When I met my husband ten years ago, I won’t deny seeing his race. His bright, white teeth grinned at me, making a high contrast to his gorgeous dark skin, before he sat beside me with an introduction and a drink. Love at first sight seems obviously cliche, but between his radiant smile and hours of non-stop conversation, I was hooked. Interracial marriage was not a consideration back then – a stable and fulfilling marriage was my only concern – but it’s now a huge part of my identity as a woman and mother.
According to the 2010 US Census, more than 5.3 million marriages in the U.S. are between opposite sex couples of different races or ethnicity. Interracial marriages make up one in ten unions, signifying a 28 percent increase since 2000. While these numbers are small, compared to the 56 million marriages performed each year, they’re growing steadily. The gradual increase begs to question if interracial couples are more alike than race suggests.
Indeed, there are significant differences between my husband and I. As a bicultural Latina with immigrant parents, language and culture are of importance in my marriage. We obviously look different, too. And the biggest challenge of interracial marriage is always presumed to be on parenting our multiracial children.
But would you believe me if I told you we’re more alike than different?
What sustains any relationship is the ability to find and nurture its foundation of common values. My husband and I succeed because of our goals, our love of family and our dedication to each other. We love to travel and want to do so with our children. We’re spenders who want to be savers and cheer each other on towards financial goals that matter to us. We come from divorced homes, giving us distinct perspectives on honoring marital vows. Ultimately, I married an African American man because of the person he is – the commonality in our value system – and not because of our differences.
The interracial marriage challenges we face are real, but they seldom originate from within. While studies have shown a growing acceptance, interracial marriages are still not the normal pairing and we often feel confronted with our decision: what about the children? How do you understand each other? Couldn’t you have married within your own race?
Sure, I could have married within my own race and culture. But the question should not be if I could have married a Latino man with similar values, but whether I would oppose loving someone because they aren’t.