- Do you or your partner come from a different culture?
- Did your partner grow up with another language, religion, value system, or in another country?
- Are you as a binational/intercultural couple in a transitional phase? e.g. newly married, newly arrived in Switzerland, in the process of obtaining a residence, recent paternity, recognition of diplomas, among others?
- Do you or your partner experience a culture shock or migratory mourning after the migration experience?
- Is it difficult for you as a binational/intercultural couple to live together in an “intercultural” way, i.e. giving space in your daily life to both cultures, languages and traditions?
- Do you or your partner experience conflict in your family of origin as well as in your new nuclear family?
- Is it difficult for you as a binational/intercultural couple to set limits to your environment and to be clear about yourself?
- Can the member of the couple with migratory experience settle in the new country and culture?
- Is everything okay in your relationship? Do you or your partner want to modify or implement something in your relationship?
Couples whose members come from different cultures are no longer a minority or an exception in our globalized world, on the contrary, the number of binational/intercultural couples is constantly growing.
Binational and intercultural couples have conflicts and problems similar to those experienced by monocultural couples. However, other factors also play a role, such as specific cultural differences such as language barriers, values, norms, habits, religion, organization of daily life, interpersonal relationships, child-rearing, etc., as well as culture shock and grief caused by the migration experience or disadvantages, misunderstandings or even in some cases discrimination faced by the whole partner who has emigrated from his or her home country.
All these stressful (mostly transitory) situations can lead to alienation, dissatisfaction and wounds in the binational/intercultural couple’s relationship and life. When these difficulties come to the fore in the daily life of the couple, valuation, affection, respect and trust, among others, are lost. (Experience shows that many couples often seek professional accompaniment too late).
Therefore, an intercultural couple therapy or counselling at this time is very useful, because it will help the couple to establish a culture of constructive and benevolent communication in a protected and impartial environment; to be able to express the needs, as well as the disagreements and emotional wounds of both; to recognise and change the negative patterns of interaction, to heal the wounds, to reach new agreements that favour healthy coexistence and to strengthen and deepen the connection with their partner.
Another objective of binational/intercultural couple counseling/therapy is to offer each member of the couple, in a safe and neutral environment, a space to reflect in depth on those cultural aspects such as beliefs, experiences, worldviews and/or expectations that are expected and accepted in one culture or another and that differ from each other, so that each member of the couple can know, reflect and if necessary clarify any misunderstandings that may have arisen between them, as well as make an effort to understand and give meaning to this, through a change of perspective. The aim is to provide a safe and neutral environment for each member of the couple to reflect in depth on those cultural aspects such as beliefs, experiences, worldviews and/or expectations that are expected and accepted in one culture or another and that differ from each other, so that each member of the couple can know, reflect and if necessary clarify any misunderstandings that may have arisen between the two, as well as make an effort to understand and give meaning to this, through a change of perspective.
Likewise, it is vital to analyze how the person who has emigrated perceives and lives the migration process, as well as the mourning that this process entails; because depending on the cultural context in which both have grown up, they will realize that according to the rules or norms it may be that some situations are perceived and evaluated in a very different way, be important or not, apparently insurmountable or on the contrary perceived as a valuable enrichment.
In my work with binational/intercultural couples, I apply Hans Jellouschek’s systemic-integrator approach and Dr. Sue Johnson’s Emotion-Focused Couple Therapy (EFT). In that sense, I start from the fact that the crises of the couple’s relationships are an opportunity for the personal development of each member as well as their life in common.
My work as an intercultural couple counsellor/therapist is based not only on the theories and approaches of couple counselling/therapy, but also on the different approaches of intercultural counselling. As well as in my practical experience in intercultural contexts and on the basis of my own migration history and my experience as a member of an intercultural/binational couple.