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Mixed couples: how to overcome cultural differences?

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1986, Trousseau Hospital, Paris. I am a medical student. Looking at the X-rays displayed on the bright screen in front of us, my neighbor expressed his surprise to Professor Carlioz at the number of foreign children hospitalized in the department. The teacher closes the conversation with a powerful phrase: “We are all strangers to someone. Today, through my digital practice, I welcome patients who live abroad, sometimes together with a spouse from the country where they reside. Mixed couples, it is said: Europe/Africa, Europe/Asia, Europe/America, even Europe/Europe. They have in common, at the beginning of the story, the enthusiasm to discover the other’s culture.

The exoticism of their relationship often generates a wind of freedom, an openness to the world, to others. Then, once the intensity of the state of love has passed -as in all couples-, then you have to anchor somewhere, project yourself as a family, reunite the in-laws. And sometimes it becomes very difficult not to have the same mother tongue, not to share the same vision of life, the same conception of love. It is legitimate, when you come from a disadvantaged country, to want above all to move up socially, even through your spouse. Some have desires to consume where, in Europe, we are approaching slowdown and decline. Then it is easy to find the other’s consumption desires futile, when one has already had everything. It is very possible that we are Francophones and yet we do not understand each other, because the language changes from one country to another, and the habits and customs with it.

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Married to an Englishman who speaks perfect French, I know the many daily discussions about small details: when do we eat? Eating cold toast, does it make sense? Should you put a dash of milk in your tea or not?

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Mixed couples in France: some figures

In France, the diversity of unions is a common phenomenon in the new generation. a survey of the National Institute of Demographic Studies and the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies published in July 2022, reveals that 66% of descendants of immigrants are in a relationship with a spouse without direct immigrant ancestry.

“The majority of immigrants who live as a couple have a spouse who is also an immigrant (63%). This scenario is more frequent for immigrants from Africa, Turkey and the Middle East, and depends in particular on the age of arrival in France”, specifies the study.

If mixed unions are less frequent among certain populations from the Middle East (31%) or the Maghreb (39%), they are nevertheless clearly increasing compared to the first generations of immigrants, the report points out.

When the mixed couple fights, they feel even more that the stranger the other represents is the main cause. Then this sentence comes to me: “We are all strangers to someone. This means that our work of humanity consists in finding the alterity of the other. The couple is, for this, a laboratory. You can marry your next door neighbor, absolutely look for a local next to you or someone from the same community, eventually one day we all wake up next to a stranger.

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Therefore, when the partners from the beginning chose to go to a truly different other, they were perhaps more grounded in the reality of what life as a couple is always like: a school of commitment and tolerance, which invites us daily to make room for the stranger that is the other. Because the other is always another, even when we think we look alike. And the magic of the couple resides, in my opinion, in that school of alterity that forces us to win in humanity. Thus, the so-called “mixed” couples are not more so than the others. The expression is ultimately more of a pleonasm.

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Family / Couple

Breath play or erotic suffocation, a dangerous sexual practice

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It is sexual behavior that is controversial. the breathing game which literally means “breath play”, is a form of erotic asphyxiation practiced during sexual intercourse. But its dangerousness is often overlooked.

What is the breathing game?

ends sexual arousal”, defines the English version of Wikipedia. In practice, “erotic asphyxia” consists ofchoking your partner in the middle of a sexual act. However, playing with your breath can be very dangerous, even deadly. “May result in accidental death by suffocation,” the definition says.

However, despite the risk of injury or fainting, this practice has many adherents. A study conducted in 2021 among 4,000 American students indicates that 26.5% of those surveyed had drowned during their last sexual encounter. Another study carried out the same year on other students reveals more worrying figures: 58% of them have already been suffocated by a partner.

L’suffocation erotic it is also very popular in BSDM circles. A french website dedicated to this type of sexual practices, explains that this restriction of breathing is “practiced in different ways: hanging, suffocation, placing the head in a plastic bag or strangulation,” reports an article in female earth.

A sexual practice that can be deadly

Very risky, the breathing game was popularized by the porn industry, making it an act in its own right, especially in sexual relations marked by domination. But in reality, the consequences of this sexual practice can be fatal. Too much pressure on the larynx can cause death.

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Although there are no official figures on the number of deaths caused by this practice, Grace Millane, a 22-year-old woman, died from it in 2018. Police found traces of strangulation that could correspond to a “four to five minute” suffocation. His partner, Jesse Kempton, was convicted of femicide and sentenced to life in prison. The defense had confided “that the young woman had accidentally died at the end of a sexual game that had gone wrong, a version that had been categorically rejected by the jury,” he recalls. paris party.

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Couple: what your position on the sofa says about your relationship

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the posture adopted by couples when they sit on a sofait’s a window into your relationship status. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by Georgina Barnett, a British psychologist, on 2,000 cohabiting couples. “Tell me how you’re sitting, I’ll tell you if everything is fine in your relationship,” says the specialist in an interview with Stylish Maternity.

Sitting next to each other: a sign of imbalance?

While most couples tend to sit on the couch together, there are some pretty subtle signs that it can be signs of relationship problems. When the partners occupy only one corner of the bench and are too close together, this is synonymous with imbalance in your relationship. “The comfortable person in the corner takes up the space, is confident, and has power in the relationship. The other, on the other hand, seems less confident. He is looking for contact and reassurance, ”explains Georgina Barnett.

However, there is a nuance when they sit more in the center of the sofa, maintaining physical contact, such as a hand on the thigh or another. “Couples established in this way have trust your relationship and therefore can afford personal space. It is a mixture of intimacy and freedom”, analyzes the psychologist. But although in love, the latter no longer experience the passion of the first days, according to the expert.

When the position on the sofa heralds a crisis

According to the psychologist, time is serious in the event that the two partners are sitting at two different ends. “It’s even worse if her legs are crossed in opposite directions,” she says. This posture is generally a sign of a Tension in the couple. It can also be a sign that something was left unsaid or resentment, according to Georgina Barnett.

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And contrary to what one might think, if the partners are based on different bases, distanced from each other, it does not necessarily mean that they are in crisis. can only be couples comfortable enough with each other to have their own space. Although this study is based on a fairly large sample, its conclusions must be taken with caution.

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The Relationship Escalator: Are You Following This Conventional Love Pattern?

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Dating, formalizing your relationship, living together, getting married and having children. Many people perceive this life path map as the ultimate blueprint. This diagram has a name: the relationship escalator. The goal of those who take it is to peak by aging together, after checking a certain number of boxes.

What is a “relationship escalator”?

This expression designates a love pattern widespread, but increasingly questioned within society. The Urban DictionaryThe bible of slang and popular expressions defines the relationship ladder as “the societal expectation that a romantic relationship should automatically follow a set of stages and lead to marriage, parenthood, and home ownership.”

Amy Gahran, author of Off the Relationship Escalator, Uncommon Love and Life, was the first to mention this concept. She explains that this notion is “a standard by which most people assess whether an intimate relationship that develops is meaningful, serious, good, healthy, committed, or worth pursuing or maintaining.” In other words, the escalator of the relationship denotes ME’set of beliefs that perceive the most conventional pattern of love as the most rewarding and valued. This concept is made up of several steps that can vary depending on the culture. But they generally follow this timeline:

• Flirt for a few weeks/months

• Becoming sexually and emotionally exclusive

• Introduce your partner to loved ones

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• Live together

• Get married or settle down

• Acquire real estate

• Have children

• Get old together

A satisfactory relational schema if it is not imposed

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking this kind of path of love if it makes us happy. Instead, what can be problematic is imposing it on others as an absolute norm and the only valid model. Pointing fingers at this practice is also a way of denouncing the constant pressure on singles and couples who do not formalize their civil unions.

Gabrielle Smith, an author and poet who is very sensitive to issues related to sexuality and romantic relationships, analyzes this practice in an article by granist “The relationship escalator is designed for heterosexual relationships between singles and preferably for relationships within a two-income middle-class household. Many people are not part of this demographic, and those who are still feel the pressure it brings. »

If this mandate can affect all genders, it is particularly intense when it comes to heterosexual women. “Society makes you think it’s easy to get married, have children, or combine finances. But the reality for many is that it is neither possible nor smart”, concludes Gabrielle Smith.

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