By Guest Blogger Juan Santos M.S., CRC, LCMHC
As a clinician, a basic foundation of my job is to support others in their journey of life. To walk with individuals and at times couples in understanding creative ways to solve problems and build a life that each can embrace with happiness and contentment.
In this reading, I want to give you an inside look at conversations guided by questions that take place in an interracial relationship. One unique experience of what it is like to be in an Interracial relationship, all from the perspective of a foreign-born Latino counselor. I hope that readers are able to learn, grow, and maybe even enjoy a few laughs.
Do people stare at us?
The perfect place to start for this question seems to be the most common place of gathering. A kitchen table, or a table that people gather around to eat. Tables like these are seen in homes and restaurants. I could be a rich man at this point if added up the amount of “interesting” stares my wife and I receive when dining out.
It’s an curious thing to truly dive into. This particular meal, my wife and I sat back while waiting for our meal. Observing and gathering thoughts. Asking each other the question of do other couples receive similar stares. It’s moments like this that can break or make a relationship. After all, some of the stares stem from the rejection of our unity.
She is Caucasian. I am Latino. She was born in the USA and I, in the Dominican Republic. Her skin is fare and my brown. We love each other for many reasons, among them is our differences. Yet, it can be easy for couples to push away. To drown into the stares from strangers. To swim with the unwelcoming looks.
The magic question is, does this happen to other couples who are not in a Interracial relationship?
I guess you can say I’ve been there too. So has my wife. We have both dated within our race. Within our color. I do not recall the stares. I do not recall the comments.
That day, we sat at the table and ate. We had two options, one to become captured by the audience, to read into the stares and question our relationship, and to develop thoughts of why they can’t accept me or us.
The other option is to accept that people walk in their own journey, to focus on each other and to acknowledge the acceptance and love that is taking place.
That day, we sat and talked about our differences and similarities as a way to come together versus pull apart.
How do friends and family feel about the relationship?
This is such an interesting question, because we as people are often tightly interconnected to the journey of those closest to us. Some of us walk a very similar path as our family and others as our friends.
This question in many ways can push thoughts of distance. At one point in my relationship, I felt a push from my families in their desire to nudge my wife closer to what made them feel comfortable. This came in the form of, “When are you going to learn Spanish?” or “When are you having kids?”
These questions may seem subtle and soft. However, from my perspective and using my cultural spider senses, I acknowledge the push. It’s a push that can make a person feel as if who they are is not enough or that their journey should be influenced by the opinions of another.
In our relationship, this led my wife and I to tighten our connection. To grow closer. We used moments like the one shared to come together and communicate. I opened up about my culture and the dynamics of family systems. She did the same. We then found ourselves learning and growing.
It’s moments like the one shared that can nurture or hurt a relationship. As a couple, we have found that what works for us is learning as much as we can about our culture and background. From that point, we work to build a philosophy for our marriage. A philosophy that is founded by our core values.
As you walk away from this reading, I’d like to give you two nuggets from a person in an interracial relationship and counselor that supports couples.
Nugget number 1: As a couple, take time to learn as much as you can about each other’s life story and how culture has influenced your life. Use the knowledge learned to come together.
Nugget number 2: Develop a philosophy that guides your marriage. This will help to reduce the external voices that may hurt your relationship.
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