Interracial Marriage Series: Breaking the Norm, Part 2

Part 2 is finally here. I am excited to share with you, what my husband, Abel has to say about being in a interracial marriage. If you missed part 1 or need a refresher, click here.

1. What were the initial feelings your family had about you dating and then marrying out of race? 

I am a quarter Hispanic and ¾ Caucasian, so my family was okay with me dating outside of my race. All that matters to them was that I was loved by the person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

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

Yes, they were very accepting of my wife. I’ve dated other Hmong girls before but their family was very traditional. I felt a Hmong Traditional family was much stricter and usually won’t allow their daughters to date outside the Hmong race.

3. Describe your relationship with your in laws? 

My relationship with Yer’s parents was good but it would have been way better if I had learned to speak Hmong. I felt like they liked me, wanted the best for both of us, and had nothing against me. I followed along with the Hmong Customs best that I could. So, I feel overall, my relationship with Yer’s family was good.

4. Describe your wife’s relationship with your family?

Yer’s relationship is great with my family. They all seem to get along with her from my point of view.

5. Do you participate in events within her Family and the Hmong community, for example, attend funerals, killing cows, attending the New Year, etc. 

 Yes, I participate. I have never seen a cow get butchered. So it was definitely different and eye opening. When we were younger, my Mom’s Dad would kill his own chickens but I’ve never seen it myself, just heard stories from my Mom. It was different for sure. 

Funerals obviously were way different. In an American funeral, you have a wake, burial, and then you go home. It’s all in one day. Hmong funerals are 1 to 3 days and a lot of work. You have to put your heart and soul into it. Then there’s traditional and non-traditional funerals. Depending on what type of funeral it is, there’s even more work, like staying up 24 hours for 3 days straight. Hmong funerals are very tiring. You hardly get any sleep and you are always watching to make sure its ran smoothly if you're the one hosting the funeral. There's a lot of unspoken pressure. I'm not sure if most people know this or not, but families have to pay for the funeral upfront (life insurance policy payouts takes a few weeks to a month to receive), which could cost up to $40,000 or more, so there's a financial strain on the family. But I do respect Hmong funerals, attend them, and help when I can.

Hmong weddings are crazy. Well, the traditional weddings, where drinking occurs and lots of bowing. I've only been to a few and I've seen the groom and his best man drunk, barely making it to the front door without help. I do enjoy them but think the drinking sometimes gets out of hand. I feel like more and more Hmong weddings are turning towards more American-style weddings. 

6. Would you do anything differently?

 Yes. I would learn to speak and write Hmong. That way I can communicate with my parents in laws and other elders within the Hmong Community. 

7. If you were Hmong, do you think your in laws and relatives would treat you differently?

Yes. I think my in laws and relatives would treat me differently. There would be more responsibilities as a Hmong son in law. I feel like they would call me more to run errands, like killing cows, etc. As far as the dowry goes, I'm sure they would have me pay the full amount, plus food/drink for the reception.   

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

This may seem harsh but you can either ride out the relationship with all the roller coaster rides or move on. You’ll either gain a family and/or lose a family. You have to do what's best for you and no one else. 

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

The best thing about marrying into a Hmong family is you gain a lot of family.  The immediate family are close. They all live pretty close together and are very close knit. 

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

We had children later than usual, so there hasn’t been any impact with our families. Our families love our children. Ours are not treated differently at all. They are all treated the same. Our children are still quite young.  My wife tries to teach them words here and there. Yes, it is very important for them to learn Hmong.

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