Most people in a mixed marriage face challenges that other couples do not. New Times has asked an anthropologist with great insight in the subject.
New Times spoke with anthropologist Pia Lund Poulsen, author of the book “Across and in spite”, (orig. “På tværs og på trods”), describing intercultural marriages in Denmark.
What challenges do intercultural partnerships meet?
“In general; unbalance. One of the partners feels as not being at home and faces a different culture and a new language. Sometimes he or she had a status in the homeland which they lose when coming to Denmark. Here they don’t have network”.
Statistics show a significant number of mixed marriages between Danish men and women from Asia. Why is it so?
“Yes, every seventh multi-ethnic marriage is with an Asian wife. Thai, Philippine and other Asian women have a great network in Denmark. They help each other to make contact with Danish men. Also, Danish men’s interest for Asian wives is high. Some of them are looking for more traditional values, some might be disappointed in previous relationship with Danish women.”
Why are Danish women less interested in marriages with non-western partners?
“Danish women are growing up with the culture of equality. It can be a challenge for them to live in a relationship where they don’t feel free, have a job and earn their own money. Some men from more traditional cultures make them feel tied down. The Danish women are in general very independent. That may challenge cultures that are more dominated by men.”
What is your message to our readers that are faced with such dilemmas?
“It’s very important to grow together and to understand each other. All couples face cultural differences, but as a mixed couple it is a premise that both parts are more aware of this. They have to build up a common understanding. My advice is to give space for cultural differences. For those who are not in his/her own country, it is very important to learn the language, to get cultural knowledge about Denmark and to get a job and a network. Then your mixed marriage will be one of balance and harmony, that allows both individuals to grow.”