Coming from an extremely religious and intolerant home, I made a conscious effort growing up to rid my mind of the hurtful and negative things my parents force-fed me about people who weren’t just like them. During my youth, I hung out with people from all races and sexual preferences. If being a rebellious teenager taught me anything, it was that my parents were most definitely NOT always right!
When I met the wonderful man who would very soon assist me in bearing a son, and later become my husband, the first thing I thought was “Damn, he’s hot,” not “Oh, I wonder what nationality he is.” In fact, it didn’t even occur to me.
Contrary to what my father said, marrying someone from another culture is NOT an obstacle (I know, right!??!), but the most incredible learning experience. Before being with my husband, I had never been immersed in another culture aside from traveling abroad.
Here’s a few reasons I love my inter-cultural marriage:
His family is very supportive.
The first time I met my would-be in-laws, I was six moths pregnant — not a good start in any culture! As nervous as I was, my fears were soon put to rest by how welcoming and supportive they were of us. After Miles was born, we’d visit my husband’s adorable little Buddhist grandmother who would stick money and lottery tickets into our son’s pockets, which always made for some pretty hilarious photos. It goes without saying that food is a major part of Cambodian culture so I always expect to (happily) gain about 10 pounds per visit!
We have very different experiences and worldviews.
A little patience is required when it comes to my expectations of what the “perfect” husband is. My upbringing was staggeringly different from my husband’s. I spent my time watching TV, riding my bike with friends, and having sleepovers. My husband spent his youth running from the Khmer Rouge, living in a work camp in Vietnam, immigrating to America and being thrust into the school system at four-years-old without knowing any English.
From time to time, I have to remind myself that we’re from opposite sides of the globe and I’ve come to really embrace this separate viewpoint he brings to the table.
That being said, we obviously have different ways of doing things and different ways of thinking. Communication is vital in a relationship, but when the man you love grew up with very little of it between himself and the members of his family, it’s somewhat difficult to get him to open up. I often have to stay diligent in conveying what it is that I need from him because otherwise (and I think this is probably true with a lot of men anyways) he has no clue what is bothering me! From time to time, I have to remind myself that we’re from opposite sides of the globe and I’ve come to really embrace this separate viewpoint he brings to the table. The fact is that I’m growing just as much as he is every single day and there’s no one else I’d rather do that with.
Teaching our son where he comes from has been really exciting.
Knowing that we’ll be able to take him to Cambodia one day and let him meet part of the family his father had to leave behind brings tears to my eyes. Miles knows very little of the Cambodian language, mostly because my husband doesn’t speak it often enough, but what he does know, he speaks perfectly. It’s fascinating to watch!
Bonus: it provides me with tons of unexpected comebacks to rude questions.
I don’t resemble my son much at all, so I’ve learned a few nice comebacks when someone who is merely being curious asks a less-than-polite question, such as “Aww, where’d you get him?” My favorite response to that is “Oh, he came from my vagina.” It’s mind-boggling to me when my husband and I get stares out in public. Really?!? Is this the 1700s? I exercise the patience I’ve gained these past few years to remind myself that by the time my son grows up and marries whoever the hell he wants to, this country will hopefully be rid of the racism that plagues it.
If you’re in an interracial relationship and/or have a mix-raced child, congratulations, you’re contributing to tolerance, breaking down stereotypes, producing some damn cute kids and pissing the right kind of people off. For that you should feel proud.