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The Power of Vision-Making in Cross-Cultural Relationships

Learn 5 steps to a cross-cultural relationship vision for enhanced connections.

Key points

  • Cross-cultural relationships can face additional challenges due to differing cultural expectations.
  • Creating a shared vision fosters understanding, appreciation, and open communication between partners.
  • Practical steps for couples to refine their relationship vision include identifying strengths.

Cross-cultural relationships offer a unique opportunity for partners to understand each other's culture, language, and history, fostering a sense of interconnectedness with all people from different backgrounds.

Many couples grapple with issues spanning friendship, politics, finances, sex, in-laws, raising children, values, eating and drinking habits, gender roles, time perception, religion, and choosing a place of residence. Cross-cultural couples often experience these issues with added layers of complexity due to differing cultural norms and expectations. Navigating the complexities of a relationship is like embarking on a road trip.

To ensure a smooth journey, having clear goals and a shared vision is helpful. In my encounters with couples at different relationship stages, I've noticed that very few have taken the time to create a shared relationship vision statement. It's like setting out on a road trip without a destination in mind or a map to guide you.

The creation of a relationship vision is a powerful process that allows partners to discuss their values, dreams, and beliefs. Especially cross-cultural relationships, where clashes may arise due to differing values, norms, expectations, and priorities, benefit from developing a shared vision. Having a relationship vision can help couples navigate and sometimes prevent these challenging situations, offering a broader perspective and direction for the relationship.

In addition to providing direction, the creation process of a vision statement also enhances couples' appreciation for the journey they're on together. In my practice, I have guided couples through this process, but you can do it on your own with your partner as well. The steps below provide a practical framework to deepen your understanding of each other's desires, goals, and concerns. Building a shared vision is an ongoing process that helps cross-cultural couples co-create their family traditions, shared values, and priorities, which can be intentional and unique for their relationships.

Here are five practical steps that you can take to define and refine your relationship vision:

  1. Define your ideal relationship: Start by putting pen to paper and articulating what your ideal relationship looks like across various dimensions, such as values, chores, finances, sex, friendship, in-laws, raising children, eating and drinking habits, gender roles, vacations, religion or faith, holidays, and your place of residence. Be as specific as possible. You can write individual visions, then compare and blend them, or you can create one in conversation with each other.
  2. Identify strengths: After crafting your relationship vision statement, take a moment to reflect on one or two areas that you, individually as well as together, feel are working well. Celebrate these strengths as they are the building blocks of a solid foundation.
  3. Acknowledge challenges: Similarly, identify one or two areas where you foresee or experience difficulties or challenges in achieving your ideal vision that you identify with your partner. This step will help you better understand potential conflicts and address them proactively.
  4. Express your feelings: Gently and honestly share your feelings about the identified strengths and challenging areas, emphasizing the importance these topics hold for you. Open communication is key at this stage, and expressing your emotions allows your partner to understand your perspective and fosters a supportive environment for discussion. To support this process, I recommend using active listening techniques.
  5. Continuing the journey towards a mutual relationship vision: Share and integrate insights with your partner. Openly communicate your reflections from the previous steps. Discuss similarities, differences, and aspirations in your cultural reflections. This process strengthens the foundation for a connection that is not only rooted in individual understanding but also woven into the fabric of your shared reality and family story.

This exercise can strengthen your connection with your partner, ensuring you both feel positive about your relationship. Don't rush the process; you may want to set aside a couple of hours for each step and spread out the process over a number of days.

If you want to explore a more extended version of relationship vision creation, I recommend reading Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. Remember by by Harville Hendrix Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt. The goal is not perfection but progress; the journey is more important than the destination. Stay curious about the insights you gain, and be open to sharing what you uncover about yourself with your partner. That's all part of the process that can transform your cross-cultural relationship into a source of strength and joy.


Hendrix, H., & Hunt, H. (2007). Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition. Henry Holt & Co.

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