"What's different becomes normal"
Silva, Luciana Cunha
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Romantic intercultural relationships are becoming increasingly widespread given the influences of globalization, technological advances, and travel opportunities. The factors influencing successful entry and adjustment into intercultural relationships are reviewed. The reported study is a phenomenological one, focusing on the lived experience of being in an intimate intercultural relationship. Cultural negotiation and how it influences the relationship identity of intercultural relationships is also a primary focus of this study. Ten couples in which partners have cultural roots in different countries were recruited for participation. Two or three dyadic interviews were conducted with each couple, and interviews focused on relationship history, the couple’s views regarding the intercultural nature of their relationship, and their negotiation strategies. Phenomenological data analysis as proposed and described by Giorgi (1975) was used to derive essential themes from participants’ accounts of their experiences in intercultural relationships. Findings point to important issues left unexamined in the literature on intercultural relationships, such as how intercultural couples view and describe their own relationships, the negotiation practices they view as important in their everyday lives, and how they manage to blend different cultures in their routines. Based on these findings, I provide a theoretical explanation for some apparent inconsistencies in the couples’ accounts, using Reiss (1981) concept of the family paradigm. These findings contribute to a beginning understanding of relational identity and what factors intercultural couples use as the basis for the identity of their relationships. Empirically based recommendations for working with intercultural couples within the context of couple therapy are also provided.