The days of dating and marrying within your own race are long gone. Today, there are more interracial relationships and marriages than ever before.
But just because more and more people are accepting of dating and marrying outside of their own race or culture doesn’t mean that it will be easy. Not only will you have to deal with the comments and stares from those people who don’t accept it, but you’ll also have to learn new beliefs and cultures in order to fit in with your significant other and their family.
In order to overcome cultural barriers, you and your partner need to talk openly about the issues that can and will arise from your relationship, and the following are a few of the most important topics to discuss.
You need to talk openly about your family and how they will react to your relationship. If your family is not accepting of you dating or marrying outside of your race, then you need to let your significant other know. This way, they will not feel as if they did something wrong if your family shuns you or them.
You also need to talk with your family. Let them know that you met someone that you truly care about and tell them all the wonderful things about them. Then tell them that this person is not of the same culture. If they start to hassle you, you need to let them know that you are following your heart, and that if they truly want you to be happy they will accept your relationship. Some families will be more forgiving if they see how happy you are, and some cannot be convinced.
Religious beliefs are something that you also need to discuss. If you don’t share the same beliefs, you need to talk about it so that each of you understands what’s important to the other. For example, discuss holidays that you celebrate and traditions that you do on these holidays. When you can share these beliefs together, it will make your relationship more whole and more comfortable.
You can also take one another to your place of worship so they can see your religion in action. Never try to force your beliefs on one another, but allow them to be a part of it so that you can share the experience together.
If you plan on having children together, you need to talk about it before you bring a child into the world. Openly discuss how you plan to raise the child. Will you raise it to understand only one of the cultures, or will you raise it to understand both? If you can discuss these items before you have a child, you will both have an understanding of how to parent. If you wait until the child is born to have these conversations, you will find yourself having too many arguments.
By having open conversations about these important topics, you can help each other overcome the cultural barriers that you will face. Not only will it help you in your current relationship, but it will also help both of you prosper together in the future.
Jena Smith is a language instructor for Glovico currently teaching Swahili. Jena is the lucky wife of Isae who is originally from Nairobi. They have three children and one on the way.