Every relationship has its challenges without then having to compensate for being in a interracial relationship. Although being from different cultures has many advantages, it also brings with it many challenges. As an interracial couple there is no doubt that you will face many challenges externally to your relationship. However there are also many challenges that are faced on a daily basis internally, between you and your partner.
These challenges can take a lot more to overcome at first when you are both learning about one another. The society we are raised in shapes us from a young age, which means many already have preconceived notions about what a relationship entails. When you both come from different cultural backgrounds there can be a tendency to bring your own cultural preconceived notions about relationships with you. Which can bring with it many challenges that you must overcome.
So what are common challenges faced by interracial couples? Here are five challenges of an interracial relationship.
One of the biggest hurdles faced internally by interracial couples is having different expectations. Simply because the society we are raised in shapes us from a young age. Many of us already have preconceived notions about what a relationship entails, and when you both are from different cultural backgrounds there can be a tendency to bring your own cultural preconceived notions with you.
When you first fall in love you both think you share the same view point, until reality sets in. The reality of the daily grind can soon make you realise just how differently you view things. This can bring with it some heated conversations when you both don't see eye to eye.
When these situations arise it is best to try to put yourself in your partners shoes. Try to think about the situation from their view point and understand where they are coming from. Learning to communicate effectively and compromise is key to making an interracial relationship last.
Whenever my husband and I have disagreements and he has offended me, I always think to myself, "Do I want to be right or happy?". You need to be quick to forgive the small stuff if you want to keep a happy relationship. Try to understand why they have said what they said. As most communication becomes lost in translation due to different cultural contexts.
You also need to pick your battles and decide if what you're arguing over is actually worth fighting for. If it is something that is important to you, and you can't come to a compromise. Try talking things over again once you have both cooled down and see if that helps put things into a clearer perspective.
It may feel that your relationship is set up to fail when you have so many differences. Yet it is these challenges that strengthen an interracial relationship. It allows you to learn about one another and grow together as a couple.
Language barriers aren't only about learning your partner's language but understanding how your partner communicates and the context in which something is said. Communication in any relationship plays such a vital role to understanding ones wants and needs to maintain a healthy relationship.
However what happens when you and your partner speak two different cultures? You both appear to be speaking English though each of you uses it in context relative to your own culture. This can make for some heated arguments or lead to insecurities simply because your partner doesn't speak the same culture as you. This is when communication becomes lost in translation.
Though with that said, managing the cultural barrier can actually be more beneficial for your relationship, even if it sometimes makes communication more protracted. Because of the differences between cultures and in some instances even language, means you are going to ask more questions and never take anything at face value. By not solely relying on what one has said verbally, can bring you more in touch with one another emotionally and physically.
Remember that love can be expressed in many different ways and words is just one of those ways. Try not to get caught up in what is said and learn to pick up on other queues such as body language and cultural context.
Read more about Lost In Translation: When Communication Is Misinterpreted In Interracial Relationships
Pressures From Family & Society
Unfortunately with interracial couples not all family are supportive of their loved one's marrying outside of their heritage. Your partners family may face societal challenges of their own should you both marry outside of your own culture. This particularly resonates with those who marry into the Indian Culture where arranged marriages are still prevalent in today's society.
When one or both of you come from a society that is rich in culture and tradition, it is more than likely that they will be very family oriented. When it comes to the Indian Culture you don't just marry your partner, you marry a family.
There won't only be pressures from family, but from some friends and even strangers who are against interracial relationships. It is not uncommon even for friends who you thought were close, to suddenly be against your relationship.
However it is more often than not strangers who are the biggest culprit of discrimination against interracial couples. Many couples have to face the daily interrogation of outsiders who question the legitimacy of their relationship. Surely you can't be a couple just because you are both from different cultures!?
It can be difficult to overcome objections from others in addition to your own challenges faced internally within your relationship. You can either choose to allow these external challenges to tear your relationship down or bring you closer together. If you are unfortunate enough to face pressures from others who are against your relationship, is important to find friends or family who are supportive of your relationship. Even if it is only a select few.
It can be easy to feel isolated at times if you feel as though your partner doesn't always understand you. Though you will probably find that your partner understands you the better than you think. Who better to understand how you feel than the person who is also going through the same experiences as you are. These feelings can be exacerbated if you hold onto bad feelings after disagreements and don't learn to forgive your partner.
When you both come from different cultures it can be easy to feel like you are alone when you both celebrate different festivals, practise different faiths, and have different traditions/rituals. Albeit you may teach your partner about the aspects of your culture it may feel at times that you just don't have anything in common. This is why it is important to incorporate one another into your traditions so that you may start to build new customs together.
However it isn't only cultural barriers that can make you feel isolated at times. Some interracial couples receive criticism from their friends, family and strangers that it can make them feel isolated from society. As a couple you need to have friends or family who are supportive of your relationship. Reinforcement from others is crucial to feeling accepted as a couple, even if only by a few.
Before you married your partner you had all your yearly customs and traditions in place that you celebrated with your friends and family. It might be that your family took turns to host Christmas every year, the family all got together at Aunt Shirly's for Thanksgiving and you took your annual holiday sun bathing and snorkeling somewhere exotic with your friends.
When you marry into the same culture it is simple to integrate into these traditions as it is more than likely that you both already celebrate the same traditions. However for interracial couples there is so much more to navigate particularly should you already come from a multicultural family.
You now might have to incorporate Diwali, Rangwali Holi, Lohri, and a million other festivals that your partner celebrates. It also turns out that Rangwali Holi coincides with your annual girls trip and you both have different ideas on how Christmas is celebrated. Christmas for your partner is the one affair that is a small celebration but for your family it's a big affair. In between all the customs and traditions you are also planning your two weddings and trying to learn all the ins and outs of your partners culture.
This is what the challenges can look like for some interracial couples trying to incorporate both cultures into their daily lifestyle. If you both come from cultures that celebrate many traditions then it can be difficult to try and compromise on what you celebrate together. It could be easy to simply celebrate these traditions separately as you once did. Though it is important to incorporate one another into your culture if you want to have a successful relationship.
However it isn't only about incorporating traditions, you also need to accommodate one another's cultural quirks. For instance my husband is always running on Indian time, essentially meaning he has the worst time management and is always late. In India you will find that no one is in any hurry as they tend to take life as it comes. If you book a plumber or electrician to come out to your house for Sunday at 10:00am it is not unlikely that they may not turn up until a couple of hours, or even days later.
Hence why my husband has Indian time embedded into him and it frustrates me beyond words. I ask him to be somewhere for a certain time and to him he thinks it is okay to be fashionably late. Even if I tell him it is absolutely crucial to be on time. Unlike myself who has had a professional career most of my life, I always plan to arrive early. It is just one of those cultural quirks I have to try and accommodate along with many others.
Given the society we are raised in shapes us from a young age, your partner will be bound to have many cultural traits. Therefore it is important to be able to communicate with one another about what you are willing to tolerate and what isn't acceptable.
Even After All These Years I Still Face These Challenges In My Relationship
Albeit I have been with my partner for many years now, we still face many of these challenges on the daily. It is something that you need to keep working at, as with any relationship. Though I believe that strength lays in overcoming challenges. As I said earlier, managing the cultural barrier can actually be more beneficial for your relationship, even if it sometimes makes communication more protracted.
Because of the differences between cultures and in some instances even language, means you are going to ask more questions and never take anything at face value. Communication is key in any relationship and by better understanding your partner by taking more time to understand them, can only bring you closer together. Many arguments in relationships are created due to misunderstandings.
What Challenges Do You Face?
It's expected that not everyone will face the same challenges in their relationship. What is your biggest challenge faced in your interracial relationship? Or do you know an interracial couple who are currently facing their own challenges? I'd love to hear from you and your thoughts. Be sure to leave your comments in the comments field.
Here Are More Interesting Reads About The Challenges Faced By Interracial Couples
ABC News - Australian Couples Share The Pros And Cons Of Intercultural Relationships
Growing Up Gupta - Trials Of Being In An Interracial/ Intercultural Relationship