually had laws against the interracial marriage and all of the states regulated marriage between whites and other races in the country. Despite of the significant number of intercultural marriages in the U.S today, mere empirical research has been done to determine the nature of these marriages (Ngye & Snyder, 2000)

Communication style and interpersonal relationships are fundamental aspects of culture and can vary dramatically from one culture to another. It is note worthy to remember that everyone on this earth has culture, not just those clusters that are considered ‘civilized’. The majority of culture is unseen, below the surface. For example, when a Russian man marries an Italian it is not only the differences in native language (Russian vs. Italian) and religion (Eastern Orthodox vs. Roman Catholic) but also a host of cultural differences associated with such factors as expression of emotion, conflict expression and management, the role of the f family of origin in raising children (Sullivan & Cottone, 2007)The beliefs and values that lie beneath the surface can be the most difficult to change when it is necessary.(Progressive Scholar, 2010) interracial marriages are not always intercultural marriages, as in some countries, for example United States, people of different races can share the same cultural background. (Source – Wikipedia, Last access 17th August) it is easy to comprehend why it is difficult to let go of a tradition or expectation. It isn’t easy to deal with the legacy that we’ve all grown up with in our ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds.

Though it seems to be a very romantic love story in the beginning but the truth is,it can be very challenging and frustrating in real life. And it is simply not about being racist, marriage has a deeper meaning to it, which dwells in understanding it, is possible to have extremely strong and natural negative feelings surrounding an interracial relationship or a marriage even though you’re not consider as racist. Legal or not illegal the question is should interracial marriages been encouraged? The union between two different cultures altogether will give space to different experiences and opportunities in life, but mostly difficulties in the marriage life where it is concerned. Adoptions to a different culture altogether maybe not turn out to be an easy task.

Individually ethnic and cultural variances put pressure on the marriage itself. With two diverse cultures, a family often has struggle understanding the differences between the families. Most of the time, such differences are not even recognized and unexplained. At this position an even larger problem with intercultural marriages. It is easy to look at why it is difficult to let go of a tradition or expectation.It isn’t easy to deal with the legacy that we’ve all grown up with in our ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. Numerous cultures will consume of different marriage laws, customs and also parental disagreements which will lead into disputes. There will be lower material satisfaction, higher divorce rates due to logistics. Language barriers, different traditions and society’s disapproval these factors will lead into higher failure of the marriage. Hence, a union between two cultures should not be encouraged due to the factors mentioned above.

The report will consist of three major factors which are mainly focused on miss- contribution towards an inter-cultural marriage. Initially how the marriage is affected by the cultural shock, diverse of marriage laws which can lead in to disagreements plus adaptation to a various cultures and environment factors. Secondly, the society’s points of view, Spouse facing discrimination due to colour and differences, if he/she is beyond the racial divide. Last point will conclude of dissipation of culture. The report contains information based on various countries and issues with diverse cultures marriages.



The main intention of getting marriage is to emotionally, spiritually and physically unite a men and women together, as husband and wife, it is a commitment made in the presence of God, and is valid until death.Intercultural marriages are often influenced by external factors that can create confrontation, and disagreement in relationships. Different cultures endure vastly diverse moral, ethical and value foundations that influence their perceptions of individual, family and societal lifestyle. When these fundamentals are operating alongside the foundation of different cultural roots, as in intercultural marriages, problems and disagreement often times occur.

It takes effort to combine two cultures successfully, and a willing attitude to learn from both partners. The first argument against intercultural marriages is the cultural shock (adaptation to a new culture). When considering an intercultural marriage either one of the partners have to get introduced to a new culture. Ideally both have to get use to each others cultures and laws to survive the marriage and this will create a lot of problems in the process. For an example – A non Muslim marrying a Muslim will have to obey to certain laws in Islam; Islam forbids marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. Therefore, any partner will have to convert and obey Islamic rules (sound vision, 2010). In the case of Muslim men marrying Jewish and Christian women, the situation is different.

While Islam does allow this, Muslim men marrying Jews and Christians need to remember that living in the West, if they end up divorcing, the children will almost automatically be given to the mother. The converting process from one religion to another and adapting to new laws will create massive problems that will even end the marriage. Additional wrinkle in U.S. Muslim family law practices stems from the structure of authority in Islamic jurisprudence since there has never been an official church certifying individuals to speak on behalf of the religion, the field is open for any dedicated Muslim to seek to act as imam and lead a community (Quarishi & Syed- Miller, 2001) therefore, non-Muslims have a very rare chance of wining and surviving in the marriage due to different laws in different cultural laws.

Moving on,Intercultural marriages have contrasting differences between traditions and cultures. Although a few studies have looked into this aspect, cultural differences also stimulate marital conflicts particularly in intercultural marriages. In fact, the quantitative study of Takano (2002), pointed out that 19% of the marital discords in interethnic couples involved in his study are attributed to cultural differences. Couples that enter a cross-cultural marriage bring into their relationship vastly diverse assumptions and expectations about marriage and family life.

Many of these assumptions flow out of the values, unspoken rules and belief systems that permeate their primary cultures. These unspoken values have become so much a part of their lives that they are almost hidden from view. For an example the way of celebrating Christmas is different in Germany rather than America (J). In fact, many of these cultural differences do not surface until after the couple is married.However, New experiences and new culture altogether may interest a adventurous spouse as its a unique onec ina life time experience and the difficulties greatly depend on how religious and culturally bond the families are.

Not all think out of the box, New strange land, parents and language may cause distress in the beginning of the marriage life. One spouse will live in the country of origin and the other will be a stranger in a strange land the pleasantness mayb fall apart after sometime when trying to fit into a different family ,cuture. Marriage and customs differ from one country and to another culture .For example, Indian marriage customs are varying from marriage customs of Chinese traditions. In Japan the Japanese bride to be painted pure white from head to toe, visibly declaring her maiden status to the gods. There are two choices of headgear exist. One which is, the watabōshi, is a white hood, the other is called the tsunokakushi, serves to hide the bride’s ‘horns of jealousy.’ It also symbolizes the bride’s intention to become a gentle and obedient wife. During the period of the traditional wedding days, there would be a tilak ceremony (where the groom is anointed on his forehead), a ceremony for adorning the bride’s hand then cover the feet with henna (called mehendi) accompanied by Ladies’ Sangeet (music and dance) and many other pre-wedding ceremonies. Hence, marriage traditions, customs and beliefs may clash due to above points mentioned so far.

Religion runs deeper since they practice their faith and it is a part of their cultural identity that they want to hang on to. The accurate, customs and special days associated with the religion remain significant to them. The regarding worship of the children will matter some religions deny the validity of all others and insist on conversions or demand that the children should be brought up in that religion. A couple might face difficulty in deciding on this above point and the spouse form the other religion may feel inferior and down. For example Orthodox Judaism teaches that the family must repudiate (sit shivah for) a child who marries a non-Jew: Islam demands obedience to god’s law only as revealed by Muhammad, and also requires that a Muslim marry a fellow Muslim. The catholic churches until recent years insisted that a non-Catholic partner sign a prenuptial agreement to raise any catholic children. Particular Christian sects preach that all outsiders are damned to eternal fire and prohibit any marriage to people of different faith. At this specific point the problem may occur with the faith plays a major role in decision making this is if the partner is intensely religious.

As they approach on each other’s separate territory, there is a new language, new customs and a new standard of “normal” to be learned. While culture a certain behavior might be accepted, here it might cause native offense. This sought of marriage is similar to a foreign alliance, with two separate people coming together and discovering the heritage and history of the other.


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Romano, D (2006), “Intercultural marriage, prmoses and pitfalls”, 8th January 2006, Available: accessed on 26th of July 2010.

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