Marrying Someone from Another Country - Aspects to Consider

In these times when globalization has brought together different people and cultures closer than ever before, marrying someone from another country is not as unusual as it used to be a few decades ago. Whether at the workplace or through social contacts you may have met an attractive foreign student or guest worker. Indeed the presence of online dating has added further fillip to getting to know people from other lands. Here are however a few things you should consider when marrying someone from another country.

Legal issues in your own country

Since international borders and differing nationalities continue to be a reality even in these times of globalization, a formal union like marriage brings many issues of legality into play in case the would-be spouse is a foreigner. First of all you need to be clear about the legal status of your spouse-to-be in your country. Many countries have rules against marrying to obtain a permanent residency status and so a union with an immigrant – legal or illegal – or someone on a temporary visa could land you in legal tangles. Apart from this, you also need to be careful about your own legal and professional obligations – for instance in case of U.S military service personnel there can be consequences to marrying citizens of certain countries like Republic of Korea and negative family history; in fact these consequences include loosing the ability to obtain or keep a security clearance and difficulties obtaining a dependent ID. So start out by checking whether you and your partner are allowed by the laws of your country to go ahead with this marriage and only then make further plans. While this seems a rather heartless way of doing things, especially if you are madly in love with each other, remaining on the right side of the law now will save you a great deal of heartache and legal hassles – not to mention expenses – in future.

Laws in your partner’s country

Whether or not you intend to relocate to your partner’s country after marriage, it is always a good idea to thoroughly research the laws pertaining to marriage according to the penal code of your partner’s country. Indeed even in the same country, two different penal codes, for instance one religious and the other secular, may exist in matters of marriage and divorce. So ask your partner what will be your status as a couple in his/her country of origin once you are married. Some countries may have laws against marrying foreigners which could render you persona non grata or confer other such dubious status in case you marry him/her. Find out all you can about the laws under which you will be a couple in your partner’s country of origin and all the pertinent duties and obligations that such a status will bring. Pessimistic though it may seem now, it is also better if you are informed about the laws regulating divorce too – the process, other variations like legal separation, the conditions under which it is granted, matters like alimony, child custody, child support and even the expenses.


Before tying the knot with this person, consider your partner’s financial situation very carefully. Ask yourself honestly whether he/she will be able to work in your country. If not, can you afford to support your partner until he/she can? This is not just a practical concern for yourself, but if you must support him/her, then you should be prepared to demonstrate that to the government in order for your future spouse to get a visa. You should also be clear on whether your future spouse expects you to assist financially in bringing over other members of his/her family. This is also often a point of contention been couples and has been known to wreck many a cross-cultural marriage.

Gender roles

One of the biggest sources of marital differences in a cross-cultural marriage is the role that each spouse is supposed to play. In general societies from Asia and Middle East expect a woman to take the primary responsibility of keeping house and bringing up children. While societies in North America and Western Europe are more egalitarian in terms of gender roles, Scandinavian countries accord the greatest degree of equality to men and women in marriage or a legal union; in fact certain East European societies can even seem quite conservative in comparison. While these are only very broad generalizations, they imply the cultural underpinnings of social and family expectations from men and women in a marriage. So before marrying someone from another country, be very clear on how you and your partner are expected to behave according to the culture of his/her origin. This may not seem to matter when you are dating each other, but once a relationship is formalized, gender roles and expectations in marriage emerge far more explicitly and you may be surprised to find certain attitudes in your partner you never saw before.

Culinary habits

While exploring each others culinary culture appears exciting during the initial stages of a relationship, having to eat foreign food day in and out may not seem so thrilling after all. Culinary habits and preferences are largely determined in childhood and things that your partner may have eaten as a child may continue to be his/her soul food even many years later into adulthood. Marrying someone from a different country will always involve eating foreign food. So expect some changes in your diet. Some of these may have smells, textures and flavors that are completely unknown to you and thus you may be reluctant to make them part of your daily diet. Then again, your partner may keep off certain foods like pork or beef as part of their cultural or religious ways. So when marrying someone from another country, always consider culinary differences and how you can bridge them.

The next generation

Most world cities are a mixing pot of various nationalities and culture where residents willingly adapt themselves to a new way of life; thus living with a person from another country as man and wife may not even be difficult in an everyday sense; however what can push even the most liberated of couples apart is deciding how to bring up kids born from the marriage – what religion will they follow, what surname will they adopt, what language will they speak at home are among only a few issues that a cross-cultural marriage will have to deal with.

Finally it is best to go ahead with a cross-cultural marriage only when you have known the person for a length of time. Whirlwind courtships and online dating are far from ideal precursors to marrying someone from a foreign country. Any marriage involves understanding and patience to succeed but one where a partner is from a different country and culture will need an extra bit of both from either side.