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Question of the Week: “How Do I Get Over Hurt Feelings?”

June 22, 2010

A fellow BB&W member reached out when we opened the forum for touchy, sticky, thorny, happy, sad and indifferent issues related to interracial and intercultural marriage.  Her question highlights a typical scenario many interracial couples face–push back and rejection from the family, often from both sides.

Her question:

“My husband and I have been dealing with [in-law] problems for a long time, and I seem to have a problem letting go of the anger of how I was treated when they met me. We have had it from all sides–mine and his! He lost his friends and I lost mine.  A little confused looking for some advice!  By the way, we both love each other and don’t want to seperate. But it is putting a strain on our relationship.”

One thing you’ll soon learn about me–I’m all about the family.  So for this member, I brought out the big guns.

Gail Parker, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in interracial relationships, has some sage advice to help this reader sort through her feelings without straining the relationship.

Key points to consider according to Dr. Parker:

  • Reader’s husband must not minimize the level of hurt that she feels about the rejection from his family.  Empathy is in order.
  • Don’t be tempted to put the husband on the defensive.
  • Never forget the the marriage and relationship is more important than outside negativity.

For Dr. Parkers’ full response click here for the audio: Dr. Gail Parker’s advice on getting over hurt feelings

For more on Dr. Parker, visit her blog, Taking Yoga Off Your Matt.

So open forum: how have all of you dealt with these feelings?  What mistakes did you make, what lessons did you learn?

Have a question you'd like to have an expert answer? Email ckarazin@gmail.com

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2010 4:51 am

    I have always been in interracial relationships and have never had this problem.

    The only thing close to it: my first boyfriend was Dominican and his mom wanted him to date a white girl. I never met her and he didn’t care what she wanted (nor did I). So while I know how she felt, she never got around to hurting my feelings.

    All my other relationships have been great in regard to family acceptance.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 23, 2010 9:51 am

      That’s crazy! She didn’t even want him to date a member of his own race? Talk about whitewashing!

    • Browncow permalink
      June 23, 2010 12:01 pm

      Whoa! That is really nuts! I guess it may have to do with colorism once again. She may have wanted light-skinned grandchildren or as they say in Spanish “mejorar la raza”. Oh well. That is so warped.

  2. Browncow permalink
    June 23, 2010 5:38 am

    Unfortunately I have no experience in this area as far as my husband and his family is concerned. My father-in-law was happy that his son was happy and at first my mother-in-law wasn’t too happy about it, but came around once she met me which was after we had been dating for about 4 months. I think she had some ghetto stereotype of a BW in her mind and just didn’t like it. Also, I think it is the whole, “why didn’t you get with a white woman like ME” feeling. A type of rejection of her as a woman. She got over it. We get along really well and she tells me I’m a wonderful wife to her son and she sees how happy he is so she’s happy. Like I said, easy. My family was cake really. My parents went through some tribal bullsh*t with my father’s family when they got married and my grandmother has been trying to drive a wedge between them for the last 35 years so you can see that they have problems. My father lives here in the U.S. so they don’t have much of an effect on the relationship, but I truly believe that if they moved to Nigeria, my mother would have left a long time ago. The family is just so poisonous.

    I think that the advice given is great. Don’t forget why you’re together and be united in your relationship. You don’t have family who likes your relationship? F*ck ’em. Create your own family with a community of supportive people. This is your life and happiness. Have you told your family that this is hurting you that they can’t see past a simple thing as an accident of birth? Has he told his family this? You just may have to cut out the cancer in order to live happily with your chosen mate. I don’t know if what I’m saying really is going to help, but I do wish my sister the best of luck in her marriage and the possible resolution of this conflict between you and your husband.

  3. randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
    June 23, 2010 9:54 am

    “I think she had some ghetto stereotype of a BW in her mind and just didn’t like it.”

    This issue was my initial challenge to overcome with my husband’s family. The town he grew up in had maybe 10 black people, so not much exposure to black people except seeing those crazy, toothless, blue-haired folks you see on the 11 o’clock news.

    • Browncow permalink
      June 23, 2010 12:07 pm

      Yeah. It was so weird because it was like she calmed down once she met me and found out that I was college educated, my parents are college educated, I spoke proper English, and had a pretty good grasp on world affairs and had traveled. She must have had a neck rolling, finger pointing, harpy in mind. I can understand about people who are from areas where they don’t have much exposure to BP outside of the crazies on the news, but they are from Northern Virginia and that is really diverse. You would have thought she could have interacted with some normal Black people. I guess that’s the privilege of being white. You don’t have to interact with POC if you don’t want to.

  4. Hodan permalink
    June 23, 2010 12:33 pm

    I think black women have it hard for the simple fact that society and mainstream media have constantly created this disgusting backward sexualized image of them (black men in the entertainment industry have been a great contributor to this as well). I remember whenever I meet white people either in academia or conferences related to NATO or UN, they’ll say how different I am, how articulate and well mannered, like that supposed to be a great accomplishment. Mostly coming from idiots from our wonderful countries, Canada and USA. Then when they find out my parents are from east Africa, its like well you aren’t really black, like WTF.

    About hurt feeling from family, I knew or yrs my mother and brothers will have a fit if I marry a non-black man who is not from their particular approved African tribe/family with specific income and educational background. I told my mother I will look and marry quality life partner who will make me happy, not some backward crap about race and ethnicity. So, those hurt feeling and even getting disowned is coming my way depending on who I end up with.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 23, 2010 12:43 pm

      Don’t worry, Hodan, we’ll have your back!

      • Hodan permalink
        June 23, 2010 12:55 pm

        lo,, thanks 🙂

  5. Becca permalink
    June 24, 2010 8:39 am

    I guess you could say that I kind of experienced this problem, only it was with my own family. My ex and I weren’t really dating long enough for me to get a chance to meet his family, and vice versa. However, when I told my parents I was seeing someone, the reactions I got from my mom and dad were a lot different than what I originally expected. My mom was a lot more…subdued than I thought she would be. All in all, she took it well. My dad didn’t blow up or anything, but after they grilled me about all of the personal info of my then boyfriend’s life, my dad came to me for a one-on-one “advice” session. I guess, since this was my first boyfriend, he felt the need to give me the heads up…it was actually a very insulting conversation. He told me to make sure I think rationally and logically, not emotionally, as women are prone to do. The thing that really irked me about this conversation was that he implied that the only reason my boyfriend was with me was because he wanted to try something “new” and “exotic” and basically just to get in my pants. I mean, really? This guy, who just happens to not be black, can’t like me for me? By that time my youngest sister had been in on the conversation, and after my dad left, she assured me that he did say what I thought he said. I mean, yeah, way to make my first relationship feel cheap and like it was some kind of novelty.

    S.N: I haven’t even told my parents that my ex and I broke up. Based off of that conversation I had with my dad, I really don’t think I’ll tell them for a while, unless they explicitly ask.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 24, 2010 9:01 am

      The next time your dad tells you that non-black men ONLY want to get in your pants, just point him out that 75% of black children are born out of wedlock. Seems pretty clear it’s not only non-black men who “just want to get in our pants.”

    • Hodan permalink
      June 24, 2010 2:17 pm

      your dad is a jerk, if you don’t mind me saying. In my culture, a father honor his children, esp. his daughters. For one I can never imagine my dad or step dad ever talking to me about dating guys let along in such a demeaning way. You should honestly have a sit down with your dad and tell him what he said made you feel cheap and disgusted, from a man whom you expected so much respect and love from.

      • Becca permalink
        June 24, 2010 4:35 pm

        I don’t really mind. I mean, he and I don’t have the best father-daughter relationship to begin with, but that’s a whole other story. I didn’t really take what he said to heart, especially since much of his speech was hypocritical in regards to things that he, himself, has done.

    • gailparker permalink
      June 24, 2010 5:48 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that the conversation your father had with you caused you to feel put down in any way. It makes sense that you would feel insulted by his warning that your boyfriend only wanted to be with you to try something “new” and “exotic”. That said, what strikes me most about the “advice” your father gave you was to think with your head…(“think rationally and logically”)…, not with your heart…(“not emotionally as women are prone to do”). Actually when we “think” with our heart and our heads, we make much better decisions than we do by just being logical and rational. If all we do is think with our heart and ignore our rational thinking we can make choices that might seem foolish and are difficult to sustain. By the same token if all we do is use logic and rational thinking without involving our hearts we make choices that lack passion and are usually impossible to sustain. So my advice to you is to listen to your heart while you also use your thinking mind to make the best choices for yourself. And one more thing, remember that you always want to choose a man who loves you for yourself, not for himself. But it sounds like you already know this.

      • Becca permalink
        June 25, 2010 10:14 am

        Thank you for the advice. I’ll definitely make sure to pass it along to my younger sisters as they get ready to enter the dating world. It does seem to me that one cannot completely act based solely off of logic or solely off of emotion. We, as human beings, have both for a reason. It’s just up to us to determine how to use the two in order to come up with the best results.

        As a sidenote, I just wanted to say that I’m so glad I found this blog. You ladies are amazing and I love the discussions and advice you all provide. ^_^

      • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
        June 25, 2010 10:29 am

        Thank you so much. We’re glad you found us too! Make sure to tell your friends about us…we want to keep the conversation lively and love hearing all kinds of viewpoints as it is oftentimes a great jumping off place for us to provide the unique and poignant topics that you enjoy.

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