I recently read a blog from a young woman in an inter-cultural marriage and living in . In it, she spoke of an experience while out shopping with her husband in a local open market.
Yesterday, while my husband and I were shopping for some fresh food in our local market, I overheard something that disturbed me. While my Hindi is fairly strong now, I still feel uncomfortable using it outside our home, so I stick to the “Dhanyavad” and “Yeh kitne ka hai?” The vendors were all very nice, helpful, smiling at me and making me feel like one of their own. But when leaving I overheard one of them say in Hindi “Why couldn’t he marry some nice Indian girl?” I looked at my husband to see if he had heard but he seemed intent on getting us through the crowd. But the question stuck…why had he married me instead of a nice Indian girl?
This passage also struck me when reading it, and while it wasn’t my own personal experience, I could easily imagine it occurring to me as well. After all, someday we did plan to move to and live in India. It also got me to thinking, why had my fiancé chosen to marry me and not some nice Indian girl. His life would certainly be much simpler if he had at this point. With family members exceptionally upset over his decision, we face a long hard road of gaining acceptance while moving forward with our plans to marry and doing so while he is there in India and I am here in the US.
So why would he chose me over a girl from India? Especially when, before meeting me, he had told his family that he wanted an ? It seems that I was the anomaly that none of them had considered, even him. For that matter, why had I chosen him over a guy from the US? Our cultures being what they are, I had obviously way more opportunity to meet and date men from the US, so why hadn’t I settled down with any of them?
Well, I had good reasons, mainly being that I hadn’t found one man that matched enough of what I wanted in a partner to make me comfortable enough in marrying him. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not overly picky and I’m not looking for my Prince Charming (ok, ok, so in some small way I was) but still there are certain that any girl must have. I seemed to only be meeting the guys who fit into the “Must Not” category. So when I met and fell in love with Bear, it wasn’t that I was looking for my Indian Prince Charming or even my Indian Soul Mate….I was just looking for “the One”. Growing up I never saw racial, cultural or religious differences in my friendships so why should it be any different for me when choosing a mate? I just didn’t see Bear as being different from me, I saw all the things in him that I wanted from a man, a partner and that was all. But for Bear, growing up in India, his perceptions and needs for a mate may have differed greatly from my own. While mine was based off of love first, his was more of what benefits all involved and is a good match from many different levels. So why had he bucked tradition, his own stance, was willing to go against his family and in some ways itself and all to choose me as his future companion?
I remember an article that I had read in the late 80’s about a gay couple and their experiences when they first came out to their family, friends and the town in which they lived. There had been two arguments in the article (quite common arguments at that time and each was the common stance in which the pro’s and con’s took) that stood out the most for me when I was thinking about the choices that we make.
Con: Why did they choose to go against family, society, religion, and in some cases politics to have this relationship? Why did they choose to be gay knowing the struggles they would face?
Pro: Who said they had a choice?
I suppose that speaks volumes. And it also proves that love and relationships and problems are not just central to Inter-cultural relationships. They exist for every relationship in some form or another. From simplistic (He says Potato and She says Aloo….ok, ok, She says PoTATo) to the more complex of merging two cultures, two religions, two politics, two families….essentially merging two countries. Maybe it’s not that we make a conscience choice but more of we don’t have a choice when falling love. Sure, we can choose to quit, letting go of the relationship or not moving forward. We can decide to chuck fears out the proverbial door and try this new relationship to see what kinds of beautiful things come from it. Or, we can just choose to go with the flow and see what life has in store for us as we go along.
So why did Bear choose me and let go of his decision for an arranged marriage? Because he could. Because he met me, took the time to get to know me, listened to me, debated with me, found new ways to make me laugh, played games with me, picked on me and found that he was not only enjoying every single moment of it, but falling in love with it as well.
In life we have many choices. We can either choose to see differences, we can see the differences and learn from them or we can choose not to. The only limitations to our choices are the limitations that we impose on them. Our choices and reasons are our own and might not (and probably won’t) apply to everyone else or even ONE other person. The important thing is to realize why you made that choice, to own it and accept it and then not let little things get in the way of it. My favorite author once wrote an extremely long book, and in that book a character of his says something pretty profound and yet simplistic….It’s a long road back to Eden sweetheart, don’t sweat the small stuff.