International and multicultural couples must usually cope with a higher degree of stress. Many stress factors affect couples but multicultural and international couples undergo a decisively more stressful environment. Can you think of what are the stress factors for you and your couple? After Stress factors and stress management for international couples – Part 1, this week we are publishing Part 2.
How will be my kids be brought up?
Kids and how to choose the best way to bring them up is a huge source of stress for couples in general. International couples and multicultural families, in particular, have a number of additional stress factors that affect the way children will be brought up. Which language they will speak, for starters, is a huge dilemma and parents need to go through the topic very thoroughly. A number of resources on the topic are actually available on the net. Almost every parents choose to let their babies grow up bilingual and the benefits are multiple (for more information on the benefit of languages go to Why should you learn the local language when you expat? and 10 Proven Brain Benefits of Being Bilingual).
Another children-related worry involves the cultural identity that they will absorbe. Will the kids mainly pick up the culture of the place where they are living or will they assimilate their parent’s cultre as well? Most probably, they will pick up elements from both cultures and, if you are a bi-national couple living in a third country, then they will assimilate elements from the three cultures. This, therefore, will put a strain on the child and on the family as a whole. How to cope with this kind of pressure? (stay tuned, an interview with Therese Bogan, MFT is coming soon).
How much travelling can I handle?
Travelling and relocating are constant elements for international couples. Travelling time, though, needs to be managed properly because, at some point, one spouse or both partners in the couple will get tired of travelling and of seeing luggage about the house. Spouses can help each other out quite a lot. The one in the couple that has more spare time should support the spouse that is more stressed about travelling. Through family talk, which is a great mean for nailing family issues, couples can figure out who is the spouse that is being more affected by travelling. In those cases a relaxing home helps a great deal. The spouse that is being affected the lease must sacrifice a bit of their time and do whatever hey can to minimize the hassle for the partner. A typical example involves weekend activities. If somebody is affected by travelling, it is a winning idea to limit the time spent on travelling over weekends and to organize programs that involve less travelling, if any. Such activites would involve visiting local museums or places and spend as little time as possible driving or stuck in traffic. These issues are not an individual problem but represent family issues and should be treated accordingly with the help of the spouse.
How will my family react to my relationship?
Succeding in getting the approval of your family and in-laws is paramount. When we are backed up an supported in our decisions and choices, we go through life with a more secure attitude and the benefits are tangible. Basically, we have less issues to worry about.
Getting support and recognition from your family will also make you able to transfer a sense of family union and support to your children.
How much is it going to cost us?
International couples need to apply extra care to the management of their family finances. Such couples, indeed, need to keep track of all their expenses and to plan at their best. Young international and multicultural couples are usually good at that but when routine settles in, it becomes more difficult to manage expenses well. Small expenses, in particular, must be kept an eye on since, when they add up at the end of the month, they tend to be larger than expected. The expenses connected to certain areas must be scrutinined constantly:
a. Communication expenses
In order to communicate with your family and friends, keep using free sotware applications. There are loads of Iphone and Android applications, in addition to Skype-like software that allows you to call many countries for free (for more information on the such tools have a go at PAIR: the app for long-distance relationships. An interview with Oleg Kostour and Your Stories: How Skype Has Brought Our International Family Together).
b. Family holidays
Holidays can put a great strain on to couples. Families, in fact, can create a great deal of stress by subtly pushing you to travel a lot on such occasions. Try to balance the love for your families with the expenses that follow suit.
In addition to the medical and emotional hurdle that homesickness bring, the financial downside is usually overlooked. In fact, one of the first reactions to contrast homesickness is to travel more often to place you long to be. Make sure that you can afford that (our posts on home sickness).
How do you approach these stress factors? Are they easy to cope with? Share your thoughts with us!