Issues in Interracial Marriages

Written by kate bradley
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Issues in Interracial Marriages
A strong bond and commitment can help keep any marriage together. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

The divorce rate in America is often calculated at around 50 per cent. Financial problems, child-rearing disputes and growing apart plague thousands of couples every year. For interracial couples, the pressure can be even more intense. The social and emotional difficulties virtually inherent in interracial marriage make the journey all the more challenging.

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Myths

The most common myths that challenge interracial marriages are those that pertain to the couples' reasons for getting married. An Asian-Caucasian union can prompt others to suggest that the marriage resulted from the Caucasian wanting a "smart kid." A black-Caucasian union can come with the unspoken assumption from others that the black (especially a black male) married the Caucasian for a status symbol or a social advantage, or that the Caucasian is rebelling against family or has psychological or self-esteem issues. Even close, healthy couples can experience uncertainty when confronting the myths that they married for immoral or unwise reasons.

Racism and Negative Stereotyping

Despite society's slowly growing acceptance of interracial marriages, racism still exists, and interracial couples often feel the sting of others' ignorance. In social situations, half of the couple may be snubbed while the other is welcomed. In extreme situations, couples may be subject to jeers or snide remarks. If one member of the couple is a stay-at-home spouse, others may assume it's because she is lazy. Still others will assume that either or both spouses married out of self-hate, or that interracial marriages are naturally entered into by people prone to marital infidelity. These stereotypes and hurtful behaviour can put a strain on interracial marriages, particularly if one spouse begins to resent the other as a result.

Ostracism

Spouses in an interracial marriage can quickly begin to feel isolated without the acceptance of family, friends and even the general public. Some families will refuse to accept a spouse outside their own race. Others will passively exclude the couple from family gatherings. Friends who fear backlash or criticism from non-accepting individuals may begin to limit or even cut off contact with the couple. Businesses may refuse to serve the couple or treat them less professionally than other clients. Without the support of family and friends, however, the spouses may find their union crumbling as each decides it's better to lose a partner than so many other important people.

Divergent Cultures

Even the most devoted interracial couple must overcome the obstacles inherent in coming from two different cultures. One spouse may feel that loud, exuberant family gatherings are normal, while the other was raised in a much more sedate setting. Couples may strongly disagree on the appropriate use of discipline for children or have much different ideas about how best to spend their money. One spouse may celebrate holidays that the other does not or practice a different religion. While the cultural differences may seem unimportant during courtship, the birth of children and the integration of the two families can quickly demonstrate how important it is to be "on the same page."

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