Are Interracial Marriages Likely to Fail?

Are Interracial Marriages Likely to Fail?

Every little girl dreams about her wedding day. As a kid, I remember telling my friends that I wanted to get married at 22, have a kid by 24, and have a fabulous career. I thought I had it all planned. But I never really placed a face on the guy standing next to me at the alter. My husband-to-be changed according to whoever my crush was at the time. But let’s face it- we don’t know exactly who or when we’ll marry, until it’s time.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is white and I’m black. I didn’t foresee marrying outside of my race. I just met a great guy-who happened to be white. We fell in love, got hitched, and had a beautiful daughter. Now it seems like there are a lot more interracial couples exchanging vows.

According to a Daily News article written by the Associated Press, the number of integrated marriages has reached 4.8 million. The Pew Research Center claims that marriages across racial and ethnic lines have more than doubled in the past three decades.

It’s pretty refreshing to read that people are becoming more open minded about finding a partner outside his or her race. I’ve always been a firm believer that one shouldn’t marry a person based on skin color or ethnicity. But when I read that divorce rates are higher for interracial couples it made me question why mixed couples choose to join hands in holy matrimony. According to the Associated Press,

“One study conducted a decade ago determined that mixed-race couples had a 41 percent chance of separation or divorce, compared to a 31 percent chance for those who married within their race.

Another analysis found divorce rates among mixed-race couples to be more dependent on the specific race combination, with white women who married outside their race more likely to divorce. Mixed marriages involving blacks and whites also were considered least stable, followed by Hispanic-white couples.”

While this study seems to imply that people are getting divorced because they are in a mixed-race marriage, I question whether or not the rise in interracial couples tying the knot is such a huge accomplishment. If the rise in interracial marriage indicates that race relations have improved- according to Cornell University Professor Daniel Lichter- then divorce rates among mixed marriages may cancel out that theory. Don’t you think?

Related: Interracial Couples, We’re More Alike than Different

I can’t speak for all multicultural couples. But as a black woman married to a white man, I do agree that there are racial differences. I don’t expect my husband to fully understand my black struggles, but he is sensitive to them. He’ll never be able to relate to many racial experiences I’ve had, but he listens. He’s able to sympathize with whatever it is I’m going through. In general, I think all marriages have ups and downs. Sometimes you’ll have to make sacrifices, but that’s true for all marriages. As long as there’s love, communication, and understanding that all that matters. I would love to sit down with these integrated couples and find out why they decided to sign those divorce papers. I think the implication of marriages ending because of race seems quite bizarre.

My hubby and I have been married for 7 years and still going strong!

What do you think?  Are interracial marriages more likely to fail?

Stacy-Ann Gooden can be seen delivering the weather week nights in New York. However, her most important role is being a wife and mom. She writes about balancing career and motherhood in her blog, Weather Anchor Mama.



  1. AngeliqueAyers says

    The divorce rate being brought into the AP's article left me a little bewildered. I just felt like the sense of the article was how inter-race relations were improving so much that interracial marriage was at a all time high. Then at the very end it's like "yeah, but they don't last" Do same race divorces end because the couples are the same race? The divorce statistic should of never been mentioned. My husband and I are a black/white couple married for 12 years and happy as ever…true love see's no color!

    • Andrew says

      The fact that mixed race couples have a higher rate of divorce means that yes, race plays into it. Undoubtedly it’s not the only factor (interracial couples are more likely to be more liberal on the notion of divorce than the average monoracial couple), but it’s certainly a factor.

  2. says

    This is a great topic. I think it's a bit ridiculous that these types of studies are often the main focus on mixed families…FAILURE. Too much research is set up to point out the differences and challenges, while very few point out our successes. I think this calls for a post about successes from our community! ;) Totally agree with you…I don't think that race or ethnicity is really as big an issue with mixed couples as racial hostility from in-laws and friends. In-laws were the only real factor that ruffled my husband's or my feathers and it's the biggest source of disdain for most of the couples we know. I think this plays into the divorce numbers and also debunks the supposed "success" of racial equality. An increase in interracial marriage doesn't quite equal an increase in "tolerance"…it just looks that way to outsiders. <3 Thanks for this thought provoking piece. <3

  3. icouples says

    I think that numbers do not say it all even if they must be taken into account. Probably interracial and international couples are the very answer to racism and integration problems.
    Are they more likely to fail? Probably yes, let's face it. But the differences and the problems just make our relationships deeper and must urge us to succeed, whatever the cost.
    Let's show to those that criticize us that they were wrong!

  4. Sheila M42 says

    I read the article about the weather anchors interracial marriage….and issues surrounding having children….I have a neice who is more like me personality wise…and her husband is white…I suggested to her that she probably should move to a more diverse suburb, before they start having children…but her husband had a house already in a subburb of the city that had a history of not being very accepting of African Americans…needless to say there have been a few situations….when she was dating her husband …his mother wouldn't even acknowledge her for two years….did not speak to her… niece also told me that a co-worker pick her up and they were driving on their way to an event…the co-worker happened to be white)…another driver became offended at this and this woman decided to follow my neice and her co-worker for a few blocks in her car while yelling racial obsenities out of the window (the woman harrassing them was white)…my neice who is 30 and her husband 35 have now been married going on 11yrs…they have a daugther 6yrs and two sons 3yrs and 1yrs…and she also tells tales of being out with her children who are fair skinned with curly dk brown hair….and how people stare at her…the people staring are white)..but if her sister(my other niece) is with her, holding the children then there are no long stares…her sister is fair skinned…but african american… short..even with all of the ignorance displayed by people….I feel that a interracial marriage has a very good chance of surviving in 2012….if interracial couples who married in 1952 could survive then my niece her husband and other couples like them…can have successful marriages also…..I wish them all much love and peace…..from the Motor City……Sheila 

    • says

       @Sheila M42 Sheila, thanks so much for sharing all of your experiences with us.  :)  All interracial couples seem to experience this, but there is definitely something unique about the hostility and disbelief that people feel for black/white couples.  I thank you for speaking your mind and sharing some of that with us.  ♥
      P.S. Hubby and I are from Skee-town (Muskegon), your neighbors on Michigan's west coast.  Glad to bump into another "Michigander"!  ;)

  5. Kim says

    My first marriage ended in divorce and race had nothing to do with it. It was all the usual reasons that anyone gets divorced and nothing else. I cannot recall a single problem we had that had a thing to do with race. I am white and he is black and even our upbringings were vastly different. It could have been that a little, we were from 2 different economic backgrounds and that created some tension. We got married for the wrong reasons and were too young, etc. Mostly it just wasn't meant to be. I have now been married for 6 years to my second husband. We are also an interracial couple, he is black. Our backgrounds are more similar, but there is a mother-in-law issue. lol

  6. Jenny says

    Race relations do seem to be getting better, but I wonder if in some ways, they're getting too good. FACT: Obama? Some people admitted voting for him, purely because he wasn't white. FACT: There are discipline issues. Now, whether the teachers are cowards, exaragetting, lying or telling the truth, I don't know and it is isn't my place to say, right now. But I have seen references to being afraid to discipline out of fear of being seen a racist.

    “One study conducted a decade ago determined that mixed-race couples had a 41 percent chance of separation or divorce, compared to a 31 percent chance for those who married within their race.

    Read more: Are Interracial Marriages Likely to Fail?

    Hmmm…when's that from?

    I just wonder if some of that extra 10% asked or agreed for the wrong reasons.

  7. Jasmin says

    Fear not. The divorce rate for black women/white men is actually LOWER than that of white men and women! It's black male/white female marriages that tend to fail.

  8. Samantha says

    I agree with Jasmin but also, these studies on interracial divorce point out that factors like age, education level are hugely important and factor in in how likely a couple interracial as well as intraracial in probability for divorce.

  9. lorin says

    I am a white American married to an African man for 8 years now. There are a lot of difficulties in the relationship due to culture and basic expectations that we have for one another. I also notice that we he travels to his home country he comes back with an ego because the culture gives men so much power in relationships. His family deters him from helping me with the house and the kids, and while he always takes my side, he is influenced. I just read that Black men with white women are twice as likely to divorce that then white male/white female marraige, while white men with a black female are 44% less likely to divorce than the white male and white female marraige. I pray that my marraige lasts forever, but I definitely since as my husband nears 40 he has a strong pull towards traditional cultural ways that he did not use to have, he wants his children to be more intertwined in the culture. I fear that living too close to his family or mine will hurt our relationship because we have both had to make huge compromises to find our middle ground in life. I love him and he loves me, but I don't feel the security I would feel if we both had the same background and the same goals.

  10. Ligia C. says

    I have been married to my husband ( who is white) for over 14 years now. I am a black latina. May I add that we are happily married. He is my best friend and I am his. We live in the south , although we were both raised in NYC/ N J area. We are both educated, successful and have even adopted a biracial little boy. Do our cultural differences collide…of course. However, the real ticket is to be honest, compromise, and love each other beyond our culture and race.

  11. says

    In the Philippines there are millions of darker skin people in fact the native are black. They put these shows like Luna Blanca to make filipinos dread the idea of getting darker this way they can sell more adds space for skin whitening products. In Nita Negrita, they said the girl was darker because her mother mating with an african American they painted the baby and later the girl with black paint. This is not right on any levels, it is completely racism at is best.

  12. Annette says

    I'm an African American woman married to a caucasian man. We've been together for four years and were very much in love so we decided to get married. Why is that so strange? We didn't get married for sensationalism, or to prove a point about interracial couples. We got married because we were totally in love and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. When I look at him I don't see…"WHITE". I see the "MAN" I love and vice versa. When we married I realized that the divorce rate was around 50%, but that didn't deter us. I was married before for 21 years to a black man, and divorced him because he was very cruel, abusive and a functional alcoholic. My current "white" husband is the exact opposite. He's loving, caring, supportive, etc., etc. It was those attributes that led us to the alter, not the fact that he was white. I hope that anyone that finds themselves questioning whether they should marry outside of their race will focus on the 60% of interracial couples that STAY married, not the 40% that end in divorce.

  13. kaleidoscope says

    I’m an Asian woman married to an Asian man. When I was much younger, I found men from other ethnic groups attractive and exciting because they were different from me. However, I personally don’t feel a deep connection to actually marry one. I’m too tied to my cultural roots and want a husband who is able to not only perform those traditional rituals but play his role in them, too. I grew up in a predominantly white environment whereas my husband grew up in a predominantly Asian environment. I’m so thankful that my husband was able to educate me about all the richness of our heritage. It has really made me feel proud of who I am since before then I only knew about the mainstream, which at times I felt like I was lost. Plus, being from the same ethnic background we just get each other and have the same expectations. All in all, I feel that it just depends on what kind of spouse you want and your expectations of them in addition to the love you have for each other.

  14. bridget says

    I am a white woman, married to a black man and I loved reading your article! I too heard about the divorce rate being super high so I really enjoyed seeing that you and your hubby are still going strong! Best of luck and loads of love!

  15. says

    I like this article, my husband is white and I am black. We usually forget about the race thing, until something reminds us. And even then it's like " oh yea I forgot we were different races". We have put up with stupid comments by friends a family but nothing that would make or break our marriage. Honestly I married him because we fit better than any black guy I ever dated and I wanted someone who loved me and God, Among other things. I think that some interracial couples get married for the wrong shallow reasons… Cute kids (by the way aren't all kids cute), good hair (for kids), or to piss off mommy and daddy. I know shallow reasons right? But unfortunately people do it. However I am focused on 60% success and I don't believe the 40% reflects racial relations.

  16. Kim says

    I have known a lot of couples where the husband was Africian American and the wife was white and all but one of them has ended in divorce. I honestly think it has less to do with race and more to do with growing up in a culture without God. The one marriage I referenced was headed for divorce and a mutual friend sent the wife to he has an amazing marriage sermon on there and the minister Keith Moore talks about working through your expectaitons and how to find love, honor respect and a new foundation. One of the reason's I'm recomending him is that Pastor Keith Moore is of mixed race his father was white and his mother is Africian American. Anyhow my friend and her husband did the course instead of traditional counseling (there was no major abuse just a lot of cultural conflict) and they are going strong! I hope that this blesses your marriage and helps you and your husband set up loving and healthy boudaries with eachother and your extended family. My husband and I both did the course (it's free) and it helped us work out our own issues and I had never heard anything like it. It talks about roles in the family and encourages strong male and female partnership.

  17. Mike says

    Remember one thing about statistics. They are all looking back. I want to look into the future. Anonymous October 3… I was looking for that statistic. I saw it a while ago, but lost it. There is some optimism in that one.

  18. Hannah says

    You're right! Everyone has ups and downs and I feel like people just like to focus on the downs of people or soemething that is different!

  19. carmen says

    about the part that your husband doesn't understand your "black struggles" i think he doesn't understand them because he's white but may be he grew up more privileged (ie more money). my husband is white and im latina and he grew up just as poor as i did. im in law school and working as a paralegal and he's been unemployed for 4 years. we live in NYC and noone hires him. you would think he would get hired because he's white but its not like that. so please, everyone, recognize that there are THOUSANDS of poor white people living off of welfare in this country. dont confuse race with social status.

  20. chas says

    It's the ww – bm divorce rate that makes the overall white – black divorce rate seem so high. The bw – wm divorce rate is actually much lower than wm – ww divorce rate. This is what I found in

    The role of gender in interracial divorce dynamics, found in social studies by Jenifer L. Bratter and Rosalind B. King, was highlighted when examining marital instability among Black/White unions.[9] White wife/Black husband marriages show twice the divorce rate of White wife/White husband couples by the 10th year of marriage,[9] whereas Black wife/White husband marriages are 44% less likely to end in divorce than White wife/White husband couples over the same period.[9]

  21. Ebele says

    I'm a black woman, living in Nigeria in Africa and I have been dating my boyfriend who is white (from Ireland ) for a little over a year. We get along so well and we are practically best friends but when the topic of the social and economic discrepancies existing between white and blacks comes up we always end up being at odds. We are both considering marriage and I have been worried and looking at chances of survival for interracial couples online. There are so much theories, statistics etc on this issue… I'm so turn on this issue cuz I'm so in love and I want my marriage to last forever.

    • rudecontact says

      Hey Ebele

      I hear your struggle. So my viewpoint (for what it is worth) is that I don't think you're ever going to get personal direction from population level statistics – each case is unique. You have a lot of data about your relationship. Like how does the other person behave when upset, stressed? How do we communicate? How flexible and willing to change are we both? Do I expect this person to be the answer to all my issues (or am I going to have to deal with some alone)? the answers to these types of questions are more important for any one relationship. Also see my post below – broad statistics are just so misleading. Best wishes :)

  22. Maria says

    From my own observation white women who are in relationships with black men they do it usually because of some form of fetich they have for black men or just because of Sex, ( whitch is a my anyways ) .

    A black man chooses a white woman because of the colour of her skin and because black men want to impregnate white women with black kids, they do it because they want to revenge the white race, I have heard this from a black guy …

    Just look at this site ….it's about ww and bm and it looks like a Porn site … That's the reason marriges don't last, there is no true love involved, its all about sex and revenge …

    On the other hand white men and black women although is not very common tend to have fantastic long lasting relationships, sometimes even stronger than what they have with white women because they both have class and they are not trashy ..look the difference in this site' promotes family and love ..not trashy sex and revenge ..

    I don't support mixed race relationships because I know that people should love the right person, and a right person is a person who is going to make your parents and community happy too, not just yourself ..

    We are not living by ourselves in this world …we have to think of others too..

    I have been in love with my best friends father who was 51 and I was 19 but we broke up because our relationship was gonna hurt a lot of people, like I said love can be everywhere but that doesn't mean we have to be rebels and go against everybody , when the society hates something is usually for a very good reason, but usually we are too much in love to see it …

  23. Katherine says

    I am a Latin/Hispanic female foreign born-Caribbean, who moved to the states in my early teens. We choose partners many times, depending on the available candidate pool that is available to us, and how good we are at networking. I have dated a few several races, and each ( as it is human nature) have the good, the bad, and the ugly. My husband who white, never dated anyone for more than a few months, and furthermore never dated anyone from any other race. He proposed after 18 months of long distance dating. We lived 70 miles apart ( where I was going to college), and visited primarily on the weekends. I moved in with him 3 1/2 after we got engaged and had a wedding date set. Never lived with a boyfriend before, so I was nervous and I hid that from most of my family who all live out of state. So I moved in towards the end of August, and got we got married the following August. We grew, and learned and continue growing together. Dating and then living together is not an advice I would give… because every situation is different and you have to do what you think works best for you. We worked through some kinks, learned A Lot About Each Other…. and fell madly in love 10X more than when we were just dating. This one year, helped me bond with his family, get to know the neighbors and friends, finish college, get a job and make a better well informed decision. It has been 4 years since we met, 2 since we have been married. I feel as if the best years of our lives are yet to come.

  24. rudecontact says

    Hey great topic for the article-nice to see people covering social dynamics. I read through a lot of the posts and I did not see (though may have missed) anyone mentioning that the factors that make us attracted to outsiders might also make us prone to divorce. So here is my idea. If humans are animals (hairless primates) we benefit from both familiar (culture, etc) and diversity (genetic mix, etc), may be , just may be, those people on the periphery of their group – those who feel less connected to and supported by their in-group – are relatively more attracted to those who offer variety – i.e. from other cultural groups. Such people after all would have less to lose leaving the periphery of one group to date /marry someone on the periphery of another group; after all these two peripheral people may be closer in proximity to each other socially and psychologically than to those at the core of their respective cultural groups. Of course I am not saying all people who are in interracial marriages are peripheral to their own cultures, I'm talking about tendencies, not every instance. But even if the idea isn't accepted , inter-racial couples are not likely to have the same implicit cultural signals, rituals, social support networks and might actually be a little more adventurous and independent in character and possibly geographically isolated from their culture (here I am thinking of migrants). So studies that fail to carefully examine all the differences (not just the race difference) and see what predicts divorce will mislead. I also wonder about the history, a lot of migrants come from traumatized countries/cultures, and also income or earning potential, without looking at the specifics, broad divorce rate differences by race are absolutely meaningless.

    • Carmen Harris says

      I just stumbled upon this by reading about whether grandparents should babysit. I don’t know if interracial marriages are destined to fail. My white husband and I have been together nearly 28 years and married nearly 26. We have two kids and are growing into middle age together.

  25. rssllbll55 says

    It seems bizarre to you, because looking at the world with rose colored-glasses has that effect.

  26. bamminer says

    I think the BMWF marriages are far more likely to fail! 1. “If” the white woman’s fully invested in the marriage, then racism is coming in at her from all sides: her parents, grandparents, certain siblings, certain friends, certain acquaintances, etc. They’ll subtly put pressure on her to end it. Sometimes, they even disown/blacklist children and grandchildren when compared with their fully white counterparts, as if it’s an exclusive club. 2. Some make a special case for their “girl”(still precious to them), but hate their black son-in-law and/or the kids. 3. Whenever you attend family functions, one of you will be “one-of-a-kind” and the people there will have trouble getting past that(it is also very awkward for the spouse who’s “one-of-a kind” and his kids); your kids will look differently from them and be treated as less important or worse by their aunts, uncles, and cousins. 4. If teachers, officials, etc. know this(and nowadays it is almost impossible to avoid officials knowing it with all of the mandatory meetings between teacher and parents), they are far more likely to blacklist your children in ways that you cannot prove. 5. Racist white cops aren’t going to like it, either. So, you’re forced(FOR THE SAFETY OF THE BLACK MAN) to hide the marriage whenever you can publicly. If it is public knowledge, then black men(esp.) risk retribution. Aren’t married couples supposed to be able to go out in public just as any other couple?! 6. You also have to be concerned with eating in public restaurants due to poisoning, getting germs/DNA infused into your meal, purposely dropping food on the floor, racists touching their privates OR WORSE and putting their hands back on your food, etc. happening more prevalently with bigots casting judgment on an interracial marriage/couple. 7. If there is a domestic dispute, then the law looks through beige glasses. 8. Black people are still seen as less than whites in white people’s general estimation(society); even though, it’s not that blacks are animals to them anymore. You still are not “worthy” of a white woman! 9. Whites have a far higher divorce rate and more believe in it for any old thing than blacks, too. White women typically have easier lives before getting married, so–if after they get married isn’t like that–they are more likely to run than a black woman. Whites also get bored with monotony: same old person for too long(this can be only a few years) means they might just decide they want a new person. 10. The hugest problem is that racist whites are most likely to be far more aggressive with racism than blacks(society/fam). 11. The black in-laws may also hate her due2racist experiences their past /w racist white folks or Bcause she’s not black. That adds Xtra strain on the marital relationship. The white woman will be like, “what you hating me for! I’ve done nothing wrong.” 12. You still have to deal with everything else that people in general or married couples go through! 12A. TCB: You still have to go to work and take care of perceived responsibilities on the homestead. 12B. Parenting: You have to really be on top of parenting even more so than typical parenting, as this a special case. Also, if you punish them and the other parent doesn’t believe in “tough love”, the kids may decide they like the opposite parent/race better. 12C. Different: Lives are almost 180° different in how they are raised and how each person is viewed in society. 12D. Specificity of a wife that you love: Black men marrying a white woman see her as a special woman(more so than if he had married a black woman). He’s got a lady on his arm that he and most see as a trophy(even if he is too fearful of retribution to go out in the open with it), maybe because she is so different. Jealousy quickly becomes arguments and/or rage. What might he do if this “special woman” is cheating? 12E. Can you as a couple take normal vented fire coming from one another as if it was the same race? What if it gets heated a time or two? Can you honestly say that you will take it as par for the course or will you be offended enough to make the other pay? Again, these combined things “only” have the kinetic “potential” to force white women spouses to flee(something they may have done anyway eventually), but has harsher designs upon the black man(up to death). If white women saw divorce as a big deal they would have “serious reservations” before marrying a black man, they don’t, though, as it’s increasing. It takes far more planning than your typical marriage is all I’m saying. 13. It’s not a balanced contract that is being entered into, as black men don’t face only the leaving marriage part, they face real, racial aggression/manipulation(by the system as if a pawn), too! AM I ATTRACTED TO WHITE WOMEN? YES, BUT ALL WOMEN. WOULD I, AS A BLACK MAN, MARRY A WHITE WOMAN? GOD HAS TO “SIGN OFF” ON THAT SPECIAL MARRIAGE, AS EVERYTHING THAT COULD BE WORKING AGAINST A MARRIAGE SUCCEEDING IS IN THIS SPECIAL CASE.