Tips for Navigating Couple Conflict
Most couples come to therapy at their tipping points; when something has happened, when they are in crisis, and when they need help and tools to fix it! Until then, they may stumble through marrital …
I began writing this blog due to the social outrage for African Americans and the historical mistreatment of this race for generations in the U.S. My office has increased with couples seeking help with navigating their relationships. COVID-19 and its isolating factors have had many couples exploring difficult conversations. Difficult conversations? Yes, conversations that dig a little deeper into one’s cultural/racial experiences and how to navigate them.
This conversation is near and dear to my heart because our family system is multicultural, beginning with my paternal grandmother. She was born in 1912 as a biracial child. Her parents were an African American mother and a Caucasian father. A bit of history: U.S. laws forbade interracial relationships since the 17th and 18th centuries. Interestingly, my great-grandparents could not reveal their relationship! They could not tell anyone about her father’s race because of fear of danger. Their parents did not know!
They had a secret relationship because, legally, her mother could have been beaten, harassed, or even killed. For generations, her story has been that her dad was Native American. Why? It was safe for them and, most notably her. Our family did not learn the truth about her father’s race until she became very ill in her late 70s and later passed away. My dad found a picture of her as a small child with her father, hidden in a dresser drawer. On the back of the photograph were her name, his name, and the date. My dad did further research, and it revealed he was her dad. Wait, what? Yes, she knew her father’s race but kept the secret her entire life! Imagine that? Her entire life.
Honestly, I get it. Historically, interracial marriages were not allowed until 1967 when the Supreme Court decision for Loving v. Virginia repealed the American anti-miscegenation law, which had made mixed (interracial) marriages unconstitutional. She would have been in her mid-fifties when it became legal to marry. Unfortunately, my grandmother had experienced many years of racial discrimination and feared others would discover her “true identity,” so she kept the secret.
It is fascinating to me how families keep secrets for generations and never talk about it. Learning my grandmother’s secret was somewhat refreshing because my family has embraced true love for ages. We have created a family which, in some ways, represents the melting pot of America. Huh? You may ask. Our multiracial family system includes African American, Caucasian, Native American, Asian, and Latino backgrounds. We have four generations of interracial marriages and embrace who we are! Family!
As a clinician, I have many interracial couples who seek services to discuss racial differences. Some have stated it was difficult to examine racial differences because of the fear of asking questions that may unpack wounds. Many interracial couples have recently sought services with me due to the social uprising for Black Lives Matter. This social issue has opened questions, not only for the couple but for their children as well. The couple now must address challenging discussions with their children.
Many other concerns impact interracial couples such as cultural beliefs, spiritual beliefs, teaching their biracial child(ren) about self-identity, creating boundaries with others, embracing your love and no other opinions, discussing racial discrimination, and the list goes on as interracial couples cultivate their family unit.
My passion as a clinician is to help clients embrace their love, regardless of race. To help interracial couples navigate their love story based upon their rules, not the social practices that still exist today. My family’s history was based on a secret. My grandmother’s parents feared for their safety and never revealed her father’s race. Taking the secret to ALL of their graves.
What secrets or challenges are in your family? Are you in a relationship with someone of a different race? Do you find it challenging to discuss difficult topics about race? Are you concerned about what others may think about your relationship? Do you need help defining your love story? What boundaries do you need to protect your relationship?
I understand. I am here to help you navigate your relationship and embrace your unique, yes, breathtaking love.