Challenges of an Interracial Marriage From Society

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It is very rewarding to love someone who is different from you in terms of race, culture, identity, religion, and more. When we are open with each other, we can broaden each other's perspectives, approach the world in different ways, and even find that there is a connection in our differences.

Unfortunately, interracial couples can still experience difficulties at times by virtue of the fact that racism exists in our society on a deep level. Ideally, love should have no bounds in this regard. 

However, in reality, other people may harbor negativity or judgment about an interracial couple. Partners in an interracial marriage must take on these issues together while maintaining empathy and support for each other's experiences.

Interracial couples may also reach conflicts when asserting their values if they differ from each other's, based on 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

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. 

Challenges You May Face

  • Derogatory comments in public
  • Loss of contact with friends or family that disapprove
  • Negative comments online or in the media
  • Negative stereotyping
  • Open hostility and intimidation
  • Rejection from family or being disinherited
  • A sense of isolation
  • Stares, insults, jibes, slights, and whispers

Some challenges may stem from one another.

Know Your Differences 

It is important to become intimate with your partner and share your vulnerabilities in any romantic relationship. This is especially true for interracial couples, as one partner may experience hardships that the other has not had to face.

For instance, if a person of color has a partner who is a white person, they may talk about the negative stereotypes, discrimination, and racism that the one partner might experience on a regular basis; although the partner who is white doesn't have first-hand experience being discriminated against because of their race, this partner can be open, focus on listening, and further develop their own empathy.

Asking your partner, "How can I support you?" is never a bad idea when it comes to showing your willingness to understand them and give them strength.

If there are cultural differences regarding topics such as religion, diet, birth control, parenting preferences, grief, finances, sex, extended family relationships, gender roles, communication styles, and traditions, discuss these and be open.

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 the stresses one or both of them are experiencing.

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. There are therapists who also specialize in interracial couples. 

Interracial Marriage Expectations

While love may be the basis for the potential of a wonderful, enriching relationship, our society throws all kinds of myths at us about working relationships. For instance, it may be helpful to avoid believing that love and only love will triumph all other obstacles. This isn't realistic.

Every married couple needs to develop and use effective communication skills so that difficult times can be handled in healthy ways.​

Children in Interracial Marriages

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. It's common for incidents in their lives to occur based on people stereotyping them, or for them to experience prejudice and discrimination.

Developing an open line of communication is key. You want your child to feel that they can come to you for support, but not to feel pressured or intimidated. Answer their questions directly and don't forget to validate their feelings whenever you can.

Holidays as an Interracial Couple

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 confused about your own life, try seeking help, and supporting yourself with your own issues before trying to merge your life with someone else's—this is generally good advice before entering any type of new relationship or endeavor.

Once you can appreciate and support yourself, you will be more able to receive love from someone who has your best interest at heart. Psychotherapy, or other types of therapy, can be a great way to accomplish this. 

3 Sources
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  2. Lichter DT, Qian Z. Boundary Blurring? Racial Identification among the Children of Interracial Couples. Ann Am Acad Pol Soc Sci. 2018;677(1):81-94. doi:10.1177/0002716218760507

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By Sheri Stritof
Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book.