The modern world is a place, where there are almost no territorial boundaries or limits. Globalization allows permanent displacement of a large number of people in foreign countries who are trying to find happiness, outside of their home countries. The number of mixed marriages, as the statistics show, is growing every day. “Marriage between people of different backgrounds is one of the best barometers of social integration, especially for migrants” (The Economist). It is said that “intermarriage is an indicator of assimilation” (Chiswick and Houseworth). People, for various reasons (love, desire for material gain, etc.) marry partners from other cultures. Thereby, they open up a world of different cultures, beliefs, traditions and rituals. Unfortunately, quite a number of inter-ethnic marriages fail, as a result of a collision with a variety of problems at different levels: cultural, social, religious, political, etc. As a result of this, there are quite a large number of opponents of inter-ethnic marriages (Smith). However, one cannot deny the advantages of inter-ethnic marriages, which enable to justify their existence.
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The Disadvantages of Mixed Marriages
Various researchers, sociologists, psychologists and others refer to the following negative aspects of inter-ethnic marriages (Duong):
- An inter-ethnic marriage is a mismatch of cultures, traditions, customs, and approaches to upbringing. These differences are the cause of various conflicts, which often arise. Usually, such aspects of life as a daily observance of rituals and customs, culinary traditions, and religious ceremonies are of particular importance, not only during various posts and major religious holidays, but also during the organization and celebration of the wedding, at birth and upbringing of children; that is, for any significant positive or negative life events.
- Often an inter-ethnic marriage encounters misunderstanding and condemnation from others. Not only neighbors, colleagues, friends, unfamiliar people, and distant relatives may reproach, discuss, gossip about the representatives of a couple who have decided to officially legitimize their romantic relationship. Quite often close relatives, people from whom a couple might expect the most support, express their disagreement and protest against the union of two people from different cultures.
- Some nations, for example, Armenians, Georgians, and Jews, since childhood, are inculcated a sense of national pride and fear of assimilation, as well as the belief that it is imperative to create a family inside their nation. Moreover, many of these ethnic groups till present, in the era of globalization, are sure that it is necessary to communicate in everyday life only with their tribesmen, in order not to lose their identity and their bright distinctive national features.
- Another disadvantage is for those who have to change country of residence. In such a family, at least one partner has to face not only with a new mentality and way of life, but also a fundamentally different legal basis, the organization of health care, and more. Young families may face difficulties and problems at different stages of their life and formation, starting from the beginning. From an organizational point of view, it is not easy, as it is quite troublesome to move to live in another country, as well to receive a visa in some cases, etc. In many cases, a language barrier plays an important role in the new place of residence. It is no secret that many wives and husbands in such marriages; “torn from their roots”, start missing their home, their family and friends, favorite places, and even familiar foods. Indeed, compared with the great love, all these are trifle. However, life consists of all the events above mentioned.
- A particular point in their relationship is the issue of children being born in interethnic unions. If such marriage is on the verge of collapse, the real difficulties begin. Usually, a husband or a wife who came from another country is less protected by law and the rules of law put him/ her in a tight legal framework. When considering with which parent their common children will be living, the interests of the state, but not the wishes of children or parents are often taken into account. In this case, if the parents begin to fight for their child and accuse each other of improper performance of parenting and even child abuse, the kids might get to shelters or be given to foster parents.
Thus, if to consider intermarriage with foreign partners, one might distinguish several problems of such marriages. The difference of territorial integrity of the state to which they belong makes this marriage a complex phenomenon, where the lives of two individuals are covered by the two societies: the society of the wife’s country and the society of the husband’s country. Various countries to which both spouses belong can cause not only legal, but also social and psychological problems. A husband or a wife, as a bearer of a different culture, will have to face the problem of acculturation within different culture, religion, customs and traditions.
In fact, acquired differences in the process of socialization and individual values, norms, attitudes, perceptions, behavior patterns specific to the country of a person’s origin reflect in the relations between the spouses in an inter-ethnic marriage. Inter-ethnic marital relationships have large differences in the daily standards of living. There are opinions that an interethnic marriage changes national and cultural foundations of spouses under the influence of objective and subjective factors. It also puts them in terms of solving the problem of ethnic identity through individual assignments and specific social actions to ensure the marital relationship.
Another, no less important component of the social nature of inter-ethnic marriages, is religion. The differences in the beliefs, as well as the religious consciousness, are one of most important components in the relationship between spouses who have different religious views. Religious implications depend on the degree of religiosity of the spouses and the inner state of the faith of each of them. It is very important for them to realize what exactly religion means. In some situations, the religious factor is the overriding indicator, which may even cause a divorce or prevent the couple from marriage. For example, a Buddhist is allowed to marry a Jew, though a Jew is not allowed to marry a Buddhist. Similarly, the Orthodox Christians cannot conclude a religious marriage with the representative of other religions. Considering religion as a way to satisfy the spiritual needs of a person, the spouses must necessarily take into account their religious differences. Moreover, they should perceive the partner’s faith, his/ her religious feelings seriously, because religious beliefs are quite strong and the person’s inner perception of the world is not subject to change in most cases.
The Advantages of Mixed Marriages
Despite a sufficient number of drawbacks, mixed marriages also have their advantages. According to many psychologists, mixed marriages teach society of tolerance and the ability to be sensitive to the representatives of different nations. Moreover, they contribute to the improvement of relations between countries and ethnic groups. Due to such families, legal conflicts between states are more often discussed and resolved. Thanks to intermarriage, the growth of mutual interest in culture and history increases, as well as the social life of other people. It is also significant that they promote social cooperation. Experts say that children who grow up in affluent ethnic marriages are characterized by a high degree of sociability, communication skills, the ability to quickly learn other languages ??and adapt to a variety of cultural and social conditions.
In addition, there is a perception that despite many differences that an inter-ethnic marriage can be characterized (social, cultural, religious, political and other), the issue of preservation of the family is directly connected, first of all with the desire of both spouses. Well-being, harmony and stability of the family depends only on the members of this family: the ability to forgive and forget the insults, tolerance and patience, openness to new experience and respect, feelings of warmth and tenderness, trust in each other, a serious attitude towards the family as well as the partner, responsibility, mutual affection, and, of course, love.
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Despite the increased growth of migration as a result of globalization, the attitude to inter-ethnic marriages is still ambiguous. Both among professionals and ordinary people, there are ardent opponents and ardent supporters of inter-ethnic marriages. The arguments put forward by each of the parties, cannot be called weak. Inter-ethnic marriages do have serious drawbacks that often might lead to serious problems. As a result, in this situation most children born in such marriages suffer. However, deliberate and measured approach to the creation of an inter-ethnic marriage, where the harmony and tranquility reigns, justifies the existence of this kind of marriage.