Do similarities in intelligence level, personal values, goals and interests determine marriage success and NOT race?

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Reading through the articles written about the pros and cons of interracial marriage at Helium, I found Robin Landry’s arguments fascinating. Having experienced both same-race and interracial marriage, she discovered that clashes brought by race are actually undermined by the clashes brought by different personalities and characteristics.

She was first married to a fellow African-American and college sweetheart for five years. The marriage was supposed to work well since they needed not battle hurdles of cultural clashes or race prejudices, however, other heavier and more significant issues such as attitude towards money, communication, and infidelity caused them to divorce.

The failure of her fist marriage urged her to stiffen the qualifications for the next man to sweep her off the feet. She no longer limited her search to men within her race, given the realization that being same-race doesn’t guarantee marriage success, but instead, dated various men of varied backgrounds, race and profession.

Her requirements were met by a Caucasian after twelve years of search. Through her own interracial marriage she identified “personal growth”, “dispelling stereotypes” and a “means to end social segregation” as the three main advantages of an interracial marriage. On the other hand, disadvantages of interracial marriage include “increased outside pressure on the relationship”, “issues with housing discrimination” and “potential identity issues for children”.

She eventually found “that similarities in intelligence level, personal values, and goals and interests are far better predictors of compatibility than race could ever hope to be.”

It’s important to note that while a lot of articles are written about the challenges of interracial marriage and why it’s more likely to fail than same-race marriage, people rarely argue that intelligence level; values and goals are better predictors for a marriage to work or not rather than race. In many ways, Robin Landry did a right claim.

In their book “To Couples enjoying a stable, lifelong relationship”, Dr. Julian and Annette Melgosa identified the key determiners in choosing a mate. These include: 1) similarity, having things in common, 2) elimination or by discarding options, 3) initial attraction and 4) a combination of factors. These determiners apply to both interracial and same-race marriages.

The predictors that Robin Landry identified are under the Similarity determiner. “People tend to choose a partner on the basis of similarity in age, social class, academic achievement, race and religion.

But the Melgosas, while supporting the “similar” determiner, also gave counter arguments against it. They don’t advocate complete homogeneity because “extreme similarity brings the added issue of boredom”. Differences can in fact be an advantage. An example given is a couple which one partner is thrifty while the other is spendthrift. A mutual balancing can help them avoid two extremes, meanness and squandering.

From my point of view however, I believe that Landry’s first hand discovery about how intelligence level, personal values, goals and interests are better compatibility predictors than race, applies better to some interracial pairing such as African-American and Caucasian-American that are able to communicate fluently using a common language as English.

Regardless of their skin color, they’re exposed to at least similar environment, the same country and language and in some ways aware of the other’s culture. These couples have equal access to job opportunities too, making them both self-sufficient.

Even stereotypes count. It provides something to prove or disprove. For example, the general stereotype among the African-American community that white people are cold, serious and unaffectionate can challenge an African-American to discover if it’s true or not.

However, for some races, the case is quite different. Let’s take as an example the case of Korean interracial marriages. A lot of Koreans are importing foreigners for brides. A lot of these brides are well-educated, committed and loyal to their husbands with good values. Most of these brides are poorer than their Korean husbands and they see their interracial marriage as a means to improve their economic status.

“Among the challenges that these women face once in Korea are language and cultural barriers, as well as racial prejudice and domestic abuse according to the recent study released by the Office of the President of Korea.” They find themselves unable to integrate to the community either because they could hardly communicate or simply because they’re discriminated. This leads them to become totally dependent to their husbands and vulnerable to abuses.

“The divorce rate among interracial couples increased from 4,208 to 6,187 since last year, according to a Supreme Court report in Korea.” In this case, the cultural isolation and language gap are the factors that determined the failure of most of Korea’s interracial marriages.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the similarities in intelligence level, personal values, and goals and interests are better predictors of compatibility than race?

Or do you think that cultural and language gap in some interracial pairings are stronger determiners that overthrow similarities in educational attainments, values and interests?

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White Bhabi

To answer your questions, yes I think that similarities in intelligence level, etc are important in a marriage. If one person is extremely intelligent and the other is not it can lead to a verbally or emotionally abusive relationship. This can happen even if one person thinks they are supremely intelligent. It depends a lot on how the couple interact with each other and how they feel about their partners. I for one was married to an white man (I’m white) and we were both on the same intelligence level. However due to some personal issues of my own I became codependent and he became narcissistic and I believe the two personalities built off of each other. It did not end well by any means.

Now I am married to an Indian man and living with him in India. I have book smarts and he has street smarts (he’s not stupid in other ways – he actually has more college degrees than I do). I feel our levels of intelligence compliment each other well. Things I know, he doesn’t and vice versa. There is a language gap between his family and I (we all live in the same house) and some minor gaps between us with language. There are also some cultural gaps that irk my nerves as well. But as with any marriage there are challenges to overcome, they just seem to be a different set of challenges in mixed marriages. Challenges we are often not familiar with. In the end, it’s all what you choose to make of your life and marriage. You have to choose to be happy, choose to be successful, and choose to not hold on to old ideals – otherwise no one in the world would ever progress.

gleenn

“You have to choose to be happy, choose to be successful, and choose to not hold on to old ideals” can’t be said better, White Bhabi. Thank you 🙂

I agree that a huge gap between the intellectual level of romantic partners can potentially cause over dependency, abuse and lower marital satisfaction. While if both partners have similar I. Q. level, they have a bigger edge. Generally, I do think that choosing a mate base on “similarities” is a safe path.

However, I also think that in some cases, similarities in intellectual level, personal values and goals are not sufficient predictors because language and cultural gap can even be heavier determiners.

Robin Landry

Wow! I was really blown away that you quoted my article – thanks so much! Also, I think you raise some great questions regarding whether factors such as language and cultural norms can impact the success of interracial marriages.

I would agree that language barriers and differences in cultural traditions do present some unique challenges. But, I’m not sure that we can ever determine which of the many factors in any relationship carries the greatest weight.

If two people are truly committed to one another I would hope that each of them would make the effort to learn each other’s languages and understand one another’s culture and traditions. Ideally, this work would happen as part of the process of getting to know one another before entering into a long-term commitment.

If partners aren’t willing to do this type of work, then I think it would be difficult to clearly determine whether it was the language and cultural barriers that destroyed the relationship or the unwillingness to meet the partner at least half-way. That type of selfishness would probably spell disaster even for couples comprised of individuals from nearly identical backgrounds.

gleenn

Hi Robin! Thanks for your article, you’ve sighted really good points regarding the determining factors for intercultural marriage success. I can’t be more happy to quote you.

Yes, I agree with your argument, that couples do have to work to meet half-way. If language gap is a hindrance for example, one can just try to learn the language so he/she can be integrated. I’m doing that myself right now. However, regarding the culture isolation factor that some intercultural spouses suffer due to racism, I guess that’s quite a big hurdle to overcome.

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