Many relationship experts talk about this idea of “acceptance” and they say that one of the major keys to a thriving relationship is accepting your partner the way he or she is.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that you sit back and don’t try to do anything to improve dysfunctional situations that may arise in your relationship. One who is in a relationship must obviously try to do what is humanly possible to take the relationship to a higher level, to make it grow, or better yet thrive.
However there are aspects of your partner’s culture, habits, values and so on that might never change and this is certainly true in a multicultural intimate relationship.
Certain ethnic groups, such as Filipinos, are so set in their ways and their values that trying to get them to change their core values about what constitutes a family and the role of the extended family, for example, can create a lot of friction and frustration and can get their Western spouses to “bash the environment that they themselves have to inhabit” (as the “Culture Shock Philippines” book, that I keep quoting, says).
Now this expression “bashing the environment that they themselves have chosen to inhabit” is very interesting because it points to the core dysfunction of many interracial intimate relationships (and of other kinds of relationships for that matter).
Bashing the environment that you have chosen to inhabit amounts to resisting reality. The reality is that you knew that your future spouse was a foreigner, you knew that he or she had very different core values, but you decided to go ahead anyways and marry that person and now you are resisting that reality.
What causes much of our suffering is when we resist reality.
I remember hearing a nice illustration about poor conductors and superconductors: if current passes through a wire that has high resistance heat is generated and the wire melts. If, on the other hand, current passes through a superconductor that has zero resistance no heat is generated and the wire doesn’t get damaged. What damages the wire is not the current, rather it is its resistance.
Similarly what causes many Westerners to get mad at their Filipino, or otherwise foreign, spouse is not the fact that he or she is culturally different, rather is their resistance to their partner’s different reality.
It doesn’t make much sense to enter a relationship with a person who has an entire different set of values and then try to change that person through preaching and arguments: you either accept the huge differences or you abstain from becoming “yoked together”.
Imagine trying to “yoke together” a calabau (a Filipino kind of buffalo) and a little Yorkshire Terrier dog and get them to pull a heavy kariton (a Filipino kind of chariot): it is not going to work or, at least, it is going to be very hard.
To further illustrate this point: many people make fun of certain religious individuals who refuse to marry people who don’t share their faith. Well, to me what those people do makes perfect sense because if the person you are going to get “yoked” with has an entirely different set of values and priorities, beauty and good looks are not going to make up for the conflicts and arguments that inevitably arise. So the wise thing is: you either stay away from a person who does not share your core values or, if you go ahead, don’t complain and bash the environment you have chosen to inhabit. If you want to organize your life around your faith and “seek first the Kingdom”, as the Bible says, but you marry someone who doesn’t care at all about your faith and is only concerned with money making, it doesn’t make any sense to later regret and complain, argue and try to change that person.
Similarly if you are a Westerner whose idea of marriage is that the extended family should never interfere with your marriage but you like a Filipina who gives top priority to the extended family you have two options: either you avoid becoming yoked with a person whose values are radically different than yours or you accept the huge culture shock that is going to result from your life together.
The key to a thriving relationship is accepting your partner the way he or she is, resisting only creates unnecessary suffering
So before embarking on an interracial intimate relationship you’d better calculate the expense, for “bashing the environment that you have chosen to inhabit” will only make you sick.