First Advisor

Softas-Nall, Basilia

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Date Created



The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore and describe the cultural and language differences that intercultural/multilingual couples experience in their relationships and how these differences affect their relationships. Since the United States is more diverse than ever in terms of culture, race, and ethnicity, relationships between people of different races, ethnicities, and nationalities have become more and more common place. This study answered the questions: How do cultural and language differences impact intercultural/multilingual couples’ relationships and communication? Do they find their relationship unique compared to others? How can mental health professional provide effective treatment for them in the process of couple’s counseling? Using in-depth interviews, the study explored different themes and specific examples of couples’ stories and experiences to better understand how exactly the cultural and language differences affect their relationships. The study employed phenomenology as the theoretical framework for the research method and eight couples were interviewed throughout the process and reached saturation. Eight common themes were found related to cultural differences and four others were found related to language differences that are factors influencing the couples’ relationship and communication: Religion, extended family, gender roles, food, affection expression, residency, child rearing, and finances; communicating with extended family, expressing self and communicating in second language, learning a different language and lost in translation. Additionally, all eight couples agreed that their relationship is unique and provided examples to describe the elements of the uniqueness. Last, participants provided suggestions for mental health professionals on how they can be more effective in the process of counseling: Understanding and learning both cultures, be aware of language barriers, remind the couple the purpose of the relationship is “love” and acknowledge the impact of living in a third country. Implications for future research, existing theory and clinical practice for counseling psychologists are discussed.

Abstract Format



Couples therapy; Intercultural communication; Multilingualism; Cultural difference


255 pages

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