Meshing two people from different family upbringings and backgrounds together is always an interesting and challenging experience. That said, imagine what it’s like being an international couple, and coming from completely different countries and cultures on top of all that!
Welcome to my marriage 😉 To make a long story short, I, a Canadian, met my Aussie husband in Australia two years ago when I came to be a part of a three-month film course. After a lot of back and forth between each other’s countries, we’re now settling into newlywed life here in Brisbane, where it all began. If you’d like to read more about our story, click here.
That being said, despite having been together for two years I’m still constantly noticing the strange moments and experiences we have as an international couple. We’ve even spent a good chunk of time living in each other’s respective countries and yet we’re still discovering differences we didn’t know existed.
I know we’re not the only couple in this boat, so I thought I’d compile a list of things that international couples often face that others may not have thought of before. Some good, some bad, some downright hilarious!
1. Language Barrier Moments
Perhaps the most common thing international couples have to face is navigating a language barrier. For some, it’s easier than others, but either way, it sure makes basic communication a challenge at times.
I know of couples who both speak a shared second language to each other, meaning neither of them understands the other’s mother tongue. I could imagine this being frustrating when you’re not fully fluent and trying to have an important discussion.
And then there are people like my husband and I. We’re both native English speakers, yet we’ve found navigating each other’s slang to be a hurdle. Australia’s slanguage is practically a whole new language in itself, and just when I think I’ve got the hang of all the little terms I’m lost all over again. I can’t count how many times we’ve been lost in translation! One of our most memorable miscommunications went a little something like this, as we were both sleep deprived:
“Pass the doona.”
That went on for longer than it should’ve. Turns out a doona is what I would call a comforter or duvet. Oy.
On the other hand, my husband’s also experienced a lot of confusion. Oftentimes when we’re watching American sitcoms, I’ll ask him why he’s not laughing along just to realize how geared the jokes are to a North American audience. Certain brands, stores, and locations are mentioned that the rest of the world would have no clue to.
2. Flights Galore
While some couples may be prioritizing saving up for a house, international couples are usually saving up for a plane ticket.
For some, it’s making sure there’s a visit to each other’s respective homes at least once a year, and for others, it’s simply maintaining a lifestyle filled with travel. Let’s face it, most international couples meet each other through travelling, so one, if not both of you have already been bitten by the travel bug.
As you may imagine, international couples spend a lot of their time together flying around the world. My husband and I have the 14-hour long-haul flight from Brisbane to Vancouver down pat by now, which something that’s not necessarily normal for most, but for us, it’s just part of life.
3. Sorting out Visas and Paperwork
This is something I’m in the thick of now and is, in my opinion, one of the worst parts of being an international couple.
Trying to sort out visas and get the necessary costs and paperwork in line to live here is a huge difficulty in all honesty. It’s expensive and stressful, and that’s with us both being from commonwealth countries.
I feel bad even complaining since I know far too many people who have much bigger visa issues and struggles depending on their countries of citizenship. It’s a major uphill battle and can be very frustrating!
At the end of the day, I need to remind myself how worth it it is! After experiencing periods of long-distance, I so treasure that we can live on the same soil, which leads me to my next point…
Most international couples will have gone through long-distance in at least one point of their relationship.
My husband and I have been very fortunate to only have had to go through long-distance for periods no longer than 3 months, but even that felt like an eternity!
Managing opposing time zones and work schedules can become very overwhelming and exhausting. But, in my opinion, it’s worth it in the end and will make you appreciate the time you do have together so much more.
5. Gaining Cultural Understanding
This is one of my favourite parts of being in an international relationship! I love the fact that you get to have so many more unique experiences that you wouldn’t have otherwise simply because of you and your partner being from different countries.
In some cases, you get to learn a new language, visit and learn about their country, and so many other things that you wouldn’t have done should you have never met each other.
You also get a rich understanding of a culture you would have otherwise been totally unfamiliar with. Cultural differences fascinate me, so I love hearing and learning about the Aussie way of life from my husband who was born and raised here.
6. Telling a Great Love Story
I know this one sounds a little silly, but it’s true! Your couple story is unique and usually a pretty cute and fun story to tell. I love hearing from other international couples how they came to meet against all odds.
That said, my husband and I first spoke in a Maccas (AKA, a McDonald’s) so maybe being an international couple doesn’t necessarily mean the world’s most romantic meet-cute.
Maybe I’m just a sucker for a good love story, but I think it’s so exciting and special to have met someone you love and want to share your life with who’s from a whole different place in the world.
7. Having Interesting Pet Peeves
Having each grown up in a totally different culture, there may be things from your beloved’s culture that you find to be irritating, and strange.
Some cultures are much quieter and reserved, while others a little louder and more personable. Meshing the two together, especially in one half’s native country can lead to some moments of cringe and embarrassment.
I’m sure my saying, “sorry,” a million times per day must get on my husband’s nerves at times, but I can’t help it!
8. Loving the Endearing Differences
I spend more time than I’d like to admit mocking my husband’s accent. Despite the fact that we’re living in Australia and I’m the minority, I find it so fun to copycat him. He usually says I sound more British than Australian, but I say that’s half the fun.
That said, we can’t get through a single episode of How I Met Your Mother without him busting his gut in laughter at one of the many digs made to the Canadian character.
Basically, you both get some great material to tease each other with. Unless we’re just mean and the only ones who do this!
Being an International Couple is Always Worth It
Although being an international couple comes with its own unique ups and downs, I’m so grateful that my husband came into my life against the odds.
This all to say, I would love to hear from those of you who are in an international relationship! Do you have an interesting story of how you met or a particular struggle you’ve had to face?
Alternatively, if you’re not an international couple, did any things on this list surprise you?
I’d love to chat and hear from you in the comments below!
Thanks for reading <3