Interracial Marriage: Loving with Perseverance

When you're in love, you're in love.  No matter what anyone else says, you keep trying your best, even when you fail.  If you stop, you'll never know how close you came. 

Our next couple did just that.  They never gave up on each other, even when her family did not approve.  They supported each other through the toughest times.  Read what they had to say about their love for each other below.  

How did you guys meet? How old were you when you got married? How long have you been married?
We met at an after event celebration held at a common friend’s house after a school related event while I was in college. We were 32 when we got married. We’ve been married 5 years going on 6 in a couple months.

What were the initial feelings your family had about you dating and then marrying out of the Hmong Community/Marrying into the Hmong community? What are their feelings now? 

Her: They didn’t like everything about him and openly expressed their disapproval for over two years. He never gave up and he eventually grew on them. They love him like family by the time we decided to get married. Now I think they love me more because of him.

Him: My family is interracial so they had no problems with us dating. Everyone liked her from the start and approved of us getting married. Whatever makes me happy because it’s my choice and my life. They love her and accept her into the family as they always did.

Were they accepting or not accepting of the relationship? How did you feel about that?

Her: I was always the black sheep in the family, so it wasn’t a surprise when I brought him around and some of my family didn’t approve of him. Even when he did or offered to do something, they would assume everything negative about his actions and refused to believe it as anything else. The way my parents treated him was so wrong and I was really hurt by the things they did and said that sometimes I would cry fighting with them.

Him: Her siblings were fine with me but her parents told me right away they don’t like me. They truly believe that I’m some kind of gang leader because of my hair style. The things they did and said didn’t bother or offend me because she stood up for me. The more they complain, the harder I worked on getting them to accept me. I never changed myself, they just needed to see the real me inside all the crazy outside. For example, they keep telling me to stop coming over so instead I went more often.

Did you have an American wedding or traditional Hmong wedding? Or both?  

We just had a semi traditional Hmong wedding, mainly the knot tying ceremony. We prepared all the traditional wear for the Khmer wedding too but didn’t end up doing it because his father, the last and main elder person in their family passed away just a few months before.

What did your family think about each ceremony?

Her: My parents thought it was enough for the family and relatives to recognize us as a married couple.

Him: It was fine with my family because we also have a knot tying ceremony. They were also alright with us not doing the Khmer wedding as originally planned.

Did your spouse have to pay the dowry?

I don’t really know because my spouse gave the standard Hmong dowry including ceremony cost to an older member of my family to ask my parents for my hand and they just accepted and agreed to everything since he isn’t Hmong.

Describe your relationship with your in laws? 

Her: My in laws and I get along well. We never had any issue before or after marriage. We do things together as family all the time.

Him: I let my in-laws raise animals and farm in my backyard so our family and children can see each other more often. We live close to them so I see and do things with my in-laws all the time. We are happy and satisfied with everything and everyone. 

Describe your spouse’'s relationship with your family? 

Her: My family and my spouse love and treat each other as family. My parents and my spouse love and care for each other like he is their own son even though their communication is limited.

Him: They all get along together. We do things together as a family and even took a long family vacation trip together. We always try to visit at least a couple times a month besides special occasions or celebrations.

Does your spouse participate in events within your Family and the Hmong community, for example, attend funerals, killing cows, attending the New Year, etc. What does he think about all of it?

Him: My spouse and our family attend and participate in events whenever possible. Some very traditional things are hard for him to understand and even difficult for me to explain.

Funerals: At funerals he does help with certain things that he knows how to do or is asked to do. 

Hmong New Year: We try to attend the Hmong New Year at least once. We used to toss ball but we haven’t during the last few years.

Hmong Weddings: My spouse does attend Hmong weddings but doesn’t really like that there is so much (beer) drinking.

What has been the best thing/worst thing about marrying outside of your race?

Her: The best thing about our marriage being outside Hmong is that I’m not expected to be a traditional Hmong daughter-in-law to anybody. Also we get to experience some holidays and events such as New Years in different cultural traditions. 

Him: One of the best things about marrying outside of your race is getting to know, share and experience each other’s culture and traditions together. The worst part is that we don’t speak each other’s language to speak and communicate better with their family and one another other than in English.

If you have children, how has that affected your relationship with family members? If you have children, are they treated differently from the other children?  If you have children, do your children know how to speak Hmong? Is that important to you for them to speak Hmong?

Yes, we have children and they are not treated any different than either of our nieces or nephews. Our kids mainly speak English since that’s how we communicate with each other but they do know some Hmong as well as Khmer. It is important to us for them to know all three of our native languages, especially Hmong so they can communicate with my parents better.

Would you do anything differently?

Her: No I wouldn’t change anything, not even the painful bumps we encountered. All the struggles we went through taught me so much about love and life individually and as a couple and those experiences strengthen the foundation of our relationship.

Him: No I wouldn’t do anything differently.

 Any advice to others out there who may be struggling to receive support from their families. 

Her: No matter how difficult things may be always give your relationship your very best and stand up for yourself. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from being happy because in the end you either have no regrets for doing your best or blame no one but yourself for the choices you made.

Him: All I can say is to have trust, believe and have confidence in one another and both of your world will come together for you to conquer. Don’t give up when things get tough or things could get worst leading to an end. Basically, if you’re not willing to put in the effort or don’t believe the relationship is worth the struggle then just stop and call it quits and go your separate ways.

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