In an interracial or intercultural relationship, can my partner and I learn to understand each other?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,241
    Founder of Perfect Partners Gloria McDonald explains how partners of different backgrounds can learn to understand each other.

    Host: In an interracial or intercultural relationship, can my partner and I learn to understand each other?

    Gloria MacDonald: Well, I say we really need to try to learn to understand our partner and the differences between us. I do believe this is important, but I also think it's important that we have a frame of reference for this and that is that none of us can ever truly expect to know and understand completely another person because the only frame of reference we have is our own frame of reference. How we were raised, what our family did, how we celebrated holidays, what our values are, what our ethics are, what our religious upbringing is? We can't truly, truly, truly ever understand another person because we haven't experienced what they have experienced. We can't be another race than what we are. So we can't possibly fully understand what it's like to be that other race, to be a person of that other race. We can't ever have another mother tongue; speak another language natively than the language we speak natively. So we can't ever truly understand what it would be like to speak another language as your first language. There are so many things that it's impossible for us to really understand the depths of another person's experience because we truly cannot experience it. We can't feel it. We don't really know what it's like to be that other person. So we need to try to the best of our ability to understand that our partner is different and have some understanding around what makes them different and why they are different, but we can't expect to know them completely and we can't ever expect our partner to know and understand us completely. We can't even know or understand ourselves completely. So how could we ever expect us to know and understand someone else or expect them to know and understand us completely? So it's really about levels of understanding and appreciating.