Intercultural marriages can pose a challenge

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    By Annie Wong

    ?Hon, is dinner ready?? A question like this sounds simple enough, yet cooking is challenging for Jennifer Canar because she has to prepare two different types of meals at a time.

    ?From time to time I have to give in with what I like to eat,? said Canar, from Arcadia, Fla., who married a BYU student from Ecuador last July.

    She says besides food, language and cultural differences are the other obstacles she and her husband have to deal with.

    ?It would have been very hard for us if I had not served my mission in Argentina or known Spanish,? Canar said. ?Due to our cultural differences, we have to try hard to understand what the other one is thinking.?

    Canar is not the only one facing challenges. With the wide cultural diversity at BYU, cross-cultural marriages become common on campus.

    Yuan Mitchell, 21, a junior from China majoring in Linguistics, married a returned missionary from a Mandarin speaking mission last year. The couple still has misunderstandings though they both have high proficiency in English and Mandarin.

    ?Sometimes I would say things [in English] that offended him when I didn?t mean to,? Mitchell said. ?But because I have good English he thought I did it on purpose.?

    Bron Ingoldsby, a BYU family life professor, said the divorce rate tends to be higher in intercultural marriages because different cultures have separate ideas about gender roles.

    ?We tend to think that people we love have the same ideas as we do,? Ingoldsby said. ?When they don?t, we think they aren?t as smart as we are.?

    Although these couples face challenges, they said that obstacles could be overcome through communication, patience and understanding.

    For example, when the couples embrace each other?s differences, and learn how to compromise, but not to change each other, a stronger relationship can be developed, Ingoldsby said.

    Similarities, such as common religious beliefs between two LDS individuals, also help to build a solid foundation for their marriage.

    ?Because the marriage is eternal, we know that we have to work things out,? Canar said.

    There is so much to deal with in intercultural marriages, but the uniqueness of the relationship can be very rewarding for the individuals.

    Mitchell believes her marriage is very exciting because there?s always something new for her to discover. She found her mind was broadened to a wider perspective of the world.

    ?We can take what we want from both cultures and use the best of each culture in our family,? Canar said.

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