STORIES LIKE OURS: MY FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT AND FOR INTERCULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS

In early 2019, I‌ set out to write a book about intercultural relationships, largely because I‌ couldn’t find one like what I‌ was looking for. It seems like love stories that cross cultures are still an infrequent enough topic that when I‌ find a book that captures the experience well, it’s still noteworthy. These are some of the books about intercultural relationships that I’ve enjoyed the most, and I‌ hope to be able to continue to add to this list.

Please note that links to purchase the books may be affiliate links and I‌ may earn a small fee for purchases made through them. This does not add any additional expense for you, but it does help keep the lights on in the Borderless Stories office (aka our second bedroom).

A Tender Struggle, by Krista Bremer

This was the first book I‌ ever read as an adult in an intercultural relationship where I‌ felt like someone was in a position that I‌ could relate to. While...

Continue Reading...

FALLING IN LOVE ABROAD

An interesting thing happens when you travel the world and when you meet people who are from different countries and different cultures and who speak different languages than you. That interesting thing? Well, sometimes romance blooms.

There are so many of us who are in committed relationships with people from a different country than our own or who speak a different first language than we do, and there are probably even more people than that who have had a romantic fling with someone from another country or another culture.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

Now, granted, there are some ways in which we need to tread more carefully about this topic because we do still tend to "exotify" people from other countries — you know, "tall, dark, and handsome" or "sexy accent" or whatever stereotype we play into about these countries. It is important to remember that the people that we interact with or feel romantic sparks with from other countries are the same as us. They have the same...

Continue Reading...

DEPICTIONS OF INTERCULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS IN MOVIES

[Please note that links to purchase the movies may be affiliate links and I‌ may earn a small fee for purchases made through them. This does not add any additional expense for you, but it does help keep the lights on in the Borderless Stories office (aka our second bedroom).]

I‌ can’t remember the first time I saw that classic "falling in love abroad" movie plot unfold: girl travels to beautiful location in search of herself and falls in love with a sexy, “exotic” stranger as he takes off his shirt in slow motion to go for a swim during the world’s most beautiful sunset. I don’t remember the first time I‌ saw it, but I‌ know I’ve seen it many times since.

Over the summer, my husband took his first trip to Turkey without me, and while I‌ was at home getting over a summertime flu and missing him, I‌ watched as many movies as I could find that were set in Turkey or even its next-door neighbor Greece. This is what both...

Continue Reading...

MARRIAGE ISN’T NECESSARY TO PROVE YOUR LOVE

It's a sentiment seen a lot on social media these days: "Marriage isn't for me. I don't think that it's important, and I don't think you have to get married to someone to show them that you're committed to them." That isn't the reality for many of us who married outside of our country, and I think it's a topic worth discussing here.

HONORING THE FIGHT

First off, it's obviously important to consider those who have fought for the right to get married and to not take it lightly that they have, indeed, had to fight for it. We have to remember those who have struggled for interracial marriage, which wasn't legalized until the Loving v. Virginia case in 1967, or same sex marriage, which has only been legal in the US since 2015. And there are also those of us who meet and fall in love with someone from a different country with a different citizenship, and often the only way for us to be together in the same space long-term is marriage.

This is especially true if one of us is an American,...

Continue Reading...

WHY INTERCULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

I’ve always struggled with whether the work that I do is meaningful enough. The first interview I was offered fresh out of college was at a diamond store, and I was so uncomfortable with that idea (having just recently seen Blood Diamond) that I think I willed the position out of existence. I told myself I had to at least return the call, and sure enough I was never able to get through to an actual person, which came as a great relief to my young conscience.

Finding my way into my career as an ESL teacher, I again wrestled with if the work I was doing was meaningful enough or if I was just arrogantly spreading my language to anyone who would sit still long enough to learn. I ultimately came to the conclusion that, while I didn’t think English was inherently more important than any other language, enabling people to be able to communicate with more people than their first language would allow was a cool thing. Foreign language skills would increase their...

Continue Reading...

THE IMPORTANCE OF BOUNDARIES: “I’M HERE FOR ME, NOT YOU”

If you've moved to another country to be with your partner, you may have said the words, "It's your fault I'm here," and if your partner has moved to be with you, then you may have heard them said back to you. This is never a nice thing to hear, and I know many of us don't handle ourselves as well as we'd like in stressful situations — unfortunately, immigration is full of situations just like that. If you've said or heard this statement, I recommend you continue reading a bit more.

In the process of immigrating to be with your loved one, there is no shortage of sources of frustration. In the K-1 process, there is the separation, the expense, the uncertainty, and all of that is just before the visa itself is granted. If and when the interview is successful and your partner has visa in hand, unfortunately, the frustrations don't end there. When your partner enters the US and you are married, there is still more waiting that happens while the next set of paperwork is being...

Continue Reading...

PREPARING FOR A TRIP TO SEE YOUR IN-LAWS

When you don’t speak the same language as your in-laws, preparations for an extended visit should include more than just double-checking that you don’t forget to pack your contact solution. As we’ve touched on previously, it can be a stressful time for the partner who feels unable to communicate. Thankfully, there are some strategies the two of you can implement together to help make your trip as close to a vacation as possible.

CONVERSATIONS TO HAVE

As soon as you start to plan a trip to visit one of your families, it’s important to check in with each other about how the language barrier will be navigated. If it’s been an extended length of time since your last visit, it’s likely that some dynamics may have shifted slightly, so check in with each other.

1.) How can I support you? This is a question for both of you to ask the other. If you are the partner who isn’t able to speak the dominant language well enough to feel comfortable,...

Continue Reading...

MANAGING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ANXIETY

If you read last week’s blog about feeling like a failure because you can’t speak your in-law’s language, then you may be pleased to discover that this week we are talking about practical strategies that you can use to manage your language-related anxiety. Just to be clear, I am not offering a substitute for medical advice. If you are in need of professional assistance for anxiety, then I can only encourage you to seek that out for yourself. For anyone facing mild situation-based anxiety, read on.

BREATHING

Don’t underestimate the power of taking a deep breath. We tell children to do this when they are overcome with stress, and anyone who has attended a yoga class can speak to the benefits of breathing deeply and filling up your lungs. I am not suggesting that you start doing sun salutations in a room full of your in-laws, but by all means, do steal away for a few minutes and take some deep breaths. (Fun fact: you can actually take deep breaths in...

Continue Reading...

WHEN YOUR IN-LAWS SPEAK A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE

It’s been relatively quiet here on the blogging front since our last trip to Turkey. As we prepared for our trip, I mentally prepared myself for the struggle I anticipated experiencing with the language barrier. I’d felt poorly in the past about my inability to communicate as well as I’d like, and I’d been frustrated with how I seemingly regressed to being the shy little girl that I once was as a child here in my own country. Not being able to be myself and truly engage was disappointing, frustrating, and I had decided that enough was enough.

While my husband (and my therapist) both reminded me not to be too hard on myself or my feelings, I was determined to face this language anxiety thing head on and conquer it once and for all.

Honestly, my plan failed — hard. By expecting perfection from myself, I immediately let myself down, which can easily spiral into feeling like a failure. One bad day gets blown up to mean that you won’t be able to...

Continue Reading...

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...

Continue Reading...
1 2
Close

50% Complete

Are you in an intercultural relationship and planning a future together?

Don't miss this freebie! It contains the 5 things you must know before you say "I do!