Kenneth and Jude are students at California State Polytechnic University. Kenn is a white. Jude on the other hand is a Latina. They met in freshman year of college, that was some 3 years ago while living in the same hostel. Their difference has never been an issue to them, neither has it been a big issue for their friends. However, they have become a little concerned now that they are considering making it formal after graduation. How will I manage it despite the differences?
That’s the question, luckily not for Kenn and Jude, but for us all. “The difference in our color is certainly one thing that we know well enough, but it’s never an issue to us,” says Jude. “Yes we think of it once in a while but hardly ever in a bad way,” she added in an interview with us while earlier in her freshman year. But why is that? Why isn’t it a problem in college? “Young people are not tied down with all the old racial stereotypes,” says Dr. Gustaffson – sociology professor.
When asked about how interracial couples deal with their differences and related challenges, the professor says understanding the challenges together as a family and learning from them, looking on the brighter side, that is, the benefits of the marriage such as double holidays for some, cutting each other some slack and not sweating over the small stuff, personal preparation, tolerance, and seeking help are some of the most common ways of dealing the same. Other subtle ways include:
1. Good Humor
“There’s no better solution to interracial difficulties than a good humor. It’s a great way to cope with such differences in both culture and world views I think. It’s been a magic for me at some point. Each time my wife and I experienced moments of awkwardness one of us would crack a joke and we would laugh about it. I would actually do that whenever I felt she had had a bad day with mother. She could be quite difficult at her. She never fully accepted her,” said the professor.
2. Study Culture
“I also think it’s important to learn a thing or two about your partner’s language and culture. This should help improve your general understanding of certain things especially those with a leaning on tradition, strengthen the bond between either the man or lady with the family-in-law, and also help avoid feeling excluded, which is essential for the ladies because they obviously spend more of their time with their husbands’ family,” says the author of two books on interracial marriage.
“Yes, communication is the other important aspect, in any relationship actually. It is one way of understanding one another, getting to know the challenges and solving them. It is one thing that I think has been a great pillar in my own relationship. I don’t think we would be in it this long. My love Jude, it’s been tough for her considering that I travel back home often during school breaks. Again, it should be noted that both verbal and non-verbal communication matters,” said Kenneth.
4. Great Support
“Given what I know and hear about interracial relationships, I think you also need great support of your partner to go through the challenges, especially when dealing with discreet hostilities of some family members. This is of course besides his love and trust. If it was the case with Kenn’s family I’m sure I’d need his love, trust and support otherwise I wouldn’t have the reason to stay. My parents actually do ask how I am treated and assures to take me back just in case,” said Jude.
5. Common Goals
Setting themselves common goals and working towards them has been their way of overcoming any challenges between them. Kenn often feels that when they work towards achieving these set goals they’re forced to communicate about how to solve them. For instance, he would often drag her out for an evening walk in the park with the promise of a healthy life, which Jude says allows not just her to shed off calories but both of them stay healthy and also keeps her weight in check.
6. Know Your Partner
Other than having a reason for your relationship, building it based on strong values and bridging the gap between you two, you’ll also need to spend more time with him/her so as to know your partner. This way you’re likely to gain more confidence in the relationship and not pay attention to what other people say about either the relationship itself or your partner. Meanwhile, it’s good to remember that every relationship is different and so are the challenges. Do not base yours on other people’s experiences or allow anyone to tell you who to love and who not to love or that it will or not work because only you can tell. Also prepare for the worst do not expect it to be easy.