Saturday, March 7, 2015

My Intercultural Love: Brittany & Joel


Brittany writes a blog called The Almost Indian Wife about her beautiful intercultural family. She is married to Telugu-American man, Joel, and they have 3 gorgeous sons together...


Introduction....
My name is Brittany and I'm from Vancouver, Washington. I write a blog called The Almost Indian Wife. My husband's name is Joel - he is East Indian (Telugu) and grew up in Chicago, IL and has spent a few years with his family in Hyderabad, India. We met in California, and married a few years later. Currently, we live in Washington with our three boys. 

Three words that describe you... 
Almost-Indian (I'm constantly telling my husband I'm more Indian than him!), a wife, and a mom. 

Favorite childhood memory...
Summers with my family. I have so many great memories flying to my aunt's houses for a few weeks every summer. It was always filled with adventures like hours at the river, going to work at salons with my aunt, and camping!

Where/how do you feel most inspired?
Probably with my family. As cheesy as it sounds, my husband and kids are so adventurous and daring. Their constantly challenging themselves and it makes me want to step out of my comfort zone and do more. 

Where/how did you meet your spouse?
We met in California while we were both doing an internship with our church. I fell for my him right away. He had so much confidence and was so fun-spirited that I couldn't help but fall in love with him. But, dating wasn't allowed. I had a crush on him right away, but kept trying to put it aside. Then I noticed a shift and realized he liked me too! We were always flirting, but trying to stay friends until the program was over. We started dating a week after the program finished!

How long have you been together?
We've been married for a little over five years which has flown by so fast!

What qualities do you admire in your spouse?
He is the most loving person I know. He is constantly putting my kids and I above himself. He loves helping people and teaching them what he's learned. He's also hilarious! (Please don't tell him I said that because he knows it and I'm always trying to convince him that I'M the funny one in the relationship...which is true!).

 Favorite memory together as a couple...
My first Thanksgiving with his family comes to mind. I was scared out of my mind to meet his family, but everyone was so welcoming. They taught me new things all week and had grace when I did things completely wrong. I saw how close his family was and couldn't wait to be a part of it. 

What did you know about your spouse's culture prior to your relationship?
Nothing other than the fact that I loved the way sarees looked, and thought the pictures I've seen of India were beautiful. 

How did you tell your friends/family about your intercultural relationship? 
Honestly, most of our friends saw our relationship go from friends to a romance before their very eyes. They were all extremely supportive. 


How has your relationship enlightened your life? How has it changed you & your outlook on life?
It's showed me that family should be one of the most important things in your life. My husband's family is so close and would do absolutely anything for one another. It's made me realize how selfish I could be, and realized what potential we all have to be there for one another. 

Who proposed and how?
My husband proposed on Easter. His whole family was together, and they were getting an Easter egg hunt ready for the kids. His sister had a big of eggs for the kids. After she had given them all out to their cousins, she called my name. I was confused. I went up and opened the egg to see it had a note from my husband saying he had a question for me. When I turned around I saw my future husband with a ring in hand. It was perfect!!!


Describe your wedding...
Beautiful and huge! The wedding was actually a week long. The week leading up to the wedding had different ceremonies Joel and I participated in. One of the rituals was his family members put a turmeric mixture on my husband while giving marriage advice!

We had both an Indian and American wedding. We had an American ceremony with some Indian traditions weaved throughout. I wore a beautiful and simple white wedding dress. 

Then, we had an elaborate Indian reception where we changed into our Indian attire. Our reception was full of touching and hilarious speeches, dance numbers from his sister and cousins, cake cutting, Indian rituals, and a lot of dancing! And thousands of pictures to remember it all...

What does being married mean to you?
It means choosing someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. For better or worse, we are in it together. 

What are your dreams for your future together as a married couple?
I'd love to raise a family here in the US and then possibly retire in India. There are so many opportunities to help people in India. 

What's the best marital advice that you received from elder family/friends?
COMMUNICATE. I know this is key in any marriage, but especially in an intercultural marriage. You constantly need to talk to each other and make decisions together. 

What positive cultural values do you bring to your relationship?
If something is important to you, you will work hard at it everyday. My family showed me that my husband and I need to fight for our marriage and family daily. As we do that, we get stronger. 

What do you do to keep your relationship alive? What kinds of things do you do to connect with your spouse?
Leave the kids at home and go on dates. It's so simple, but so vital. It's easy to let work and daily life consume your marriage. You need to go out and just have fun sometimes!


In what ways have you adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
Food is my favorite. I absolutely LOVE Indian food. I'm always asking his family to teach me new recipes. 

Has your family adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
We are constantly trying to blend both of our cultures. We make Indian food all the time, try to teach our kids Telugu, adopt different philosophies, and use the appropriate names when referring to family members (it's different than aunt and uncle). 

What aspects of your spouse's culture do you find difficult to embrace? 
Listening to elders. In a traditional Indian family, the parents still decide things for the children even after age 18. I grew up very differently - I couldn't wait to be 18 and decide everything for myself. 

Name some cultural faux-pas that you have unknowingly committed...
Calling his mom by her first name....and eating with the wrong hand!

What was the most challenging time in your intercultural relationship?
Having kids and trying to blend cultures is difficult. We're always trying to blend cultures and end up not doing enough on one side, typically the Indian side. 

What's the best and the worst part of being in an intercultural relationship?
Being in the minority is hard because we can't get advice easily. The best part is the fact that we have two rich cultures to offer our family. 

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that people have about intercultural relationships?
That my husband's family should hate me because I'm white. 

What are the biggest misconceptions about white American women?
That we're all a bunch of prissy, only-step-out-the-door with make up, snobby brats! 


Have you come across people who disapprove of your intercultural union? If so, how do you deal with them?
Usually just looks. "You're together?!?!" We usually just ignore them. They don't deserve a response!

Take-away advice for other intercultural couples...
Fight prejudice and racism by sharing your story. So often it is fueled by ignorance. Tell people how you blend cultures and answer their questions - even if they ask in the wrong way.


(All photos courtesy of The Almost Indian Wife)
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4 comments

  1. What a lively couple/ family. Love the name "almost indian" though I also find it bit funny. They look so happy together and so put together for living with so many toddlers. They have my sincere admiration for that and love the attempt to balance two cultures.

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  2. Aaaaaawwwww!!! They are so cute!!!!!!!!!!! They both have fantastic smiles.

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  3. What a beautiful story and family. Excellent "take away" advice! :)

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  4. Fun story to read, a good match. It is a bit unusual from the std. desi/firangi marriage; as they have the same religion which is a 'leveler' in the shared values. In my experience Indian Christians are quite pleased by including a westerner in their family - sort of a status symbol.
    Surely there are some cultural differences but not too tough to deal with. I grew up a few decades ago in an Anglo-Indian (in North India) enclave and oh boy, so many longed to migrate to Canada & Australia and indeed many did just that.
    Most Indians in North America came as students, professionals and entrepreneurs; some Gujaratis came as refugees from Africa - but all set up their businesses rather quickly. Quite a few Sikhs came over a 100 years ago to farm in California and some in Western Canada.

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