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Four easy ways to strengthen a cross-cultural relationship

Most relationships are cross-cultural to a degree – two people coming together from different backgrounds, families and environments. For some, differences will be minor and easy to adjust to.  For others, who are trying to accommodate major differences in beliefs, values and ideas, it can be difficult.

In my couple and family counselling practice, I often see couples from different backgrounds who struggle to see each other’s perspective and find it difficult to make key life decisions together. Things that initially didn’t seem important when the relationship began can become far more significant when children arrive or as people age. 

Here are some of the most challenging aspects that people talk about in couples counselling:

  • One partner feels increasingly lonely or isolated from their own family and culture.
  • Conflicting ideas about where to live, particularly once a couple has children.
  • Different expectations around parenting and what each of their parenting roles are.
  • Different ideas on how to raise their children, schooling, rituals, food choices etc.
  • Problems with extended family involvement.
  • One partner caught between their partner and extended family expectations. 
  • Extended family expectations around family rituals, customs or special occasions which cause unease for a parent/s.
  • Managing different gender-based expectations within their relationship.
  • Managing different expectations around money and lifestyle.

Here’s how focusing on these four key areas can help to strengthen your relationship: –

  1. Good communication skills
    • Listen to one another and understand each other.
    • Acknowledge the challenges each of you are experiencing.
    • Discuss and embrace differences, without losing respect and connection with each other.
    • Talk about shared way of doing things, to reflect what you both want.
  • Be transparent and honest about expectations around key issues before you commit: – 
    • Religion, children, family, education, and gender roles.
    • Parenting roles and sharing childcare.
    • How you will both give your children a good sense of both cultures.
    • The support you might need if you are feeling removed from your own culture.
  • Set clear boundaries: –
    • Talk through what level of extended family involvement you are comfortable with.
    • Agree on shared boundaries around what is acceptable or not around extended family involvement.
    • Agree on the extent of extended family involvement you are comfortable with regarding your children. 
  • Connect with each other’s cultures: –
    • Be open to considering cultural ideas that are different from your own.
    • Try to understand the significance of each other’s special family occasions, rituals, and customs.

How can couple or family counselling help?

Couple or Family Counselling at Sydney Couple and Family Specialists:

  • Can help you and your partner with strategies to manage differences of opinion and conflict.
  • Can help you and your partner develop good communication skills.
  • Can help you and your partner understand each other more deeply.
  • Can help you and your partner with having difficult conversations.
  • Can help you and your partner feel more connected and sure that you are making the right decision in committing to each other.

If you would like to book a couples counselling session or simply find out more about how we can help, please contact us 02 8968 9397.

About Shweta

Shweta is a warm and pragmatic Couple and Family Counsellor with experience in relationship and family conflict, communication problems, and parenting issues. She brings positivity, insight and thoughtfulness to her therapy sessions.

Shweta’s style is straightforward and direct. She is action-oriented, helping clients reach their goals by providing them with clear direction and structure to work with.

“My approach is collaborative and focused on what you would like to achieve and where you would like to be in your relationships. I work through what’s going on for you, and support you to find a workable way through it.

I know that sometimes the way forward can seem complex and daunting. Gaining an objective and balanced perspective from someone who will help you plan the way forward is an invaluable step in moving towards greater clarity and certainty.”

Clients build long-lasting, trusting relationships with Shweta and say that her non-judgemental approach makes her easy to talk to.

Shweta enjoys working with different cultural influences, blended families and same sex families. She has particular expertise in the areas of eating disorders and body image, and has experience working with children who have learning difficulties and/or behavioural issues.

Her work is solution focused and results driven. She draws on Systemic theory, Narrative, Psychoanalytical, Gottman, EFT and other modalities in her therapeutic work.

Qualifications and Professional Membership:

Masters of Counselling and Applied Psychotherapy (JNI)
Masters of Psychology (UK)
Registered member of Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) and British Psychological Society (BPS)

The reasons why people seek Couple or Family Counselling

Shweta outlines the reasons why people seek Couple or family Counselling here.

What people say about Shweta

“It’s such a relief to be able to talk to you and stop my thoughts from going around in circles. Thanks Shweta, for your compassion and understanding”

“Having your support over these last few months has been amazing. Thank you. I feel like I’ve been living under a constant heaviness for such a long time, but I’m beginning to be myself again now.”

“We are doing so much better now. You have definitely helped us a lot and we are happy that we decided to start counselling. We’re on track now, but if we fall back into bad habits, we will definitely come back and talk to you again.”

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