Intercultural Couples: Exploring Diversity in Intimate Relationships

Intercultural Couples: Exploring Diversity in Intimate Relationships

Intercultural Couples: Exploring Diversity in Intimate Relationships

Intercultural Couples: Exploring Diversity in Intimate Relationships


While cross-cultural relations were once assumed to be inherently problematic, in recent years these couples have increased in both numbers and social acceptance, and there is now a growing awareness of how little we really know about them. Addressing this gap in our knowledge, this book presents 12 chapters focusing on cross-cultural couple formations (i.e., a partner from the U.S. and another from abroad). Highlighting both the struggles and successes of couples, this book challenges the principle of homogamy, helping the reader gain a deeper understanding and respect for intercultural couples. The chapters tackle a broad range of topics and issues, including systemic considerations of the phenomenon of cross-cultural couples, bilingual couples, interfaith relationships, struggles in such couple formations, different methods of approaching solutions, and the use of the internet to meet partners from diverse backgrounds.


Attend to how couples deal with cultural differences, by maximizing or mini
mizing them, using them as reality, mask or metaphor for their relationship
issues.—Celia Jaes Falicov

Marriage does not change people; it merely unmasks them.—Sydney Harris

In this era of globalization, when high-speed travel and communication technologies allow us to quickly bridge physical distances, we see unprecedented increases in movement across national and cultural borders, with greater numbers of people leaving their motherlands to visit, study, find employment, and establish relationships. In the United States, 11.7% of the population, or 35 million people, are immigrants (Shibusawa, 2007), with over 9 million immigrants entering the United States between 1991 and 2000. Adding to the burgeoning diversity already evident in the United States, the number of cross-cultural couples has also increased rapidly in the past three decades (Estrada, 2005; Hernandez, 2003; Laird, 2000). Yet, scant few articles (e.g., McGoldrick & Preto, 1984), chapters (Falicov, 1995), and texts (Grearson & Smith, 1995) have provided readers with helpful ways of understanding the diverse experiences and dilemmas of this growing population.

How does one go about defining the scope, or terrain, of this book? Borrowing from Bateson (1979), Keeney (1982) tells us that the fundamental act of epistemology is drawing distinctions:

distinguishing an “it” from the background that is not “it”; We do this when we
demarcate or draw a boundary around an individual as different from a family,
or use the difference between you and me in order to engage in a conversation.
All that we know, or can know, rests upon the distinctions we draw (p. 156).

Cultures vary in regard to how the world of experience is punctuated, and particular punctuations organize or pattern events in particular ways.

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