The troubles of inter-national marriages


Sensational findings! According to this study from 2012, couples comprising of a Finn and a foreigner argue mainly about two topics: 1) housework and 2) money.

Sadly the study focuses on divorce and doesn’t seem to consider the many positive sides of having a partner from another culture, “exogamy”. Just to mention one gigantic one: getting a whole new country for free! With its (for instance) food, swimming, ancient culture and weird shit. A key factor in my now husband’s wooing was the description of his family’s Christmas dinner. I used to think “well, it’s easy for us. My man is from Mexico which is a spectacular place, it’s not like he’s from the DRC” but according to a friend working there, the DRC is also beautiful. And hey, according to the Poisonwood Bible, a Belgian friend and a recent art exhibition, it’s full of marvels and resourceful people and ancient culture too. But if you were married to a DR-Congolese person you’d probably find out even more.

In my experience, common background, class, personality, values, Chinese horoscope and education matter a lot more for a happy relationship than does nationality. Kidding about the Chinese horoscope! Although ours says that “the wood horse forms a stable family”.

For me it’s a lot more relevant that my “compañero” (another bonus from the intercultural relationship: this delightful phrase to describe your partner, your companion, your ally. To me it sounds like someone who accompanies you, walks with you on the path of life.) is a leftie feminist, white middle-class, a speaker of fluent English, willing to travel and to compromise and to do housework, than where he comes from.

In a small way my parents are together across a cultural divide. Stereotyping – always the fun part – they sort of represented on one hand the Finlandssvensk (Swedish-speaking Finns) associated with levity, confidence, privilege, laughter and good food; and the Finnish-speaking Finns with more of an attitude of grim persistence, work as the value above all others, fighting alcoholism and meals seen as something to get over with fast (although maybe that was just my grandma). But despite the language differences my grandparents had more in common than not: coming from farms where their families were the “tilalliset” or landowners, moving towards the metropolis after WW2, having some tertiary education but not university, creativity expressed in handicrafts, middle-middle class, cooking with butter.

Once you´re in the “third culture” like myself and my siblings, that in itself becomes your “home” culture, and having partners from another passport becomes the accepted norm. Nobody ever interviews me for these studies, where’s my anthropologist?

sights Chinkultic Chiapas
Your partner may take you to their home country Mexico!

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