Mixed Marriages

The term 'Mixed Marriage' normally refers to marriage between people belonging to different religions or nationalities. (In the future, when same-sex marriages become commonplace, 'mixed marriage' may also mean 'opposite-sex marriage')

This pages looks briefly at the problems, and pleasures, of interracial and intercultural marriages. (See also Western weddings in Japan and weddings in the Philippines.)

Anyone who's been married for a while knows very well that marriage can be quite a challenge. Sometimes things go awry and the marriage fails.

Try to imagine then, the additional challenges faced by couples from different cultures; especially those as diverse as Eastern and Western. The failure rate is significantly higher for these couples. They are, of course, fully aware of this before they make the commitment to each other. They are aware of the culture shock and racial discrimination they will probably encounter, the difficulties of acclimatizing to different language, food, climate, customs, and all the other components of culture. When one moves to another country, the intimate contact of family and friends, and even relatively small things like food, favourite TV programmes, newspapers and so on, are missed.

We must remember also that, like married couples, governments often fall out with each other. Where two countries are on friendly terms now, decades later they may be at war. At that time, the multi-cultural couple may find their advancing age makes internment camp life intolerable.

The couple we introduce in the Philippines wedding page put much thought into their wedding. Jim moved from the US to Philippines temporarily to marry Nila, and they lived together whilst they awaited permission for Nila to live in the US. Two years passed; no permission was granted.

This seems ridiculous; especially if you consider marriages in the US and the number of divorces within the first two years. Jim and Nila were married in every sense of the word, but the US government did not recognise it.

Of course, the only really important matter is that Jim and Nila recognise their marriage to each other, and for that reason, they will live together happily ever after, where ever that may be. And it may well have to be in Philippines. Fortunately Nila is comfortable there because it is her home, and Jim is enjoying how far the US dollar goes in Philippines.

In this case, the US government's refusal is not a disaster, but living the rest of their days in Philippines was not their original plan. And this is one example of how living under a 'foreign' government can force personal plans to be changed; much more than government interference on other citizens.

On the plus side, however, the couple can enjoy the benefit of experiencing another culture in a way denied to the rest of us who just visit these places as tourists. Multi-culturalism helps spread understanding and through such understanding, wars can be avoided. Nevertheless, the challenges are still great and we should keep these couples in our prayers.

Before making such commitments, couples owe it to each other to plan for the worse-case scenario.


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