How to Overcome Cultural Differences In An Interracial Marriage
Marianne and I have been married since 1992 and together since 1991. I’m just a California boy who grew up in Oklahoma and she’s a Filipina who grew up in Guam where our worlds came together.
As with many couples we’ve experienced the challenges that come with the marital transition of going from individuals to becoming a couple. The Bible describes it as melding two into one. But, we’ve also had some challenges that are unique I believe to interracial marriage.
Something as simple as cultural differences can and does create specific challenges in an intimate relationship. Take everyone’s favorite – food for example: as a white guy from the back woods of Oklahoma, farm raised animals were common on our dinner table and on occasion we’d eat very unrecognizable fish usually battered in something and fried to remove any hint that it once swam in the lake or river.
In my wife’s culture, fish was common and very recognizable even on the plate! They eat every edible part of their fish including the brains, eyes and even the face. Not something that a white boy like me was accustomed to, but I forced myself to eat it trying to impress her at the beginning of our relationship. Since then, I’ve eaten some very interesting and sometimes gross things while others turned out to be remarkable and I still love today, though still strange.
But there’s also a major cultural difference in Asia. If you reject an offer of food even if you’re not hungry you insult your
host. So I never, EVER said no when her or more importantly her parents offered me food. I remember the first time I ate a dish they call Danuguan. It’s pigs intestines cooked in pork’s blood that looks like a baby had an accident in a bowl (I know TMI, right?).
I opened my mouth with a smile on my face, slid the spoon into my mouth and for just a millisecond I had a flash of a pig doing it’s business and nearly lost my stomach. If it wasn’t for my Marine Corps training, I would’ve blown chunks and ran for the door!
But, thank God I managed to push passed my gag reflex and swallowed hard on that first bite just to avoid offending Marianne’s parents. To my surprise when your not thinking about its ingredients, Danuguan actually tastes pretty good with some steamed rice! It took years before I was able to find a way to communicate without offending my wife or her parents that I didn’t like something or couldn’t eat more of something! But thank God I did because I’m still trying to shrink my jello belly!
In my experience, the way to cope with these cultural differences is to view them with excited anticipation of what can be. Kinda like a journey to a foreign country! When you go you expect everything to be different than what you are used to and you want it that way! Why not accept that you are as different to them as they are to you. Eventually, you each sort out what works and what doesn’t between you but that takes time and in some cases like choking down some of the food I’ve eaten, a lot of it.
As the world melts together into a giant race of people, more and more people are entering into interracial marriages. One in ten marriages are now mixed making it the new frontier of discovery in relationships and marriages. Marianne and I hope to use our 22 years of marriage to encourage mixed couples by sharing our experiences, trials, defeats and victories in our own relationship and we hope you come along for the journey!