Almost 20 percent of married people in the U.S. have a spouse of a different ethnicity or race. About 50 years ago, that number was three percent. It wasn’t until 1967 that interracial marriages were legally allowed in many states. In other words, so much change has happened and continues to happen. But, amidst the celebration, what does this mean on a minor level? How do individuals fare in this more inclusive world?
More people are embracing different religions, identities, and cultures but this does not negate the inherent challenges of a committed, long-term relationship. Could it be that multicultural marriages face more strife?
All Marriages Involve Conflict
Marital conflict is inevitable. The words “for better or for worse” are not window dressing. Couples that accept this reality are best positioned to navigate the ups and downs. So, to be clear, cross-cultural connections are not the cause of conflict. It’s inaccurate and unfair to blame this relatively new trend. However, multicultural marriages do face issues and problems that other relationships don’t.
Conflicts Unique to Multicultural Marriages
Hostility, Judgment, and Worse
Things have changed but meanwhile, racism still thrives in some people and institutions. Such folks cannot bear the thought or sight of multicultural couples. They make their toxic opinions known through methods like:
- Public comments, stares, insults, etc.
- Online intimidation
- Seemingly innocent comments and questions that add up over time
When you start dating someone of a different race, you also get to learn more about the people in your life. This will be an enlightening experience. It may also bring heartbreak. Family members and/or close friends may reject you. Being cut off from folks you once relied on can result in feelings of loneliness and isolation. In turn, this adds strain to your marriage.
Holidays and Traditions
These are areas that notoriously create stress within families. But this is more than where you eat on Thanksgiving. It could be about what you eat on a holiday or if you even celebrate that holiday at all. This conflict often bleeds into differences when it comes to traditions. Few people are fine with giving up rituals they’ve engaged in since childhood. Multicultural couples typically do more compromising than other sets of spouses.
All of the above combine when and if you decide to start a family. Even the friends and family members who’ve been accepting will be voicing opinions. At the same time, you and your partner will be engaging in plenty of long and possibly contentious discussions on topics like:
- Holidays and traditions
So, Does This Mean There is More Conflict in a Multicultural Marriage?
No matter what, this will vary depending on the people involved. Still, it might be safe to say that multicultural couples face more potential for conflict. They have all the usual stuff — the arguments over money, communication, sex, household chores, and so on. They also have the stuff highlighted above (and that is hardly a comprehensive list).
There’s a more productive and positive way to state. Multicultural marriages have more opportunities to commit to growth. They will be challenged more often than other couples and this opens the door for them to evolve and deepen their bond. Committing to couples therapy is an excellent and proven path toward such goals.
Let’s Talk About the Conflict and Challenges You Face
You’re not alone in this struggle. A therapist who understands these issues can be critical to you both finding healthy ways to thrive and move forward. If you are in a multicultural marriage, I’d love to chat with you soon. Let’s connect soon for a free and confidential consultation for couples therapy.