Throughout history migration was caused due to poor living and working conditions in the homeland, such as unemployment and economic problems, religious or ethnic persecution, natural disasters, famine, political strife, oppression, or war.
In today’s globalised world new social links are being created between people across national borders due to international travelling and tourism. I have heard many stories about Finnish women vacationing on an exotic island or tropic paradise and after the holidays they bring to Finland a souvenir… man! ‘The souvenir people’ phenomenon hides the desire to experience a fairytale romance. Finns seem to be quite good at this headhunting and eager to add some colour at their nation’s gene pool.
The initial intercultural romance can lead to a multicultural relationship. According to the Finnish Institute of Migration, 47 % of all foreigners living in Finland have a Finnish spouse. Among the Finnish men their wives are most often Russian, Thai or Former Soviet citizens followed by western countries of wife’s origin, such as Sweden and the United States. The Finnish men with the highest average level of education have Chinese, French, Hungarian, or Japanese wives. Statistically, Finnish men have had the highest divorce rates from Estonian, Thai and Former Soviet spouses.
On the other hand, among Finnish women the majority of spouses came from the United States, Turkey, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany and Morocco. The most highly educated Finnish women are those whose husbands come from the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. However, divorce rate for Finnish women has been the most noticeable in the case of men born in Morocco and Turkey.
Phases within a multicultural marriage
As Elli Heikkilä from the Finnish Institute of Migration describes, at the beginning of a multicultural relationship is the admiration phase characterized by pride of falling in love despite the differences. The active adaptation phase comes when the couple begins to settle and discover its roles and responsibilities. The most crucial phase during divorce occurs most often is the re-evaluation phase, where the person is able to clearly distinguish their personal and cultural traits from its spouse’s. In the fourth, or the objective adaptation phase, comfortable solutions have been found for the most fundamental problems such as the upbringing of the children, relatives and in-laws, friends, values, gender roles and even meals. A “third culture” shared by the couple is the ideal situation.
It is a fact that economic dependence on the Finnish spouse and informational dependence due to the language barrier may lead to frustration, conflicts and misunderstandings. In addition, sometimes the couples use a third language such as English or Spanish in order to communicate and end up lost in translation. But to rephrase an old saying: “Where there is love, there is a way”. And the romance ends with “happily ever after…”