Intermarriage is the marriage between two people of different racial, cultural or religious backgrounds. Often known as a "mixed marriage," intermarriage grew in America during the 20th century as social boundaries between blacks and whites, and between immigrants and natives, blurred. Intermarried couples face a host of challenges and problems, ranging from how they deal with each other, how they are perceived by society and how they raise their children.
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Spouses who come from different cultural or religious backgrounds may run into difficulty resolving certain deeply held cultural views about family roles, child-rearing, financial management and emotional expressiveness. Gender roles often differ greatly, depending on the culture, which can quickly lead to conflict in the home. Intermarriage can also come with communication barriers. Even if the couple speaks the same language, different cultures have their own ways of communicating through nonverbal cues and other nuances.
Sometimes the family of one spouse -- or even both families -- will disapprove of an interracial or intercultural marriage. The result may be either a strain in the couple's own relationship or increased tensions with family members, or both. The National Healthy Marriage Resources Center notes that it is difficult to maintain a strong marriage without a support network, and strained familial relationships can erode that support.
An intermarried couple may face discrimination in day-to-day encounters with society. There were laws against intermarriage in the United States as recently as 1967, according to the National Healthy Marriages Resource Center, and many people still frown upon intermarriage. Pervasive negative attitudes toward the practice can cause some in society to treat the couple poorly, and it may also cause the couple to become reluctant to bear children over fears of how society would treat the child, NHMRC says.
Raising children can prove difficult for an interracial couple, and some biracial or multiracial children may choose to identify with one of the parent's races or neither. Some parents may find this difficult to deal with. Raising children is also difficult for a couple with a mixed religious or cultural background, as the children may show ambivalence to the parents' practices.
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