Being in an interracial relationship can have both incredible advantages and also some tough challenges.
My sister, Boya Cheng called me one day after a big argument with her husband and complained about her marriage life to me.
She is Chinese, married to a French man and now lives in Switzerland with him, a son and daughter. It’s not only the differences in native language (Chinese vs. French) and religion (Eastern vs. Western) but also a host of cultural differences associated with such factors as expression of emotion as well as the ways in raising children.
To be specific, Chinese place great importance to child’s education so my girlfriend suggested to train her kid to learn all different kinds of classes after school. However, her husband liked to have their child enjoy more personal fun time. She invited our parents to take care of their child at home but her husband didn’t like that.
Their love story began very romantic but turned out to be very challenging and frustrating in real life. The couple had arguments on almost every trivial thing — from cooking to kids’ education. It should also be noted that the beliefs and values that lie underneath the surface can be the most difficult things to change.
INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE IN ‘MADAME BUTTERFLY’
I watched the 1932 film “Madame Butterfly” with my sister a few years ago. It’s mainly about a beautiful young Japanese woman, Cho Cho San, formerly of a wealthy and cultured family, who has been forced by the sudden poverty of her family to work as a geisha. She is rescued by the dashing, romantic U.S. sailor who marries her and sets her up in a home, and then leaves not knowing she is pregnant. The woman bears the child and waits faithfully for her husband to return.
Some years later, upon learning of the child, the husband, now married to a U.S. woman, returns to claim the child. For the good of her kid, the Japanese woman gives the child up to the husband and then commits suicide.
For Cho Cho San, the Western perception of Japanese women is in one view as the ideal woman and wife and a tragic heroine; in another view, she is the victim of the male establishment and symbolically a victim of Western racist imperialism.
Of course, the entire story was built upon a super racist social context. It is stereotyped that the White man is more powerful and the Eastern woman is docile, submissive to the White man just like the East is colonized by the more powerful Western countries. The Oriental woman is destined to be dominated by the White man and to love him purely and to receive the White man’s cruel treatment, which results in her suicide.
CHALLENGES AND BENEFITS OF INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE
Does Cho Cho San’s tragedy reappear in modern society?
The answer is no. But the barriers and difficulties do exist within inter-cultural marriage.
According to the U. S. Census Reports, interracial marriages have more than tripled between 1980 and today, with 1.6 million interracial marriages in the United States, and that figure will continue growing. It goes without saying that interracial marriages can bring numerous benefits such as learning another culture, acquiring a new way of thinking, keeping life interesting, to name just a few.
However, we can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that significant challenges facing interracial couples every single day. Controversy over interracial dating has been around for many decades. Different cultures, values and beliefs can pose threats in intercultural marriages.
Communication style and interpersonal relationships are fundamental aspects of culture and can vary dramatically from one culture to another. What’s more, communication issues — especially language issues — can negatively affect interracial marriage to a large degree. Language may prove to be a communication barrier if interracial friends don’t adequately understand each other. This can greatly affect the relationship in daily life.
Apart from that, discrimination due to skin colors and differences is another big issue that facing many interracial marriages. Romano illustrates in his book “Intercultural marriage: Promises and Pitfalls” that racism is still evident in the United States today, in some places worse than others.
Communication style and interpersonal relationships are fundamental aspects of culture and can vary dramatically from one culture to another.
Married people who come from non-Caucasian backgrounds are more likely to be in a disadvantageous position in marriage relationships.
LEARNING TO LIVE WITH ONE ANOTHER
Language barriers, different traditions, values and society’s disapproval of these factors will lead into higher failure of the marriage. In order to make the most of interracial marriage, it’s vital for both parties to actively learn new languages, customs and cultures. With that being said, establishing a mutual understanding is extremely important. This sort of marriage is similar to a foreign alliance, with two separate people coming together and discovering the heritage and history of the other.
In the end, I want to attach my favorite photos of my adorable nephew and niece. I hope they can grow up with health and happiness.
Photo courtesy Xiaoya Cheng