ALast January, a group of 15 intercultural couples started in ICF Utrecht. The meetings were interactive, educational, and fun. There was a lot of laughter about recognizing each other’s situation!
An intercultural relationship is different
Claude and Corina Mushikangondo and the Utrecht couples first thought together about why an intercultural relationship is different. Actual circumstances are often challenging, for example due to language and integration problems, residence permit stress, arrears in the labor market for the foreign partner, etc. This affects the interaction between partners; it can cause friction.
For example: usually the Dutch partner bears almost the entire burden of administrative and regulatory matters. Quarrels go off the rails more quickly if partners do not master the language equally well. The way partners invest in their marriage is also different. Integration requires major efforts for non-Dutch citizens. Dutch partners invest by supporting their spouse who sends money to relatives. Important to recognize that! It also became clear that there are major cultural differences in communication styles. Fortunately, most people knew their partner’s rules of communication.
Embrace Biblical culture
The group also discussed the top two topics intercultural couples argue about: gender ratio and money. Claude challenged the men to take on their role based on to let go of the Bible (Ephesians 5) and tradition and culture. It evoked many reactions and also beautiful testimonials.
Why this training?
The purpose of this group is to strengthen intercultural relationships, by stimulating mutual exchange and group loyalty and raising awareness of the challenges of intercultural marriage. The vision is for the couples to encourage and support each other. The leadership of the congregation is also involved, so that they can provide better marriage pastoral care when there are problems. Jasper de Kok, predecessor of ICF Utrecht, was there and Bert de Jong, elder and himself in an intercultural relationship. They thought it was very positive and were happy that this could take place.
Two participants about the workshops:
“We enjoyed the time together and had enough material to talk about afterwards. We hope there will be more sessions with other interesting topics. I personally also enjoyed the women’s and men’s group at the first assignment.”
“We also enjoyed the training very much. It were very helpful topics and what was especially remarkable that we had so much in common with the other intercultural couples. It was eye opening to see that I often thought some things in our marriage were just issues we only have, but it is often cultural! We hope there will be more sessions like this.”