By Juan Santos M.S., CRC, LPCA
I wanted a catchy title when discussing the touchy topic of “interracial relationships.” It seems to be touchy because many pretend that there are no differences in the obstacles faced between same race relationships and interracial relationships. I beg to differ, along with nearly a case book of other couple’s who I have worked with.
As a couple’s expert who focuses heavily on interracial relationships, and a Hispanic male married to a Caucasian female. there are always certain barriers that interracial couples face compared to others.
Below are 3 common challenges that may break your relationship:
The list could really go on here. These are seen when:
- People are nodding or shaking their head to you or your partner in a disapproving manner. As if what you are doing is not acceptable or is deemed incorrectly.
- Not acknowledging your existence or relationship to your partner. This can take place at a family gathering when members of the family do not treat your partner – as your partner. They may use terms such as “your friend” versus “partner, spouse, husband or wife.”
- Being starred at. This one gesture can often strike deeply within an individual – “right down to the core.”
One of the most difficult challenges tends to be that which comes from the family or inner circle of friends. More often then not, you or your partner held a committed-long lasting relationship with family or friends. The interracial relationship that you engaged in created a challenge between two important areas of your life.
You may find that:
- Your relationship with your family or friend(s) becomes at risk.
- Your inner circle of friends or family members invite you and not your partner.
- Your partner is not treated as your partner.
- The family or friends dismiss any notion of a future relationship/marriage/life partners.
- Negative – unwanted gossip.
Values and Beliefs:
Interracial relationships often encompasses individuals that bring with them two very distinct cultural and traditional upbringing. Not only will you and your partner face common challenges that normally arise within a typical relationship – you will in addition face differences in areas that include (just to name a few):
- Religious beliefs
- Family cultural or traditional customs
- Differences in raising children
- Differences in treatment of family members (in-laws, etc…)
- Varying Sexual/Romantic viewpoints
As I mentioned, these are “additional” challenges that will strike your relationship and its core.
Enough talk of challenges! Lets focus the attention to
Triumphs in your interracial relationships.
Finding love is often much easier then maintaining the relationship.
The challenges mentioned above at times can greatly impact one or both party members depending on the individual’s commitment to the relationship, upbringing, and resilience. Don’t allow others to dictate your feelings. You and your partner have brought together two distinct cultures and “people” into one household. Together you made it work and furthermore you have or you may instill a blended (culture-tradition-values) to your children.
If there is any triumph that means more than others then it may be – “that you and your partner are utterly and completely in love with each other”.
It is up to you and your partner to be aware of how external and internal factors impact your relationship. If you feel that tension is building, distance is beginning to grow, or that your romantic life is spiraling down hill, make it a point to challenge the relationship – the alternative is “well I’m sure you already have that answer.”
There are endless resources available – from a professional counselor to a simple conversation with your partner. Find what the challenge is and make a plan to overcome it. Remember – that your end goal is a pretty painting of you and your partner together!