A few days back we discussed the #1 challenge of an interracial marriage which is the Language and Communication. We did a good job there exploring how people of different race and culture differ in their ways of communicating. Now, it’s time to move on to the next challenge.
“You’re just not marrying me; you’re marrying my entire family.” Have you heard of this old saying? Does it prove true on your marriage?
While this proverb promises a lot of fun because it’s the other way of saying “the more in the family is merrier”, it also poses a lot of threats and dangers to a new couple.
The #2 Challenge of an interracial marriage is in-laws and extended families.
It’s important to bear in mind that “healthy in-law relationships are a wonderful blessing in any marriage while unhealthy in-law relationships can be a continual drain and irritation.” (Dr David Stoop and Dr Jan Stoop, from the book, “The Complete Marriage Book”)
Right! We newly wed couples as well as you, more-experienced couples, are ought to seek good relationships with our in-laws. This guarantees not only a less irritating and less stressful life but also a healthy and happier relationship with our spouse.
Does that mean giving in to all the whims of your in-laws and your spouse’s entire clan in order to earn approval and acceptance? (Not so but I’m not going to tackle it here ‘cause I believe that the ways for establishing good relationship with your in-laws deserve another article.)
But wait! What about if it’s your race that deters you from actually establishing a good relationship with your in-laws?
There are the five ways your in-laws can potentially affect your interracial marriage.
1. Affect the planning of wedding
When Jodi and Rukshan planned for their interracial wedding reception, issues of in-laws and extended families had to be considered. Jodi and her family, being Americans, wanted a simple cake and punch reception. But since a wedding means a big feast to Asians, Rushan urged to serve a meal so as not to offend his Sri Lankan family.
A lot of cultural practices are inspired by religion such Hinduism and Buddhism. When an interracial couple with different beliefs decides to tie the knot, the question of which wedding ceremonies to follow comes to mind. Michael and Adia, a Thai-German couple, decided to better perform two weddings – a German wedding in Germany and a Buddhist wedding in Thailand.
2. Expectations of couple’s families’ origins.
When a young princess fell in loved with a handsome very illegible young man, she was ecstatic to introduce him to her parents. When the two met the parents, the conversation went this way:
Royal parents: What’s your name, young man?
Young man: Fischer. Alton Fischer.
Royal parents: Where you from, young man?
Young man: Germany. I’m from Germany.
Royal parents: And what do you do?
Young man: I’m a lawyer, a licensed lawyer.
The royal parents then exited to a room while the young couple waited anxiously. They googled the name “Fisher” to find out its origin. They learned that Fischer in German means “fisherman”. That concludes that Alton Fisher comes from a family of fishermen. They couldn’t let their royal daughter marry a commoner much more a fisherman!
It’s unknown if the young couple did marry, but what’s known is the fact that everyone is judged according to which country he’s from or of which family tree he came.
3. Decision – interfering in raising grandchildren
Some in-laws are keen on how their grand children are raised. This is good in some ways because they show how much they care for the welfare of the young family; however, their direct interference can also harm the independence that the young couple is supposed to enjoy.
Plenty of wives are surprised to learn after marriage what kind of in-laws they were forced to deal with. Some culture practice in-laws intervention especially mother in-laws imposing orders and giving unsolicited advice to daughters in-law. It’s important to do a little research about what to expect from your future in-laws before you jump to an interracial marriage.
4. In-laws that are racists or plain prejudice.
“I married my husband and not his parents!” you can hear some women scream this loud on top of their lungs out of disappointments and hurts from their prejudice in-laws.
If you are married to a man who loves you for who you are and regardless of your race, then you’re lucky. But what if you aren’t lucky enough to end up with non-racist in-laws? How are you going to deal with them?
This challenge is very dangerous because racist in-laws are capable of poisoning the minds of their grand children.
There’s an Asian who married an American doctor. He did not come from a rich family; in fact, he earned his medical degree through student loans. When he became a practicing doctor, he started paying his loans and helping elevate his family’s status. He was already married during the time. The Asian wife did not have a good relationship with the in-laws because they looked down on her. Probably, this was because she came from a less-developed country.
Unfortunately, the husband was kind of brain washed. He’s prioritizing more his parents and siblings over his wife. But this didn’t make the wife back down. She decided not give in the in-laws’ whims and refused to be treated like a second class. She refused to let her mother-in-law rule her house. When the monster in-law tried, she threw her out the house. However, she was never bad mouthing them regardless of the defaming words she received from them.
Whenever her children visit their aunts and grand parents, their minds were poisoned and they were taught to disrespect their mother. The Asian mom realized this when the eldest daughter, only a four-year old, started acting like her in-laws telling her to stay at home and clean the house while they go out with their dad. But her youngest child, a boy, was always loyal to her.
Eventually the husband came to his senses and realized that no matter how his family spoke badly about his wife, she never spoke back badly. It made him decide to start prioritizing his wife. At least, they’re now a complete independent couple.
5. Which family must receive more help?
One culture that Asian people are most known of is their close family tie. Parents take care of their children and send them to school, children help the parents and support them when they grow old.
If you’re a westerner, you’re most likely not required to support your aging parents. You’re free to spend your hard-earned money for whatever way you wish. But this usually isn’t the case for Asians. Asian children work abroad, take only a small portion of what they earn for their survival and send the rest to their family back home.
If you marry an Asian who supports his/her family, it’s important to address early on the question of whether or not you’re suppose to continue supporting them after you get married.
There are some couples who get into arguments because one partner feels that only the other’s extended family is being helped. There should be balance and fairness. It’s important to plan and decide together how much you are going to help to each side of the family and how often.
If you face any of the above challenges with your in-laws, how would you address it? Are there other challenges related to in-laws that can affect an interracial marriage?