Much of the discussion both here on EP and elsewhere about interracial marriage and relationships focusses on the difficulties from outside the marriage – the hostility of family or nasty comments from strangers.
Well perhaps we’ve been lucky. I’m British and married to a black African woman. We’ve had no problem either from my family or my wife’s. I’m pleased to say that when I have visited Africa I’ve always been made very welcome by my wife’s family. I’ve not detected a great deal of hostility from strangers, either, at least not in this country, although in Africa some people can make unpleasant remarks about my wife being married to a white man.
No. The bigger difficulties in my experience are from inside. This is perhaps not so much a race issue, as a cultural one. Having very different cultural backgrounds, our outlook on life is quite different and our values are different. We have different views on right and wrong. We argued about how to bring up the children. And we have little in common. The problem with these sorts of difficulties is that they are ever present and disunifying, whereas external factors can often be a unifying influence. Gradually, one learns to be tolerant, then accepting, then understanding, then eventually to really understand and know that what we thought were absolute “rights” and “wrongs” are not, that what is right for one culture is wrong for another, and vice-versa. This process takes time, however, and I guess at times we’ve been close to not making it through the difficulties. Now we’re OK, and I feel I have gained in maturity from learning a different viewpoint on life, but it has been very painful at times.
To offset against the differences of course there are a lot of rewarding aspects to the relationship. We have the interest of learning the other culture. The differences in personality complement each other – the strengths of one compensate the weaknesses of the other and vice versa.
I’d be interested to hear views from others about how they cope with the difficulties in what I might more accurately call an inter-cultural marriage.