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Relationships, Romance and Reality

Day Dream
Day Dream
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel
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Decision to Choose Partner for Marriage is Yours Alone

By Malcolm Leal, PsyD.

"…I have been dating this man for more than a year and we have began to plan our wedding. I love him and I think he is wonderful and  he  has all the qualities I  want in a husband, but my mother doesn't accept him because he is of a different race. ….."

It is certainly important that we listen to the counsel of our elders in order to profit from their experiences. However, it comes a time when we are called to make choices based on our criteria and in synch with the kind of life we desire.

Your mother has voiced her opinion and discomfort about your choice in terms of a potential mate. It is not clear to me whether her objections are based on traditional stereotypes and beliefs about inter-racial relationships or if she has any real concerns about your fiancé specifically. Parents always worry about the future of their children. It is, to a certain extent, normal that they question some of the choices we make and the impact those choices can have in our lives. They hope to save us the "grief" of some of the mistakes they made in their time and perhaps save us some of the pain as well.  As well intended as they may be however, their experience is somewhat limited by the time line. These are totally different times we live in. Social values have changed dramatically, and most of the inequities, prejudices and negative attitudes of the past are gone. That clears the way in part and you are free to chose whom you spend the rest of your existence with. Nevertheless, you must consider the fact that if your mother has real objections about this relationship and she has decided that she will have nothing to do with you if you marry this man, you will have to deal with those very important issues for a long time. The implication is that you may not have the benefit of her support or company. Your children will only have one set of grandparents and they will be excluded from any family functions organized around your parents. Even though in decline, a  multiracial relationship is not seen favorable in certain social circles. Unfortunately, depending on the makeup and history of  your community, your future family may have to deal with some unpleasant circumstances. This is an unavoidable pitfall in the social reality of today.

Difficult as it may sound, you will have to decide if this is something you can live with and are you willing to endure a life of estrangement from you mother. It sounds like a very unhappy scenario but it is likely to be that way. In the other hand, you may be thinking that it is not fair for your mom to hold you hostage because of her own prejudice. It is you life and you have the right to do what you want with whom you want, and that is certainly true. The previous situational analysis was just an illustration of what may be in store for you and your fiancé if you decide to marry.

Now, most people tend to behave in a reasonable manner when it comes to somebody else's choices inspite  of what they think or feel. If this man you intend to marry is an all around guy. Meaning that he has a career, a job that can provide for his and  your future, and there is no history or indication that he is or will be an unhealthy influence in your life, then maybe you can be an adult and exercise your independent choice. Complex as your life may become in the near future, because of the animosity and dissenting opinions, don’t be afraid to set goals and build your family as you see fit. Try to reflect and discuss these issues with your mother. Attempt to show the virtues and positive qualities of the relationship, your level of maturity and seriousness of your intentions to build a family. Listen for solid arguments to the contrary and then decide.

A word  of caution however, you  have to be brutally honest about the  quality  of  your relationship and that is not always easy because of  your own emotional  involvement. It is not that you need to decide by consensus, but be aware of  your potential lack of objectivity.

Listen to your heart but follow your brain. Look to the future and if you have the strength to take on the world go for it. After all, the color of someone’s skin is just a shell that adds texture and variety to those around us in this complex equation called life. Character has no color, and that’s what counts.

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