Why Ignoring Cultural Differences in Cross-Cultural Relationships is Harmful

(photo by Maxx R via Flickr.com)

While reading Laura Banks’ dissertation about interracial relationships with a Chinese partner, something in the conclusion caught my eye:

Each couple has different ways of viewing their own situation. Some address it directly and define the boundaries and what must be done to ensure cultural understanding. For example one couple said; ‘from the outset of our relationship, we have been conscious of intercultural issues and keen to address them by talking then through and explaining to each other what we are thinking.’ Other couples like B…and L…have addressed it in a completely different way and have ‘done something that is very unusual in Chinese-foreign relationships; we have never talked about that I am from a different country especially not in the case of conflicts’ and they feel that ‘many people like to overemphasize the influence of cultural differences.’ The way in which they address the situation is what works for them as a couple and as with many things in life there is no wrong or right way of dealing with it.

Naturally, since I write a blog meant to promote cross-cultural understanding between Chinese-Western couples, it seemed bizarre to just ignore cultural differences in a cross-cultural relationship. But as much as I would love to say that “there is no wrong or right way,” I can’t agree. In fact, the B/L way — essentially, a colorblind approach to interracial/cross-cultural relationships — is harmful. Continue reading “Why Ignoring Cultural Differences in Cross-Cultural Relationships is Harmful”