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Overcoming Common Challenges Faced by Interracial Couples

A photo of a couple hugging
Issues in interracial relationships can be challenging, but they’re not impossible to overcome.

There’s nothing new about intercultural relationships and interracial dating. It’s been around for ages.

During olden times, heads of states married off their families to rulers outside of their realm to gain strong alliances. In today’s time, people intermarry because they simply fell in love, and that is all there is to it.

As the years have gone by, humans have made it possible for parts of the world to be within reach. We can easily fly from one country to the other and interact with people from different cultures, even marrying someone from there.

It’s not a surprise intermarriages are becoming more popular worldwide. If we speak of statistics, 1 out of 10 married couples in the United States (alone) belongs to an interracial marriage. That’s around 11 million people!

With these numerical data, a person would think it’s easy to be in an intercultural relationship. When in fact, it’s not as easy as you’d think. These couples face a more profound set of challenges.

Did you know: Interracial couples have a 41% chance of separating within 10 years of marriage compared to couples who marry within their own race? Yikes. That’s a high percentage.

Which brings us to the question, why do interracial relationships fail?

Continue reading this article and we’ll tell you the common challenges that these couples primarily face. As a bonus, we’ll also be including ways how to make an interracial relationship work.

Communicating is difficult because of language barriers.

Belonging to two different cultures and ethnic races also means two different languages. It’s fine if both partners understand and speak each other’s mother tongue. Otherwise, communication will pose a difficulty.

Making decisions, as well as, sharing problems and emotions with one another won’t be as easy. In addition, not being able to fully express or explain oneself can be frustrating. Further down the road, they’ll start resenting each other.

Another aspect to consider regarding communication is the effect of societal norms and cultural background. These two factors affect a person’s perception of language and social cues.

To give you an illustration:

Arguing with one another is deemed healthy in Greece, Italy, and most Latin countries. Confrontations among couples are seen as passionate emotional bursts. It’s seen as showing love in its raw form.

Couples fight because they care about each other. If their significant other doesn’t show this side of him/her, it’s seen as indifference. It’s generally considered offensive to keep opinions to yourself when it’s about your partner. They are expected to voice concerns out.

On the other hand, Japanese culture considers the above as taboo and against their virtue known as “gaman.” A wife/husband must accept the other wholly, including the bad. If they see an undesirable trait of their partner, they must accept it and deal with it with calm forbearance. Since it’s considered disrespectful to lash out.

Taking everything above into account, we can deduce that culture significantly affects language perception. As a result, communication in interracial relationships is more complex compared to ordinary couples.

How to deal with it: It is paramount these couples need to work on making poor communication better if they want to survive. One way to do this is by enrolling in a language class. If they want to go above and beyond, they can also include learning each other’s cultural code of conduct.

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Dealing with public scrutiny and discrimination is exhausting.

Believe it or not, a lot of people are actually against interracial marriages. Most of these people consist of older generations that are dubbed as conservatives. Some of them even go to extreme miles to express their disgusts, spewing racial slurs and physically attacking these couples.

As a consequence, intercultural couples have to constantly fight for their right to be with each other against these hate groups.

Eventually, it takes a toll on their mental health and their marriage. Shielding themselves from hate and criticism leaves them stressed and uneasy, to the point that breaking up is their only answer.

A photo of a couple sitting on a bench.
Though becoming normal in the United States, there’s still an existing stigma attached to intermarriages.

How to deal with it: Seek refuge in expat groups and couples who share the same experience as you. Build a strong support group for your marriage.

Misconceptions due to stereotypes can cause distorted perceptions.

Molding your views on a person based on stereotypes can be dangerous and harmful. Instead of getting to know the person based on real interactions, other people rely on generalized beliefs – making their perceptions distorted.

To give you an illustration:

Women from Asia are viewed as elegant, calm, and nurturing. Well, this is not entirely true. Not all of them bear these traits. As a result of this generalized belief, an expectation is created.

This pressures the woman to live up to the viewed Asian standard of how women should act. The moment she plays the role, she’s no longer herself. Interactions with her are no longer genuine and true.

How to deal with it: It’s perfectly okay to set expectations in relationships and marriage but make sure they’re realistic, reasonable, and not based on generalized notions.

Deciding where to move to — his or her home country?

Depending on how they deal with problems that come with relocating, moving overseas can either make a couple’s marriage stronger or it would cause its end.

Let’s face it, moving away from friends and family is stressful. Especially if the place you’re moving to is thousands of miles away and across oceans. Though it may be an adventure, it’s also daunting.

How to deal with it: Maintain connections with friends and family back home. Schedule regular video and voice calls. Keep updated with life back home. At the same time, don’t neglect to make new friends in the new place.

Raising kids with two cultural backgrounds.

Since both of them come from differing cultural backgrounds, each couple will have their own parenting style courtesy of the traditions and teachings they grew up with. Some of their methods might harmonize, some won’t. Culture clash is bound to happen.

A photo of a couple sitting on a bench.
Relationship issues in child-rearing can be avoided if both spouses are willing to compromise.

How to deal with it: It’s best to raise your kids as bicultural. Teach them both cultures and let them appreciate their heritage.

Working It Out Because of Love

Interracial relationships exist because of love. It’s the impetus that draws people of different backgrounds and cultural identities together. Despite being different from one another in many aspects, people in interracial couples are still ordinary humans. Who feel, love, and act. Though there will always be relationship issues that come, we shouldn’t let them take over. If you really love someone, despite color, religion, and status, you’ll fight for them to the end.

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