I am an Iranian, and I have been married to a Canadian man for more than 34 years.
Besides our different nationalities and cultures, we come from different races: he of English and Irish descent, and me of the Middle Eastern variety—which includes Persian, Arab, Mongolian and possibly some African. (I mention all this variety in my genes, because in past centuries many other countries and cultures invaded Iran and left their mark!)
When my husband and I first dated, we felt an inexplicable attraction between us, which I must say has sustained our marriage through many decades and the raising of two children. Although we come from different races and cultures, we tend to agree on most fundamental issues. When we don’t, heaven help those in the vicinity, as we argue until one of us finally gives up—at least until the next round!
Having said all that, I have learned that having a mate from a different race or culture has many happy merits and benefits. Here are four:
1. Life Becomes More Interesting!
Let’s face it: no one wants a boring life! When you live with someone from your own culture, you know how he/she will likely react to the changes and chances of life. When your partner comes from another race or culture, life is less predictable—and more fun! You are constantly challenged, and that is always a good thing, because it builds character and broadens understanding. For example, my husband tends to have a ‘stiff upper lip’ when it comes to ailments and pain. It is in fact hard to know if he is horribly ill! However, if I’m in pain, everyone around me must hear it: the Persian way!
2. You Lose Prejudices!
A mixed marriage opens your heart not just to one person, but also to an entire culture or racial group. You lose your prejudices and expand your world. You end up enjoying your partner’s food, humor, mannerisms and most other features. (Note, I didn’t say all their features: every culture has its annoying foibles.)
3. Your Children Have Wider Loyalties!
You end up with children who look and feel different than either of your races! Hybrids! That’s a good, modern thing, right? Yes, because they have wider loyalties. Years ago, when one of our sons bought tickets to the World Cup in Germany, he purchased tickets to an England game and an Iran game. Furthermore, he brought the flags of both countries so he could cheer on both national teams.
4. Your Children Are Less Prejudiced Than You!
Children of mixed races or cultures tend to be more open and understanding of all other races and cultures. They have greater empathy toward minorities and underdogs. My younger son had been detained after school in 4th grade when he pushed away a classmate who had kept shoving a new Pakistani boy during recess. The Vice Principal explained that he was detained for pushing a boy, as they were not allowed to push or hit other children. When it was explained that he had been stopping the harassment of a helpless new and different sort of classmate, he was praised for his advocacy.
Back in 1912, when Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, travelled to North America, he observed the racial disunity in America and the segregation of the races, even among Baha’is. One of the many ways he encouraged the integration of the black and white races in the Baha’i community was through marriage. He advised a black Baha’i lawyer from South Carolina to marry a Baha’i lady from England, even though interracial marriage was illegal in most States at the time. Their marriage lasted a lifetime and became a shining example to all Baha’is.
Ultimately, Baha’is believe in the unity of all humanity, so the Baha’i writings say that love and marriage “transcend all limitations imposed by race:”
… the principle of the oneness of mankind prevents any true Baha’i from regarding race itself as a bar to union is in complete accord with the Teachings of the Faith on this point. For both Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha never disapproved of the idea of interracial marriage, nor discouraged it. The Baha’i Teachings, indeed, by their very nature transcend all limitations imposed by race …. – Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 43.