A healthy relationship has its disagreements and arguments, along with the happy moments. Communication is the most important, but it can also be the the hardest part of a relationship with someone of a different background. There will be times when you don’t know how to express your feelings in your partner’s language, or you misunderstand each other without realizing it. What you don’t want to experience is the both of you exchanging hurtful words you didn’t mean. Someone walks out the door or he turns his back. You both really want to make up, but you don’t know how.
In order for your relationship to be a lasting and meaningful one, you need to learn to see from each other’s point of view, but if your partner’s background and beliefs are so different from yours, how do you manage? Your best teacher will be experience and an open mind. If you treat your interactions with care, you will gradually come to understand each other better. What exactly should you be careful about? Here are some points to keep in mind when you and your partner are having a disagreement.
Words sound bigger and scarier in a different language
Emotional outbursts, sounds of irritation, and especially cursing may come off as more intimidating than you think, especially when spoken in a different language. You will observe the same if your partner does this often. Though you may think you are being rational, to someone else you will appear more heated than you intend.
Most likely your gestures and expressions of anger are new to him or her. Every culture has its own way of expressing anger and, what I notice about the Japanese is that most of them are relatively reserved, even in anger. You might not even notice at first that they are displeased with something, because few of them throw their hands up in the air or curse. Rather, they can be quietly seething by themselves.
Avoid being too emotional
If you must let off steam, do it alone before talking with your partner. You’ll find them to be more receptive to what you have to say if you talk and explain your feelings, rather than trying to display them. Tears are okay, you need not dam it all in, but be aware that it won’t have much if any effect on how your partner feels. Rather than slamming the door, which will only make them turn away, try saying honestly that you are angry about something because so and so, or that you are unhappy and want to change something.
Always always remember your different backgrounds
Never assume your beliefs are the same and don’t be judgmental about the differences. Just because he doesn’t call everyday it doesn’t mean he dislikes talking to you. Maybe talking to you makes him miss you so much that he doesn’t call. Or maybe in your country women pay for themselves, but your partner has different expectations. Whatever the case, when you realize you and your partner have different expectations due to different cultural backgrounds, you need not feel upset or criticize your partner for how he or she thinks.
Accept that your partner has their own way of thinking and work to communicate clearly
Don’t demand to have your way. Talk and decide peacefully, sometimes compromising when necessary. If your opinions are irreconcilable, sometimes it is better to just ask him to forgive you one wagamama, just one act of selfishness, and he will relent. And if he does, please be sure to thank him.
There are no shortcuts or neat tricks for resolving a disagreement
The silent treatment or waiting for him to give up almost never works. If you say you never want to see him again, don’t expect he will come running after you begging you to come back to him. He will probably wait until you say you want to talk again. Similarly, blindly apologizing to your girlfriend just to make up will probably make your girlfriend angrier. She feels the need to get at the root of the problem even if you simply just want to be together again.
Talking it through is the only solution
And if you want to take a first step, little tokens and small gestures of how you care are important even in the midst of an argument. A small token of peace (not too big or it will seem like a bribe) might be good to melt a little of the icy buildup between you. Maybe a small can of coffee left on the table, or his favorite shu-creme on his desk will send a message. Once your partner feels assured you still care, you can find the time to talk things over properly and you can both explain your thoughts and listen to each other.
Remind yourself of what you like about your partner and show appreciation first before speaking your mind
If you get completely on the offensive, your partner will feel like you he or she is just getting blamed. Sometimes you need to soften your words in order to communicate. Say you appreciate how he always worries about you, or how you recognize that she is always doing her best. In this way you can also remind yourself that you have your good moments, and this reminder will help you to feel better as well.
Perhaps the most important of all: patience
Patience is what will make both of you happy. Patience, a large heart and an open mind to accept your partner for who they are. Though your romantic relationship may be a rough and craggy road, there will always be fantastic views waiting for you down the line. It may not be the easiest adventure, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that the two of you are undertaking the challenge together.
Tricia / Philippines