Love is unacquainted with nationality and frontiers. Based on this social aspect and on popular perception, some historians and researchers attribute to love (in this case, among citizens of widely different cultures and customs) the responsibility of making it possible to grow and solidify relationships between individuals who have nothing in common, that against statistics and intercultural behavioral studies, firmly survive the familiar and feared cultural shock.
According to the U.S. Census (Married-Couple Households by Nativity Status/American Community Survey/Census Bureau), 21 percent of married families living in the country have at least one spouse born in another country. The research also points out that this number has gradually increased at a pace equivalent to the growth in immigration in the United States.
There are many factors that contribute to the failure of intercultural relationships, because over time, a couple tends to realize that only loving the partner is not enough to sustain the relationship in a healthy way, without blaming the other for all the changes that will have to be faced in this new stage of their lives.
A relationship needs much more than love; it needs maturity, a very good sense of humor and balance to adapt to the new culture and to be able to integrate in it without fear and without reservations, understanding that the other person’s boundaries may not be the same.
When asked about the secret of a lasting intercultural marriage, an American individual, born in Connecticut, married to a Brazilian woman, replied: “It is necessary to see the differences with an open mind and heart, to be able to understand that many things that are ordinary for one person may be completely strange to the other. It is learning to laugh at the differences together.”
When faced with ease, cultural shock is lessened and does not result in divorce. In our community, for instance, we come across many happy marriages between Brazilians and Americans, individuals with contrasting values (cultural, intellectual and economic), but who respect differences and have found in balance and love the basis of a successful relationship.
According to Marla Alipoaicei, author of the book Your Intercultural Marriage, ignoring the culture of the spouse is one of the most serious problems. She says in her book, “Intercultural couples probably experience more conflicts than couples of the same nationality.” Why is that?
Dugan Romano, author of the book Intercultural Marriage: Promises and Pitfalls, explains, “Conflicts have always been present in relationships and no one gave them proper attention, igniting afterwards when the couple coexists.”
For these two reputable authors, this type of couple will be constantly exposed to different customs, rites, languages and peculiarities, and it is this exposure to differences that generates conflict, the basis of culture shock.
Intercultural marriage, as well as immigration, gradually increases in our community. With or without conflict, statistics show that such marriages may be working, since, at least in the state of Connecticut, the number of divorces continues to drop, showing that the “different” may have its charms and potentially works well between Americans and Brazilians.