8 Things Every International Couple Has Experienced

Things Every International Couple Has Experienced

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 πŸ˜‰ 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.”

“The what?”

“The doona!”


“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.

Things Every International Couple Has Experienced

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…

4. Long-Distance

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.

Things Every International Couple Experiences

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.

Things Every International Couple Has Experienced
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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

25 thoughts on “8 Things Every International Couple Has Experienced”

  • Underestimate #5 at your peril! Right? Especially if the pairing is first world-third world, unless the latter agrees to be completely absorbed into the former’s culture, I have found that the former doesn’t really appreciate how much effort the latter is making to meet partway.

  • +1 to infinity for the visas and paperwork! I’m lucky enough to have married a wonderful man from my own background (both Aussies living in Sydney, so hi from your southern neighbour!) but we know so many couples who are going through the rigmarole of trying to sort out a visa for one or both of them to stay in the country. We’ve signed many stat-decs, attesting as to the nature of that relationship… it really bums my flow that the government makes it so hard for people in love!

    And your “doona” issue made me laugh out loud – I’ve had to explain what a “doona” is so many times, I’ve lost count! Great work, thanks for sharing πŸ˜‰

    • Ugh yes, I’m going through the timely and expensive process of getting my spouse visa ready. Just trying to keep the end goal in mind haha.

      Hahah you Aussies and your lingo, it’s so intricate, I’ve almost got the hang of it now! πŸ˜‰ Glad you enjoyed it!

  • I’ve been dating an Italian for the last year plus, and I’m Mexican American working in Spain, while he’s a Graduate Student living and working in Germany (where we met). We met during the summer when we were both traveling though in the south of Germany doing a volunteer work/stay situation called Workaway. Against a lot of odds, we are still together making it work (LONG DISTANCE THOUGH) and i’m living and loving that it’s never dull. Literally never with all the travel and changes of scenery. You are very lucky that you and your husband now live on the same soil. That’s beautiful! Enjoy it

    • Wow, that sounds like madness! So good that you guys are making it work. It’s harder than a “normal” relationship but so worth it, especially during those times when you’re reunited.

      Thank you so much! It’s something we don’t take for granted, that’s for sure πŸ™‚

  • We’ re also international! I am from Slovakia and my husband is from Colombia. The paperwork struggle was exhausting but now we’re all sorted (and traveling again anyway). One thing you didn’t mention is humor – often we simply don’t get the joke of the other one and it took quite some time to learn what the other culture actually considers funny! Turns out Slovak jokes just come across as rudeness in Colombia. Oops!

    • That’s great that you guys have all that sorted and done with now πŸ™‚

      Oh my goodness, that’s so true! Every country/culture has a different style of comedy that doesn’t always translate.

  • Thanks for sharing! My son, an American, is marrying his fiancΓ© who is from Poland next June. I have really enjoyed the cultural experiences I’ve gained from getting to know her and her family. My husband and I even traveled with them to Poland last year!

    • What a cool opportunity πŸ™‚ I love how it can bring families from different countries together like that.

  • Oh! Can so so SO relate to this! Yes, it is so funny how you even have a common language and still encounter different words which course confusion. I live in an international relationship myself, and I speak with my boyfriend in his native language (Spanish) and we live in his country (Argentina) but Spanish is my third language (ugh!?), can you imagine the level of language confusion we face from time to time πŸ˜‰ Haha. But we manage. One finds one’s own ways around. Thanks for sharing these great tips.

    • Oh my gosh, I can’t imagine! Good on ya for making the language barrier work, I would be so lost haha. Glad you enjoyed πŸ™‚

  • YESSS!! I couldn’t agree more on the language barrier!! My husband is British and I’m American and we’ve been together for five years and I’m still sometimes like “What are you talking about?!”

    • Even over a span of years of being together, you’d think we’d be able to figure it out by now, right?! Haha, too funny.

  • I’m Italian and my husband is Swedish. I can relate to most of what you wrote, especially point 8. There’s something you’ll never understand about the other’s culture and you cannot even meet half way πŸ˜‰
    I like your blog! Happy to have discovered you!!

  • Hello! I’m italian and my boyfriend canadian from Ontario, we met because he volunteered in my goar farm in north Italy! We lived in Italy for 1 year and a half, then Ontario for one year, now back to Italy we are striving to obtain all documents we need. I once read that in international couples, when you fight you never know if it is because of the partner or his own culture. And yes, all those “sorry” are totally annoying!

    • Wow, what an unexpected way to meet πŸ™‚ Haha, and very true, I’m sure many of our fights root from cultural differences somehow.
      Wishing you guys all the best as you get documents in order, I know it can be tough <3

  • Ugh, don’t talk me about visas and paperwork, I’m beyond frustrated right now trying to get a spouse visa. My husband and I did long-distance for 8 years before getting married but he grew up in the same country, so we don’t have quite the same issues. To me, the Aussie accent sounds much closer to the American one than the British one, but I after working with some Aussie colleagues I can now sorta tell it apart. I still have trouble distinguishing the Canadian accent from the American one though, except for certain words (like “about”), haha. They definitely do play up the differences in HIMYM though!

    • I feel you! Can’t wait for the visa mess to be over and done with. Hang in there, I hope it gets easier soon.
      Haha, yeah the Canadian and American accents are super similar, and mine’s pretty weak as it is. I compare it to me trying to distinguish the difference between the Aussie and Kiwi accents. They’re definitely different, but hard for a foreign ear to catch.

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