A man and a woman outside leading against a door that says "Women"

Meeting my husband later in life had its perks. We weren’t phased by age or being of a different race; we were open-minded and ready for the next chapter. Seven months after our first date, we were married, wildly in love and blissfully unaware of what would lie ahead. 

2020 was our first year of marriage. I’m incredibly thankful we made it through that challenging time. As a newly married couple, we’re still deep in the process of bringing two lives from different cultures together and that’s an ongoing process. Here’s what I have learned about building unity in an interracial relationship, which can truly apply to any marriage. 

Awareness

Awareness in an interracial relationship is multifaceted. On several occasions, my husband has perceived racism and I haven’t. Other times, I’ve perceived sexism and my husband hasn’t. This doesn’t mean our radar is off or we’re blind; it just means we have room to grow. For us, meeting these tender moments with comfort and understanding has been pivotal, especially in the last year. 

During the surge of attacks against the AAPI community in 2020 and 2021, it was a tender time in our home. My husband, who’s typically calm and collected, was deeply upset and grieved by the violence. I wanted so badly to fix it or say “I understand.” Yet, I felt helpless and my words fell short. 

I talked to close friends who had similar heartaches and listened to their stories. I stopped trying to get my husband out of pain and instead, learned to listen again. What I began to understand was that as a wife, my primary mission was not to fix the pain but to love my husband in his pain and not look away. 

As a wife, my primary mission was not to fix the pain but to love my husband in his pain and not look away. 

Value

I firmly believe we have all two different kinds of values. First, our adult values, which are shaped by our independent experiences and relationships. Second, our cultural values we inherit from family throughout childhood.

My husband and I had many conversations about upbringing and personal values before we got married. We even went to counseling. However, after tying the knot, our inherited values, along with some cultural expectations of our future spouse, rose to the surface. Then, conflict began to build and build.

Although this is common, it was still overwhelming. I wondered why this came to the surface after marriage and not before.

Every married couple, interracial or not, can attest to the fact that bringing two independent lives together is challenging. We had to learn what it looked like for us to first acknowledge the conflict and eventually, to navigate it together.

Every married couple, interracial or not, can attest to the fact that bringing two independent lives together is challenging.

For us, that looks like going to therapy together and working on communication skills. Being firm on what’s important and soft on what’s not. It also looks like growing accountability by inviting other couples deeper into our lives and having space to fall apart. Above all things, it looks like learning to value and choose one another. 

Devotion

I recently finished reading “The Chronicles of Narnia” for the first time, and it was glorious. My greatest takeaway, other than the creative genius of C.S. Lewis, is the power of human devotion. It’s a word we seldom use, but I wish it would make a big comeback. 

One of the greatest gifts I’ve received in life is seeing the world from a whole new perspective through my interracial relationship. Suddenly, I was part of a beautiful, global family. Suddenly, my life changed. That’s the power of devotion: it has the ability to change our story. 

I’ll never forget one afternoon when we were going through a particularly trying season and my heart was aching. While in prayer, I felt an impression that although I’d asked many times for my next assignment in life, loving my husband was the best thing I could focus on. I was so challenged by that impression because even though I was relieved to hear an answer; I was frustrated that it had nothing to do with my dreams, my gifts, or to be real, what I felt like doing.

Suddenly, I was part of a beautiful, global family. Suddenly, my life changed.

Then, I was reminded that I’m devoted to my husband, that my love carries weight and that my “yes” matters. And for now, loving him well was my assignment. To this day, that is still my assignment and the greatest lesson I’ve learned in being unified. 

As a society, we tend to unify only where we agree and stay where we feel comfortable. I’m learning more and more to view culture as a large body in which everyone serves an equal purpose. I’m learning to step back and see the big picture, even just one glimpse at a time. It’s hard to stay uncomfortable, to keep growing and challenging ourselves to unlearn and relearn. Yet, when I think of what we’re building, I’m inspired again. 

This is such a tender subject, and honestly, there’s so much left to learn. I’m thankful to share some of what I’ve experienced. I hope for those who are navigating marriage, interractial relationships or finding hope in a hard season, this has been encouraging to you. 

Keep building, stay open and remain devoted.

What gift can be found in intentionally learning from friend’s and family’s unique cultures? Why is it important to lean into differences, especially when they make us uncomfortable?

Image via Prakash Shroff, Darling Issue No. 13

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