Interracial, Interfaith, & Intercultural Love

Campbell, Chris. Interracial Romance: The Ultimate Guide to Interracial Relationships and What You Need to Know. 2015.

                “Ultimate” in the subtitle implies comprehensive and thorough, and this is a very slim work. While it’s not comprehensive, it is an excellent and short overview of serious and critical ideas and dynamics that may permeate interracial relationships. Often because of outside social influences, whether family or friends or the wider community, extra strain is placed on relationships. Establishing trust, team work, and effective communication are required in all relationships. In interracial relationships, their importance becomes more important to navigate more challenges head on due to people outside the relationship who may weigh in. Allowing these relational dynamics to develop more organically at the couple’s desire through time may be outpaced by the need for deep skills quickly. Campbell is brief and frank about the challenges of an interracial relationship, how to overlay cultural sensitivities, explorations, and openness over relational skills that apply to all relationships, and gives people the information to make a conscious decision on how to make their interracial love a success.

Crohn, Joel. Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial, Interethnic, and Interfaith Relationships. Fawcett Columbine, 1995.

By far the book’s biggest weakness is the date. However, the fact that a book from the 1990s is not out of print speaks to its enduring relevance and usefulness for couples in “mixed matches”. It is an excellent discussion of mixed matches: along religious, racial, and cultural lines. Dr. Crohn became interested in “melting pot” marriages based on his own between Judaism and Christianity. He began to academically study them, both reading other research, conducting his own research, and gaining clinical competency in counseling these couples. Once maligned as avenues for heartbreak and dismissed as mental illness acted out, the tides have been blessedly turning toward acceptance of mixed matches in both the clinical world and in general public opinion. Crohn articulates a dual-nature perspective toward mixed matches that we need to hold: It is very important to acknowledge these differences in culture and outlooks as real without giving them power to split the goodwill, kindness, and respect of the couple to another. At the end of the day, we are all humans deserving of love and respect who seek peace. That being said, culture, faith, and race shape experience, and couples must acknowledge that. Dr. Crohn helps people systematically inventory these varying outlooks and values so the transparency becomes a starting point for couples to navigate without known starting points. A huge mantra could be, “Talk about it all! Assume nothing!” The book also spends plenty of time illustrating seminal moments where the melting nature is illuminated (significant rituals like weddings, births, and deaths). Also given devoted time are navigating friends, family, and raising children who are both supported in their navigating and integration of their duel (or more) heritages that shape who they are and how the world looks at them based on how they look. Plenty of resources at the end which are in all likelihood out of print and may be superseded by newer eBooks, but forgive that as the text is incredibly useful for “mixed match” couples! Out of print does not mean impossible to find! Also, the organizations listed may also be defunct or have new names or contact information.

Romano, Dugan. Intercultural Marriage: Promises & Pitfalls. 3nd ed. Intercultural Press, 2008. 

Romano’s ultimate thesis is on the rich gains provided by intercultural marriage, self-expansion and relationship skills exponentially grown by vastly unique challenges and strains placed on intercultural couples. Intercultural couples have their work cut out for them, but the hefty labor can yield big long-term dividends. Romano’s expertise is solidified by both her own intercultural marriage and her professional work as a counselor. Over time, as more couples have married internationally, rising demand for information on international love led to this third edition updated to reflect globalization’s myriad ways to find love outside one’s own country: foreign exchange programs, undergraduate and graduate programs, work travel, military service, foreign diplomacy, and a social media platform without ever getting a passport stamp. Intercultural marriages were viewed as unhealthy in their early study, and with the tide of popular culture, that sentiment has changed. However, those who become part of an intercultural marriage have lots to navigate. There is no guarantee as to which intercultural marriages will work or not; however, Romano provides an excellent vantage point of all the dynamics that sometimes seem normal and invisible until illuminated by another person’s different handling of the same thing. Some dynamics are common terrain single culture couples know they need to manage: extended family, finances, and to raise children. Other dynamics are poised to be more invisible until they are not: time, food, male-female roles, illness, social class. Romano shares the experiences of real couples who illustrate the take and give of these issues. Most of the book is devoted to sharing how these issues can become points of contention. At the end, Romano shares a collective pool of what these couples felt were key factors in building a successful intercultural partnership: ability to communicate, sensitivity, common goals, flexibility, and love were some of the important traits needed. Romano also provides an appendix of legal considerations as well as a robust bibliography for further reading (though readers should be forewarned that most of the further reading is more scholarly in nature – that is, written by experts written for other experts in the social sciences fields).