More Interracial Couples Than Ever, But…Why Are Less Tying the Knot?

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One look on most any busy street and you’re sure to see at least one or two mixed race couples together. More and more, younger people are crossing color lines to find love, but that love doesn’t always lead to marriage. Many are opting to live together rather than marry, according to the latest U.S. Census and as reported by the Los Angeles Times. Turns out that nine percent of co-habitating mixed-race couples reported to the Bureau, with married mixed-race couples trailing behind by four percent.

Meh. Maybe these cohabitating couples are just waiting for their old, racist relatives to die off and THEN they’ll tie the knot, yes? I just think they all should pull a Janet Jackson and get married on the sly.

Still, this is a curious development in which some scholars are attributing to the increased pressure interracial couples face from friends, family and the outside world. If you just live together, then there’s no need for a big wedding and all the accompanying pressure of two distinct races and cultures coming together and getting along for the sake of the couple. Nobody has to worry about Crazy Uncle Larry with the brain tick asking Sue Lin if her family included a few cats in the buffet lineup at the wedding reception. And your husband-to-be’s 90-year-old grandmother won’t have to be there, glowering at your for sullying the purity of his Aryan lineage.

Many older Americans, especially whites, are still uneasy about interracial marriage, a Pew Research Center study released three years ago showed. Only about half of white respondents ages 50 to 64 said they would be fine with one of their relatives marrying someone of any other race or ethnicity.

Some couples were stunned when their families objected to them marrying, having never heard their parents speak ill of other races, Stanford University sociologist Michael J. Rosenfeld found in interviews. But for those parents, it was a different matter when it came to their own children.

To be sure; parents can be quite disingenuous about interracial relationships. Jay (who is a regular on this blog), a white man in his sixties once seriously dated a black woman as a young man in the 1970’s, but when his parent discovered the girl he was thinking about marrying was black, they threatened to disown him. This left him shocked and disillusioned because, prior to Jay dating the black woman, his parents had disavowed racism against all people.

Have things changed so little?

Some think the lack of married-but-cohabitating interracial couples is less about a clash of culture and more about a case of cold feet. “We’re not married not because of our families, says Ruby, who is in an interracial relationship. “In fact both of our families wonder why we’re still not married. We’ve been together for seven years in October and lived together six of those seven. We go through times when one of us is ready the other is not and vice versa. I think it’s a HUGE commitment. When I get married it will be forever. Right now we can leave without any consequences or fall out (we don’t have any kids). It will be done eventually. It’s on our to-do list.”

“The lovely boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half, and definitely want to get married. The article was pretty accurate in that we want to wait and make sure all our financial ducks are in a row before it’s an option. I also intend to finish college before getting hitched, so there’s that too,” says Amia, a black female twenty-something in a relationship with Cody, who is white.

For some, interracial relationships are their second time around. “I’ve been with my significant other for over ten years and I simply don’t want to re-marry,” says Dierdre, a black woman also dating interracially.

Looks like swirling is like a box of chocolates for some families. You never know what reaction you’re going to get until open your mouth and bite down.



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