Our today´s featured intercultural couple reminds me of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Like the famous celebrity couple, Antonio and Becky have a growing brood of multicultural kids – their own bicultural daughters and sons from China and Ethiopia. Their family is probably even more interesting than the most talked-about multiculture celeb family because while both Angelina and Brad are Americans, Antonio and Becky are from two different cultural backgrounds.
The Offbeat Couple
Antonio and Becky Morales currently reside in Houston, TX, USA with their 4 (soon to be 5) kids, 2 dogs, 2 bearded dragons, and 1 ball python. They´ve been married for 13.5 years! Becky created Kid World Citizen which provides hundreds of activities to teach kids about world cultures and global awareness. She also has a new book, Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners.
What makes your marriage offbeat?
We are a mixture of cultures. Becky is from the US and Antonio is from Mexico City. We are both Catholic. Our kids are also from various countries!
What made you end up in an intercultural/interfaith marriage? What was your motivation in deciding to marry someone of different culture or faith?
We met when Antonio was an exchange student at the university where Becky was studying. We fell in love with each other because we have similar values: family, education, helping others. We love to travel and learn about other cultures, and enjoyed spending time with each other.
Tell us about the wedding. Did your different religious or cultural background affect how you planned the wedding?
Absolutely. We incorporated aspects of both cultures in the weddings (I used the plural because we got married in the US and then again in Mexico! We both have large families and really wanted everyone to be able to celebrate with us).
We used el lazo and las arras in both masses, and both were bilingual with some songs and readings in English and some in Spanish. At the reception we had lots of dancing- everthing from techno to merengue and salsa and cumbia, to polka and the chicken dance!
What are your biggest challenges and how do you solve them?
Because we were raised in different cultures, we are each missing a piece of the context from our spouse. Also we have different perspectives on major decisions regarding children such as the age of drinking alcohol, or how dependent/independent we are raising them at certain ages.
Communication is the key, and explaining our points of view always helps the other to understand why we prefer one way over another.
What compromises are required in order to make your marriage work?
Antonio moved to the US when we got married, and of course this was a huge transition and period of acclimation (and still is). Becky continually works on her Spanish so that our children can be raised to be bilingual.
How did your in-laws and extended families from each side react to your interracial marriage?
I think it was very hard for Antonio’s family to accept this American girl coming in and “stealing” their oldest son and taking him to the US. Of course it wasn’t exactly like that :), but I think from their perspective it was difficult because I was the cause of Antonio not living near them.
What are the benefits of an intercultural/interracial marriage?
Immeasurable! We are always debating and looking at issues from different perspectives, and I think it has given our children are broader world view, and acceptance that there are many possibilities to solve any given problem.
I think our lives have been enriched by the multiple cultures we have in our family, as we incorporate traditions and celebrations from each of them. Of course the added benefit is the bilingual home environment.
What are the things that you learned about each other’s culture? How does learning about each other culture benefit your relationship?
In a multicultural family, it no longer is my culture or his culture- it is our family’s culture. We have adapted and shared and created our own traditions and customs. It helps us to become more open to ideas, more adept and solving challenges, better communicators, and most definitely has helped us work as a stronger team.
Something I have learned and appreciate about Latin culture is the love of and the fierce loyalty and protection towards your family. Something Antonio has learned and appreciates about American culture is instilling independence and responsibility in our kids.
Does cultural difference affect how you raise and discipline your child/ren? In what way?
Absolutely. Before having kids we had deep discussions on how we would raise our kids. We consciously try to teach our kids our important values, and balance differences.
For example, in Mexico it is common to do more things for your child and take care of them in special ways even when they are capable of doing it for themselves, because it is a way to nurture the relationship and show that you love them.
In the US it is common to try to teach the kids to be self-sufficient, and have them constantly trying to do things for themselves while the parents watch and cheer them on. We try to balance between the two of these different parenting styles.
What’s your favorite way of spending time together?
We love to travel and explore new places- from road trips to summers abroad. We also love to run together or train for different races.
What are your secrets in keeping the romance alive?
Deciding to get married to someone is the single most important decision of your life, so you must make sure that you are great friends first. We are still best friends, and both of us try to make the other one happy every day.
What advice would you give to those who are planning for or are new to an interracial/interfaith marriage? Would you recommend interfaith marriage?
When you have found your soulmate, your best friend, and the person you want to spend your life with, differences of culture shouldn’t prohibit you from getting married to this person. Both people need to work hard through the tough times, and don’t expect the other person to change for you.
You can only change yourself, your reactions to different situations, and your expectations. If both of your goals is to make the other person happy, and you are both trying as hard as you can, I believe you can overcome any cultural differences that come your way.
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