#1 Challenge of an interracial marriage – Language and Communication

in Marriage Tips, Offbeat Marriage News

Challenge of an interracial marriage
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There’s a need to discuss the major challenges of interracial marriage and their potential to hurt a relationship if both parties aren’t educated about what’s at stake.

Probably it’s too much to digest all at once, especially for a person who’s at the heights of love excited to dream and plan about his/her interracial wedding. But I say hold your peace, take a deep breadth and let’s talk about the top Challenge of an interracial marriage.

The #1 challenge of an interracial marriage is the Language of Communication.

Even if two siblings come from the same parents, and even for twins, there’s a vast difference between their personalities. One may be shy while the other is outspoken. No two are really alike.

Orientation and child raising also differ even for two families that are whites; one might value the silence in the house while the other prefers a loud and fun family time.

But then let’s go broader and talk about race and ethnicity, just imagine how much differences are there. We no longer look simply at personalities and family values because we’re now talking about culture.

The challenge of the Language of Communication comes in 5 ways.

1. Which language to use?

If both partners have their own mother tongue, it’s important to identify early which language to use at home. Most probably, the language that wins over is the language of the place where the couple decides to put down roots. Another question that a couple must address is how they can expose their children to both languages.

See: 8 questions to ask yourself before going for an interracial marriage

I and my hubby had tackled this issue early on our relationship. Since learning German is a prerequisite for me to be able to migrate to his country, and since Germans patronize their language so much that almost everything in their country is in German, how can we expose our children to English much more to my native language?

I somehow accept the fact that my future kids will never be able to learn my first language but at least I want them to learn to communicate in English early and need not wait until they reach high school or university before they can comprehend English. I tried to convince my husband that we should use English at home and only use German outside, but he’s not entirely convinced that this would work.

My hubby has expressed this burden to his best friend and he was advised that the children can better speak to him in German while they speak to me in English. One problem remains though, which language should I and my husband use to each other especially when the kids are around? I’m not convinced that this arrangement will work either.

We’re now married, and still, we’re yet to address this problem when the kids arrive.

2. Upbringing – how loudly and quickly they communicate.

Some people are more loud than others, but other race are just naturally louder and quicker to communicate.

If your partner expresses his/her ideas to you, how well can you comprehend?

According to a book that I read about dating a Filipina, it only takes three Filipina women to chat with each other and you’ll mistake them for a crowd. What about three Americans? Three Hispanics? Or Three Africans?

Learn about the shif on communication patterns between blacks and whites in the United States, Language and Interracial Communication in the United States (Language As Social Action).

3. Jokes – way of teasing.

I speak two languages, comprehend two more foreign languages and speak three dialects. I can attest that while some jokes said in one dialect can quickly bring down the house, they don’t have the same effect when said in a different dialect or language.

A lot of friendly Filipino ways of teasing carry warmth among the people but can offend if delivered to other nationalities. Also, a lot of western jokes aren’t really funny for Asians, probably because they find it corny or they simply don’t understand.

There was one colleague (a Westerner) who thought that our boss (an Asian) was dumb. He said he found it weird that the boss laugh out loud to his non-sense, not-so-funny jokes but silent and looking confused to what he thinks his hilarious punchy and intellectual jokes. It could be that the boss is indeed not highly intellectual or that he just can’t comprehend westerners’ jokes.

4. Method of expressing love

I remembered from the book “Song of the Warrior” how the red skins hunt for wild animals for meat. When hunting is done, the men sit round in Indian style on the ground sharing and enjoying their pipes. The wives then come with their big knives to do the meat and carry them back to the village where they dry under the sun. When there’s a cat fight between women, say the ratio is one to twenty, the husbands never interfere. No matter how the husband loves his woman, and even if she’s attacked by the entire tribe’s cats, he simply has to pretend that he doesn’t see. That shows that he trusts his woman that she can take care of herself.

We’re now in the modern world and I doubt if the red skins still practice the same language of love. But between races and cultures, there are different ways that love is conveyed.

In an interview about her Filipina-Italian interracial marriage, Jem discussed the difference of how a Filipino and an Italian man express their love. She rightly said that “Filipinas are used to being treated like a princess and this could be a dangerous whim if marrying a westerner or any foreigner outside the Philippine archipelago.”

5. Body language

Different body language mean differently to different people with different culture.

Daisy discussed some culture clashes that she found in her Thai-Filipino interracial marriage. “There are things that I’d love to do to my son which are acceptable in Filipino culture but I couldn’t do so because they’d mean rude and disrespectful to Thais. For example, touching my sons’ head, playing and messing up his hair is a way for me to show affection but is strictly unacceptable to Thais.”

For an insightful look at the stresses and challenges of intercultural relationships – from one who has been there, read Intercultural Marriage: Promises and Pitfalls.

So those are the five challenges for Language and Communication. What are your thoughts? Are there other challenges that you can add?

See: #2 Challenge of an interracial marriage – in-laws and extended families

photo by wehearit

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Kiesha

Great post Glee. I know of a couple who are Italian but have lived in the US since their children were babies. Their kids are now 14 and 12. They have always spoken Italian in there home and even outside of there home when talking to each other but the children have learned English through school and friends. It has worked great for them.
My husband’s family is extremely loud and I don’t find their jokes very funny, I often find them crude and at times mean. But I’ve come to realize that is just how they communicate with each other.

gleenn

Hi Kiesha,

Thanks for citing those Italian family which uses their own language at home. I too believe it’d work. And you’re right, children can quickly pick up the countries’ native language from friends and school.

Ah, talking about jokes, I bet you’d find a lot of my own people’s jokes weird too, especially loud. But really, being exposed to other culture and jokes help us understand and accept that its their way of communication. It takes time to fully comprehend though.

Sonia Peeples

Found you all on twitter. My name is Sonia Peeples. I am a Black Mississippian and married to a White Mississippian. I am a stay at home mother, who volunteers at my son’s school. I always put my family first. My husband’s name is Michael. My sons names are Gannon and Riley. Gannon is five years old. Riley is three years old. I love my family more than anything. My family was recently featured on the front page of The New York Times, talking about our lives and race in Mississippi. Mississippi, after all this time is now the leader in mixed race children. It is historic. I would like a chance to talk to everyone about the struggles we have faced from strangers and even, close family members and how we manage to stay a strong family unit. Here is the link of The New York Times article. Please check it out.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/us/20race.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&hp

gleenn

That’s an awesome article about interracial and cross-cultural marriage Sonia. I love your family photo. Would you consider an interview for my site?

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