What’s Wrong with Intercultural Marriage?

By Jeff Belmonte from Cuiabá, Brazil - Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

Marriage is something unpredictable, your wife is may be not your girlfriend, your husband may be not your boyfriend or may be your native English teacher is you fate! Who knows? So, what will you do if your future husband or wife is someone from another ethnic? Will you go through all the hardships you may face when you marry him/her? Or will you just take the easiest and safe way by marrying someone who has the same ethnic as yours?

All people have the same chance of getting married with someone from another ethnic or even country. However, the chance is bigger when you are living in a country which has so many tribes or ethnics—example, Indonesia. In Indonesia there are more than a hundred tribes or ethnics, so it is very possible to have relationship or marry with someone whose different background of culture.

The term for marrying someone from another ethnic is called intercultural marriage (Tseng in McDermott & Maretzki, 1977) because every ethnic has its own culture and marrying someone from another ethnic means you have to come up with it.

For some people, intercultural marriage may be not a big deal. However, there are still people who have the thought that marrying someone from different ethnic is something hard to be accepted. One of the cases is happen to me. My parents also some of my friends always say that it will be hard for me if I marry with someone from another ethnic. When I had a talk with my parents, I said ‘I have a crush on someone from different ethnic and I want to get serious with him’, my parents said “Oh, it is ok but it will be very grateful if you can choose someone in the same ethnic as us”. Even they were saying  it’s ok but the thing is, they were saying it with lower tone and gave emphasizing on the it will be very grateful part. Surely, I knew what they had in mind. They want to give a no, but have no heart to break their lovely daughter who is in love.

I am a Javanese but it does not mean that Javanese is too picky. I just say that some of your friends or acquaintances may have the same thought as my parents or even your parents may have. However, they are not wrong though, it is definitely hard to have intercultural marriage, because we have to deal with different background, different language, and different custom. Those things not only can be the source of happiness but also may be the source of your problems.

However, there is no problem without a solvent. It is ok to marry with whoever we love even if he or she has different ethnic as us. Because whoever he/she is or whichever ethnic he/she has we only love for her/his attitude or character. For you who will or are going to do intercultural marriage there’re still ways to make your married last forever.

Communication is essential in every relationship, there are many marriages that end up failing because there always miscommunication. Moreover, if your partner has different ethnic than yours, it can be more complicated than usual. You need to make an agreement in communication, if you have different language with your partner, try to make an agreement. The agreement can be an agreement about what time we use our own language. So, we will not get hurt when for example our husbands use their ethnic language while talking with their mother. 

Learn each cultures
When you are going to be a part of a new community, you try your best to know and understand everything about it, so that you will be able to adapt perfectly. It also applied in a marriage. When you marry someone from other ethnicity, you need to at least understand well about its custom, language, and other rules within. This action will be very good if both of the man and woman try to know each other culture to prevent any misunderstanding.

No egoism
Tolerance is something that you really need when you are going to live with someone else. Moreover, if the person you are going to live with is for the rest of your lives. Tolerance is not only about her or his personality, but also about his/her culture since your partner has different ethnic as yours. As I stated before, make some agreements in marriage is also very helpful when you decide to do intercultural marriage.

Marriage is not only about living with the one we love for the rest of our lives or being facilitated by someone. It is more complicated than that and love is not something that can solve everything. Marriage needs more than a love to solve problems and diversity in marriage is not for disputing or distancing but for being together.

Witer: Arij Zulfi M
Editor: Ummu I.S.

Anderson, M. F. (2015, 01 05). Mixed Ethnicity Relationship: The Way of the Future? Retrieved 05 03, 2017, from Physcology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mating-game/201501/mixed-ethnicity-relationships-the-way-the-future
Can a man and a woman who come from different racial or ethnic backgrounds have a successful marriage? Can you point out any good reasons why they shouldn't try to build a life together? . (n.d.). Retrieved 05 03, 2017, from Focus on the Family: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-q-and-a/relationships-and-marriage/interracial-intercultural-marriage
McDermott, J.F., & Maretzki, T.W. (1977). Adjusment Intercultural Marriage. Honolulu: The University of Hawaii.                                                                                                                                   
Mengulik Data Suku di Indonesia. (n.d.). Retrieved 05 03, 2017, from Badan Pusat Statistik: https://www.bps.go.id/KegiatanLain/view/id/127