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Bridging the Racial Divide: Overcoming the Challenges of an Interracial Marriage

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Paul Ramnath and his wife Josephine, from the Bronx, are familiar with curious stares and questions that range from uninvited to simply puzzling.

“When we started dating, people would say, ‘I’ve never seen an African-American and an Indian person together.’ As a result, we often aren’t associated as a couple unless we’re holding hands or flashing our rings,” said Josephine.

According to the Pew Research Center, one in five new marriages is now interracial. While statistics suggest that interracial marriages in America have gained greater acceptance, not all couples have that experience. Still, they have found ways to cope.

Shared religious faith and a community of fellow believers have been invaluable in navigating the cultural complexities.

Paul and Josephine grew up worshipping and associating with a diverse group of friends in their congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, they’ve found focusing on race puts up a barrier. “If you focus on skin color, you’re relying on preconceived ideas. But if you look at their character, that will draw you closer to them,” said Paul.

The couple met in 2008. However, for three years, not much more than a greeting was exchanged between them.

An eight-hour road trip to Canada, organized by Paul’s brother in 2011, provided the opportunity to continue the conversation beyond “hello.” Upon returning home, they soon started dating and, in 2013, were married.

After eight years of marriage, Paul Ramnath, from Guyana, and Josephine, from Ghana, say looking beyond what’s skin-deep brought them closer.

The Ramnaths have found looking beyond what’s skin-deep has brought them closer. “Focus on the inner person and the qualities they possess. That will help your marriage to continue to grow and remain stable while finding common ground,” said Paul.

Josephine was drawn to Paul’s love of the elderly and his volunteer spirit within their congregation. As for Paul, he appreciated her kindness and patience. A similar sense of humor and willingness to expand their cultural horizons also helped bring the couple together.

According to a study conducted by the University of Utah, married couples who had shared values reported higher levels of marital happiness and individual well-being than those who did not.

The Ramnaths agree that love, loyalty and faith are among the shared values on which they base their marriage and family life. In addition, they credit daily Bible reading to help them communicate even when differences arise.

“The Bible talks about not letting the sun set while being in a provoked state. This has helped us resolve issues on the same date, not waiting for it to fester,” said Paul.

After eight years of marriage, race is no longer seen between the couple. “When I met Paul, I was attracted to the kind of person he was. And now that we’re married, I don’t see someone that’s Indian. I see my husband; my best friend,” said Josephine.

More information on the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, including resources for happy family life, can be found on their official website, www.jw.org.
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