Sarah and Carlos

 
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As I am writing this post I am in awe of how wonderful this couple I am going to write about is. Sarah and Carlos have built a wonderful life together in their cozy apartment with their sweet cat in the lovely city of Chicago. But if you read their story you’ll know it wasn’t easy for them to get where they are now.

Sarah was born and raised in Brooklyn and her parents are from Yemen. Carlos was born and raised in Chicago while his mother is a first generation born to parents from Mexico and his father is from Bolivia. While a common misconception for interracial couples is that they don’t have a lot in common due to their different cultural backgrounds, I can tell from talking to them and my own experiences in dating interracially that this is not true. Sarah and Carlos may not follow the same religion (Sarah is Muslim and Carlos was raised Catholic although he is agnostic) or have parents of the same cultural descent but they share the commonality of being born and raised in the states. And perhaps that was one of many reasons why they got along so well when they first met.

Sarah and Carlos met through mutual friends while Sarah was going to college in New York for Art History. They were friends for a year before they realized that their bond was little more than just a friendship. During one of Carlos’s trips to New York to visit Sarah, they realized just how serious things were getting after sharing their first kiss. And somehow Sarah found herself realizing that Carlos was just one of the many factors in her life that made her want a life change.

Growing up in a strict Muslim household and community, Sarah didn't have the same freedom she has now. Moving to Chicago gave her a chance to embrace this new found freedom because while there are Muslims there just like there are in New York since none of them knew her she didn't care about their judgment. We discussed how as much as some people might not care about what others may think of them confrontation of getting these judgments is very hard. Therefore, it's simply easier to distance ourselves from people who make these judgments towards us. Perhaps Sarah got the most judgment from her own family especially her mother.

When Sarah and Carlos first started dating her parents found out by looking through her phone records. And as if this invasion of privacy wasn’t bad enough they even tried to lock her in their home so that she couldn't meet Carlos when he came to town. With some help from a friend Sarah was able to leave her parents behind. And it wasn't easy but after living with a friend in New York for a year (which she described as living in a closet), she decided to move to Chicago where she found her niche as an Art Administrator.

Carlos’s parents, on the other hand, were extremely supportive of their relationship. Carlos mentioned that his father actually treats Sarah like his own daughter.

Sarah’s story resonated with me because while I haven't gone through exactly what she has, growing up in a strict Muslim community I very easily related to her story. In a lot of strict Muslim communities whether they are South Asian or Middle Eastern, dating outside of your religion and race can be an extreme taboo. And because of this, Sarah has lost touch with her family simply because they don’t agree with and cannot will not accept her new lifestyle. So I wondered how this might affect their relationship. Does the resentment and shaming she gets from her family affect the happiness in their relationship?

The answer I got from both Carlos and Sarah was very insightful. As I mentioned earlier, Carlos was just one of the many factors in Sarah’s decision to start a new life in another city. She loves her career, she has a great circle of friends, and she also loves her independence. Carlos and Sarah give each other a lot of support for all of their life decisions. Even though they have a healthy codependency they haven't lost touch with themselves and their own independence. Therefore they don’t solely depend on each other for happiness but a variety of things in their life. These are things that make them happy because as Carlos mentioned they both live their most authentic selves. And all three of us came to the conclusion that we can't depend on only one thing for our happiness such as a significant other or our family’s approval. We can only depend on ourselves for true happiness.

So in short, I don't think Sarah’s family’s disapproval makes their happiness harder to achieve. If anything it has made their relationship with each other stronger as well as their relationships with themselves.

We cannot choose who comes and goes into our lives but if we stay in touch with our true selves then our happiness can be contained and last. That is the biggest lesson I learned from hearing the stories of these wise, young souls.

A very special thanks to this beautiful couple. I wish them much happiness, although they seem to be doing a pretty good job in achieving that already.