One subject that comes up with interracial couples in my Couples Expert office practice is struggles against discrimination. You might think that’s to be expected in our still sadly divided nation. What makes this problem even more complicated is when the racial bias comes from within the families of the partners in the relationship. Interracial relationships and family bias often go hand in hand and I offer advice to my couples on how to overcome these problems and how to keep them outside of their loving relationship with their partner.
Having racial bias in your own family against the person you love and choose to live with as your partner can cause extreme stress on the relationship. It’s very important that you see this issue as being their problem, not yours. This requires setting limits and boundaries on your interactions with these people in your lives and sometimes even distancing yourselves completely from those who can’t get on board with your decision to follow your heart and be with the person you love. You simply cannot allow that negativity to impact the love that you share with your partner. It takes effort and awareness to guard yourselves against letting outside influences come between you.
There are a couple of ways you can look at this issue. If you can understand that we all have our own prejudices and biases it’s easier to be compassionate and empathetic towards family members or friends who don’t understand or agree with your choice of partner. You can give the people in your life who are resistant to interracial relationships ample opportunities to meet your partner and learn about them, their culture, and get to know them as a person. When you take an idea such as separation of the races and then put a face and a personal connection to it, hating your partner doesn’t seem like such a good idea. If your family cares about you and wants you to be happy, they may come around to the idea of you being with someone of a different race if they can meet and get to know that person and understand why you fell in love with them. Love is love, and don’t we all deserve to be happy? Anyone who loves and supports you, if they are open minded enough to meet your chosen partner, should be able to understand that you fell in love with this person for a reason. If this person makes you happy and treats you well they should be able to see why you chose them as a partner.
Having opposition to your relationship with your partner of a different race can make you even more determined to fight for your relationship. This type of resistance from your family members can make you even more determined to make a success of your relationship and to be an example to all the naysayers. If you can show people that you can be happy together in spite of the opposition from your family, it can make your relationship even stronger for having to go through the struggle.
In many cases, it’s love, not hate that motivates resistance from parents when they learn their children are in an interracial relationship. The older generation remembers the chaos and struggle and the pain that people have faced for making this decision in past decades. They are motivated by concern for your future, your children and their ability to be accepted by a society that continues to be divided by racial lines. One thing that can sometimes soften this hard line of opposition is the birth of a child. What grandparent when faced with the sight of their tiny grandchild will not soften their heart? A child can often be the reason that the family will come back together and accept a partner of a different race because they are the parent of their grandchildren.
I believe that parents mostly want what’s best for their children, and that they love more than they hate. It’s more fear of the unknown, or worry about how the future will be for this couple that makes them resistant to an interracial relationship. If you can make them understand, that we love whom we love, and this is the person you’ve fallen in love with you may be able to change their minds. If not, you have the right to do what feels right to you and to be with the person you’ve chosen. If your family cannot get on board with that decision, then you may have to limit those interactions working diligently on those connections. I hope that you will never have to take this step, and that love will win out in the end.
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Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters.His weekend workshop, Two Days: Seven Conversations has become a popular venue for many to set off on their journey of connectedness. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channeland by subscription in Stuart’s Daily Notes.Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. He lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona.