Interracial Couples Therapy
“You come to love not by finding the perfect person,
but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.”
— Sam Keen
Navigating The Challenges Of An Interracial Relationship
Being in an interracial relationship can be an eye-opening and wonderfully fulfilling experience. But at the same time, having different cultural, religious, ethnic or racial backgrounds can also make it difficult to understand each other’s perspectives. You and your significant other may be on the heels of discovering that you have different expectations for what a healthy relationship looks and feels like.
I provide pre-commitment counseling and premarital counseling for interracial couples who are striving to make the “what’s next” decision in their relationship so that you can figure out how to have the healthiest relationship possible before you need to face your next big hurdles. Interracial couples therapy can help you and your significant other work through your cultural differences and move together towards a more desirable outcome.
As you plan to take the next steps in your relationship—whether you want to go public with it, move in together, or get married—it’s important to figure out how to integrate families, cultures, and gender expectations while still maintaining your identity as a couple. All of this takes empathy, communication, and tolerance, and it is not always so easy to do on your own.
Interracial Relationships Are A Different Kind Of Family Affair
When you’re in an interracial relationship, what’s normal for your partner may seem strange, different, or even unacceptable to you. Maybe you have wildly different ideas about child-rearing or what setting healthy, non-conflictual boundaries with family members looks like (yes, this is actually possible!).
Here’s a scenario for you: The weekend comes around, but rather than looking forward to some well-deserved rest and relaxation, dread begins to loom over you because you know that one of you will want to be with extended family while the other will want to spend time with just the two of you. The disagreements begin on Friday, the accusations start to hurdle on Saturday, and the resentments have built up by Sunday…sound familiar? You don’t have to be in an interracial relationship to experience this, but a lack of understanding the different cultural or familial expectations of your significant other will certainly breed misunderstanding.
Interracial Couples Often Face Judgment, Stereotyping, and Racism
Racial tension can be an “active ingredient” within the relationship, making it difficult for partners to hear each other out. The impact of racial microaggressions and privilege are very much a part of the everyday lives of interracial relationships, and without a good set of tools, you and your partner may find yourselves trying to manage unresolved underlying conflict or avoiding the topic all together.
Despite the rise in domestic interracial relationships, many interracial couples still face negative stereotyping, public judgment, and overt or covert racial discrimination. Sadly, some partners even face estrangement or are disowned by family members who disagree with the interracial union.
Other factors that may be subtly seeping through the fibers of your relationship are things such as inherited intergenerational trauma, different values with respect to money matters/finance and gender role expectations.
All of these factors can make it hard for interracial couples to see eye to eye. Thankfully, couples counseling provides a chance for you and your loved one to prepare for the next steps and resolve the disagreements at the heart of your relationship.
Therapy Can Help Interracial Couples Navigate Their Differences
When you’re in any serious relationship, there are so many important topics to discuss which are often overlooked: finances, politics, career choices, raising children, etc. But when you’re in an interracial relationship, these issues come with an extra layer of complexity. There are things you have to consider that same-race couples don’t have to think about.
Therapy provides an emotionally safe space for you to have the conversations that may otherwise feel “scary” or intimidating. Instead of avoiding conflict, I want to help both of you learn how to “fight well” and work through your disagreements while feeling heard and supported.
My Counseling Approach and Methods
One of the main methods that I use to help interracial couples is the Gottman Method Therapy. This approach uses a series of evidence-based techniques to help you increase respect, intimacy, admiration, and foster healthy communication. The Gottman Method can help you and your partner identify the things that draw you apart and learn to play to your relationship’s strengths.
I also integrate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is all about understanding the connection between your thoughts and feelings and how that impacts your actions. CBT is helpful for working through conflict because it enables you to see alternate perspectives and behave less reactively when you feel heated.
My Approach To The Helping And Healing Process
I work from an attachment lens in interracial couples therapy, which means that we’ll look at how early childhood experiences and family dynamics influenced the way you see the world and your place in it. We’ll also explore how your family handled conflict, the impact of your parents’ parenting styles on you today, and the role that emotional expression played in your childhood, and now, in adulthood.
Diving into each other’s past as a couple can help you and your partner understand why certain issues are so difficult for you today, or how to avoid them in the future.
Whether you are coming to therapy to prepare yourselves for the next big step or simply trying to navigate your differences, I want to help you create a relationship that’s fulfilling for both of you.
Common Concerns About Interracial Couples Therapy…
I’m worried that going to therapy will make me seem weak.
Throughout your life, you may have been taught to “figure problems out by yourself” or that “therapy is for people who are weak.” My question for you is: if you hadn’t been surrounded by these opinions, would you really believe that everyone should be able to figure things out on their own? After all, we ask for help all the time—from doctors, teachers, and friends. There’s nothing different about seeking help from a couples therapist.
What if therapy opens Pandora’s box and makes our arguments worse?
This is a common concern for any couple that does not have the right tools to work through arguments in a thoughtful and empathetic manner. Therapy will highlight the things you don’t see eye to eye on, but with the right tools, leaning into these issues will actually benefit your relationship in the long run. If you continually avoid your relationship’s weak spots and never address them, they’re not going to get better. I will help you learn new skills and strategies so that you can nip these weak spots in the bud and build a stronger foundation for years to come.
I’m worried that therapy will be too time-consuming and expensive.
You can spend thousands of dollars on a beautiful dream vacation to spice up your relationship. You can also spend that same money dining out over the course of a year. In the end, neither of those things will get to the source of your relationship’s issues, but therapy can. This is an investment that can give you lifelong skills and strengthen your relationship more than any dream vacation ever could.
Couples Therapy Allows You Both To Feel Seen, Heard, And Understood
Ultimately, all interracial relationships come with their own set of ongoing challenges, and as a person who has navigated the waters of an interracial marriage for almost two decades, I certainly understand the nuances that come with this type of union.
Interracial couples therapy can help you and your partner bridge your differences and respect each other on a deeper level. To connect with me, please feel free to reach out on the contact page to schedule a complimentary 25-minute online consultation.
¹ Interracial marriages now more common, but not without challenges – CBS News
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