Cross-Cultural & Interfaith Relationship Counselling

As an incredibly diverse country, cross-cultural relationships and inter-faith marriages are becoming more commonplace in Australia, but they are not without their challenges. Many couples with differing backgrounds or faiths often seek cross-cultural relationship counselling or interfaith marriage counselling to keep their relationship healthy.

Almost 30% of the Australian population is born overseas. As a culturally diverse country, cross-cultural relationships are becoming increasingly common. In 2018, 1 in every 3 marriages in Australia featured couples from different cultures, compared to just 18% in 2006 (Australian Bureau of Statistics). 

It’s no secret that a lot of work goes into making a relationship work, and this rings true for many cross-cultural relationships. Cross-cultural relationship counselling and interfaith marriage counselling exist to help couples maintain their relationship and overcome obstacles that cause tension or unhappiness.

Common Issues in Interfaith Marriages

Being in a cross-cultural relationship is a multifaceted journey where you and your partner discover each other’s uniqueness and develop common understandings. But things aren’t always smooth sailing, especially when it comes to deep-rooted cultural taboos, practices, and mindsets. 

Tension or disagreements can arise in cross-cultural relationships from issues such as:

Gender Roles — Some cultures or faiths may have traditions where individuals are assigned specific family responsibilities based on their gender, and this can be carried into the relationship, causing unhappiness when parties are unwillingly confined to a particular role. 

Perceptions of Modesty — Physical appearances and clothing are often a sign of modesty in some cultures and faiths. Certain styles of dressing may be considered inappropriate by others, resulting in disapproval from partners and their families. 

Celebrating Holidays — Not all cultural or religious holidays are celebrated in parts of Australia, and the decision to take time off to visit family or for religious reasons may not sit well with partners.

Parenting Style — Raising a child under the same roof with different cultures can be particularly difficult as each culture has its own set of values. Partners with opposing parenting styles can experience a lot of friction in their approaches. 

Common Issues in Interfaith Marriages

Communication Styles — Cultures that are more reserved when it comes to emotional issues can clash with those that are more direct. This can impact the way couples communicate and result in misunderstandings. 

How to Discipline Children — Couples may argue about how to best discipline their children;  one may believe in certain punishment as the best way according to their cultural upbringing, while the other may want to take a more cognitive approach.

Teaching Children About Religion — Most parents want to raise their kids on the same belief system that they have, and in relationships with differing faiths, this decision can be a source of conflict. 

In-laws and Family — The couple’s family members who may have more traditional or staunch beliefs may even find it difficult to accept the cross-cultural or interfaith relationship. This is usually a significant point of contention for many cross-cultural relationships. 

How Cross-Cultural & Interfaith Relationship Counselling Helps

How Cross-Cultural & Interfaith Relationship Counselling Helps

In cross-cultural relationship and interfaith counselling, couples will attend therapy sessions together with a trained psychologist who will facilitate conversations surrounding the challenges they face. 

It’s important to understand that with cross-cultural relationship counselling, the objective is not for either side to be “proven right”. Each party’s cultural views and beliefs are valid, and the therapist will encourage the other party to understand them. 

Counselling for cross-cultural relationships will help with:

  • Encouraging honest communication between parties to bring hidden feelings and conflict to light.
  • Conflict resolution for common problems or issues faced in the relationship.
  • Finding a middle ground through mutual understanding and acceptance. 
  • Fostering better communication for the future to avoid conflict and promote a healthier relationship.
  • Solving complex problems that go beyond the couple and extend into external parties such as family or religious groups. 

Can Interfaith & Cross-Cultural Relationships Work?

Yes, they can!  It’s essential that both parties are willing to work together to resolve their differences or at least agree on having common ground. Like any other relationship, partners need to make a commitment to face the problems they have together rather than sweep them under the carpet. 

Taking steps to resolve the issues you and your partner face by attending cross-cultural relationships or interfaith counselling is part of that commitment to making the relationship work. Know that you are not alone in your journey, and that help is always available when you need it. 
New Vision Psychology is Sydney’s leading practice for culturally sensitive counselling. Our 30+ clinical and registered psychologists come from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds and speak over 10 languages. We offer cross-cultural relationship counselling and interfaith marriage counselling to help you and your loved one improve your communication and find a resolution. Book an appointment at any of our clinics across Sydney in Burwood, Castle Hill, Chatswood, Hurstville, or the CBD today.

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