How to Survive in an Interracial Relationship
Interracial relationships come with their own unique set of challenges. For starters, more often than not, it is those closest to you who are most critical of your relationship and the choices you make. There is a special kind of hurt and deep disappointment that comes with attacks from your family and closest friends. But it’s important not to internalize their anger or fears, despite the hurt you may feel.
Remember that it’s often easier to see a group’s differences, rather than their similarities. Those who have separated themselves from other cultures will often choose to focus on the differences. For those of you who are in interracial relationships now or are afraid to pursue the one you love because it would ensue a battle against your family and friends…I just want to encourage you. You don’t have to doubt your choice or feel guilty for it. Know that you are in control of your life and that you deserve to choose the person you want to spend it with.
Here are some things to keep in mind whenever you’re feeling hurt and not so confident about how to handle a situation.
#1 – Don’t let it get you down
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to deal with the attacks that come from prejudice. Always make time to remember the good and try not to dwell too much on the negative. Those who launch the attacks would prefer to keep you down and feeling hopeless, don’t give them the chance. Try to keep the positive on your mind and acknowledge those who are open to your differences.
#2 – Forgive, but don’t forget
Protect yourselves from future attacks by putting distance between yourselves and the aggressors. This isn’t something that you need to feel guilty for. You don’t deserve the abuse and to show you care about yourself, your relationship and your children, you must set boundaries with family and friends to let them know that you won’t stand for their emotionally abusive behavior. This step is critical in keeping the negative from overtaking your lives. So don’t forget to put your family first and protect your future sanity.
#3 – Don’t disrespect each other
In spite of all the negative those outside your relationship try to make you believe about each other, never stop respecting each others’ culture, language, religion, etc. …and NEVER use racial slurs or put downs…even in a heated argument. You see how hurt you and your spouse/partner have been hurt by others, why be like them? I know that it’s hard to block out the hurtful things that you’ve heard, but you can’t continue in love with all that negative thinking going on up there…so get rid of it! If you are to overcome all the challenges of an interracial relationship, you have to be united as a couple and as a family. Don’t let the stress and negativity from those outside of your relationship build barriers between you.
#4 – Learn to appreciate the differences
Taking an interest in each other’s cultural heritage shows your commitment to each other and helps you both to realize that you are fully accepted by your spouse/partner. This is so crucial for interracial couples, because when everyone else in the world is ganging up on you, you can be assured that you have the full support of your spouse on your side. It’s also an important part of allowing both partners in the relationship to retain their cultural identity. There has to be a balance of both cultures in your home in order to respect each other’s cultural identities and heritage.
#5 – Celebrate your commonalities
Too often, family and friends only seem to point out our differences or react in disbelief that two people, so seemingly dissimilar, could have encountered each other in the first place. Don’t get caught up in the “differences” game. Recognize the things you share in common and don’t be afraid to point those things out to family and friends. Always make time to celebrate the special activities that you enjoy together and reminisce on what attracted you to each other in the first place.
#6 – Know the facts
When you find others attacking you, know how to handle each attack and present the evidence to show them why they’re wrong. If you want to improve the relationship between you and those attacking you, education is the only way. By combating ignorance with education, you allow the individual to see the other side of the story. Learn where the stereotypes come from, the history behind the culture and be prepared with responses that demonstrate the truth. Learn to think, speak and act with power and knowledge, instead of anger.
#7 – Educate your children
Don’t ever be afraid to teach your children about their dual heritage. There’s nothing wrong with having a second language or dual identity. In fact, if you do teach your children about their heritage, they will have the means to defend themselves when others question their cultural identity. Not to mention the insight that a child of dual identity possesses. Biracial children are far more likely to be understanding of individuals’ differences and have an expanded world view of other cultures.
This article was originally published on Bicultural Mom