Dear Dr. Romance:
Today I feel I’m losing my mind.
I’m in my mid-forties, from an upper class family. A few years ago, my father passed away suddenly, and at the same time, I was separated from my husband. Several months after my dad died, I was divorced. No children. I wanted the divorce.
Two years later, I met my current boyfriend. He is a racial mix of black, white, and a little Native American. Our relationship was very rocky the first year. Now things are better with us but my mother is making me feel terrible because of the racial differences and she utilizes every opportunity to scare me. She says that if I marry him and we have a child, it will be a black child no matter what; even if it looks white, white, white, it will STILL be black, and she will feel sorry for the child, and that child will never fit in anywhere, and I am being selfish. On top of this, I’m still not sure my boyfriend is right for me. I love him and care about him but am not sure anymore if I want to marry him. He has rented out his condo and is now living with me so I feel “stuck.”
I’m also feeling guilty for divorcing my ex-husband. He and I are very good friends; we almost have a sibling-type relationship. I am more comfortable with him then with my boyfriend and he is much easier to get along with then my boyfriend. But my marriage was passionless (on his part) and we had many financial difficulties.
The reason I’m writing to you is I give up on trying to come to a decision on my own. It seems that ever since my dad died I have not made one good decision. Actually, I haven’t made any decisions; I seem to just let life happen. I’m out of control. I think I need to find a therapist who knows the difficulties of interracial relationships.
I’m glad you’re seeking counseling—it’s important for you to know your own mind before you make any more important decisions. Sex feels great, I know, but it is definitely not enough to carry a relationship. Your mother’s concern is partly bigotry, and partly truth. Depending on your community’s standards, and the racial mix there, your children may indeed feel isolated and experience problems. In a racially mixed community, they would probably fit right in.
It is not the racial mix that concerns me, but the fact that you don’t seem to get along very well. This is the point at which things should be smooth and easy in your relationship. Once you marry, have children and share family expenses, the pressure factor goes up. You don’t mention how well the two of you are doing financially, but it sounds as if you’re doing OK, so the biggest problem is how you get along. You’ll never be comfortable or happy in any marriage until you gain more self-esteem, so you can stand up for yourself and meet your partner as an equal. There should be no reason to feel “stuck” with someone you don’t want to be with, or to marry him if you’re not sure. I agree that finding a counselor is a good idea—not only for this relationship, but also for your grief about your father.
The best way to find a counselor who is racially aware is to find someone who works in an ethnically mixed area, that person should know about your issues. Read “Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely” to search for one, and “Stupid Cupid” for help in figuring out if this relationship has what it takes. My books, Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage and How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free will teach you interracial relationship skills.