The Importance of Commitment in an Interracial Marriage

In my blog I have abundantly stressed how challenging it is to be married to a Filipina or anyone else who comes from a culture that requires putting forth a huge effort to deal with culture shock.

A principle that has immensely helped me to get past the twists and turns and the bumps on the road that characterize this kind of relationship is commitment.

Commitment is not just a spiritual concept: the way I see it is that commitment is viewing things (not just marriage but every other important aspect of life) as “musts” not as “shoulds”.

One of the core concepts of personal development is that “we get our musts rather than our shoulds”.

If, for example, losing weight is something that we think we should do or ought to do it is highly unlikely that we will succeed. The only way to succeed is by considering losing weight as a must. What is regarded as a “must” happens while “shoulds” rarely happen.

I also like to think of commitment in terms of “burning the boats”. ( has this to say about this idea of “burning the boats”: “The concept of burning boats traces back to one of history’s most inspiring leadership stories in 1519. Hernán Cortés led a large expedition consisting of 600 Spaniards, 16 or so horses, and 11 boats to Mexico. The goal: capture a magnificent treasure said to be held there. Upon arrival, Cortés made history by destroying his ships. This sent a clear message to his men: There is no turning back. They either win or they perish. Although you might assume that Cortés’ men would have become despondent, with no exit strategy in place to save their lives, they instead rallied behind their leader as never before. Within two years, he succeeded in his conquest of the Aztec empire. (Some date this concept even further back in history, to the times of Julius Caesar—in his conquest of England—or even the Ancient Greeks. Regardless, the scenarios and impact were similar.)

At its essence, burning boats represents a point of no return, a psychological commitment where you recognize that you have crossed a line never to cross back. There is no hedging, no looking over your shoulder. Everything now—all thoughts and efforts—must be focused on succeeding in this new reality”

My favourite cultural guidebook “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces bluntly reminds that “after accepting the differences, keeping score between two diverse lifestyles and value systems begins to grate. Despite openmindedness and enthusiasm….cultural fatigue sets in”.

Given the immensity of the challenge, entering a multiethnic marriage (and any other marriage for that matter) viewing it as something that merely “should” or “ought” to work is not gonna fly, commitment or the idea that the relationship has to work no matter what, without any hedging or looking over your shoulders and without any symbolic boat left, is the best way to get past all the headaches that the countless idiosyncracies of a foreign culture (like the Filipino one) cause a Westerner to endure.

Commitment is not just a wishy-washy old-fashioned religious concept as many assume. The way I see it is that believing in the sacredness of marriage and in the idea of being inseparably “yoked together” and, therefore, in the idea of commitment and treating marriage (and all the more so an extremely challenging interracial one) as something that must work no matter what and that there is no boat to sail to turn back is something that, in my opinion, belongs to winners.

Winners are those who operate from the idea that their goal is a must and do whatever it takes to reach it and this doesn’t just apply to marriage.

My marriage with a Filipina has been filled with challenges but I’ve burned the boats and as a result I now enjoy an amazing relationship.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Commitment in an Interracial Marriage

  1. i didn’t have work first four years so i cannot afford a plane ticket back home.. it was a choice of facing it or risk the scolding of my mom… haha… everyday is answering yes to commitment especially during bloody days when i ask myself why am i in here again..

    Liked by 1 person

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