Binationales Paar

I have not lived in my country of origin for almost 16 years, 14 of which I was in a binational relationship. During this time, I have met many other couples who also come from different countries. Most of my friends and the couples I advise have different countries of origin.

One particular challenge I would like to talk about is something that nobody expects at the beginning, but which can be crucial.

Binational = adventurous and extraordinary

In the initial phase of a relationship, we tend to see the similarities rather than the differences with our partner. In binational relationships, the different countries of origin often take center stage.

The willingness to come together despite their different countries of origin is seen as the first major thing they have in common. "We are both adventurous, like to travel and speak different languages. We are open-minded and interested in cultural differences."

There are often major hurdles to overcome at the beginning

Love in binational couples is often seen as particularly great, as it transcends borders and language barriers. And yes, especially at the beginning everything is often a little more difficult and requires more perseverance and willpower to maintain the relationship. You may have had to take care of residence rights, language courses, changing jobs, saying goodbye to home and family and friends from your home country, etc.

The time span from specialness to ordinariness is often longer

Because many organizational obstacles have to be overcome first, it often takes much longer for everyday life to settle down. Binational couples have to clarify questions such as: Where do we want to live? How do we deal with the visa? Education? Study?

Only when all these issues are off the table will you get to know each other in everyday life, even though you may have been together for 3 years.

The real challenges lie more in the day to day life

In everyday life together, many binational couples I have met have had quite unexpected arguments, for example: 

- "You can't just say NO, that hurts her feelings."

- "You ate your hole meal on your own without offering anyone anything, that's super rude."

- "There were suddenly five women in my kitchen and they took everything and used it to prepare the food, as if they were here at home."

- "I just needed some time to myself, so I closed the door. You could continue talking to your parents in peace."

The most natural thing is often the thing that is least natural

Maybe you just wanted to eat your sandwich, you wouldn't have dreamed of hurting someone. The surprise effect is huge. You weren't expecting it. The same thing happens to your partner. He would never have thought that you could be so "impertinent". Everyone is in their own movie now. This means that everyone judges the other according to the basic rules of their culture. But the other person doesn't even know these rules.

Understanding cultural differences is a process

An important communication strategy in binational relationships is to keep asking questions and not assume that you already understand why your partner has said or done something.

The openness and courage you both showed to make the relationship possible strengthened your bond in the beginning.

This is also important in the more mundane moments of life - be it organizing the household, paying the bills or furnishing your home together. Even decisions about how often you want to invite the family over are situations that require patience. 

Many conflicts can be defused through openness, communication and a willingness to understand each other

Remember that it is normal for differences to occur and that it is a process of cultural adjustment. By asking open questions, practicing active listening and showing a willingness to communicate, you can help to strengthen your relationship and overcome conflicts. Another option is always to seek advice. If you have the feeling that things are getting difficult, you can also call in someone to mediate.