Ask Mary Jo: How to deal with disapproval of interracial relationships

Psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini discusses some top questions from our viewers--on interracial relationships and shifting from mom mode. Check out her answers below!

Dear Mary Jo,

My girlfriend and I are in an interracial relationship, and her grandmother has issues with that. How do we deal with that problem?

It’s difficult when you face disapproval of the person you’ve found to share your life, especially when it’s based on superficial reasons. Neither color nor race predicts a person’s value. It’s important that you and your partner focus on improving honest communication and boundary setting above everything else. These suggestions can help you take the necessary steps to protect your relationship going forward:

  • Prepare your loved ones for your partner. Bringing your partner home or surprising your grandparents or other loved ones may cause a fuss or unwanted conflict putting you and your partner in an argument or defensive mode. Telling your loved ones about your partner is an act of respect for your family as well as your partner.
  • Be open to communication with your family and friends. Your girlfriends’ grandmother may worry about your future children or being judged by others for your choice to be together. Educate yourselves so you know common concerns as well as misconceptions your loved ones have and you can discuss them more reasonably.
  • Protect your partner.  Continue to be strong in your values and respectful with how you treat each other. If family members continue to disprove of your partner it may be wise to remind them that they raised you to not judge on color but on one’s integrity, commitment, values, and respect. If your partner shows you these you have chosen well.

Hi Mary Jo,

I’m the mother of two wonderful girls. How do I turn off the “mom mode” and be a better partner or lover to my husband?

It’s easy to get seduced into the idea that taking care of your kids is the most important thing a mom can do. However, taking time to foster a strong marriage is as important. These suggestions can help you turn off mommy brain and restore your sense of womanhood:

  • Manage your stress. Most of the self-talk moms do during the day is full of tasks, stress, and self-criticism. This reduces feelings of intimacy or desire for your partner. You can undo the effects of stress when you exercise, hug your partner, share affection, and pamper yourself (e.g. get a massage or nails done).
  • Schedule no-kids date nights for intimacy with your partner. Turning off mom brain means transitioning toward your partner and away from your kids. Kids who grow up with parents who went out on dates feel more positive about their family and friendships.
  • Practice mindfulness to escape mom brain. Moms who took time to meditate or practice yoga have an easier time turning off mom brain. This allows them to focus on their partner and tune out the demands that many moms use as excuses to not take time for their relationships.
  • Give yourself permission to enjoy your intimacy and sex life. The intimacy you share as a couple is as important for your emotional and physical health as anything you do for your kids. A healthy marriage teaches kids trust and commitment. It also teaches them how to love respectfully and make sacrifices for another person’s wellbeing. These are foundational lessons for raising well-adjusted children.

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