This is part 6 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series. The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.
This article is all about egging your ego because that's what you're gonna need to do if you want to see the survival of a cross cultural relationship. Marisa & I are so blessed that ego has never been a factor in our relationship. I believe that one of the key to the success of our friendship is that right from the beginning we alway had the same vision and goal. That being that we loved each other and we wanted to grow. It may sound really simple to say something like that but having the same goal really makes all the difference once you are half way into the relationship and you are trying to work things out with the other person.
For her and I, our first consideration is always the needs of the other person and to make sure they are happy and well taken care of. We do that to each other and it has produced amazing results. Because it's actually increased the level of security each other feels in this relationship. She knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that I love her and I'm not going to walk out the door the first time that I don't understand her or her culture.
Instead, I make it a point to look, listen, think, pray, research, ask questions until I find the answer. The Bible says that if you seek wisdom with all your heart, you will find it. I badly needed wisdom in my friendship with her so I really put God to the test in fulfilling this promise in the Bible. And guess what? God as usual came through and brought people into my world that explained things to me and helped bridge the gap between our two cultures.
Taking out the ego factor is even more important than you realize. Perhaps in a relationship with someone of your own culture you could afford to have a little bit of the ego thing going. But in a cross cultural relationship, you absolutely CANNOT afford it because you are dealing with so many differences already and other potential pressures. There are already a million ways for us to misunderstand each other. Things like being defensive or not wanting to admit mistakes or putting pressure on the other person to make you happy is gonna be a relationship killer.
A big key is in understanding that the other person's cultural values, needs, personality, point of view is completely set up differently from someone from your own culture. It took me about a year in a relationship with her that was extremely altruistic for me to finally get her culture and flow with it.
I had to take into account that everything was new for her. She is completely Argentinean through and through. She's never travelled or been immersed in another culture. I was the first North American friend she ever had. So none of the ways of maintaining a friendship that worked with people in her culture worked with me. It goes the other way, she was my first friend from another culture that I bonded with and I had alot of learning to do. And truthfully I still have lots of learning to do! We both do!
Having a cross cultural friendship is one of the most enriching experiences you can ever have in life. Marisa may not be able to give me things that I want, need, or expect from people in my own culture. Instead, she has a whole other world of things to offer me as a friend that has enriched my life so much. Allow the other person to take you by surprise completely! Leggo my ego!