Trying to navigate a culturally diverse relationship?

Words by: Lauren French, MSexol (Curtin) Australian Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine

Our differences are what make us beautifully unique in the world. We all come from different homes, families and communities, yet we end up in very similar spaces.

When I hear the term ‘cultural inclusion’ I get a little bit excited! I’m excited that I might be walking into a safe, inviting space filled with understanding. However, there’s also some apprehension. I’ve walked into plenty of rooms that claim to be culturally inclusive, sensitive, diverse (and all the other buzzwords you can think of), that end up being nothing more than a sign on the door that culturally ignorant people walk past every day.

In Australia, we live in a western, colonised, patriarchal society; meaning the white, male, straight and wealthy are privileged in most spaces. Yet that only describes a fraction of our population! I’m not going to get into all the systemic, structural and legislative ways that work against true cultural inclusion (as that’s a different, very long, very frustrating article), but I can’t talk about this idea without acknowledging the huge barriers individuals face, that most individuals have no power to change.

I’m a First Nations woman. By simply existing in a space I can start a conversation of cultural inclusivity. But I’m also a sexologist, so I often see culture as a pain point in relationships. No one is exactly the same within a relationship, two or more people coming together is going to involve a hell of a lot of differences!

So if we’re in a culturally diverse relationship we need to stick to the three C’s; communicating, connecting and compromising. Every relationship needs great communication, but when we are having to cross cultural and even language barriers, we need even better communication.