Loving Interracial Couples

Loving Interracial Couples

Note: This post was originally written in 2017, shortly after the release of the widely acclaimed, award winning film Loving
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision. On June 12, 1967, Mildred and Richard Loving received a verdict from the Supreme Court which determined the future of their lives together.   In the case of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court determined that state laws prohibiting interracial marriages were unconstitutional because they are “measures designed to maintain white supremacy.”

Ultimately, the Lovings’ perseverance helped open the doors for other similar couples to marry.  Since 1967, there has been a 14% increase in interracial marriage with 17% of newlyweds in the US entering into interracial marriages  (Pew Research Center, 2017).  And, although societal views about interracial couples are changing, many interracial couples continue to face unique struggles and have higher divorce rates than their monoracial couple peers.

Along with facing the common stressors of couplehood such as finances, family planning, communication, and intimacy; interracial couples have additional challenges unique to their coupling. Specifically, racial differences within the couple often plays a role in how they experience and navigate their lives.  Interracial couples are more likely to face discrimination from not only the outside world, but also from family and friends, who are often sources of support for monoracial couples.  Interracial couples must learn to navigate, explore, and discuss race and difference as they make relationship decisions.  For example, couples might have discussions about their experiences from different racial backgrounds which can ultimately impact how they choose to spend their money or parent.  These couples may also have additional considerations of ensuring that each member of the couple feels safe and racially represented when deciding where to live or where to send their child to school. Still, despite these unique challenges, it is important to know that many interracial couples thrive and find joy in their partnerships.

Tips For Interracial Couples To Help Strengthen Their Love

  1. Learn:  Take the opportunity to learn about your partner’s culture.  Engaging in learning can take many forms like being curious with your partner about their culture and experience.  Learning can also happen externally through reading books, watching movies, or attending a larger cultural celebration in your town or city that is meaningful to your partner.  Not only does it expand your world-view, it can invite meaningful conversations and deeper connections.  Many interracial couples find that learning about one another’s culture is a joyful and enriching part of their relationship.
  2. Communicate about culture and race:  Research shows that couples who openly explore and discuss how experiences related to culture and race impact their relationship thrive. Since talking about race and culture can be a vulnerable conversation, it’s important to be open, compassionate, patient, and use your active listening skills.  For example, communicating and checking in with your partner about how they experience spending time with your family can lead to important conversations and increased understanding.
  3. Examine Privilege:  As a follow-up to the above, don’t be afraid to talk about and acknowledge your different experiences with privilege and how those experiences might change when you are together.  Not only can you feel more supported by your partner, you can feel more like a team if you experience discrimination.
  4. Authenticity:  Be yourself.  Sometimes people feel pressure from others to change who they are or be someone else, especially if they receive negative messages about being in an interracial relationship.  But when individuals are honest and genuine about who they are, it makes it safer for their partners to also be authentic and experience connection.  Remember that your partner chose you, not someone else, and they are not asking you to be someone else.
  5. Humor:  Sometimes, you just have to laugh.  Couples can use humor as a way to connect and as a way to protect their relationship in the face of adversity.  Per CTC’s very own Dr. Dorrie Ferguson, be sure to avoid jokes that hurt or belittle the recipient, as this kind of humor is harmful.