“For better or worse, for richer or for poorer in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, ’til death do us part.” That’s the vow that we make when we marry. But what does the “for better or worse” promise mean for those who marry where there are cross cultural marriage, or interracial marriage differences involved?
That is a question to consider if you are considering marrying someone of another culture and/or of another race.
Are there added “costs” that need to be considered as you work to unite together as “one” in marriage partnership? Yes, there are. As Trilla Newbell, who is happily married in her interracial marriage says:
“A decision to marry outside one’s race or ethnicity should not be entered into lightly. Interracial couples [as well as cross cultural couples] must face struggles that others may not encounter. But the solutions are the same for everyone: humility, love, and the gospel.” (From her article, “Interracial and One in Christ”)
Intercultural Marriages and Interracial Marriage Issues
We’re told by Jesus how important it is to “count the cost” when we become his followers. Whatever vow we enter into, there are important matters to consider before we make solemn promises. And that’s especially true of those of us who enter into marriage.
“Those who marry will face many troubles in this life. I want to spare you this“ is the warning the Apostle Paul gives (in 1 Corinthians 7) those who are considering marriage. As he said, “A married man is concerned about the affairs of this world —how he can please his wife —and his interests are divided.”
Woven into the nature of marriage, you have to care for the needs of your spouse in order for the “two to become one” as Jesus told us to do. And for this reason, there are times when your interests will show its natural divide. There are interests, which will need to be bridged somehow. And this is especially true of those who have entered into marriage with someone from another culture and/or another race.
Now, for the rest of this article, I want to point you to different articles, posted on the Internet that will minister to your situation. If you are considering marrying someone of another culture and/or race, you will find info to help you make that decision. But these same articles can help you if you are already married. There are many tips included just for you. So, glean through the info and prayerfully consider what you can apply.
To Help You:
The following is an excerpt from the book, Your Intercultural Marriage: A Guide to a Healthy, Happy Relationship written by Marla Alupoaicei. In this particular article Marla starts to lead you down a journey that can help you to see and work on bridging your differences. It’s only natural to find that you have many, many differences. But recognizing them is the first step to bridging them. To learn more please read:
In this next article Erik Tryggestad highlights the marriages of several missionary couples. Erick points out problems as well as positive aspects of their Cross-cultural relationships in this Christianchronicle.org article:
And then the following article is one we have posted on the Marriage Missions web site. It gives insights on this issue from the book, Called Together by Steve and Mary Prokopchak:
It’s important to realize the commitment involved in making a cross cultural marriage a good one. Your marriage can be great, but there are additional challenges involved to get it to that place. (And then of course, you need to continue to maintain it.) JW writes,
“If being married to someone from your own culture is hard work, then being married to someone from another culture is harder work. Commitment and communication (not the warm feelings of first love) are the keys to making a marriage that will last. Effective communication will require overcoming language and culture gaps —and you may not see the gaps in advance.” (Posted on Japanwindow.com.)
Here is a tip for working through your cross cultural “gaps.” It is given by Dr Harold L. Arnold, Jr:
“External stressors are magnified in cross cultural marriages because of disappointments when cultural assumptions are unmet. Developing a shared identity is the key to growth.”
Did you get that? It’s important to develop a “shared identity.” This will take intentionality and commitment. Dr Arnold explains a 3-step process to help build relationship bridges in Cross-cultural marriages. You can also learn how to overcome “role confusion and boundary threats” in the following articles. To learn more, please read:
Marla Alupoaicei, in her article, “Love in Any Language” makes the following point:
“You may already be committed to an intercultural marriage, or you may be considering marrying a person from a different country, culture, or ethnicity. If so, these eight tips will empower you and your significant other to build a healthy, happy marriage on the firm foundation of Christ.”
On this issue, here’s something to consider:
“Your partner’s country of origin is not the main thing. Rather, ‘like in the story of Isaac and Jacob, the spouse must come from the father’s household, meaning your spouse must be a member of the household of God. If you have that as your foundation then your love will overcome all obstacles.'”
To learn more on this point, and others, please read the following Boundless.org article:
— ALSO —
In many marriages there are cultural and/or racial differences that need to be bridged. This is not uncommon in our globally expanding world. Actually, that is a part of our family —more the racial, than the cultural differences. My son and daughter-in-law are racially different. I have to say, that they are doing a terrific job of working through their differences. And I also have to say that I can’t imagine not having our daughter-in-law in our family. We love her with all our heart.
But sadly, that is not so in many racially different marriages. There are often problems with family, friends, and sometimes within society itself. That is why we want to present an article that could help you if you face these issues.
It is written by Phillip Holmes, and is posted on the Desiring God web site. You’ll find this topic deals head on with family that isn’t happy about interracial marriages. Also, there are additional related articles on this issue linked below this one on their web site, which you may want to also read:
I want to conclude by bringing out something Trillia Newbell also spoke about in her article, “The Gospel of Interracial Marriage.” She wrote:
“Our differences in culture caused some conflicts at the beginning of our marriage. We knew we were the same in Christ, but culturally we were so different. It became increasingly difficult to relate. Like many newlyweds, we had much to work through, with the added fear that as I became one with my husband I would lose a major part of who I was as a black female. The solution was simple. We needed to become more gospel-centered.”
Trillia pointed out that “the gospel breaks down barriers.” And it does. For we are “all one in Jesus Christ.” And then she states:
“God created my husband and me equally and God saved us by the same grace. (See: Ephesians 2:8-9.) Our first order of business was to see each other not in light of what we needed from each other, but rather as God viewed us—as redeemed children. As we began to see each other as covered with Christ’s righteousness and beloved, the cultural differences became less important. What was important was whether we were glorifying God in our marriage through our relating to one another.”
Relating As God Would Have Us
And that is the point of this article. We are “one in Christ” through faith in Jesus Christ. To live this way, there are differences that need to be bridged. Some are bridged outside of marriage and others are within it. You need to prayerfully determine though, if your calling is do this within marriage to someone else who has additional differences. After marriage, that IS your calling. You made your vow to God and to your spouse. From that day forward, “being one” is the mission of your marriage.
But before marrying, you need to determine if this is the calling that God wants you to have. He may have this one for you, or another one. Seek His will, and make sure that your commitment matches the task ahead of you.
I pray for everyone who reads this article. I pray God will give you extra wisdom and discernment to know His will. Please allow the Holy Spirit, our Wonderful Counselor, to be your guide.
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.