Interracial Marriage and Cultural Differences

Interracial Marriage and Cultural Differences

The infamous case of Loving v. Virginia resulted in a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized interracial marriage in the United States and created a precedent for future interracial unions. Despite its evolution, interracial marriage can still present cultural challenges. However, with counseling, education, and understanding, these challenges can be overcome.

The Story of Loving v. Virginia

Mildred and Richard Loving met and fell in love in high school, and then married in 1967. Unfortunately, Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 caused both Mildred and Richard to be jailed for committing what the law at the time stated was a criminal act. Thankfully, the Supreme Court Ruling caused state laws banning interracial marriage to finally be struck down.

Mildred and Richard Loving’s decision to get and remain married was a decision they made based on their love for one another. Even so, the couple likely still faced a host of cultural and social challenges.

Ignoring negative attitudes and opinions surrounding an interracial marriage can place much stress on a union. On the other hand, acknowledging and addressing cultural differences can strengthen and protect a couple. Participating in premarital counseling offers these benefits and many more.

Premarital Counseling

Sustaining a marriage with cultural differences can be challenging and often draining on a relationship. Getting counseling before marriage can help identify cultural and other stressors that a couple may be facing now, and may face in the future. Obtaining premarital counseling allows interracial marriages to develop an understanding of each other’s world views and cultures. In addition,  counseling can give a deeper understanding of a partner’s experiences and how those experiences have impacted them.

Premarital counseling can help open communication between a couple, and start a conversation about issues that may otherwise have never been discussed. It can also identify areas of the partnership that may not have been explored, such as which holidays will be celebrated, and the role that in-laws will play during these celebrations. Identifying these potential issues can help couples to be better equipped to deal with them should they arise.

Help with Navigating the Challenges

Marital issues are common in any type of union. For interracial couples,  understanding a spouse’s cultural background can be a tool for navigating marital issues. Because maintaining an emotional connection can pose challenging when marital issues are present, it’s vitally important to build a foundation that brings intimacy to the relationship.

Exploring marital issues privately can benefit both partners. However, both premarital and individual counseling can help couples identify and resolve their differences. Each counseling type can serve to enhance the private conversations a couple may already be having, as well as provide a solution when discussion has not been fruitful.

Through counseling, couples can be honest with one another about their ability to handle their communication, financial, religious and family issues, and work out solutions as a team.

diverse family

The kind of education that counseling provides will help an interracial couple to predict social responses and defuse any issues before any subsequent problems in the marriage can develop. Couples are able to explore any false beliefs and discuss their own interpretation of these beliefs, which can help partners to explore the relationship and its premise.

Partners may be directed to books about their spouse’s culture, which can begin an open discussion about political, social, and familial issues that may affect the marriage. They may also receive education about other types of counseling, which can help them come to terms with any individual issues that may cause interference after a couple is married.

Raising Children

Raising children in a culturally diverse family can often result in challenges that are outside the norm of what other families experience. Families that share cultural differences adapt by creating their own norms and values. A well-thought-out strategy that includes the cultural norms, beliefs, and values of both partners will positively affect their world view.

Aspects of this strategy can include education about traditional customs and privilege, providing diverse cultural choices, and creating a safe place where children can express themselves. All will be paramount to their development as individuals. Teaching children about their cultural identities at home can have an impact throughout their lives.

Providing positive stories of individuals from both racial backgrounds will help children understand both cultures.  Learning about other cultures besides their own will provide the perspective which children can use to develop their own unique view.

Introducing mentors from both cultures can be helpful for blended families. Role models and adults who share in the same cultural background are ideal for helping children understand their own identities. When a child is taught to value their own diversity, they will be more inclined to value all diversity.

It’s important that parents start conversations about customs, culture, social standards, and religious beliefs and traditions with their children. An example of this would be discussing the custom of having an elderly grandparent eventually come to live in a Filipino or Hispanic household. When a child understands the reasons for these traditions, they can develop a deep respect for the cultural background of each parent.

Continuing to Understand Cultural Differences

As couples continue to develop their cultural awareness, they may experience many negative reactions from family and friends. Stereotyping, stares, insults, and ostracizing may all occur as a couple changes their perception of their own and their partner’s culture.

Couples who are unable to solve these issues despite their efforts to do so can greatly benefit from therapy. A therapist can narrow the focus while maintaining a realistic view of these issues. The result is the ability to find the best possible solutions for handling these kinds of racial and cultural conflicts. Attending a couple’s retreat can bring a sense of confidence and awareness to the relationship, strengthening each partner individually and the marriage as a whole.

Getting counseling can provide interracial couples with the education and understanding they need to be able to support one another. The more enhanced a couple’s communication skills are, the faster they will be at overcoming negative situations and their aftermaths.

As with any relationship, it’s important for each partner to address their individual issues before getting married. Marriage counseling in San Diego that specializes in interracial marriage can be instrumental in increasing the closeness and strength of marriage for the rest of the life of a couple.