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How to Strengthen Your Relationship/LDR, different cultures, different personalities... is it possible?


I have been with this girl for about 2 years, at times long-distance and more often in the same place.  We are very in love with each other, and beyond that we respect each other and enjoy each other's company as friends.  We are interested in many of the same kinds of things, and see the world in similar ways.  We are both 23 years old, and we talk often about making a future together.  
However there are some problems, firstly that for the next several years we will be living in different countries pursuing our studies.  I will try to visit her and vice versa but it is very difficult to plan out the future for myself, let alone together with her.  Secondly there is the deep issue that we come from different cultures: I am Muslim and she is Mexican.  We appreciate each other's background and I have no desire to change her- she is not religious, and I am not that much.  But when it comes to the future, getting married and having children it becomes a cultural issue, as in I want to raise them to identify strongly with my background.  I accept that they would belong to both cultures but certain issues make me wonder if we can raise a family that is true to her background and to mine at the same time.  We can hardly seem to agree on names- I prefer Muslim names and she prefers Latin ones.  As to where we would live together with children, we are somewhat willing to move around and spend time in both of our countries.  While I am willing to spend some years in her country I would like to work in my home country.  I am afraid that if we spend a long time in Mexico with her family (especially when any kids are younger) they will be very influenced by it and will identify far more with a culture that I appreciate but feel out of place in.  
And while I get along well with her family, my family is more ambiguous about the relationship.  They are not conservative and do not oppose it outright, but I think they would be unhappy to have someone of such a different background, especially with children involved.  
There are other differences between us that make me wonder if we are really compatible.  We have different personalities, and at times we complement each other while at others we clash.  This may have something to do with culture but she is more outgoing and fun-loving than me, and this has led to some jealousy issues from me, especially when we have been long-distance.  I fully accept that jealousy is my problem to deal with and I have learned to trust and accept her more but I wonder if we are just too different.  Also we have never lived together and I think that would cause some problems that we have not foreseen.  
These things sound trivial, and I am sorry to have gone on so long.  While we are able to talk about these things respectfully it is very difficult for us to work out compromises.  I love her but I doubt sometimes that we are compatible and can have a future together.  I have come very close to ending it because of that on two occasions, and while love has brought us back they were very painful experiences, especially for her naturally.  
Now that we are going to be apart for so long the question is even more pressing- is it wrong for us to invest in a relationship that might be impossible, despite love and friendship? Especially since we are at such an early stage in our lives and could probably find more culturally compatible partners? Am I wasting her time and keeping her from finding a future without me that she would be happier with, even if she says she wants to be with me? If we split up now is it possible to do it in a way that is not hurtful and preserves our friendship? Can we re-explore the relationship at a better time in the future?
I know you can't deal with all those questions, but after considering the challenges there is just one basic question: Do you think we can make it work without losing each other for good, and if so what would we need to do?
Thank you so much for your time, Iím really sorry for the length of this.

Dear Karim

You say that these things may sound trivial but they are not. They are actually big, huge red flag warning signals that are letting you know that this will not work. Marriage is difficult under the best of circumstances but impossible for happiness when two very opposite cultures are present. Even without children you are asking for trouble but it is impossible with children unless one person is willing to convert completely to the other person's religion.

Also, long distance relationships are practically impossible because communication is 80% body language, expression through the eyes, and also just the feelings that radiate from one another.

Unfortunately, there is no way to break up without feeling hurt. Pain is a part of learning and growing and cannot be avoided, but there would be much worse pain if you marry and have heartache over your differences and what you see happening to your children who will be torn in two trying to please both parents.

It is most important for couples to be together in their goals and what kind of a life they want to build. You have already talked it over and know that you simply cannot compromise strong spiritual beliefs and those strong feelings would eventually tear your marriage apart and then what will happen to the children involved?

Children need unity and a definite direction. We are not talking about a few minor adjustments to make it work but life living principles that cannot be compromised.

I wish I had better news but I do not. I think you already know this but was hoping for a miracle of some kind in what I had to say. I am so sorry you have these differences but better to acknowledge that now than all suffer later.

Hope this clarifies things for you.

Sharon Crandall
Life is 4 living Coaching  

How to Strengthen Your Relationship

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Sharon Crandall


Over 30 years of working with individuals, families, and businesses. Teaching classes, private coaching--helping design individual life plans,, private personality assessment, group workshops, and training others to become Personality Consultants and Life Coaches.

Certified in two year program of Personality Science. Certified in secondary Personality Science program from a different institution. Trained in various workshops for Life Coaching, Self-educated from numerous books and programs, plus private training from Personality Science experts.

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Hundreds of people from all walks of life including private individuals, couples, families, and businesses--from homemakers to CEO's Worked with many groups in workshops and classes. Worked with businesses particularly in customer relations/service and sales.

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