What are the keys to a healthy intercultural relationship?

People are increasingly dating and marrying outside of their culture. A new study published in the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development has explored how cultural values affect various aspects of relationships, such as attachment, relationship satisfaction, and conflict management.

Individuals with secure attachment (in which they value their partner and emphasize mutual support) had greater relationship satisfaction and were more likely to compromise during conflicts. Belief in family solidarity, adherence to traditions, and relationship equality as well as less support of traditional gender roles were associated with greater relationship satisfaction. Also, when both partners viewed one another as equals, both sides were more open to the other’s ideas and perspectives—a key factor in healthy conflict resolution.

“We were inspired to conduct this study given the number of intercultural couples we were seeing around us. Each person brings a different cultural framework to their relationship,” said co-author Grace Paradis, Ph.D., of California State University, Stanislaus. “While we predicted secure attachment and healthy conflict management strategies would be important aspects of relationship satisfaction, we were surprised at how beliefs about gender roles played into it too. Overall, intercultural couples may experience challenges, but they also have a lot of strengths and resources that can help them have great relationship satisfaction.”