Culture is everywhere around us. It is in what people believe, how they behave, what they assume, how they ‘do’ life, what is important to them.
When there are patterns in these areas that go beyond personality and individual differences, then a culture emerges. Most people are already part of various cultures (musical, generational, professional for example). Two people starting a family unit will bring with them a whole set of values and ways of seeing the world that they have subconsciously learned from the environment they were raised in.
While on the surface cultural differences might be obvious, like the way we greet each other or the foods that we eat, there are a lot of components that go into relationships between people from different cultural backgrounds, like how we give and receive negative feedback, whether we are raised to question authority or on the contrary follow it blindly, whether we say what we mean and mean what we say or whether our meaning is buried under layers of ‘code’ to name but a few examples.
According to Expat Insider 2018, one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive surveys of life abroad, “among expats in a relationship, only 43% have a partner with the same nationality, 35% are involved with a national of the host country and 22% with someone from yet another country.” That’s a combined 57% who are in a relationship with a partner from a different country. I’d say these figures demonstrate that it is important to look at cultural differences closely.
"When dealing with life’s problems, we tend to go back to our roots, which gives us a sense of comfort and identity. But the ways we choose may be perplexing to our partners.”