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"My in-laws assumed we would move into the upstairs apartment in their building," she says."It is a nice and spacious apartment, but I didn't think it would be a good idea to live so close... An aunt lives right across the street." Her in-laws have yet to fully understand their decision not move into the family building.This applies to all couples, but even more so to cross-cultural couples." Kondoyanni, who counsels couples in cross-cultural relationships, also stresses the need for spouses to be open to each other's cultural peculiarities.

While changing the family is impossible, here are four things you can do to keep the maniage strong.

There is a lot of racism." After 18 years of marriage, Mercy, a Kenyan businesswoman, has yet to feel "accepted" by her husband's family.

"It was very difficult at first because I was far from my family and my husband's family made it very clear from day one that they did not approve of him marrying a foreigner - a black person," she says.

I soon realised that cooking, cleaning and other chores are a family affair...

Morning coffees and afternoon meals are something of a daily ritual and there is little privacy." On the upside, the in-house childcare is greatly appreciated.

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