Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – What Colour is Love?
With the announcement of Prince Harry’s engagement to Megan Markel, it seemed a timely moment to think a bit deeper about colour in relationships. Of course I wish them well, but having been married to a man of ‘lighter hue, (looking white, mixed cultural and racial background) for 25 years, I know a few things about the ‘colour’ dynamics in relationships.
Many people on both sides of the colour line are going to be happy for Harry and Megan and plenty will espouse the colour blind approach that people like to think means that they don’t see colour. And as she is bi-racial (her term) and so light-skinned that many people wouldn’t notice her colour, they surely will when they meet her parents.
Maybe it’s just me but I am wincing a little when I read the media reports of the engagement, just a few months ago the British press were taken to task for their biased, somewhat offensive reporting on Megan and her parents. As the Guardian article Reporting Colour in the Royal Marriage stated “Our society is still obsessed with ‘purity’ and is shocked that a royal could marry a person of colour”. But all is quiet now and that worries me, because what people are saying in the public domain and behind closed doors could be very different.
Exploring Colour in Relationships – Still a Taboo?
Even at the best of times, relationships are difficult and the theme of exploring colour in relationships feels like a bit of a taboo. But the question ‘is love enough?’ is a key one in mixed colour relationships, because there are still plenty of people who don’t like the idea or would oppose such unions.
To me having a conversation on colour in relationships is positive because it explores ‘real life’ and an increasing part of modern life for many couples. And yet if you talk about colour- relationships, especially in Europe there is a lot of discomfort on all sides.
People are either colour blind which I don’t get, can’t you see that we look different? Or they want to reason that everything is okay and accepted here in the UK, it’s just over there (mainly US or South Africa) where there are problems.Well not talking about something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, it just means that it’s a taboo.
It’s Been Nearly 25 Years of Marriage
Jorge and I have been married for 25 years next year and it’s time to openly own and acknowledge what it has taken to get here. People often remark, “how on earth have you lasted that long?” But they never ask “especially as a mixed couple”, but sometimes I see the question on their face and it’s a good one, it makes me think about how we have managed it too.
Ultimately we’re more similar than we are different. We have travelled the world together, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, North Africa, US and beyond. Our reception has ranged from excitement in some places like Morocco where people have actually shouted out ‘black and white’ and given us the thumbs up, to laughter in Indonesia, (perhaps the hardest to deal with) to Japan, which in our joint ‘otherness’ was fascinating.
Unsurprisingly travelling in the Caribbean can be very easy or filled with rudeness and hostility. “Legally?”one female customs office asked when we said that we were married. Luckily she was rescued by her colleague who took one look at my face and saw that I was about to bite, and not a moment too soon!
And a couple of months ago, whilst travelling in the Caribbean, I saw a young couple being questioned for a really long period of time by the immigration officer, they looked shell-shocked. “You won’t last for long if you don’t find a strategy to deal with that!” I commented. “We didn’t think it was such a big issue” they replied. Well it is and it isn’t and sometimes, it’s just the luck of the draw about who you get interviewing you at the counter.
So the question is ‘What Colour is Love?‘
I guess this is an issue not just across the colour line, but also for couple from many different cultures and some faiths, but I have brought colour up because it can still be a taboo subject and…. ..well I’m a family constellations practitioner, it’s part of my professional work as well as the life I lead.
At times in my marriage it would have been great to just be able to explore ‘colour dynamics’ in a more therapeutic context. Sometimes it’s good to get support on how to deal with emotions and managing others in public space. And I am regularly asked in my coaching practice about colour-dynamics in relationships, maybe because it is so much part of my life, for example………..
- A colleague talking to me about adopting and the issues around her being blond and blue-eyed with a dark-skinned boy baby
- A friend sharing her thoughts on dating a man of an opposite race
- An English client exploring how difficult it can be to listen to family members making racist or offensive comments.
- An African heritage manager who I was working with taking about managing discrimination in the workplace.
Restoring the Flow of Love in Colour Relationships
If systemic constellations is about how to restore the flow of love in relationships, then it also has to be about how to heal the ‘colour bar-boundary-barrier’ that still exists in society. Whether in a personal relationship, in the worplace or in the community, it’s becoming more of a pressing issue for many of us. How can we deny colour when facing oters who are different from us? How do we honour and respect others personal experiences around colour if we haven’t explore the issues for ourselves? How can we ‘see’ the other person in all their humanity whether black or white.
It’s a journey that requires a really deep look inside ourselves. I’m on that road and it’s a difficult path, I can’t deny it. It has required me to face some uncomfortable truths and to look at some ancestral legacies and honestly, it’s not for everyone. But for those of us committed to therapeutic life and being open and authentic with everyone that we see, regards of their background, I think it is a journey well worth taking.
Until next time!