Marriage is a compromise at best. However, when you introduce major differences into a marriage such as race, religion or nationality, there are additional problems you may face. Many couples only think about the love they feel for one another until confronted with some of the problems of mixed marriages. Mixed marriages have taken place since the beginning of time. As people explored and traveled, men would fall in love with local women and either stay or take the women back home with them. Marriages of mixed religions, races or cultures have traditionally met with resistance by either party’s family or friends, or by society in general.
However, the term also defines the union of two people from different religious faiths or different nationalities. Couples who choose to enter into a mixed marriage are not immune from problems anywhere. Although some places, such as large cities in the United States, are generally more accepting, smaller towns and other countries may not be so accepting. Fortunately, tolerance and acceptance is becoming more common as laws change and the percentage of mixed marriages rises every year. Other countries have laws that make life nearly impossible for those who marry someone from another country.
For example, Indonesia only recognizes the rights of citizens. If an Indonesian woman marries someone of another nationality, their children are considered citizens of the other country, even if the family lives in Indonesia. Upon the death of the husband, the woman will have to pay fees to sponsor her children, or they will be deported to their father’s country of origin. If the woman were to die in that same scenario, her husband and children would be left homeless, as they would have no rights to any property in her name. They would also be deported without a sponsor.
The problems of mixed marriages include resistance from family, friends and society, as well as individual ideas and expectations within the relationship. Family members may feel as though the person isn’t embracing his culture or religion. They may not understand the other person’s culture. Some family members may disown the person altogether. Fathers have commonly disowned their daughters for marrying outside their race or religion. Friends may have the same issues as family members, and may react by ending the friendship or degrading their friend or her new spouse.
Society may be cruel to the couple. Mean, ignorant comments, dirty looks, discrimination and sometimes physical assaults may be perpetrated by strangers who do not understand or approve of mixed marriages. Friends, family and society in general often have misconceptions of the people entering into a mixed marriage and the problems they may face. One common concern is that the person is losing his identity, culture or heritage. It is possible for both the husband and wife of a mixed marriage to accept, understand and embrace their partner’s differences while maintaining their own.
Partners in a mixed marriage often have to be stronger and more confident within themselves and their partnership than the average couple, due to the additional complications they will likely encounter from family, friends and society. Children are a common concern and source of problems within mixed marriages. Couples with different religious convictions may not agree on which faith to teach their children. The best way to avoid this problem is to discuss it at length before conceiving a child.
Although things may change once the child is born, in-depth discussions and compromises can dispel potential problems. Teaching the children both faiths and letting them decide upon adulthood is a compromise many couples make. Children born of interracial or multinational couples should be taught the culture and heritage of both parents. Making children choose to identify with only part of their background is a recipe for disaster later in life. Society has long used the excuse that opposition to mixed marriages is based on the problems children would have to face because of their parents’ decisions.
However, many notable children born to interracial or international couples have thrived. These people include renowned golfer Tiger Woods, actress Halle Berry and the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. The only real way to clear up the problems is to talk about them and come to a sort of understanding about what you will and will not be doing in your life. Sometimes, families just want to hear what the future will bring so that they know what to expect of a relationship. By avoiding the discussion, you might be inadvertently raising their hopes.
Have the conversation that tells family members what you agreed to in your marriage whether they agree or not is not something that you can control, but letting them know the truth is something that they can respect. Or at least, will respect in time. If your interracial marriage is having difficulties, don’t assume that the problem is based because of your racial differences. Here are some coping strategies to help deal with issues that could be hurting your interracial marriage relationship. •Do follow what you feel and truly believe in your hearts. •Do not let what others think about your marriage worry you. Do show mutual respect for one another and for one another’s cultures. If your differences are creating problems for you, brainstorm together for some solutions. •Do remain realistic about your differences and about what you have in common. •Do not ignore your differences thinking that they will just go away. They won’t disappear because you don’t talk about them. •Do work on bringing your families together. •Do not defend your parents if they try to interfere in your marriage. Take a stand together and set boundary. •Do help your children to understand and be proud their mixed racial identity.
Any view of interracial marriages must be taken in light of interracial relationships. In the current global climate, there is both increased tension and greater openness. People are more likely to engage in activities that cross racial and ethnic boundaries. However, there also continues to be prejudice and fear about racial ethnic groups with whom many people have little contact. Nevertheless, when people strive to understand the traditions, values, and beliefs that are endemic to the many groups that make up our global societies, then they will be better able and more inclined to work together for the good of all.