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“And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

And it came to pass as they journeyed from the East, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

And they said, Go to, let us build a city and a tower whose top may reach unto Heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built.

And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

Go to, let us go down and confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of the earth……” (Gen. 11 : 1 – 8)

Have you read the above portion of the Bible before? If they hadn’t tried to be smart and planned to build that tower of Babel, we’d all share the same ethnic and cultural background. Maybe. Maybe not.

One difficult aspect of two people creating a life together is when each person comes from a different cultural, ethnic or social background. One out of two things will happen – the journey is either pleasant or unpleasant.

Whether it is language, beliefs and/or religion, these differences can clash. OR NOT. I often ponder if it has anything to do with luck.

The old adage “birds of a feather flock together” is based on the phenomenon that people with similar interests and values are attracted to each other. How true is this?

While common interests is not the only aspect of a relationship, your interests and values do have an impact on how you interact with your partner.

Individuals within a particular social class generally share common experiences, such as a similar level of education and type of work.

Factors such as personality or education can give one person an edge over the other, leading to the

stronger personality or more highly educated person having more power in the relationship.

Individualistic people(such as Europeans and Americans) value

personal independence, whereas collectivists(Asians and many African cultures) value duty to a group, specifically to one’s family.

What are the beliefs each of you holds for what makes a relationship happy?

What is expected in a relationship in your culture versus your partner’s?

Each culture socializes men and women to know and accept a particular script, like a movie script, for what happens in relationships.

For instance, in Indian culture,

parents are highly involved in the spouse selection process, sometimes to the point where a marriage is completely arranged by the parents.

In Tanzanian culture, it is common practice(and generally accepted)for men to have sexual relationships with women other than their wives.

Is your script for your relationship the

same as your partner’s? Does his/her culture heavily emphasize on a man’s earning capacity and ambition? Does

your culture emphasize on good looks and attractiveness?

People marry into their own class. It’s called “assortative mating”. You know this by looking around, yet there’s such profound squeamishness about it that research tends to cluster around

class proxies.

So what’s it actually like, when you don’t mate assortatively?

Few examples are:

-You’re from a more richer background than your partner.

-Your partner has attained higher levels of education than you have.

-Your parents don’t support your relationship because your partner is from a different ethnic group or country.

-You and your partner speak different languages.

Relationships are hard enough without differences in values, principles, interests, and family backgrounds. When these differences add more strain to your relationship, it can be very frustrating.

And when your partner leaves you because of these differences, it is even more frustrating.

If two people are attracted to each other and in love, can they build a lasting relationship in spite of very different cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds?

Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends”. Sometimes, it’s not easy to be dealt with; sometimes, it is.

No matter how difficult it is, you and your partner should be willing to talk about it with each other. Be honest about how you feel regarding the differences.

If you want to continue with the relationship, there will be a lot of barriers which you will have to overcome. Overcoming the hurdles will not be easy. Recognize that it’ll be a bumpy road.

But how far are you willing to go? How much are you willing to work at

your relationship to sustain it? Will you be able to handle the pressure from family and friends?

Before you plunge, take time to assess yourself, your partner and your relationship. If you think your relationship is doomed, then you may be headed for a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nobody knows that more than you do.

Good luck!



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