Relationships, where two people belong to different races and cultures, still face racism by many. As a result, they are many times discriminated against by family, friends, and society. Even though the numbers of interracial marriages are gradually rising, there are still negative attitudes regarding them.
It is easy to feel comfortable talking about fun and light things, as well, as things we like talking about. Many may have a negative attitude towards situations they are not familiar or comfortable with, such as with bi-racial marriages. Additionally, America is still dealing with systemic racism, so this does not help to generate more acceptance of bi-racial couples.
Here are some of the problems many bi-racial couples face and how to provide support to your partner:
- When there are unhealthy assumptions between inter-racial partners
In an interracial relationship, a partner should not assume that the other person likes or dislikes something because they are from a particular race. This may offend the person and, as a result, strain their relationship. To overcome this struggle, strive to stop making assumptions about your partner. Instead, it is best if you tried to find out your partner’s interests and views of life so that you can enjoy every interaction with them. Communicate with your partner and ask questions instead of assuming.
- Some inter-racial couples never talk about racism.
Although racism is real all over the world, although a lot of people, more so interracial couples shy away from talking about it. An interracial couple will claim that their love is more than enough to conquer even huge monsters such as racism, and they, therefore, rarely talk about it. Racial discrimination can be a real issue to inter-racial partners, whereby one of the partner’s relatives fail to accept their spouse because of their race. Such couples may ignore the racist remarks made on them, which may lead to future communication breakdown. To overcome this obstacle, open all channels of communication from the moment you start dating. If you haven't done so in the past, start now. This way, you can begin to address any issues. If the issue is that your family doesn’t accept your partner, let them talk to you about how they feel, and then validate each other’s feelings and work on understanding how you may deal with the relative.
- Some partners in an inter-racial relationship may feel superior.
Not every interracial relationship is healthy as some partners may think that they are more superior to their partners because of their race. They may keep on making racial comments, which may hurt their loved ones. To start, partners should refrain from making comments of superiority and learning about racism and systemic racism should be the next step. If this continues to be the case, then there may be some personality issues that may be happening such as Narcissism--where the person feels superior to everyone, not just to people of color, or the partner may have deep rooted insecurities--where putting others down is one way to feel less pity for him or herself.
- Inter-racial couples allow other people’s opinions to affect their lives.
Generally, people care about what their friends and families think about them. However, family and friends may not understand why you are in a relationship with a person of a different race. When you listen to other people’s opinions, you may end up feeling emotionally drained, and it can affect the way you communicate with your partner. When a friend judges you for having a partner from a different race, creating a boundary around this is very important, where letting the friend know this is not ok. If the friend does not respect the boundary, choosing to end the friendship may be the next right thing to do.
It is essential to recognize that anybody can have a relationship with anyone from any race or culture in these current times. People should not be discriminated against or punished because of their inter-racial relationships, but it can also not be ignored that this is an important factor to openly talk about with your partner as it will be a challenge you may face repeatedly.
- Know Your Differences
If you're in a biracial relationship, chances are, you might also have cultural differences. You might have a different point of view regarding topics such as religion, diet, birth control, parenting preferences, grief, finances, sex, extended family relationships, gender roles, communication styles, and traditions. You will need to be open to discussing these differences and be willing to compromise.
The racial and cultural differences in your biracial marriage won't necessarily cause your relationship to fail. What can cause a biracial marriage to fall apart is the failure to handle each other's differences and omitting to talk about the stresses each of you is experiencing.
If you feel you need an unbiased third party to mediate these conversations, by all means, seek a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
- Raising Biracial Children
If you are planning on having children, or already do, start talking about how you will raise them. When you start talking about this, the key is to help your children understand and appreciate their mixed identity.
Make sure to provide your children with positive stories of both of your family histories. As your children grow up, listen to them share their concerns. It's common for events in their lives to occur based on people stereotyping them, or for them to experience racism. Developing an open line of communication is key. Acknowledge their questions directly and don't forget to validate their feelings. Talk about their concerns as a family.
Always remember, what you face together, makes you stronger.
Your therapy friend,
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SOFIA M. ROBIROSA
Sofia Robirosa is the owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services and is a Relationships & Parenting Expert. She offers individual, couples, and family counseling to individuals seeking to enhance their relationships. Her private practice is located in Plantation, FL. She attended Nova Southeastern University for both her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and in Business Administration. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Leader in Active Parenting for children and teens, an evidenced based program. She is also a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She is a passionately committed therapist, who thoroughly takes pride and joy from her job. She enjoys working with a culturally diverse population and is bilingual in Spanish and English. She is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and an active volunteer of the Broward Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves her family, which consists of her husband, daughter, and two dogs. Some of her interests outside of work include spending time outdoors, traveling, and dining.