Intercultural marriage: When family opposition is strong…
Family opposition to marrying outside of one’s own cultural group is a significant challenge for intercultural couples. Research has shown that “Intercultural couples may be subjected to discrimination, hostile and violent behaviours, banishment, even death in some extreme cases. These unsupportive family influences can profoundly affect the social and emotional well-being of the couple.” Yancey and Lewis note that social and family acceptance of intercultural marriage can be more problematic in specific cases, especially when the relationship is interracial. Their observation conducted in the U.S showed that “interracial married people are unnecessarily viewed as odd or different, especially in Black-White unions. Negative perceptions don’t seem to be quite as strongly related to interracial marriages that don’t involve a Black spouse.”
Family and parents’ approval or disapproval can be of great social or psychological influence. In effect, when an intercultural couple experiences disapproval spouses will tend to withdraw from wider family relationships, either trying to prove or justify their love, and in the last resort, separate from their relatives. The more the relationship with their family of origin or in-laws is a source of conflict, the greater spouses bond and develop close relationships with friends and with others who are also experiencing intercultural romance. This is the paradox: (family) opposition may actually encourage romantic and intimate relationship between spouses. It may also encourage intercultural couples to seek support from new friends.
In reality, every stage of the couple’s life will be impacted by the approval or disapproval of their parents which will force an intercultural couple to determine the nature of interaction they will keep with their family, in other words, their autonomy towards their relatives.
The ABC TV show WWYD (What would you do) did a hidden camera featuring an interracial couple informing their parents that they are getting engaged and plan to be married. The scene takes place in a restaurant. When the relatives (actors) react strongly, what will be the reaction of people around?
 Paul S. Greenman and Mara Y.Johnson Susan M. Young, "Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Intercultural Couples " in Multicultural Couple Therapy, ed. Mudita Rastogi and Volker Thomas (London: Sage Publicatioins Ltd., 2009). 145.
 George Yancey and Richard Lewis Jr., Interracial Families: Current Concepts and Controversies (New York: Routledge, 2009). 75.