Foreign-born spouses who have adjusted to life in the United States have the following advice for the newly arrived:
*Find someone from your culture who has already made the adjustment to help guide you the first six to 10 months. "If they find someone who's just arrived, too," says Dugan Romano, author of a forthcoming book on multicultural marriages, "it turns into a gripe session. But someone who's already made the adjustment can really help them over the hurdles."
*Get involved in the community. "America is such a volunteer society," says Norwegian-born Torill Floyd, "there's really no excuse for not getting involved in something -- your church, civic association, anything."
*Look for the positive aspects of the society. "One woman told me when I first came here," says West German-born Sylvia Andrusyszyn, "that you may come with certain prejudices about America, and you may even find those prejudices confirmed, but if you look hard enough, you'll find things you like about the society. And I've found that to be true."
*Preserve your holidays, customs and special foods. "Your cultural background is part of the richness of your marriage," says Romano, "and it seems a shame to deny it."
*With children, don't try to force one culture over another. Says Floyd, "I didn't speak Norwegian or try to push my culture on my children, but always tried to put Norway in a good light." The Floyds combined Norwegian and American holidays, took frequent trips to Norway, and sent most of their children back for a summer. "Now, they value both cultures," she says.
*Maintain friends in both cultures. "It helps when you go back," says Floyd, "so you can fit back into the society."
*Give it time -- at least a year to get used to the mechanics of living here. "A friend told me it takes 20 to 25 years to completely get used to another society," says Floyd, "and now, after 35 years, I believe her."