Follow Your Compass: Tools for Navigating Your Intercultural Family

compass

I am a social media junkie.

There.

You will rarely find me seated at the dinner table without my phone next to my dinner plate, nor will you find me asleep in my bed without my phone charging beside me.  And don’t even try to call me.  I usually won’t answer.  Comment on my blog.  Tweet me. Or, if you’d like, email me.

But don’t call me.  I’m too busy typing to answer.

Blogging about my life and experiences has been a fulfilling way for me to connect to like-minded people around the world, and though it has taken over my life at times, the excitement of hearing from readers and fellow-bloggers is worth it.  When I met my Indian husband, I felt like I was in uncharted waters.  We had no way to connect with other intercultural couples unless we met them on the street….yes, there was a time before the internet. Without role models, we made lots of mistakes on our lonely journey.  So, most exciting for me about blogging are the many emails I receive from readers seeking advice in their own intercultural relationships and families.  I want to help others in the way I would’ve liked to have been helped years ago.

Though my blog has a Dear Sheryl, I Need Advice page where readers post relationship and family issues they’d like discussed, many, many more people choose to email me privately.  And I understand why.  Intercultural relationships can be full of emotionally charged issues that leave people raw with hurt, and sometimes questioning if they can continue the relationship. Though sharing with others can be therapeutic, exposing those wounds to the cyber world can be too much.  Respectful of that, I share my hard-earned wisdom and give my best heartfelt advice to each and every person that emails me.

But, I know that there are many others out there in the world going through similar problems, and they don’t see my answers.  One reader commented to me that I write about tolerance, but don’t give specific advice on the blog on how to achieve that tolerance.  Though I’ve been doing that privately all along, I see now how important a public tool-kit can be.  So begins my new column: Follow Your Compass.

Follow Your Compass is going to address many categories of intercultural relationship and family health, including:

Self:

  • identifying the “me” who you are as an individual and exploring ways to maintain and honor your sense of self within your intercultural life.

Couple:

  • establishing what the “we” means to you in your intercultural relationship, what your goals are as a couple, and exploring ways to achieve those goals together.

In-laws:

  • Defining the relationships you and your partner want to maintain in your extended family, and exploring ways for you and your partner to establish healthy relationships with in-laws that you both can live with.

Children:

  • Identifying important issues in raising children in an intercultural context, and exploring strategies for parenting, while still maintaining a close relationship with your partner.

Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers:

  • Exposing how other people’s perceptions of you, your partner, and of your children can affect your family, and establishing ways stand up to negative people and rise above them.

I have been plugging along on this journey for 25 years, since I met my husband in high school.  Having been through the mill in a lot of ways, I have insights into these topics to share. However, I will also include

  • My husband’s perspectives
  • Helpful elements from published books
  • Motivational tips
  • Guest posts
  • Featured couples and families

Though this column will have an Indian flavor, the ideas in it can be applied to other intercultural relationships, regardless of how people around the world define their culture.

Let me help you create your own compass to lead you along your intercultural journey in whichever direction you want it to lead you and your family.

Topic requests are welcome.

Comments and guest posts are welcome.

Sharing this guide with the world is also welcome.

Don’t forget…I’ll be here.  Comment on the blog. Tweet me!  My iPhone is always in my hand!

Photo credit John Carmichael http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlcarmichael/

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8 thoughts on “Follow Your Compass: Tools for Navigating Your Intercultural Family

  1. Sheryl I think it’s so fantastic you are doing this for inter cultural marriage and families. my parents come from very different backgrounds (mother Australian, father is Malaysian/ Chinese) and there was nothing of like this support during the 70’s. In Australia during this time it was a very ‘white’ culture and many people would stare and not accept that they were married. But almost 40 years on they are still happily married (and happily retired)!!

    • Your parents sound like a wonderful success story! They were trail-blazers…you have good role models! I do hope readers will get something out of the column. I love to dish out the advice…my kids say too much! 🙂

  2. Wonderful idea. I can’t wait to see the column, you are such an inspiration to us other intercultural couples!!!
    I can relate 200%. I met my husband in college in Savannah, GA and there were no other couples like us whatsoever. Since we have started a family, I have really had a desire to find other couples like us, and writing my own blog, and reading your blog, as well as by our other intercultural sisters has really made me feel part of this growing community. It has given me invaluable advice as well as the connection that there are others that are going through what we are going through culturally.
    You are really a fantastic role model, Sheryl!

    • Oh, bless your heart! Having lived in Savannah, I know you’ve heard that phrase a lot! 🙂 You are sweet to say I’m a role model. I hope some of my nuggets of wisdom will resonate with you and others.

      I’ve learned a lot from your blog, because you, living in India, give such a different perspective than I have over here in the ‘burbs.. I learn a lot from you!

  3. What a terrific idea for a column, and I can see that it’d be a great resource for couples in this (blessed) situation.

    I’m Malaysian-Chinese, my husband is Australia-Libyan, and although we’ve not encountered any issues in multi-cultural, multi-religious Malaysia, we intend to move back to Australia, where I suspect things may be a little more challenging.

    • Thank you! You’re right, multi-cultural couples are blessed to have found someone that they love enough to want to work through cultural challenges. Not everyone has that.
      Your situation sounds very inspirational. I’d love to hear more about how things do work smoothly in such a diverse country as Malaysia. It’s always wonderful to hear the positives. I’m sure you can tackle Australia!

  4. Sheryl, fantastic idea! Being in an intercultural marriage myself one of my biggest worries is that my husband and I don’t have issues. My husband is Lutheran and I am agnostic and I am completely ok with him wanting to bring up our daughter as a Lutheran and to introduce her to the concept of God. He loves the food I cook and I eat beef- no problems there. No in-law issues at all- mine are very hands off and I can more than deal with any issues from my parents, not to mention that my parents totally love my husband (seeing as how he “rescued” me from life as a spinster on the shelf at the ripe “old” age of 28). Maybe I worry too much but I wonder if having no problems is a problem?!

  5. Ha, a “spinster” at the age of 28! Well, I guess by their terms it is. My mother-in-law was 17 when she got married.
    It sounds to me like you and your family have a great system! You have a give-and- take system that works for both of you, and that’s what it’s all about…figuring out what it is that you each need and working it out.
    And don’t worry too much – as we say here in Georgia – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

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