Being in an interracial relationship is amazing! I gotta say that right away. It is awesome and I love so many things about it. My wife and I did have a lot to learn as our relationship went from friendship to dating to engagement and eventually to marriage. We had several challenges that we didn’t anticipate yet we needed to work through together.
This is a short list of just some of the conversations we realized that we eventually needed to have and maybe this will help some who haven’t thought it through together. Even if you’re not in an interracial relationship, this would be beneficial to think about as you may have friends or family that are and you want to know how to love and support them.
Five conversations Interracial Couples Should Have:
1) Negative Reactions
This is one of the most important things to figure out as a couple is how you will handle negative reactions. I have had people who have quoted bible verses at me to declare my marriage is unbiblical though they had no idea I knew those verses very well and knew they had taken them out of context. As well their have been people who commented on how our kids would look and have made several other negative statements. I was surprised the extent of the opposition that has came. Interracial couples can hear negative feedback from church members, co-workers, friends, extended family and even sometimes immediate family. Talking through this together as a couple is important.
As an interracial couple, you will experience many stares and looks. Learning to have immediate attention is hard, I can only imagine what it’s like for young celebrities. But one thing that I have found important is to remember that no matter the reason I receive attention, I’d like us to turn our attention into a good thing. Many times we can get so mad at the stares people would give us but screaming “Stop staring at me” in public won’t exactly cause everyone to not notice you.
As a couple, It would be good to discuss the attention and sometimes staring you may receive and how you plan on handling it. Find out if it makes either of you so uncomfortable that maybe one of you may need to politely address the situation.
Many times friends and family can get very comfortable with jokes and slight statements and can make remarks that they deem as innocent but can be very hurtful. It is important to talk through these feelings together so that you can support each other in every way. As a couple there may be times where you feel that each other is all you have. Know your partners feelings well enough to know boundaries that hurt when they are crossed. Too often slight remarks in a marriage can be made without regard for feelings. It is important to always remain sensitive with each other but as well, partners should speak up for each other in instances where offensive statements are made.
I’d advise to take the time to sit and discuss area’s that can be concerning and maybe even dig into each other and see if there have been any recent area’s that have been hurtful. Whether or not it is from each other or someone else. It’s good to discuss how you plan to handle these situations as a couple.
4) Racial Identity
Race has different meaning for different people. Some people embrace their racial make-up, others may avoid it. Some people take pride in going to certain ethnic events that represent much from their background and much of their racial identity. It can affect your choice in foods, movies, music, churches, clothing and even social groups. The difficulty for an interracial couple is that naturally this can all be ignored. But for the health of your relationship, this is a great conversation to have. It ultimately will help you to know each other better and to know what preferences you have over different things.
I’d encourage some thorough discussions about this. Find out each others cultural preferences and learn to try them together. Embrace each others backgrounds while building a new culture in your home.
My wife asked me to take our son(who is African-American) to get his hair cut. He has a good barber. I had to get my hair cut and I have a good barber(White guy). I got my haircut and as I was paying thought, “instead of going to this other shop, I’ll just have my barber cut his hair.” (Many people are reading this and throwing pens at their computer). We came home and our son had a haircut I didn’t think looked bad but I’ll just say that my wife and I had a long talk.
Hair is a topic that I didn’t think would be an issue but I had lots to learn on it as well for how I can love and support my wife with how she cares for her hair. This doesn’t apply to every interracial couple but for those it does apply to, this is a topic that needs to be understood well by both spouses.
While this not an exhaustive list, this is a good start for couples as they work through issues that could be challenges together. There are topics I have had to learn from in time that are on this list and other topics that thankfully, wiser people advised me to be aware of. Regardless, enjoy learning each other and continuing to build your relationship.