10 Reasons Why You Should NOT Marry a Foreigner (Like I Did)

by Corey · 56 comments

international marriage

By Corey Heller
Photo credit: John Valentine ii

What with all of the wonderful reasons why marrying a foreigner is fantastic fun (see our post 10 Reasons Why You Should Marry a Foreigner), there are some definite downsides as well. International marriage isn’t always filled with rolling R’s, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate, blossoming roses and “until death do us part.” It also comes with heart-wrenching and, at times, heart-breaking realities that make us question our choices.

Below are a few reasons for why I find international marriage difficult. Although I wouldn’t say these are necessarily reasons not to marry a foreigner (I chose the title to match our other fun, more positive post), you might want to think long and hard about these before tying the knot with your international spouse-to-be:

10. Far away from family. One of us is always living far, far, far away from family and friends. There will never be a time when we are close to his family as well as mine.

9. Loss of holiday traditions. My husband especially feels this when Christmastime rolls around: There is nothing even close to a Weihnachtsmarkt here in Seattle (and where is the smell of roasting nuts filling the air?). When I lived in Germany, Thanksgiving came and went without even the sighting of a turkey, let alone family getting together to celebrate. Things just feel a little less warm and comforting when our holiday traditions disappear.

8. Cultural misunderstandings. My husband and I have learned to appreciate most of one another’s cultural quirks (this has actually been a fun process overall). However, there are times when our cultural differences rub one another the wrong way. The cultural idiosyncrasies of my husband that I love the most can also cause me the most frustration when I’m not at my best (and mine can do the same to him!).

7. What if we divorce? Being that one can never know where life will lead us, if my husband and I were to divorce (God forbid), I have no idea how difficult things could get. What if he wanted to move back to Germany? Where would the kids live? Would they live with me or him or travel between us both? All in all, international couples who divorce tend to have more difficult decisions to make when compared to those who live in the same country.

6. Learning the language. Being that I am not fluent in German (and my German seems to decline steadily each year that we live in the USA), it pains me to not be able to understanding nuances of my husband’s language. When we visit his family, I often don’t understand subtle jokes and can feel like an outsider. My husband is completely fluent in English yet he can still feel out of place when he hangs out with a bunch of Americans using slang and subtle cultural references. I can’t even imagine what it is like for couples who don’t speak each other’s languages!

5. It takes a lot of work. Marriage in general can be a lot of work. However, international marriages take just that little bit more. My husband had to listen to my complaints (for a long time) about how different life was in Germany. Then I had to listen to the same from him when we moved to the States. Aside from getting used to living with one another, we had overarching cultural differences to deal with which could really wear us down and test our marriage. Even today we hit cultural nuances that test our boundaries.

4. Never completely at home. Even though my husband feels very comfortable here in the States, he still doesn’t feel 100 percent at home. Not only do others treat him as a foreigner, no matter how hard he tries, this country will just never hold the same degree of comfort as his country of origin. The knowledge of this weighs heavy on me from time to time.

3. The end of true vacations. Ever since my husband and I have been together vacations have taken on a whole new meaning: Visiting family. I can’t remember the last time we took a long vacation that didn’t have as it’s core visiting family members. Since we live relatively far from my American family, we alternate vacation years so that we can visit his family one year and mine the next. How else can our families see their grandchildren/niece/nephews grow up! We love visiting family but it can put an added strain on our marriage since we never really get a “true” vacation to places that we’d like to visit and don’t know a soul.

2. Airplane flights are expensive. While others are investing their extra dollars in college or retirement accounts, we are saving up for our next airline tickets to Germany! $7,000 is a lot of money which we’d love to be able to invest for the future. Our choice to invest it in the present to visit family in Germany is important to us but it does hurt at times. Our children’s grandmother won’t be alive forever so we do what we can to visit her as often as we can. We’ll hope to work out college and retirement as best we can.

1. At least one set of grandparents is always far away. Our children will never be able to have both sets of grandparents living nearby. Someone is always going to be far, far away. Skype is a wonderful thing but it still doesn’t replace spending time with real, live grandparents, aunts and uncles. This can be extremely heartbreaking at times.

And here is one more general question: Where will be be buried when we die? Will it be in the country that we live in now? Or in our country of origin? Or will we let our children decide based on where they are living? Many of us know the answer already while others have no idea.


Despite this list of reasons why international marriage can be tough at times, I would never, ever exchange it for anything else. My relationship with my husband has been the most wonderful experience in my life. We feel so very lucky to have found one another.

Please share your difficulties of international marriage below in the comments section! You are certainly not alone in your struggles.

If instead you would like to share the joys of international marriage, head over to our post 10 Reasons Why You Should Marry a Foreigner (Like I Did) and tell us all about it!

Good or bad – international marriage is one of a kind!

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 12, 10 and 8, in German and English.
CLICK HERE to send her an email! You can also follow her on Google+!

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Judit July 29, 2013 at 2:42 am

Huh every point rings a bell….just got divorced after living in his coutry for 9 years. Two girls, 8 and 5, moving with me to my original country, and daddy is moving to a third country to work. Daddy remains on skype and will come sometimes …poor kids. I have to readjust to my country which has enourmously changed in 9 years, find a job and live with my parents. Aaaand, keep the kids other language (thank`s god they are completely bilingual), which will be quite a bit of a challenge for me, who has learnt it, but not a native speaker of that language, and now nobody around me speaks it. Tough, but better than being stuck in another country in a bad relationship… I am trying to make sense of my 9 years` experience and use it for a better future. Good luck to everyone with international marriages. I think apart from all these enlisted problems, it can be really rewarding and interesting – but everyone needs to be veeeery aware of these difficulties before entering.


2 Michelle July 29, 2013 at 3:01 am

Hi. International Marriage is a tough one, and I agree with most of your list. I think European marriage is slightly easier and less costly to visit your family at least! I’m English and married to a frenchman. I’m also very lucky that by coincidence we now/currently live in the same region of France as my parents (who moved here before us) and my husbands parents. So the kids are extremely lucky to have both sets of grandparents only a short drive away. I still miss my home country, although I’m sure it’s changed so much now I wouldn’t feel at home if I went back. The divorce and death points are both scary ones, but I imagine they’re scary for anyone!!


3 Wendy July 29, 2013 at 3:52 am

All of these are very on point!! I am from the U.S. and my Brazilian husband lives here with me. Luckily we live right across the street from my mother (we can wave to each other from our own houses!!) but my husband suffers a lot in missing his family in Brazil (we visit them once a year for a month at a time).


4 raju February 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Dear Wendy,

I am happy that you are so understanding to visit his family so often. God will definitely reward you for this. We are not going to be here for ever. So, keep it up. Your children will respect you for this.


5 Lori July 29, 2013 at 4:27 am

Yep… International marriage certainly is difficult, as is marriage in general, but it becomes especially difficult when your partner’s theory of integration means “think, eat, breath like you’re one them”. My husband and I have struggled for a long time. I have learned many things from him, and there are so many things I like/prefer about living here, but I suspect that I have never been able to teach my partner anything; that perhaps there is another way of dealing then the manner derived from his cultural background. Loneliness is the most difficult element in the relationship. I am quite an independent person and can find my way quite easily – I built a life on my own – but no matter how much I invest, a part of me will never be accepted, not even in my own home. Having said all of this, looking back I would probably do it again … all of the points listed are very well known to me … the funny part is that I ended up with a job at the university working with foreign students who share the points on the list even though not married. Having my own personal experiences has made me an ideal person for my position.


6 Kriselle July 29, 2013 at 6:28 am

Being an international couple living in a third country (Iceland), I totally relate with these challenges. Although we’re still not married, where to get married is also a problem. Our families and friends are scattered across the world and ideally we’d like to gather them all in our wedding!

Also, it’s soooo expensive to make these family visits! We still haven’t visited my birth place (Philippines) because it’s way cheaper to go to Spain (his birth place) than to Asia. We’ll need around $10000 to be able to go to Philippines. And a part of visits, it’s also a lot of job communicating with them. I make it a habit to have a yearly compilation of the best videos and pictures of our 4-year old child so that our families and friends are at least up to date even from afar.

We live in a complex situation but it’s also fun… We’re unique and people still are quite surprised that we make it work out. All these challenges make it very entertaining to raise our multilingual child and be a multicultural family.


7 Lynn @NomadMomDiary July 29, 2013 at 7:55 am

We are also a family of two foreigners living in a third country. While this brings it own challenges (neither family nearby, always having to travel to families during vacations), we are at least both foreigners in a foreign land together and we’ve had to learn to lean on one another for support and love along the way. Because neither of us has the advantage of celebrating their holidays or being in their comfort culture, we’ve been able to pick and choose the things that we love most and abandon all of the silly things that never interested us. Intercultural marriages are definitely not easy, but I’m not too convinced that they are really *that* much harder than any other marriage. If you love one another and truly want to be together, you’ll find a way to make it all work.


8 Stephanie July 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

I’m married to an immigrant (he lives in Canada now, as does his entire family), which makes a lot of this easier for us to deal with. But the language issue is definitely something to think about, especially when it comes to any future children. Both my husband and I have languages that are different from the majority language where we live. So we’d have to decide if we want our child to be trilingual. (In the long term? Yes, absolutely! In the very beginning? Tricky question.)

Cultural differences can be hard to navigate at first. Our first year together was all about compromise and figuring stuff out – like me convincing him that walking alone did NOT mean that I was going to get kidnapped. Ha!

Anyway, very interesting post!


9 sylwia July 29, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Absolutely yes yes yes…great post and very true. We also have those problems as a multicultural marriage (he is Pakistani,I am Polish) but still manage to be a happy one. We r both missing our families,cause we are living in the UK,so families r far far away :(


10 Beth Ortuno July 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I always say that if other people had to work through the types of questions my husband and I had no choice but to work through before they ever got to their first date much less their first wedding anniversary, there would be a lot more solid marriages around. There is nothing like a discussion of potentially grilling out fajitas instead of doing a turkey for Thanksgiving, or potentially missing a World Cup quarterfinal match in favor of sleep, to reveal your vulnerabilites and convince you to trust, listen and compromise. It can be a wild ride. It’s like you’re front-loading thirty years’ worth of marriage work into the first year. But I say all this as someone whose first spouse was from the same background as myself. “Things you have in common” will not save you, because interests and especially needs change as you add family being born/dying, health or sickness, prosperity or poverty, all the things that can happen. My current (happy) husband and I figured out from the first five minutes how to have a meaningful conversation when neither one of us was quite altogether speaking the same language as the other, identify what was vitally important each to the other, and come up together with what to do. How many people are married thirty years to someone feeling like the other person has never really listened to or understood them.


11 Dolinda July 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Even though I’m Dutch and my husband is American I find that a lot of these don’t apply to us as much. This is most likely due to the fact that I came here as a college exchange student at 17 and never left. I have now been in the US longer than my native country so I essentially did all my adult growing up here and feel most comfortable here in the US. I actually feel like a foreigner in my native country.
As far as family vacations go, it is very true but this applies to a lot of Americans as well. I have 2 stepdaughters who moved to the East Coast when they were 8 and 10. Until recently (they are now in college) we would go out and visit them several times a year as well or they would come to be with us. I think that in a country as big as the US it is not uncommon for families to visit family during their time off. It certainly is the case for us for both US and European family.
In case of divorce it luckily would not be an issue with our daughter. It is very unlikely that I will ever move back to my native country. This again goes back to basically doing all of my growing up here and getting my education here and having all my retirement and assets here. Plus I don’t really have the desire to ever move back. This is my second marriage and my mother thought for sure I would move back when I got divorced but it never crossed my mind (and the divorce really didn’t have anything to do with it being international in our case).
One thing I do struggle with (and we still have not really dealth with this) is not so much where I want to be buried (I’d likely want to be cremated anyway) but what to do for our 3 year old in case anything happens to mom and dad. My husband’s family would not be an option for guardianship. My family really is not either. My sister could do it but I would not want to uproot my daughter to another country if something happened to us. Financially it would be a nightmare as well (all the assets and inheritance that would be used to take care if her would be in the US). I would not want to saddle my stepdaughters with the responsibility of raising a young child at this point in their lives. In a few more years they would be happy to take on that responsibility however. Had my in laws been a lot younger (and us too :-)) this would probably not been as big an issue. In the mean time we have to figure out which friend to ask about potential guardianship which is easier said than done.
I think there is a lot of truth to all the statements made here but I think there are also a lot of variables. I believe that what may make international marriages more challenging also makes them more interesting :-)


12 Sami July 31, 2013 at 3:20 pm

BOTH of us are foreigners. I am “the American” one (a Puerto Rican in the U.S.) and my spouse is from Peru. We both have extremely different backgrounds in culture, religion, food, family and even our Spanish! There is still something in our accents that makes things confusing or even frustrating at times….However, we make it work and just learn from each other daily…or end up laughing… We have plans, we travel, we have goals. Just like any other so-called ‘normal’ couple. Knowing we are meant for each other is an added plus.


13 Frank August 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

Hey! I’m Chilean and my Fiancé is German. We both live in Chile now but next year we’ll move to Germany. We’re planning the wedding and we have realized that planning an international wedding is twice as complicated (and expensive!) as planning a regular one. Thinking of our guests who don’t speak a bit of one of the languages involved. My family only speak spanish and her family only speak german, plus our friends who only speak english. It’s been difficult thinking about translators, brouchures, invitations, and all the information in all 3 languages! Added is the fact that my family (a large one!) will have to flight all the way to Germany (that’s very expensive from South America). It’s challenging but also very interesting. Just as Corey, I wouldn’t trade my life with Annett.


14 Justine Ickes August 14, 2013 at 11:09 am

Finally, a post that talks about some of the challenging aspects of intercultural marriage! From films like “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Eat, Pray, Love”, you’d think all cross-cultural couples marry and sail off happily into the sunset. Thanks for writing this, Corey, and for initiating the conversation. I agree with all your points on your list and, while I also agree that some same-culture couples also struggle, I do think it takes more work to navigate these issues in a mixed culture relationship. Three other sticking points I’d add to your list are: 1) No shared memories from your childhood or youth – While it can be fun to learn about the different ways you grew up, I sometimes wish I could just mention a song or TV show or use some other cultural “shorthand” and my husband would instantly know what I was referring to. You know, like listening to the Beach Boys in the car on a summer day. 2) Deciding where to retire – My husband’s quite set on moving back home once he’s retired, whereas I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to be within striking distance of our kids. 3) Which brings me to my next issue – Where on earth will our kids end up living? Of course, I want them to choose the life they want to live and I’m glad we’ve exposed them to two cultures. But I sure hope they don’t up and move far away like their dad did. :-) I remember my mother-in-law wryly commenting on that possibility once.


15 Rick August 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm

It’s interesting because, while I agree with every one of the 10 points, I still find myself in disagreement with the title (your disclaimer duly noted). Despite all the challenges that you’ve accurately listed, I still feel like my life overall is much more rich and interesting due to the cultural differences of my Sicilian wife. Ironically, maybe that’s part of her influence on me: most Italians would much rather have an interesting life than an easy one.


16 Kyllie August 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Here, Here! My parents were both from different countries and because they didn’t understand each other’s cultural nuances, they made life a living hell for me as a kid. Don’t do it — for the children’s sake. They will live a life of hell.


17 Gleice Rudelli August 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I am brazilian and my husband is american, in the beggining of our wedding the cultural diferences were a challenge for us, we lived for 1 year in the Caribean and was amazing, in 2010 we moved to the US and had our 1st son, it was difficult to me as a 22yo new mother to take care of a NB by myself, since my mom’s visa was denied. My husband is the only child and besides his parents, has no family in the US.
Now I am pregnant with our 2nd child, leave in a different country with no friends or family around is difficult, I loved the post.


18 Brittany October 24, 2013 at 6:05 am

Hey Corey, great articles!

If you are still in/around Seattle, I hope you have gotten the chance to venture over the mountains to Leavenworth – a ‘Bavarian village’ right there in Washington! Maybe it’ll make your husband feel more at home around the Christmas season – that is when it is at it’s best. I know how he feels – I spent last Christmas in the Netherlands where their idea of ‘festivities’ is an extra nice piece of meat for dinner :( Back to Seattle this year!


19 Nadine Wichmann November 7, 2013 at 5:15 pm

All very good points. I am German and my husband is American and we live near Boston. I moved here 10 years ago and it still feels like I am the foreigner and he is at home. This sometimes leads to feelings of resentment, especially around the holidays when we spend time with his family and I miss out on my own personal experience. Christmas is just much more enjoyable in Germany ;)
Overall, the work that goes into an international marriage is so much more intense. The risks are higher and you start out with a whole additional package of potential problems. So far, it’s been worth it but I always tell people that they should not look for it because it comes with a lot of pain and heartache.


20 Charley Mears December 7, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I’m sorry you feel this way about your Marriage
To your German husband.
I’m 25 and have been dating a French Man
For a year. We are going to France
For Christmas. I don’t know the language
Very well but I’m looking forward to it.
I’m not sure how his parents will respond
To me, but I’m going to give it my best shot.
We talk about marriage and I would love to
Marry him.
I like our differences, and I’m sure times will
Be tough if we do marry.
I’m looking forward to it.
You brought up no thanksgiving in Germany
That’s your fault!
If my future and I move to France, I will celebrate
Thanksgiving, and bring new traditions with me.
Reading your post made sad.
It was like hearing a cranky man in his fortys
Telling me don’t get married- because he
Is having a bad marriage.
Grow up.


21 Kerry July 14, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Grow up?? It would seem to me you are the one who needs to grow up and consider this woman’s experiences she has lived through and is good enough to share.

I’m sure you will marry your lover. But maybe the article was annoying to you because it speaks truth.

No one is going to tell you not to marry a foreigner. But just stating the facts. If you don’t even know what they are , your’e already off to a naive start.


22 Jessie January 1, 2014 at 2:38 pm

I am afraid that everything about this list is true.
My ethnicity is Asian however am quiet assimilated to the Australian culture which is also a mix of various cultures. I have slept with numerous Australian guys but have dated an Austrian and now currently dating an Armenian.
Even though we have some similarities – (lack of) faith, music tastes, all quiet geeky, our culture seems to be this continuous gap. With myself, even though I am Asian I consider myself more Australian and my Austrian, when we were dating, would have some stereotypes about me, for example he emailed me this news article link about what some country villagers did (!!) from my country of birth.
As for the Armenian I am not sure yet but I can tell that there might be some things about our upbringing that we share but again there is that cultural divide…it doesn’t just pop up in the big events but also in the smaller details… for example, even conversations like travel he would bring up my “nationality privileged” which grates on me as I’ve had a rough upbringing.
I also dated an Australia who is a TCK (Third Culture Kid) and he would be jumping continents for work or for family reasons and during the times overseas would barely contact me because he was busy but when he and I are in the same country, he would have time. Eventually I decided not to get in touch with him, after ‘mourning’ him for a while and then moving on…
I am sure that there is still hope with marrying foreigners, as I don’t want to discount meeting someone potentially awesome just because of their nationality and I don’t date people because of their nationality…but I can tell that it’ll be a bumpy ride, especially if you are a couple both from a “third world culture” where you have to face your own, as well as your partner’s, racialised remarks…! But I honestly would rather have this than facing someone from a culture who has had a history (past or current) of thinking that they own the world!


23 John January 23, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Its sometimes feels like you’re the only one who has dealt with these things. There really needs to be a support group for foreign marriages. I’ve been married to a foreigner for nearly 20 years and it hasn’t gotten any easier. Now I live in fear of divorce and losing my kids. The D word isn’t in my vocabulary, but my spouse has been suffering from depression and often blames me for her loss of happiness. I think she believes that the solution is to split, and if we didn’t have kids I might just go along with it because it feels like there is no winning in pleading for her to get help. But sadly, a point may come where I have no choice in the matter and while my kids really are my reason for living, I can never imagine trying to take them away from their mother. I’ve never stopped loving her, but I can’t understand what she is going through and she doesn’t take my pleas for her to see someone as anything but attacks. If our marriage ends, I lose the 2 greatest things in my life…possibly having them move thousands of miles away with no way to have them in my life.

So yes- everything said here is 100% accurate. You don’t really choose who you fall in love with, but be prepared for an immensely difficult time as described above that could end with the most unthinkable losses…not just divorce, but divorce with the loss of your whole family in a way that makes you a stranger to them. You think you’ll never find yourself in this situation but you don’t have control how much or little someone else loves you. You can seemingly do everything right and still run up against mental illness and depression that poisons the situation…or sometimes the love just dies no matter what you try. That can happen in any relationship, but in an international marriage with kids, its most devastating. Every time they fly home with the kids and leave you behind, you wonder if you’ll see them again. Its like feeling your heart cut out again and again. Its hard to describe the pain except that it is sickeningly painful.


24 stacey March 31, 2014 at 3:54 am

John, that is sad. Take a deep breath and forget divorce for a minute, no matter what your wife is saying. Now, she is suffering from depression – is she getting help? Cognitive behaviour therapy? You won’t lose your kids at all. You are their dad and they need you regardless of what happens. Now, I met a lovely Finnish man in Cambodia once – his first wife (a Finn) had a depressive breakdown and eventually they divorced. He then was working in Asia alot and met a Thai lady who moved to finland for him and experienced the snow! He was much happier with her. Make sure you get your support network together where you are – your own friends and keep exercising and eating good food and see a marriage counsellor if you need to.


25 ricky January 27, 2014 at 5:18 am

My wife is german and im a kiwi. Pretty rough at times but for a happy life we need to state two things in our minds.

- Enjoy the company at present, don’t look back too much.
- Embrace that we have hard but very interesting life, not a boring one.


26 CK2014 January 28, 2014 at 6:29 am

I’m an American married to a Dutch and currently living in Holland. We recently celebrated our one year anniversary. We are of two different nationality, culture and ethnicity. (I’m Asian and he’s Caucasion) We met in 2003 so I’ve had a chance to visit Holland several times before tying the know. But I was very indecisive about marriage until the last minute because of my adjustment issues and not ‘Really’ liking Holland all that much. Sometimes I feel like I made the wrong choice and wish I had never married. To this day, the thought of divorce crosses my mind every few days. Not sure if that’s a warning sign. So far we don’t have kids so I’m still confused about what my heart is telling me.


27 KDKPRUS January 31, 2014 at 7:56 am

Corey and all the people who have posted comments have made some excellent points here. My parents have been in an international marriage (Denmark and Puerto Rico) for the past 25+ years. This situation led me to grow up in Puerto Rico, Denmark, and the United States during the first twenty-three years of my life. I have witnessed every one of the ten points that Corey raises in the post except for #7 (if it ever was an issue it was always kept from the kids). For instance, for my Danish father, Christmas always meant a quiet celebration with snow, rain, and candles in the window, so for him, Christmas in Puerto Rico – where it is hot and celebrations last a month and are rather noisy and loud – never truly felt the same. For my mother, the taciturn and distant Scandinavian disposition was cold, impersonal, and unfriendly. Both of my parents came from tight-knit families, so constantly being far from one side of the family was difficult, and as a result I never formed close relationships with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and to this day I still feel shy around them.

Nevertheless, I think certain elements can affect the success of an international marriage. Please note that I don’t have scientific proof for these assertions – these are simply personal thoughts and reflections based upon my experiences. If the couple is located in a third country, it might be perceived as “fairer” in that neither partner is in his/her native country, close to family and surrounded by a familiar language. For instance, upon moving to the United States, neither my father nor my mother had any relatives in the country, which was a departure from having previously lived in Puerto Rico and Denmark. I also believe that humility is very important, especially in learning the local language. For instance, my father was not afraid to look silly in stores in Puerto Rico, and if he could not communicate in Spanish, he would resort to sign language, funny faces, etc. It generated laughs (and blushes from me), but it worked for him. I also think that another key element is trying to maintain traditions from both sides of the family in the home, even in a modified form. For instance, even in frigid Denmark we would go outside on the night of January 5 and pick grass to put in a shoebox for the Three Kings’ camels, who were making a special trip from Puerto Rico to leave us our Epiphany presents. In the sweltering Caribbean heat of Puerto Rico, the Julenisse (a Danish Christmas elf) delivered presents on Christmas Eve. Because we moved back and forth a lot, my parents thought it important to cultivate knowledge of each culture to facilitate our re-entry, but I think it was also a way of showing respect and valuing each other’s culture.

International marriages also have important consequences for the children of such relationships. First and foremost, there can be strong identity issues. For children who have a mixed background or who grew up in multiple locations, answering the question “Where are you from?” can be very difficult (I still struggle to give succinct and concise answers). There is also the possibility of rejection from peers in each “constituent” or host culture. For instance, my Puerto Rican family always viewed me as Danish, but the Danes swore that I was not truly one of them because fifty percent of me came from Latin America. Upon moving to the United States, I did not (nor do I still) feel “American” even though I attended high school and college here (I definitely have become Americanized, but I still feel awkward waving an American flag or identifying as “American” while abroad). Then, of course, there is the “politics” of language usage at home: if both parents speak different languages, but the children prefer one or the other, are they implicitly preferring that parent to the other? I don’t necessarily think so, but I have a few friends who occasionally use language to exclude one parent, which can lead to hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

Thus, I think what I’m going for with all this rambling is that international marriages have significant effects for everyone involved, parents and children alike. The most interesting aspect is how each couple chooses to go about addressing these issues. There is no failsafe method, and I think each international couple/family will make mistakes, rectify as needed, and most importantly, learn together.


28 ricky January 31, 2014 at 9:08 am

@ KDKPRUS, Love your outlook!


29 Stephanie February 23, 2014 at 4:30 am

I’m so thankful I stumbled on this article! also i loved reading everyones stories.
I’m an American girl in a serious relationship With a german boy. He came to the US for aviation school 2 years ago. I can’t imagine life without him now. after he finishes school he has 90 days to get a job in aviation. Otherwise he has to move back to germany. It has puts an added pressure on us to be married so we don’t ever have to be apart. although we do plan on getting married someday how the hell would I plan a german/american wedding?? Its very unlikely our familes will both attend our wedding because planes tickets are so expensive. It breaks my heart thinking my dad couldn’t walk me down the isle.
However That is only one day in our life together. My sweet German sauerkraut took me to germany to meet his wonderful family and travel his country last summer and a surprise trip home with him for Christmas! I’m so blessed to get the chance to see places I never even dreamed of. I like what the kiwi said we live a hard but intresting life. Never boring.


30 Thanks Always Returns March 7, 2014 at 11:08 am

Americans, at least those not from the larger and more multicultural cities, tend to be very provincial. With all the pressure for flag-waving church-going conformity, any American typically would like to watch the same sitcoms, eat the same fast food, and do the same things overall as every other American. Why then do so many marry foreigners? Is it out of a suddenly-found cosmopolitan or inclusive attitude that pops up in enlightened individuals, or is the key element simple desperation? For more thoughts on this topic, check out…


31 Ian March 9, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Well.. Me (from Prague), my wife (from Istanbul) and our baby-girl living in Prague. All points listed up there are truth. But if you count to it completely different religion – my wife is “muslim” and me atheist. Even more complicated situations – so many questions, many of them can not be answered or solved. Many times I have asked myself, if this is really worth it. After nine years of chess everything worked out. I am happy and i love my wife and our baby more and more, yet there is one major issue, which probably never will be sorted, because it is point, where my wife doesn´t want to make any compromise even little one. And after all we went through I feel like it is some joke. It is my brother, which lives just next door. He used to be kind of guy, which lived rebel life – drinking and plenty of different girls – some of them drunk been even knocking at our doors. He didn´t really care about anything then himself. Yet, he have suddenly changed, found himself some girl and after 4-5 months she have got pregnant with him and now he would like to make big line behind his previous life. He it is still that kind of way ignorant, though it is in somehow acceptable – noone is perfect. Yet, my wife doesn´t accept this. I understand her feelings about this, though I feel everyone deserves second chance and that is something, she doesn´t wanna give. She doesn´t accept my brothers girl as his – even talks about how she doesn´t trust that it is his son. And that is where comes another problem, whenever I try to speak with my brother – there is problem, but if I try to speak to his girlfriend – there is fire on the roof. She doesn´t want to make any compromise – I do.. So I am speaking time to time (once a month or so) with them and keep Eye on my nephew – which will never really see his uncle. And this is some big heart-breaking issue, which I do not really know how to take care of. I love my wife, yet I know she is very ignorant in some things. There is no middle way at this point. If we lived in some other country – it would have been probably more easy. Because of the baby-girl and economic part – this is almost impossible. So, when people say, that it is difficult to live in country of the other, it is not always truth. There is nothing worst, when you living next to your brother and you can not speak to him without direct argument wife your wife. Everytime this happends, i feel like to take my MTB and just go off cliff. How many times I can stand this before I do something stupid? I do not know..


32 danis green March 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm

i found this essay ridiculous. i ‘ve been married 25 years, married to my Turkish husband and living in Istanbul since we met. All I can say is, get over yourselves! No one is guaranteed a successful marriage. The divorce rate is 51% in my home town in Oregon. Language issues can be cercone by working on it, for goodness sake! language is like a muscle: use it or lose it. My husband and I are completely flenr in each others language– but i know alot of mixed couple who don’t. holidays? creAte your own meaning. i once decorated a ficus benjamina fir Christmas. Thanksgiving we just make ou favorite foods and give thanks, which is the point. And you can find turkey in Germany, as well as people celebrating Thanksgiving American style. i did it myself in 1981. Man up!


33 Engagement Ring Singapore March 15, 2014 at 5:22 am

Yes, there are various reasons that we should not marry a foreigner. If you do this then you ahve to face lots of difficulties like tradition change, religion change, long distances from family members etc. It is very difficult to understand a person that do not belongs to our caste, religion, country etc. Our children will also face lots of difficulties from this type of marriage.Thanks for sharing this post.


34 Andrea April 5, 2014 at 8:14 am

This is very true. We live close to Seattle as well, only in the more ‘typical’ international marriage, where my husband is American, and I am German. I can identify with all of the points you are making in your blog, but will also emphasize that I would not trade my life for anything, because it broadens my own horizon, and my views of the world, and its people tremendously, and I would have never thought (and a lot of people that I’ve known during my life in Germany would probably tell you the same) that I would make it alone in a foreign country…. which is where my husband comes in. He has helped me make our house a home, and I feel very comfortable and at home here. I do miss my family, but not so much my country, and we are planning on staying, and raising our daughter here in the Pacific Northwest. :)


35 zab April 9, 2014 at 6:56 am

been married to an Italian, who is British citizen, and Me from Ethiopia, and Living in London. Now divorced- too tough as we had properties in Ethiopia too.
Thank God we did not have children. Due to my job (Media) had a chance to travel to many countries and I love and respect other cultures and fit in easily. – speak 4 language. My ex never wanted to experiance other culture- which is unlike me. Never wanted to go out doors- only luxury (semi luxury) hotels. Me total rough traveler.
Her family live in US and Africa. How can poor me fit my life, visiting family (mainly hers) and living in london in good balance? I could not and was ended with regrets. Yes international marriage has big big challenges. The only reward I would say is the new friends I made during the marriage.


36 Isena April 24, 2014 at 4:33 pm

I met him in Dubai he is PakistanI I am Turkish…we got married very difficult due to his parents not accepting me…now his parents want to have their own traditional wedding. So difficult…and my husband keeps listening to his parent’s and wont give me a baby…suffering since 4 years…culture religion..how we humans get screwed over…I wish someone would prove how man made everything is.


37 Annie May 3, 2014 at 3:34 am

Thank you for the article. I am an American living in my husband’s non-english speaking country. I have 4 kids, my hubby travels internationally 30 to 40 percent each year, so I often feel like a single mom. We attend a church his parents started and attend, including his two sisters and their family. It has not been easy but my husband was the one for me. I wanted to do missions work, but not in this country and not with my in-laws, this is not what I thought. God’s thoughts are not ours and His ways are also not ours.
Looking back on these years, I can absolutely understand each point in your article, but each point I experienced with the help of my Best Friend. I have a deeper appreciation for what Christ did for me, leaving his perfect, comfortable place, to live a life full of difficulty for me out of love. All be it, I have not been persecuted, I have felt like the outsider, even to my husband and his family while living in this country. But it gives an opportunity to be a light even more that I would have been in the good old USA. The title to this article is a bit strong, but the points were right on the dot.


38 JSS May 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Well, my husband is French and we do just fine. The only negative thing I have like experienced is that I would I would like it if his mom lived closer, she does visit us and stays several months a year, but my mom is dead and I don’t have a lot of family, so I wish his were closer. We don’t have many cultural misunderstandings as both of us are pretty laid back and well-traveled and understand the different ways of thinking. We just let each other be ourselves and don’t take every little thing personally. I was, however, with an Israeli guy for a few years before I met my husband and you wanna talk about cultural problems?! I lived with him in Israel and he and his family ran my entire life for me. Yes, I think sometimes, it can be a bad thing!! Just gotta find the right (and sane) guy and all will be well!!


39 Petra Roberts May 27, 2014 at 9:29 am

Finally someone who has the courage the say these things out loud. I wish I had more sense and someone told me all this 4 years ago. We are now engaged, living in a third country (where we met) , and at cross roads where to go next. He wants work experience somewhere further away for both of us and doesn’t think he will be happy in my country. I see no other way for me to be happy other than to move back home. The more we talk about it, the more it looks like we are parting ways.


40 rubi June 4, 2014 at 3:49 am

hi there my name is rubi it is very tough but i try to adjust hey if we got married is because we love each other therefore we should try to make things work. i am Dominican but was raised in the U.S. then i met my husband who is Faroese it is very hard to adjust here especialy since the women are always perfect in evrything they do like robots that can bake and knitt. i have just gotten my papers together he wants me to work right away so that i wont get bored being here but im a bit iffy in finding a job if i cannot speak the language :( i will try my best though. i also feel like an outsider when we have family gatherings which is alot of times especially since we do not have kids yet and his brothers wives all they talk about is their babies and you know how that makes a woman feel. in all i take it one day at a time and have faith in what is ahead . with faith anything is possible best of luck to you :D


41 Katy S June 7, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Yah right I totally agree I am a foreigner too and it’s almost like impossible to make it work. I’m trying so hard to not fall in love here, because I know it will ruin my life totally. Seems not a big deal to leave your home country and say oh I’m this but I live here peace yolo, but it is actually one of the hardest thing that you can deal with, and only people can understand who experienced it. It is different to live in a country and to visit it.


42 killswitch June 16, 2014 at 7:08 am

This article is ridiculous. As are the reasons for not marrying the foreigner. “Where will we be buried?” for real? This is absurd.


43 Carol June 20, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Wow, how judgemental of you. Perhaps a little more empathy and a little less nastiness would be a good idea.


44 Renata June 20, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I’ve gotta say feel for all you guys. I’m not worried about where I will be buried (though I have to say I agree with Carol, just above) but it’s been a long tough road being an American women married to a Tibetan man. I have felt many of the problems mentioned above, but the hardest thing for me is how his culture feels about women – I will never be his equal in his eyes or in the eyes of his family and (Tibetan) friends. This really only comes out when we argue but it’s been pretty awful. Still, for most of the time it has been a wonderful experience – when he’s feeling good he’s a wonderful husband and person to be around. I know a couple of American men married to Tibetan women, and that seems to work a lot better. My friends don’t try and put their wives “in their place” when they argue, and their wives seem thrilled not to be treated like that. The future for us two ? I don’t know. He seems to be getting more irritable as he gets older and I’m not sure if I want to grow old being treated like a servant when he gets into a bad mood. If it keeps getting worse I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to take. Good luck to us all !


45 Andy July 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm

This must be the worst article I have ever read. OK so I made it through the first three reasons and then read the conclusion. When love is involved and two people want to create a relationship, why should all this BS that this moron wrote matter?


46 Mary July 5, 2014 at 5:57 am

Currently very confused as to what to do, im engaged to an american but live in the UK, my main issue is moving away from my family, my dad died 4 years ago so me my mum and brother are very close, the thought of leaving them hurts. But my fiance is joining the us police force and i have no clue what career path i want so it makes sense for me to move there, dont think he would ever move to the UK purely because of his chosen career. Im terrified of moving, everything ive ever known is here in the UK, he talks about it like its so simple to jus move there and hasnt mentioned my family probably cus he live states away form his own. Everyday i wonder if im doing the right thing, i love him but i feel like im chosing between my family at present and the possibiility of a future family.going to see him in August hoping to clear some light on the problem then, maybe we could compromise somehow. I guess God will show my path at some point


47 Jennifer Mieles July 6, 2014 at 9:57 am

I am in the same boat :( except i have worst problems cause my inlaws hate me more than anything… my husband is from ecuador i am American he hates living in the US I hate Ecuador with passion each time we go on vacation its like hell for me and my mil hates me treats me like dirt and doesn’t accept me in 20 days we are moving to Ecuador to give it a chance and I am so down… we have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and I am so worried about them each time we go they get sick my 1 year old doesn’t do good with their diapers and their culture is just so different my 3 year old hardly knows Spanish and I don’t know how this is going to end I sometimes think of getting a divorce but I love him so much I just don’t know what to do we’ve been married for 5 years and I don’t want to lose him but I just don’t see this working… I wish I would have seen an article like this 5 years ago :(


48 Gautam July 13, 2014 at 8:01 am

Dear all of you,
I really realized the truthness and emotion behind all the above post. However, i just need to ask that. Do we think that, everything goes well in the case of marrying in same culture, even in same country, even in same state, even in same district, even marrying to near by home??? I dont understand what is the main reason behind the odds of married life, please look at in general… May be i am confused.. sorry.


49 Rosette July 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

I supposed all the 10 reasons does not applied to me :) I have more good reason to marry my husband coz I do not wish to marry my kind hehehehe. With my husband, I can be myself, I know more about me when I am with him. One of the reason is that we live in the Philippines and we go abroad for holidays. On the other hand he does not mind adopting to Philippine culture. I made him eat rice, kangkong, chillies, and made him love tanduay rum and tuba. With the internet you don’t feel like you are disconnected from your family and friends unless they don’t have it and don’t know how to use it. Thanks to facebook, yahoo, cellphone life is getting much easier to adopt.


50 Kerry July 14, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Everything you said is absolutely true. There are many joys of marrying a foreigner but it is a commitment unlike marrying someone of your own nationality. When we are young we are unconquerable and believe love can solve everything. But reality is different. And what a younger person does not know is that the older you get , the more you need and desire to have you family, friends, people and traditions around you.

I have lived in a foreign country now for half my life. I am currently separated and have six children , two of them still young and dependent on me. I really would love to go home but I can not. I can not see anymore happiness for me here.


51 Tuse July 15, 2014 at 5:04 pm

My son married a German when he was 19, he’s now 30. I cannot count on two hands how many times we have seen him and my granddaughter in all of these years despite his wife stating it would be easy to visit as she worked for airlines. It’s not like I can freely visit, relocate to be closer, or take a road trip to see him. It is heart wrenching and yet bittersweet, knowing that he has built a wonderful life for himself and his family, yet one his sister, nephews and I cannot share. So sad, miss my family.


52 Emma July 18, 2014 at 1:44 am

I am a daughter of an international couple. I never lived in their countries and I was brought up in +5 countries. My grandparents and uncles and aunts have also moved out of our countries, so we never had an anchor back to the countries our passports are from. Maybe we didn’t maintain any old holiday customs, but we made our own, which in my opinion is fantastic. I also speak 5 languages fluently and understand most cultures and I am open-minded to those I have not had the chance to see / be part of yet. Also, I believe home is where your family and friends are, which means I feel at home in at least 6 countries. The only con I can find which is different from the “born and raised in the same place” kids is that I have no idea how to respond the where are you from question.
If you find the love of your life and s/he is a foreigner, go for it! I think the pros beat the cons on this one. One’s nationality shouldn’t stop you from living with the one you love.


53 Mel July 20, 2014 at 3:11 am

All of the reasons are valid and I have experienced many of these. No relationship is easy, but when a relationship with a foreigner transpires this can add a level of complication. Adjusting to social norms, customs, being homesick, and getting to really know each other before taking the plunge is frustrating at times. My GF is from England I am from the U.S. We don’t want to get married, but it is very difficult for her to work or stay in the U.S. We have been doing the 90 day visitors VISA…. But this can’t continue long term. Although being with her is very alluring, it has caused a lot of sadness because of the limitations. My fear is this will be too overwhelming to even allow us a fair chance as making the core relationship successful. We love each other, but this is a big burden to bare. It is unfortunate that at times no matter how much you love someone obstacles beyond the love and relationship make it nearly impossible to know if you have met the love of your life.


54 Ana O. July 21, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I definitely agree with all the points mentioned here. I am mexican and my husband is english. My husband moved to Mexico before we got married and he lived there for 5 years. He used to go back to England every year for about a month or more while living in Mexico (we were not married then). We married after our first son was born and we moved to the US. So far I have found this to be a good middle place to be – not my home country, not his. It is close to Mexico and not as far from England. In regards to the holidays, it is easy for our families to visit us so we don’t have to spend all our money in travelling abroad. However I have found that this particular point can also be a bit of a problem if you don’t get along well with your spouse’s family or if your spouse cannot cut the apron strings (which is worse). In my case, his parents have stayed with us twice, for 2 weeks long every time. His parents are quite stubborn. His dad drinks a lot and moans about everything and somehow my husband feels like it is our duty to listen to everything he says. His mother takes over the house and sorts out things the way she thinks best, and she is quite nosey about our personal finances and decisions. So as you can imagine, having them over for 2 straight weeks is not the most joyful of experiences for me. Anyway, my point is that the visiting point can be quite a struggle. If you ask me, I’d rather get hit by lightning than have them over again.


55 Carissa July 23, 2014 at 7:49 am

I am Australian and am married to an Algerian. We met and married in Australia where he was a refugee. We lived there for 10 1/2 years and had 9 children. Eighteen months ago we moved to Algeria to live. We were happy in Australia but the plan was always to come here to live. So when we had everything sorted we moved here permenantly.
It has been a real struggle for the kids and I and my husband is no so supportive of the emotional needs that we have had. He listens to his family over me all the time and I feel constantly inadequate and as an outsider. I have found that my husband really adds to this especially when we argue and he tells me he will put me on a plane back to Australia.


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