Coping with Cultural Differences: Advice for Couples

  1. Acknowledge the differences that exist between your cultures
    Common differences are about child rearing practices, roles in family (managing money, housework, friendships opposite sex), level of independence, how appreciation and sorry is shown, humour and taboo topics. Bring these differences out in the open –put them on the table for discussion.

  2. Through discussion:

    a) Get agreement on what the differences are
    b) Understand where they come from, ie family upbringing, schooling, early life experiences
    c) Note how they and effect your relationship
    d) Understand the factors that exacerbate differences, such as displacement/ isolation from family and language barriers.

  3. Validate your Asian partner’s needs and vulnerabilities while living in NZ – E.g, their need to maintain aspects of their culture while in NZ (including why little things can be important).

  4. Decide which differences to Accept and which ones to Compromise or Negotiate around. If cannot accept or compromise resentment will linger. Use structured communication task to help with this - as per handout provided.

  5. Note that this takes time and practice. Most skilful or enlightened position is for each partner to float back and forth between cultural perspectives depending on the situation, however, this is not always able to be achieved.