An Insider’s Guide to a Successful Interracial or Mixed Marriage
When two people join in marriage, they are joining together not only lives, bank accounts, pets, and a car, they also are joining together culture in marriage. Naturally no two people are alike, but when you add in that your spouse’s family grew up in a small town in the Northeast and your family hails from a tropical Caribbean island, his family speaks only English (and maybe some Polish) and your family may speak Spanish or Creole, and that his family members look like they have never seen the sun but your family look like they have lived in a tanning salon their whole lives, joining together in an interracial or mixed marriage involves more than just a little tender loving care.
Stereotypes About Race and Culture in Your Marriage
No matter what culture you and your spouse come from, there is always guaranteed to be certain misconceptions about culture. While it may seem less confrontational to let these cultural or racial stereotypes slide, eventually these cultural misconceptions can drill small holes in an otherwise happy mixed marriage.
Wait until a time when you and your spouse are calm and rested. The best thing to do is to speak to your spouse about how these cultural or racial stereotypes make each of you feel, why you or your spouse grew up believing these cultural stereotypes, and how you will handle and avoid saying hurtful things like this in the future. Handling cultural or racial stereotypes is also important if you decide to have children or have stepchildren. You do not want your children growing up believing false things about their culture or feeling ashamed of their culture.
Mixed Marriage Language Barriers
Assumably you and your spouse communicated well enough to enter into an interracial or mixed marriage in the first place. However, sometimes language can become an issue with extended family members that may or not understand you or your spouse’s language or culture. No matter what, always include both families in celebrations, phone calls, dinners, and other family times. Language does not matter when a family is concerned. So enjoy the challenges of communication when everyone gets together. You might find yourself playing translator half of the time, but the memories will be worth it.
Holidays and Celebrations
With my family being Latino, I am used to enjoying a good Noche’ Buena dinner on Christmas Eve, some good Cuban food for Thanksgiving, and celebrating a girl’s Quiñceanera on her fifteenth birthday. My husband remembers opening one special gift on Christmas Eve and enjoying Italian and Polish dinners at family celebrations. Because we both share the same Christian beliefs, we do celebrate generally the same holidays, even if each of our family’s culture celebrated each holiday differently. If you and your spouse are of different religious faiths, you definitely want to discuss how you will celebrate each other’s traditions and how to pass these traditions on your to your children.
Intercultural Customs in Your Marriage
There will be many cultural differences when you first enter into an interracial or mixed marriage. Over time, you will learn (and continue to learn) how to blend each culture into your own family traditions. Whether it is your firm belief in chaperoning, your spouse’s reserved demeanor amidst your hugging and kissing family members, your love of sushi and his love of venison, or even different ideas on modesty, discipline, or finances, you will find that if you love your spouse, the bending over backwards and constantly compromising will lead to a marriage rich in culture and joy.