THE SECRET TO INTERCULTURAL MARITAL BLISS

In marriage (and, I would argue, especially in intercultural marriage), the secret to marital bliss is two essential ingredients: communication and compromise.

LET GO OF JUDGMENT

First, this topic is a non-starter if you enter into a disagreement with your spouse or partner with a feeling of judgment, or being “better than.” Especially when we are dealing with two or more different cultures being represented, we have to intentionally remind ourselves that there is no “right” or “wrong.” My culture is not “right” and yours is not “wrong,” and neither is the opposite true.

DO THE WORK ON YOURSELF

In order to let go of judgment, we need to closely examine our own thoughts and beliefs. This requires us to get outside of ourselves because no matter what culture you grew up in, your whole worldview was shaped by what you experienced and what you learned, and it is so hard to get out of your own mind and reality...

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INTERCULTURAL MARRIAGE OBJECTIONS

The number one objection I hear to intercultural marriage often boils down to family. My parents won’t approve of my relationship. I have to marry someone from my culture. And if you start to involve your relatives in your relationship, they may add another set of objections: what about your children? What language will they speak? What religion will they practice?

Some of us may have the luxury of never having to face these questions, and in rare occasions we may feel supported from day one by our friends and family. For others, especially those in families who’ve never experienced an intercultural marriage and who may come from a more homogeneous culture, objections may abound.

RESPONDING TO OBJECTIONS

Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mindvalley and author of “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind,” also happens to be in an intercultural marriage. While he is of Indian origin, his wife Kristina is from Estonia. In his book, he dismisses the idea...

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WHEN TRADITIONS TAKE YOU OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

It should be no surprise that in an intercultural marriage, you will encounter all kinds of new traditions, some of which may take you outside of your comfort zone. I can certainly attest to this from my own experience, and the story I’ll share today is about how I literally lived out my biggest fear in front of a giant crowd of people and lived to tell the tale.

For our third (and final!) wedding celebration, we dressed up in the most formal attire and did the full Turkish wedding reception, including a mid-evening costume change into a traditional bindallı dress for a modified henna night.

Leading up to this trip, we had been so focused on whether or not I would even be able to travel, that it wasn’t until our arrival in Turkey that I registered what the henna night really meant.

“WAIT…WHAT?”

“Um…am I going to have to dance around all by myself in front of a bunch of people?!”

Hüseyin confirmed that I would and reassured...

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THE ONLY ADVICE YOU NEED WHEN PLANNING A K1 VISA WEDDING

k1 visa Mar 01, 2018

IMAGINE YOUR DREAM WEDDING…

Did you dream about your wedding as a child? One perfect day, you and your partner surrounded by everyone you love, eating your favorite food, dancing to your favorite songs, capturing it all in beautiful photos you will treasure forever — one day to remember and celebrate for the rest of your life.

…AND NOW LET IT GO.

For those about to begin their marriages on a K-1 (fiance) visa, the best piece of advice I can give you is to let go of the idea of “one perfect day” right now. A K-1 visa is granted to an engaged couple with the stipulation that they must get married to each other within 90 days of the non-US citizen partner entering the US. Naturally, if you’re reading this, I don’t know your story, but if I had to guess I’d say 90 days is not enough time to plan your perfect celebration and ensure that all your loved ones will be able to be there.

The easiest solution? Separate the ceremony...

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VISA BANS AND WEDDING BELLS

immigration Feb 05, 2018

“ALL VISA SERVICES SUSPENDED”

On October 8, 2017, the US and Turkey mutually banned tourist visas for each other’s citizens. Just a few days before, my husband had gotten two weeks of vacation from his job for December, which meant we were finally going to be able to travel back to his home country (Turkey) and have a wedding celebration with his family. The Turkey visa ban made it seem like it would be impossible for me to travel there, as the US visa ban did the same to any friends and family members of his trying to do likewise.

The next two months trying to navigate the visa ban unfolded in a way that was almost too farfetched to be non-fiction.

At first, it seemed hopeless that I’d get a visa at all. We told my husband’s parents that he’d definitely be coming for two weeks in December, but whether or not the wedding celebration would happen was left up in the air. (Of course, it is not totally ideal to plan a wedding reception when the bride...

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DEFINING "HOME" IN AN INTERCULTURAL MARRIAGE

I’d initially intended to break my silence with a piece about our wedding(s), but then inspiration struck, and this happened. I promise, soon, there will be news (and photos!) from both our December ceremony and our March reception.

For now, let’s talk about how current events and public perception can affect an intercultural relationship.

When you wake up to the news that travel to your country has been restricted for citizens of some Muslim countries, the first thing you do is check if the country where your husband was born is on the list. When you see it isn’t there, you breathe a sigh of relief…for just a moment. Then, the guilt hits. This didn’t stop being a problem just because MY family isn’t affected. There are couples just like us who are now facing obstacles far bigger than a delayed visa or two.

The luxury of sticking my head in the sand, ignoring what’s happening in the world as a whole, and focusing on my immediate...

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FIANCE VISA STRESS

k1 visa Sep 25, 2016

THE FIANCE VISA WAITING GAME IS STRESSFUL (DUH)

Months later, it’s time for another post. I’ll explain the delay shortly, but I won’t apologize for it. It’s recently become painfully obvious (literally) that there is a lot of stress involved in moving between continents, spending months away from your partner, changing jobs, and planning a wedding. Doing all of those things at the same time creates an ideal situation for an immune system to cry out in rebellion its own variation of, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”

Once upon a time, about three weeks ago, I was preparing for a solo trip (no visa for Hüseyin) to Vienna to present my first-ever conference paper. I would spend a few days there and then return to Turkey to pack my things, say my goodbyes, and then fly back to the US to begin the transition to life there, waiting for Hüseyin to join after his visa interview. Prior to leaving for the trip, I’d...

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TRAVELING AS AN INTERCULTURAL COUPLE

UNIQUE CHALLENGES FOR INTERCULTURAL COUPLES TRAVELING TOGETHER

When you think of going on vacation with your partner, traveling someplace far away and exotic, what word comes to mind? For intercultural couples like us, the word that I think of immediately is BUREAUCRACY.

Hüseyin and I began the process of getting his US fiance visa almost exactly two months ago, and it’s no surprise it has taken this long – this is just the beginning of a much longer process, and we’re prepared to wait it out. We understand this is a unique situation, there are procedures that must be followed, and that’s just the way it is.

But then there are times when Bureaucracy sneaks up behind you in an alley that has suddenly gone dark and sinister, covers your mouth with one hand, and demands you give it all your money.

After getting a UK visa just in time to see my old orchestra play in Scotland and Harry Potter on stage in London, we figured Bureaucracy had gotten a new...

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