Being an interracial couple can be difficult at times by virtue of the fact that we deal with bias and discrimination in day to day life. Ideally, love should have no bounds in this regard. However, we are dealing with reality and reality is that others may harbor negativity about you two. You might also run into conflict between you two when asserting your values that are based in your own racial or cultural identity.
There are strategies to help you better handle what comes your way when you are in an interracial marriage.
Interracial Marriage Challenges From Friends, Family or Strangers
As an interracial couple you will possibly face extra challenges in your marriage from people outside your marriage. This can make you feel hurt, sad and helpless. If you want to make sure that these possible challenges don't hurt your marriage, talk about them openly with one another! Your partner is probably the best person to offer you solace from these external stressors. You both should come together to face these troubling issues together and lean on each other for support.
Here are some common problems you might face:
- Open hostility and intimidation
- Negative stereotyping
- Derogatory comments in public
- Stares, insults, jibes, slights, and whispers
- Negative comments online or in the media
- A sense of isolation
- Rejection from family or being disinherited
- Loss of contact with friends or family that disapprove
Interracial Marriage Challenges From Each Other
It can be very romantic and exciting to love someone different. However, don't let the attraction of forbidden love distract you from dealing with the issues that your interracial marriage may have to face.
Don't fall into the myth of thinking that your love for one another can overcome anything life throws at you. Every married couple needs to develop and use effective communication skills so that difficult times can be handled in healthy ways.
Children: You and your spouse need to discuss how you will raise your children and help your kids to understand and appreciate their mixed identity. Make sure that you provide your children will positive stories of both of your family histories.
As your children grow up, listen to them share their concerns, stereotypes, doubts, and possible prejudices. Answer their questions directly and don't forget to validate their feelings.
Holidays: All married couples face stress during holidays. Talk about your cultural differences in how holidays were celebrated when you were kids. Realize that holidays give the two of you a chance to discuss how your family will handle both the differences and similarities in your backgrounds.
Be proud of your cultural traditions and work together to create ways to celebrate them that will be meaningful to you both. It is perfectly okay for you two to create your own traditions as well.
Know Yourself: If you want to have a strong interracial marriage, believe in who you are.
If you feel confusion about your own life, deal with your own issues before trying to merge your life with someone else. Psychotherapy is a great way to accomplish this.
Know Your Differences: Discuss your cultural differences regarding topics such as religion, diet, birth control, parenting preferences, grief, finances, sex, extended family relationships, gender roles, communication styles, and traditions.
The racial and cultural differences in your interracial marriage won't necessarily cause your relationship to fail. What can cause an interracial marriage to fall apart is the inability of a couple to handle their differences and a failure to talk about stress and prejudice created by others. If you find that some counseling with a third party would help you iron some of these concerns out, by all means seek out a licensed couples counselor.
It may even be possible to find one who specializes with interracial couples.
Purchase From Amazon: Intercultural Marriage: Promises and Pitfalls by Dugan Romano or In Love But Worlds Apart: Insights, questions, and tips for the intercultural couple by Grete Shelling
*Article Updated by Marni Feuerman