If you grow up in the United States you’re pretty familiar with the fact the divorce rate in the U.S. is close to 50% (meaning 50% of all couples that get married typically end in divorce). So when I came across an article this week that said mixed couples divorce in droves, it got me wondering if mixed race couples divorce more than non-mixed race couples, and if the actual races involved make a difference.
At first blush, it would make sense that mixed couples divorce more, since there’s more going against the couple, different culture, background, family pressure, etc. I did some light research and found it difficult to find actual statistics around mixed race divorces. It was much easier to find statistics that Asian-Asian couples divorce far less than white-white couples, but not much on mixed race couples in the U.S., other than generalities that seemed to indicate mixed couples divorce more often.
I did find one study in China that showed mixed couples (specifically from different countries) divorce more.
All this searching got me thinking about my own experiences in mixed race relationships. I’ve had my share of failed relationships, but today, I happen to be in my longest relationship to date. I’d like to think it has something to do with being older and wiser. But I think in reality it has to do more with understanding the dynamics in my mixed race relationships. I’m going to apologize here for using stereotypes, as I know not everyone fits into these buckets, so if you don’t please don’t take it personally.
I wrote in another 8asians post that in American culture you have a duty to God, Country, Self, and then Others, but in Chinese culture, it’s Family, God, Country, Others and then Self. You’d think that would work well in an White-Asian mixed race relationship. The white half of the couple looks after him/herself (duty to self) and the Asian half looks after the white partner (duty to family). I realize I was part of that pattern in many of my own early relationships. I always did what was best for my partner, and not what was best for me. That worked until there was something I needed, and then there was no compromise.
I always thought a good example of this mixed Asian/White relationship paradigm was in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club. One character Rose Jordan, is a strong Asian woman, yet she still does everything for husband Ted, but nothing for herself. He never thinks to put her first and their relationship ends in divorce as well.
It wasn’t until I realized I needed to find a partner who was willing to put me first when I needed it, that I found a relationship that really worked. Is that impossible in a mixed Asian/White relationship? No, but as cliche as it sounds, both parties in the relationship really have to understand each other’s point of view, background, and culture; and put work and time into the relationship to have a successful partnership.
I’m going end this with one final piece of advice for single Asians (and non-Asians) looking for the ideal partner. I found this in a Newsweek article during my research on mixed race divorce rates. They suggest, the next person you date should be an Asian male.