Publication Date

11-2007

Abstract

This study examined cross-national couples’ profiles and lived experiences and focused on what interculturalists can extract from their successful interactions, conflict negotiation aptitudes, experiences with marginality, and interpersonal cultural adaptation skills. This international study was conducted by interviewing, via an anonymous electronic questionnaire, 66 people who are currently in a cross-national couple. Question types were checklists, Likert-type scales, multiple-choice, and free-text responses. The participants consisted of a multitude of nationalities, a mixture of sexual orientations, and a variety of conjugality stati. The results of this study indicate that most cross-national couples are not surprised that they are in an intercultural couple. Of the ones who were abroad when they met, they often were students. Most experienced at least some level of marginality in their home country and most report having developed their intercultural communication skills prior to settling with their current partner. Curiosity was reported as the number one trait possessed previous to the relationship. Knowledge of partner’s country was found to be the skill that most people had gained during the relationship and communication was the skill most utilized to gain intercultural communication competence. Also noteworthy is that couples reported that “special” skills were not required for successfully dealing with conflict in cross-national couples and that all couple conflict should be dealt with similarly—thus broadening the range of this study’s applicability. The results of this paper could be useful to inform therapists and counselors, intercultural trainers and coaches, couples in or considering cross-national relationships, and people wishing to learn more about intercultural coping and negotiating skills such as business people, aid workers, NGO workers, military personnel, missionaries, study abroad students etc.

Disciplines

Family, Life Course, and Society | International and Intercultural Communication

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