Relationships of every type are faced with a wide variety of problems and challenges in any given situation. Whether it involves our coworkers, neighbors, friends or family – the dynamics are relatively similar and predictable within a common cultural framework. These dynamics become more complex where marriage is concerned and differences in personalities come to the forefront. While these issues can be challenging enough for any married couple, there are additional difficulties specific to couples in a mixed marriage.
For the purpose of this paper, mixed marriage is defined as a marriage of two people from different races, religions or cultures. Different customs and cultural backgrounds can directly impact your marriage and family life, as they tend to teach different values and priorities. This is particularly true in cases where a husband and wife were raised in different parts of the world. SPECIFIC POINTS Acceptance of the mix-marriage — is a major obstacle as often times the families of both partners do not approve of their marriage.
Mixed-marriage couples deal with unique challenges compared to traditional couples. The challenge with interracial couples is respecting each other’s race and culture. If not, this can have a ripple effect to the extended family. Social attitude and prejudices For instance, one partner’s prevalent social attitudes and common prejudices may begin to show more openly one day. “When this happens, all you can do is to maintain a good-natured attitude and have lots of patience,” Hans adds. But potential obstacles need to be clearly identified and frankly addressed before moving ahead.
Nationalistic, ethnic, or social pride can also drive a wedge between otherwise loving spouses. One partner may (subconsciously) feel superior because he or she grew up in a “higher” socio-economic class than the other. Or a spouse may feel owed something for having legalized the other’s citizenship through matrimony. Pride also raises its head when one spouse believes that the other’s culture or beliefs are inferior or strange, thereby discounting the other person’s importance in the relationship.
Racial offenses – You want to avoid making any remarks including those in a joking manner. You can also simply make this clear to those around you by telling them that you will avoid interactions with someone who continues to be negative regarding your marriage. Firmly tell the person you will not spend time with anyone who expresses racist views. Interracial couples sometimes experience rejection or stress from their own families. This may occur because of traditional beliefs that people should marry of the same cultural background.
Regardless of whether this is an issue in your marriage, it’s still important to remember to respect the beliefs and traditions of your partner’s family. Interracial relationships are much more common today. However, they can still bring unique challenges. Along with being aware of these four areas but also having sensitive and open communication, an interracial marriage can overcome the additional challenges. Yet it also offers plenty of opportunities for couples to learn from each other and to gain new perspectives on their lives and marriage.
Communication is a key issue — The nonverbal stimuli in a communication, like body language, can also lead to wrong expression and misunderstanding by different cultures. In addition, factor for space between people, certain actions, even a sense of taste needs to be taken to consideration. Communication of symbol is also important and can represent a group’s identity — speech like what’s up, and ‘yo’ are popular in Malaysia. Non verbal communication, High context and low context communication.
Communication can be one of the biggest difficulties facing interracial or intercultural couples. This can include the challenge of literally speaking different languages. At first, couples tend to enjoy hearing another language spoken, but this can also become a point of contention when misunderstandings occur or when the “foreign” language is spoken at family gatherings. Communication also becomes an issue when it affects the way a couple solves problems. Family Structure — issues such as male dominated societies (marriage culture), differing concepts of raising children.
It always makes sense to find out as much as possible about your partner’s family but it makes special sense to do so in mixed marriages – especially concerning the culture and its traditional family structures. Mixed marriages often face additional struggles and challenges in the field of parenting. Raising a child always leads to conflicts if the parents are not on the same page. We weren’t sure how to raise our kid. Whose traditions do we pass on? ” “My friends here do not struggle as much as we do.
But then again, they don’t have to synchronize two different sets of cultural and religious backgrounds,” Hans concedes. The involvement of extended family members in the child-rearing process, behavioral expectations, and the question of what is considered appropriate frequently cause heated discussions between Hans and Ruba. “Interestingly enough, we have always found a compromise so far. Despite our different outlooks, it helps us to know that we both want the best for our child.
It’s not easy, but we have some common ground in that. For example, I agreed that Eman should be raised as a Muslim because her faith is very important to my wife. But I didn’t want her grandparents to have too much of a say. For me, child-rearing is the parents’ responsibility – and only theirs. ” Different cultural attitudes towards the respective roles of men and women in the home can play havoc with this area of the relationship unless husbands and wives can find ways to turn conflicts into opportunities for learning and growth.
Religion and Politics — Partners in mixed marriages may be supportive of each other’s religious beliefs but still often run into unexpected issues. Differences in the way people in these marriages celebrate certain holidays or have dietary restrictions are to be expected. Politics can be problematic if world view is highly polarized – ie. Convervative/Liberal/Socialist/Communist Food Culture — We often clash over specific issues, like food. It drives me crazy that she doesn’t even let me cook pork. I think our arguments have gotten worse since the birth of our daughter.
As in any relationship or marriage, both partners have to be flexible and open-minded when facing unexpected arguments and issues. INFORMATION TO DRAW FROM FOR SUMMARY OR WHATEVER In the first place, it’s important to acknowledge and understand how contrasting customs and cultural backgrounds are likely to impact your marriage and family life. The way you’re brought up is the way you’ll live unless you make a conscious choice to embrace another option. Different customs and cultures teach different values and priorities.
Normally, this means that interracial or multicultural couples have a unique need to bend, flex, compromise, and accommodate to one another’s contrasting ways of looking at life. This is especially true if a husband and wife grew up in different parts of the world. “In mixed marriages, arguments may come up more often because of the different cultural backgrounds,” Ruba says. “It’s just a lot more challenging. ” Clashing values – When you come from different families of origin, you will make different assumptions about how a family works. These assumptions won’t always be compatible.
However, this is the case in most marriages. In an interracial relationship, there’s a good chance that at least some of these challenges will be accented, especially if you choose to have children. Comparisons – You and your partner bring unique differences to the marriage. These differences should be embraced and may likely be some of the most enriching parts of your lives. You want to discuss with your partner what you each consider most important in any traditions or cultural beliefs. 1. You both come from ends of the world, where the way of life is totally different.
Yours will be a major leap of adjustments. The difference in practices about religion as well as political beliefs may have to result to one acquiescing to the other’s belief just to have a harmonious relationship. 2. Prejudice on social practices, such as sex-selective abortion, often cause early breakup of the marriage as one may not be ready to fully embrace this new-found culture you are bound to live due to marriage. 3. The language barrier often results to miscommunication and misunderstanding that sadly leads to divorce or separation.
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