I'm having difficulty navigating very different cross-cultural (U.S./El Salvador) family dynamics. Can you please offer me books, links or your own best practices on keeping an international marriage strong?
Two of the areas I struggle with are what I've seen called see article
"colectivismo" ("emphasizes the needs of the group rather than the individual. Family needs go before personal needs") and "simpatía" ("emphasizes achieving harmony in interpersonal relationships by avoiding conflict, emphasizing positive behaviors, and downplaying negative behaviors"). Note: These things are descriptive of my own experience, and YMMV; I can't speak for others.
First, I grew up in a family that tended toward looser bonds and much, more more individualism than did my husband, and I sometimes have a tough time when it seems like he chooses to put his family's needs ahead of my needs.
What is the best advice you have heard or practiced to help you cool down and be understanding of this value? How can this be integrated into a marriage that's taking place thousands of miles away from most of the family? And, at the same time, when the rest of the family lives a mile away?
Second, my husband believes strongly in preserving harmony, and avoids confrontation or any criticism of his family or of his/our relationship to them. Comments invite a fight. I've been taught to express myself, use my words, preserve my boundaries, identify behavior that bothers me...and all of these coping skills are useless in this particular context. Is compromise possible? What has worked for you?
I am trying to be less bothered by these differences. How can I let it bother me less when his cultural background seems to leave no room for mine? For example: I like to be punctual, and he is much, much less so, and this bothers me because I'm plan- and schedule-oriented. Synchronous, asynchronous: where's the (sanity-preserving) middle ground?
Finally, what books or websites have you found helpful in learning to be more understanding of family dynamics that are fundamentally different from those you grew up believing were standard and normal?