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“My mom worried that I would forget about her if I didn’t marry a Latina,” said Jesse Herrera, who married Emily, a white woman.

Extended family is an essential value for Mexican Americans, he explained.

She married Mike, who grew up in an African American family in Chicago, and the two liken their story to the country mouse meeting the city mouse.

“Her family of origin is intact with loving, stable relationships. They just don’t have the same level of stress.” Christa had to take on these realities as part of her own story, now that she had tied her life to Mike’s—they were not part of her experience before.

“I didn’t understand the depth of what we were getting into,” she said.

“I know how to be open and flexible to different attitudes and cultures, but not being able to understand the conversation is difficult.” Becky Wang relies on actions when words fail her in relating to her Chinese mother-in-law, who does not speak much English.

“I may not be able to get to know her in a depth of what her life experiences have been, but what I can do is show my love and respect to her as an elder, as the mother of my husband, and grandmother to our kids,” she said.

“My kids won’t know Spanish nearly to the extent that I would like them to simply because no one is speaking Spanish to them day in and day out like my parents did to me,” he said.

The Language Barrier For couples who have families who speak different languages, communication itself can be a challenge.

His mother struggled with finding housing and consistent work, his father was struck with a disability and now lives in a nursing home, and his sister suffers from a mental illness.

“Christa didn’t expect the level of challenges my family would present,” he said.

That’s what makes it work.” The Cultural Divide When a white person marries a person of color, they step into a new world.

Their spouse knows how to navigate both the culture of their own race as well as the mainstream majority culture in America.

“I had to learn to accept it—that this is my life and that this is our marriage. “I never really thought that these things would be my issues, and they definitely are my issues,” she said.

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