Rule Number Two: Do not assume anything. Assumption is the mother of all screw ups, as the saying sort of goes, and the saying certainly applies when speaking of a cross cultural marriage. Do not ever assume that you know something about your spouse or potential spouse unless it has been openly discussed, with hand waving signs if necessary, to make sure you understand each other. Then do it again. Do not assume that because you have a spark and a love between you, that you understand how this other person feels about any particular topic or plans. Assumptions can take you straight into hot water, in the deep end of the cross cultural pool.
Rule Number Three: Do not underestimate the power of potential in-laws. In the United States, it is quite common for individuals to give little or no regard to the opinion that their immediate family holds regarding their choice of life mate. It is not so in nearly any other country or region in the world. In much of the world, marriages are still quite nearly arranged, if not literally then almost literally. Do not underestimate the power of your potential in-laws. The opinions they hold may be of the utmost importance to your spouse, and not taking full stock of your responsibilities in that direction will make your cross cultural marriage just that much more difficult.
Rule Number Four: Examine your own motives as well as the motives of the Significant Other when you start talking about getting married. Are you getting married because you think that your spouse to be will forever be the charming inquisitive person that they are now, looking up to you for advice always, asking for your help and opinion always, just as they were when you met and they were trying to figure out your native culture? Are you on the other end, grasping to hold on to the security and safety you need to assimilate into your new culture? Examine your motives in regards to wanting to get married. Take a serious step back and ask yourself, what would an outsider say about this? A smart outsider, mind you. Take heed if you can’t answer this question for yourself or for your future spouse. You do not want a parent or a child out of this person, but a partner.
Rule Number Five: Talk openly about the biggest topics like money, children, education, and professional goals before you make the jump into forever. Any long term business relationship would openly format the long term plan. A marriage should do so also. Especially a cross cultural marriage. Don’t become partners with someone who doesn’t see eye to eye with you on the large issues.
Rule Number Six: If your partner doesn’t wish to talk about the biggest topics, consider that to be a giant red flag with flashing red lights hanging over a glaringly obvious hazard marker. Beware if serious subjects are taboo subjects to your partner. Nothing great happens on accident, and neither is a great marriage a complete accident. You will need to make plans for your future, and need to discuss those plans with your spouse to make sure that you do hold common ground in regards to life principals and plans. What is very honorable and meaningful in one culture, certainly may not be that in another culture.
Rule Number Seven: Forget about any rules. Love happens. Live happens. If you’re really in love and want to make it work, and your spouse wants to make it work, then nothing can truly stand in the way of a successful cross cultural marriage. Whether you’re white or Asian, Hispanic or black, interracial and cross cultural marriages happen every day, and people survive them and live happily ever after.