Ours is one of the increasing number of inter-racial marriages in modern society: a growing 21st century trend. Luckily, we live in Toronto, the fifth largest metropolitan city in North America and the most multi-cultural city in the world. Others are not so lucky. There are still vast regions of the world (and even some areas of our own continent) where inter-racial marriage is frowned upon.
In any case, we contrasted in ways that go deeper than skin colour. I was raised by scientists (a chemist and a nuclear physicist) while she was raised on a farm. I became an engineer, while she took English. I’m from Mars, she’s from Venus. I was not religious, while she was.
This was more of a problem for her than me. Her parents were deeply religious and not well-educated. Her mother’s passion was the church choir, her uncle was a preacher, and virtually her entire family (particularly on her mother’s side, which emphasized its German heritage) was hostile to me: the Asian big-city interloper. Racism was a constant undertone; her mother warned her that Chinese men abuse their wives and can’t be trusted.
Her preacher uncle and her church minister joined the chorus against me, quoting the Bible and saying we were “unequally yoked” and that it would be “against the will of God” for us to marry. Her mother accosted me and asked “why don’t you stay with your own kind?” Her parents cut off her financial support. I began to pay her rent and her tuition, and we persevered.
In the summer of 1991 I asked her to marry me, and she said yes! We started saving up to pay for our wedding, but her family wasn’t done yet. Her parents discovered the name of our minister and drove to Waterloo, to “out” me as a heathen should not be allowed to marry a Christian girl. He called us into the office the next day and told us he had “concerns”, but that he would still do the wedding. But when the date was only two months away, he suddenly showed the true colours of a religious bigot and announced that we could not get married in his church, knowing full well how difficult it would be to book another chapel on short notice. I have long believed that he strung us along for so long in order to deliberately sabotage our wedding plans. Rebecca was in tears, and we were left high and dry, with no chapel, no minister, and apparently, no hope of having the traditional wedding that Rebecca had dreamed of since she was a little girl.
I suppose we could have given up, but we were determined not to let them win, so we pushed on. We switched the ceremony to the college’s small dormitory chapel. We found a kind-hearted minister in the tiny nearby town of Breslau who was willing to do the ceremony on short notice. And on a beautiful summer’s day in 1992, we got married.
In the years following that day, we’ve had two children, and despite her parents’ dire warnings, I did not undergo a Jekyll and Hyde transformation into a disloyal, wife-beating monster. We even managed to forge a delicate peace with her parents after Matthew was born, although I have a long memory, and it’s easier to forgive than to forget.
We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs over the years, but we’re closer than ever. Rebecca stayed home for many years to raise the kids: a decision we’ve never regretted. The funny thing about “working mothers” is that if you ask them, and they’re honest, they’ll usually admit that they were relieved to go back to work because they couldn’t handle being a stay-at-home mother. So keep that in mind when you see a “working mother” asking a stay-at-home mother “what she does all day”.
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