9. Body language differs widely among cultures so a Japanese spouse whose culture is fairly formal and emotional displays are disliked might feel agitated by the hand movements, physical contact, and emotional displays of a Mexican for example. These varying behaviors could be misinterpreted and lead to serious misunderstandings in divorce negotiations.
10. Migrant parents often perceive a threat to the values imported from their country of origin. It is difficult to practice one’s own culture in a foreign environment where a different culture is prevalent in the community, families, and relationships.
In marriage, this often leads to over-emphasis of those cultural values in parenting and could escalate during the divorce. Settlement agreements and parenting plans should make ample provision for upholding the cultures of both parents and their families, for the sake of the children.
11. Cultural views on clothing & fashion could lead to judgemental behavior toward foreigners who marry into a culture. Clothing is also prescribed by some religions and may pose problems for those who do not subscribe to them. Apart from couples jointly facing the behavior of others toward their clothing, this can also become a challenge between parents with different views on clothing for their children.
12. Many women in cultures that relate femininity to physical appearance and attractiveness spend a lot on clothes, make-up, and jewelry and would dress up every time they leave the house. Other women in cultures who do not dress up every day but reserve that for special occasions, might regard them as insecure or over-the-top.
In other cultures, naturalness, independence, or a high level of education might be typical features of women. All of these matters impact the needs of parties and desired outcomes of a divorce.
13. Interpretations of eye contact differ vastly. Certain cultures regard eye contact as disrespectful or even invasive of privacy while others regard a lack of eye contact as disrespectful or even suspicious.
Consider for a moment how a family in a culture that does not allow eye contact would respond to meeting someone from a culture who regards eye contact as important. Furthermore, imagine how a couple’s disagreement might play out if one of them makes eye contact and the other avoids eye contact?
There is an interesting difference in child-rearing cultures between western cultures that value eye contact with infants for stimulation and bonding and some African cultures that avoid eye contact with infants for fear of them thinking they are in control of their elders.
14. Language is a system of symbols with meaning which is an integral part of a culture. Silence or pause is regarded by some as a necessary part of social integration and a valuable communication tool, whereas others who communicate in a lively, loud manner might experience discomfort in the silence and vice versa. People who are accustomed to speaking slowly might have difficulty understanding someone who speaks fast.
Similarly, when a couple speaks two different languages, their families and friends might not be able to communicate with their partners due to a language barrier. Another interesting challenge occurs when children speak different languages to their parents and the other parent is unable to follow the conversation.
Cases have been reported where children ask one parent for something and when that parent responds negatively, they ask the same thing of the other parent in a different language, excluding the first parent from the conversation and often getting a positive response.
During conflict when emotions run high, mixed-culture partners often revert to their mother tongue to express their anger or frustration, leaving their spouse at a loss and having to guess what is being said.
15. Cultural hierarchies such as the strong recognition of rank, age, and gender while greeting someone in Asian countries, could pose a challenge to someone who is unaware and a casual greeting might be construed as rude or disrespectful to members of that culture. In divorce negotiations, these cultural differences could complicate matters if anyone feels disrespected or disregarded.