Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

The History/Background Story 

Today I’m writing about something very close to me, my relationship with my husband and how our cross cultural relationship and marriage has always worked. Cross cultural relationship is when people from two different cultures/countries become a couple. This has to be the most asked question/comment on my direct messages on Instagram, how we make it work? How did my parents deal with? How did I tell them?  So I thought, I’d write a blog post about it for those of you wondering.

As most of you know, I was born in Albania. I moved to the US with my family when I was 10. Albania is a beautiful country with so much history and culture but very different beliefs and traditions than most countries. Living in the US was something we had to adjust to, life is different here. I believe in the US the mindset is  “we work to live”, versus a European mindset/lifestyle is more laid back, relaxing, close your business for a nap break everyday kinda thing. My dad was always very strict, he had and still does have the old school Albanian mindset “no dating”, “no boys in my house”, “when you find the one you will marry then introduce me” and “if he’s Albanian, even better”.

Dating did not come easy for me. It was hard to get to know anyone. I was not allowed to have boy friends, nevertheless a “boyfriend”. So, if I dated anyone it had to be a secret, my parents couldn’t know. If I liked someone, my biggest fear was telling them about my parents… that they couldn’t meet, that my parents couldn’t know they existed… that I had early curfews etc.  I mean who would want to date someone with so many restrictions.

Mark & I meet towards the end of our senior year in high school. We were in the same high school for 3 years prior to getting to know each other. We had our rough stages during that first 1 year and some of it came from my home life. But Mark was always so understanding. He never questioned me having to leave early because of my curfew or him not being able to come hang out at my house… or that I had to hang up on him when my dad walked in the ROOM….. Yes, cross cultural relationships can be hard but also can blossom into something you never envisioned if you are open to it.

The Memories

Some of the best memories we have made are those sacred moments, like family dinners at Mark’s moms every Sunday during high school, or skipping classes so we could go to the mall and hang out for a bit longer. Or when Mark finally met my dad for the first time 2.5 years into our relationship, OR when Mark came to Albania for the first time back in 2010! So many memories!! & I’m sharing some of those moments below.

Albania 2010

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

Marks first time in Albanian, back in 2009-2010. In Jale, one of our most favorite vacation spot ever!

Our Weddings – Naples, FL 2012

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

Picture from our wedding here in Naples, FL.

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

Our big American/Albanian family (now there’s some new editions)

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

Pictures from our wedding here in Naples, FL. The moment my dad gave me away to Mark.

Our Wedding – Tirana, Albania 2012

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

Mark burning his “single life handkerchief” a old wedding tradition in Albania.

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

The big group traveling to Albania for our second wedding, back in 2012.

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

Hammar/Blum/Hobert family in Albania.

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

Dancing at our wedding in Albania, popullore, an old traditional dance with our handkerchief in hand and a “qeleshe” felt hat on Mark’s head.

Albania 2015

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

Exploring Albania again in 2015.

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

Back in Jale, Albania, our forever favorite place to visit.

Why it works?

As I mentioned before, Mark was always so understanding. Never pressured me about meeting my parents or made me feel bad because of my dads strict rules. After 2 and half years of dating, Mark finally meet my dad. I wanted to move to Orlando & go to University of Central Florida, where Mark was already at and thought I had a better chance of my dad saying yes if he meet this great guy I had in my life. Well, before Mark came over to meet my dad, I told my dad about our relationship and he looked at me and said “are you getting married, is this why you are telling me?” Again, emphasizing that he did not want to meet anyone until it was “the guy”. It made me second guess my choice to introduce them but after their first time talking and getting to know each other, there was no way my dad would disapprove of Mark.

My parents never stood against our relationship. Yes, I had fears my dad would not accept Mark but after seeing us together and how much Mark cared for me, he would have been stupid to stand in the way only because he was not Albanian. That’s what I tell my followers, its a scary situations but if your love is true your parents will be able to see and come around. Who cares if he’s not Albanian? He/She can learn the language, visit the country, be part of the culture with you.

Mark has proved to my dad more than he ever had to, that he loved me, that he did not want to change my culture, and that he wanted to be included just as much as I did in his. In the 11 years we’ve been together, we have been to Albania 3 times, had a wedding here and in Albania to be with both of our families. We have visited and vacationed in places we had been with our families as young children. Have celebrated so many religious and nonreligious holidays together, created new memories in new places and meet almost all of each others families across countries.

The point is, just because you are not from the same country or culture, does not mean you will lose one or the other. You can still be part of both, include each other, your families, create new traditions and grow together as a big family. Don’t get me wrong, there were many uncomfortable situations that came up for me, my parents, my husband, his family that a an non cross cultural relationship would not have had to deal with but if you work through each one, one by one at the end our love grew stronger. It grew because of the bond we have created as a family overcoming all the obstacles, learning each others cultures, traditions and respecting them.

I hope this blog post answered some of the questions I’ve received in more detail. Comment below or direct message me on Instagram for any other questions you might have. Also, let me know your thoughts? Has anyone else dealt with strict parents like I did?

Want to read more into our relationship. Click here to read my blog post Our Love Story.

Cross Cultural Relationships: Why ours works

Below I’ve linked some items that I can’t travel without.


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