When It Comes To Interracial Relationships, Is Love Enough?

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interracial relationships

What it takes to be built to last.

In my novel, The Shores of Our Souls, two lovers navigate racism, religion, politics, and treachery as they try to love one another. The novel begs the question, "Can a relationship involving two people of different cultures, religions, and backgrounds work on love alone?" The answer is yes... and no. Because it depends on a couple's definition and perspective of love.

No relationship can work on those first few butterfly wings of love alone.

I do believe in love at first sight, but Love with a capital "L" takes WORK. However, if we look at love in the way our fore-parents did, using the time-tested definition of love as "patient, kind, humble perseverance" that honors the other, then the answer would be yes, interracial relationships can thrive. 

RELATED: 11 Struggles Only Interracial Couples Understand

"The only thing that matters is what they feel and how much they feel — for each other," says Spencer Tracey in his final role in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, a movie about a black man and white woman, both medical students, in love.

A lot of audiences at the time sighed at the romance of these words. However, they may have neglected seeing the words "how much" in that sentence. A love must be deep and strong to withstand outside forces, just as a house must in a storm.

My novel's characters Dianna and Qasim come up against more than most couples do because they are different in almost every way, and one of them is in line to a figurative political "throne."

Big conflict makes for good fiction.

Yet we all walk through similar differences in life on a less dramatic scale: picking up the groceries, taking the kids to playdates, sitting at work, going to the parents for our weekly dinners. We have to work on understanding each other in so many ways in a relationship — financially, culturally, mentally, romantically, sexually — and the differences are more pronounced in couples that come from other races, countries, or religions. For now.

We'd like to assume that people see our partner the way we see him. Yet not everyone will.

We need to be sure we stand firm enough in our commitment to one another to withstand criticism, love ourselves and each other enough to keep our clarity and objectivity through it, and stay loyal to the person that drew us in the first place. Yet we need to realize what we're up against. 

Elaine Misiwa, an African American woman, recalls a time when she was dating a man from Yonkers whose family was from El Slavador:

"We got stared down in every bar that we entered, and approached with unsolicited offers for company, as though our relationship could only be sexual, as though we needed more than each other to be satisfied. These were the days that he learned how to hold me when I cried." 

We fall in love with tall, handsome, funny. We adore the tiny details that are different from us.

We fall out of love with each other sometimes because of the same reasons. When we're under stress, and most intercultural relationships come with outside scrutiny and comment, even if it's from people we care the least about, we can start to blame each other, or worse, ourselves.

How we react to societal and familial pressure and the adversity it causes will determine if the relationship lasts. How we behave toward each other, the decisions we make together, the compromises we agree to, the kind openness we show each other, will make or break us. 

RELATED: 5 Problems Interracial Couples Face That Threaten To BREAK Them Apart

This advice is true for every relationship to a greater or lesser degree, yet the amount of pressure put on couples who face (and will work toward sharing) many differences will mean theirs needs to be more solid, more true, more resilient, than many others.

So the answer is yes: If our love is deep and true, if we communicate in times of dissent or misunderstanding, it will withstand the test of time and stormy weather.

If we have a love that is less committed, it will either erode like a glacier or explode in arguments and divorce.

And the only way to come to a committed love without our burdens of self-doubt and self-blame is to love ourselves and our decisions in the first place.

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Kathryn Brown Ramsperger is a coach and author who has worked with and loved people of other cultures, though not simultaneously. You can find out more about her at shoresofoursouls.com. You can buy her multicultural love story on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, and you can find more about her coaching practice at GroundOneCoaching.

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