Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Can You Experience Culture Shock When You Get Married?

Someone once told me that when you got married you experienced something very similar to the Curve of Cultural Adaptation.

According to this curve during the first few weeks you find everything very exciting, people treat you nicely, there is a lot to learn and to see... you are in a state of euforia.

After some time, you start to get used to your new routine and you start to notice the imperfections of your new world, people are not so forgiving of your mistakes and you start to feel frustrated about unexpected behaviours due to cultural differences.

After that culture shock you start to learn more about this new place and the underlying aspects behind music, cuisine, language, etc and you start to understand the behaviours, attitudes and customs; you start to adapt to them and you begin to feel that you belong to this new culture. Your vision of the world becomes more objective and you are able to appreciate the good things just as they are and you accept the bad things.

If we were to compare these stages to what you go through when you get married, I think you will agree with me that the experience is very similar. Getting to share your whole life with someone with a different educational background, with different beliefs and who has travelled the world through a different path can be compared to moving to a totally different country. You also go through that period in which everything seems perfect until you fall into a routine and start noticing the imperfections. Coming out of that difficult stage is also a matter of adaptation, understanding and flexibility, and being successful is also dependant on how open and eager to learn from each other both parties are and how much effort you put into making it work day after day.

So, if you are married and planning to relocate, or if you are an expat planning on getting married, think about it this way... you have already experienced the stages of cultural adaptation, so it won't be too hard to do it this time around.
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