Interracial and intercultural relationships are becoming more and more normal these days with the world opening up as a global world. Growing up, I had interracial parents from very different backgrounds, and so it didn’t seem strange when my husband and I got together and have been making it work.
I decided that in honor of Loving Day, I would share a few things that I wish I knew before getting into an intercultural relationship.
One. Knowing your spouse’s mother tongue will help so much in understanding where they are coming from. Language is deeply connected with culture and understanding that what might be a literally translated idiom from one tongue could be an insult to another could possibly be the prevention of World War Three in your home. Trust me. There have been so many times where one of of has had to say (kindly, of course), “Well I know in [your language] you say [this], but in [my language] it can be taken as [this].” On the other hand, if you know each other so well and are switching between languages in your home, it’s easy to forget to mention this, and you end up offending someone outside of your home. But that is another story, heh.
Two. Your living possibilities suddenly expand. I mean, yes, you can always live wherever you want in the world, but once you marry someone from a different country, the process usually becomes a tad easier. While we live in a country where neither of us are from, we have some strange kind of peace of mind that we have options in case something happens.
Three. Travel becomes special. You develop a love for your spouse’s country and it becomes a second home for you. You have people from all over the world to visit. It also becomes extra special when you get to explore new countries and cultures with each other!
Four. Your culinary tastes will expand. Chances are that your spouse’s culture eats differently than yours! This could, of course, be good or bad. But if you’re an adventurous eater like I am, then it definitely is a good thing. I enjoy learning how to make specialties from my husband’s country, and I love sharing favourites from mine with him! When we go to international markets, we are like little kids running up and down the aisles and drop far too much money to share these special indulgences with each other.
Five. Your home has its own culture. While your past plays a part in how your home culture turns out, it’s important to focus on making it yours - together. That may mean taking things you love about one culture and omitting things that are not as desirable. Focusing on building your own family is important, rather than trying to hold on selfishly to one way or another. Compromise is good, but blending is even better!
Six. Home is where the heart is. While it may be hard to leave family behind (a possibility when marrying someone from a different country), it is an adventure to start a new one. When so far away from those you grew up with and who are near and dear to your heart, you learn to lean on God and your spouse to get you through that. Sometimes you only have each other and that is okay.
Seven. There are still people out there who disagree with interracial marriages, but that doesn’t have to get you down. Just because people might automatically assume certain things, doesn’t mean your relationship is not valid. These situations can be great when turned into teaching moments. Certain comments may hurt, but learn to let them slide. Everyone is at a different level of understanding, and some people might not even know that they are being offensive.
Eight. Humans are humans. Humans are very different, and yet very similar. Even though we might have different physical appearances or cultural backgrounds, we all have similar needs and longings, but just various ways of expressing them.
Nine. Communication style varies across cultures, but it’s important nonetheless. Any relationship, romantic or not, depends on communication. Understanding where the other person is coming from and how certain things are communicated is important. It will also help you avoid a lot of unnecessary hurt due to misunderstandings. Communicate, communicate, communicate! And yes, it is much easier said than done sometimes.
Ten. True love is unconditional. I think I’ll leave it at that for now.
Are you or anyone you know in an intercultural or interracial relationship? Tell me about it in the comments below!