Every marriage is “intercultural” to some extent as two people come together with their unique background, experiences, and personal quirks. For those who come from different countries and cultures, these personal differences can be even more complicated and magnified by their different cultural values and expectations.
Intercultural Marriage: Promises & Pitfalls by Dugan Romano (Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2008) is a helpful guide that discusses values, food, sex, male-female roles, raising children, communication, and other challenges identified by couples in intercultural marriages. It’s an excellent overview, and I can see why this book, first published in 2008, is now in its third printing.
Some random comments:
- don’t be put off by the first chapter that attempts to categorize different types of intercultural marriage; the second chapter–and the rest of the book–is much better.
- the strength of Romano’s work is clearly the stories that come from a wide selection of couples: Yvette (French) and Ali (Kuwaiiti), Lynn (American) and Hans (Austrian), Ikumi (Japanese) and Cecil (British), Sara (Canadian) and Joachim (Portuguese), and many others.
- although the book is subtitled “promises & pitfalls,” it might more aptly be “pitfalls & promises” since much more attention is given to the challenges of intercultural marriage.
- I like the book’s overall approach which is more descriptive than prescriptive–in marriage and intercultural marriage, there are many different issues and many different ways of managing, resolving, and/or living with them.
- the book is not written from a particularly Christian perspective–unlike Romano, I wouldn’t suggest living together before marriage as one way to prepare for an intercultural marriage.
- What Romano says about intercultural marriage applies to marriage in general: “The couple who will come closest to an ideal intercultural marriage is the one committed to finding a solution that respects both partners; it is the one ready to face the issues, sort them out, or fight them out, over and over again if necessary. To face the pitfalls may be dangerous, but it is the only way to gain the opportunity to fulfill the promises and to grow together in an ever-expanding and enriching relationship.” (166)