Intercultural and Interracial Marriage
and interracial marriages are subject to special stresses and strains
beyond those experienced in most marriages. That's because such
marriages have a built-in difference in areas that can be especially
intercultural and interracial issues are apparent from early in
the relationship. Differences often emerge during wedding planning,
and these can involve the expectations of partners' families of
origin about the wedding ceremony, etc. Child rearing can also bring
religious, cultural and/or racial issues to the surface as decisions
about religious practices and education are confronted for the first
Of course, all couples
have some differences and couples can learn to manage and resolve
these differences. When a relationship has interfaith, intercultural
and/or interracial issues, learning to approach difference in a
constructive way is especially important.
For your marriage, the
three most important things to know about cultural, racial and religious
differences, issues and influences are:
1 - Problems and conflicts
often involve assumptions and expectations that are so much a part
of the fabric of your background and identity that you aren't even
consciously aware of them. Partners must explore their core beliefs
and first feel clear about their own identity before deciding how
these beliefs will mesh with those of a partner. All couples negotiate
differences when marrying. Two individuals from two different families
form a new identity and must choose what traditions, habits and
beliefs to bring into their marriage. This process is more complex
for couples who are from different cultures, races and religions.
2 - Successful intercultural,
interracial and interfaith relationships have special challenges,
but also special rewards for those who are willing to manage differences
in core beliefs not only with their partners, but also with their
families, communities and society at large. This doesn't happen
automatically. It will take work and sensitivity to self and others.
3 - Whatever decisions
and choices you make as a couple about resolving and managing your
cultural, religious and racial differences will affect your children.
Their reactions to these issues and the reactions of others to them
will need your attention throughout their childhood. This is true
whether your children look different from one or both of you and
other kids they know - or whether the differences are more internal.
While our society is becoming increasingly multicultural and mixed,
kids are sometimes much more confused and less tolerant of differences
than adults are.
It is also important
to know that there are five basic patterns for managing cultural,
racial and religious differences that can be successful:
adopts beliefs, traditions and rituals from multiple sources, including
ones outside the cultures, races and religions of origin. Spiritual
practices may be nontraditional.
Secular - Couple takes
a nonreligious approach to life and is minimally involved in the
practice of cultural and religious beliefs, rituals and traditions.
Bi-cultural- Couple tries
to balance the beliefs, traditions and rituals from each partner's
cultural, religious and racial backgrounds. If there are two languages,
the children will probably speak both.
- Couple adopts a single religion - either from one partner's background
or a mutually agreeable "compromise" religion - yet tries
to honor the beliefs and traditions of both partners in a selective,
but relatively balanced way. If there are two languages, the children
may or may not speak both.
Assimilated - One partner
assimilates and converts to the beliefs, traditions and rituals
of the other partner's cultural, religious and racial background.
Many of these ideas are
adapted from Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial,
Interethnic, and Interfaith Relationships by Joel Crohn, Ph.D. We
recommend reading this excellent book to learn more about interfaith,
intercultural and interracial marriage issues.
here to learn more about or buy this book through our bookstore
Mixed faith, cultural
and racial couples find that MST marriage preparation helps to address
the special challenges that such relationships can pose. MST includes
an special optional seminar section to help couples begin to specifically
address interfaith, intercultural and/or interracial issues.
MST functions as an immunization
that boosts your capacity to handle these potential difficulties.
It fortifies your marriage immune system by giving you an early
alert to potential areas of challenge and providing you with the
skills and opportunity to resolve and manage these challenges before
stress and conflict emerge.
MST pre-marriage preparation
seminars are designed to help couples build the skills and understanding
that they will need to succeed in interfaith, intercultural and/or
interracial marriages. They'll also get help to overcome all of
the other issues that challenge couples in modern marriage. MST
is religion-neutral and based on the latest marriage research.
Don't wait for problems
to emerge, take preventive action to promote the happiness and success
of your marriage.
/ rescue seminar - Click here if you're married more than a year
here to learn more about the benefits of marriage preparation.
here to learn about Marriage Success Training seminars.
2003, Patricia S. & Gregory A. Kuhlman. You may copy this article
for non-commercial use provided that no changes are made and this
copyright notice, author credit and stayhitched.com source citation