Friday, April 3, 2015

Ask Firangi Bahu: "How should my Indian boyfriend tell his father about me?"

(Pic via Morgan Sessions)


Sharing a letter from a reader...


"Hi Alexandra, I really like your blog. It's awesome. I would like to hear your opinion and any tips you might have for our relationship. Here is some background information about us:

Me:
- I will be 25 this year
- I was born in the Czech Republic and moved to USA when I was a teenager
- I met my boyfriend when I was 22 when we were roommates for one semester
- I am finishing my last year at the university (obtaining a bachelor's degree)

My Indian boyfriend:
- From Karnataka
- He will be 29 this year
- Finished his studies
- His mother passed away suddenly last year, while we were on a Spring break vacation together. She was relatively young and it was completely unexpected. One day she was completely fine and the next she was dead.
- He has a hard time letting go of his mother because they were very close.
- Lives on the West coast because of his job but comes visit me on the East coast once a month.
- Feels that he lost everything when he moved to the USA from India, but this feeling has stopped once he fell in love with me. 

I have known my boyfriend for over 2 years now. I am still in school, so I am not able to live with him. I live on the East coast and he lives on the West coast because that is the only place he could luck find a job. He has had this job for little over a year now. Originally I thought our love would fade away, as we do not live close to each other, but the exact opposite has happened for both of us. We both realized just how much we cherish each others company and how happy we are together. Our relationship is quite interesting and fun. It is a mix of 3 cultures: Czech, Indian and American!

After reading your blog I showed it to my boyfriend. We both decided that we would like to get married after I finish my studies at the university next year. He said his father is constantly asking when he plans to get married when they speak on the phone. He said that is all they ever talk about and quite angry about this. So we decided to utilize the knowledge that we found on your blog and are thinking of telling his dad about me this Summer.

His dad already knows who I am because we were roommates for one semester before he graduated. He went to the same university as me, but he did a Masters. I have never seen or talked to his dad. I have talked to his mom and younger sister (19) once on Skype. They wanted to meet his roommate (which was me!)

Our plan was to first tell his dad that I am going to be spending my summer holiday with him on the West coast. We are not really sure how, whether phone or Skype. My boyfriend would tell him that we have been close friends since we we roommates and that I will be staying with him for 3 months this summer. 

But we are not sure whether to invite him to USA to come meet me, or how he will react to that idea. My boyfriend thinks that his dad will be worried about his younger sister and that no one will want her if the community finds out that he married a western girl.

I asked him what he would do if his dad disapproves and blackmails him, once he is informed about our relationship - if he will submit to his father and leave me or fight with him and stay with me. My boyfriend said: "Our parents are not immortal. I will spend the majority of my life with my wife and I want that wife to be you." He also asked me if I would have a traditional wedding with him in India. I would love to, I'm just worried how people will treat me. He said the people in town are quite racist.

So what do you think of all of this? I did not include anything about my family because they are not a problem."

-------

Dear readers, what would you advise this Firangi Bahu?
If you were the guy, how would you tell his father?
Do you think it is easier to tell the Indian parents if they knew about you previously "as a friend"?
Will marrying a Westerner ruin the chances of the sister getting married? Why or why not?

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9 comments

  1. Well fathers reaction is one, but talking about no one wanting the younger sister.. I am living in a small town in India. Where everyone knows everyone. My husband has older brother, that is not married yet.
    I must say that we had pressure from his parents to get married. It was partly because parents thought, that they won't be able to arrange the older brother if we live together unmarried. It's considered to be shameful in India. That is just the way it is. Having said that, it wasn't about no one wanting the brother because there was a westerner in the family, it was simply about living under one roof unmarried. Another thing is that our family won't even want to arrange a marriage with racist familly. If there is anyone who is so racist to not marry because there is a westerner in the family, then let them go. We don't find them to be decent human beings.

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  2. I am sure others will jump in here but what if his younger sister doesn't want an arranged marriage or married or a foreigner or... doesn't want to get married?

    While family is important, he may surprise you all and support him. If he isn't planning to move back then community isn't too important... for me extended family seemed to like that there was a foreigner in the family. No family is perfect and someone who isn't good for the sister will have reasons and does your boyfriend want her matched with someone whose family is that bigoted?

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  3. Hmm I guess it depends on how their relationship is with the father? My husband told his mum about us/me first (just 6 or 7 months before she sadly passed away in fact) His relationship with her was extremely close and so she basically went in and "bat for the team" when his dad and grandma were informed. If she hadn't been around I'm not sure how things would have turned out. So my suggestion is to tell a relative who he's close to and knows will support his choice to then help with any objections that arise. And also what someone else said - just do it nice and quickly.

    I ran this scenario by my hubby to get a male perspective! I asked him what he would have done if his mum wasn't around and he had to tell his family about me. All he simply said was "If you truly love someone enough and are happy, just tell the family. Be upfront and stick to your guns. Because at the end of the day people adjust to change easily these days. Everyone is so busy with their own lives they adjust and move on" Hope this can help.

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  4. Our story was a bit similar in the sens that I was introduce first as a friend, we were living away from each other (long distance love with 600 miles between us). We dated for 2 years when he took a trip to India to go tell his parents he was in love and wanted to marry me. He wanted to do it face to face (as oppose to do via phone or electronic devices) per respect for his parents. It was not easy and not received well. They tried to convince him, pleaded, begged, dramas, but he was adamant and gave them an ultimatum that it was going to be me and nobody else. He wanted their blessings but it took a while to get to that point. We exchanged long letters in which they expressed their fears and concerns to me. I think in the end they did not want to loose a son and agreed to our union. They even consulted an astrologist to make sure we were a good match. lol Now we have been married 12 years and have 3 kids.

    I just want to add one more thing. My in laws did not believe in "love" marriage! Everyone they knew had arranged marriage by their own parents. In their mind it is a duty as parents to find a good match for your kids. They did not want a "stranger" or "foreigner", especially not a "westerner" to marry their son! The horror! All kind of prejudices were attached to me even before they met me because I came from America. They thought I would divorce and give lots of trouble. I would not let our kid see them ever. Etc. We had a lot of work to do to make them see our views. It was not easy!

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  5. I would advise the boyfriend to be upfront and tell his father. He should also be patient and stick to his guns if his father has a hard time accepting the relationship. Without knowing how conservative his town is, it is hard to say how it will affect his sister's marriage prospects. But I find that Indians are increasingly accepting of intercultural marriages and I have not come across anybody that was rejected for this. He should tell his father that any family that rejects his sister for such a flimsy reason won't keep her happy and is not worth it. As for the father knowing her as a friend first, my parents met my husband when we were friends and roommates. I thinking spending time with him and getting to know him made it easier for them when we decided to take our relationship further.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Ok, we will make arrangements to spend time with his father before officially announcing anything to him. Maybe that will help. :-)

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  6. I know absolutely nothing about either the letter writer's boyfriend or his father, yet I'm commenting, so please forgive me if I'm kind of "out there" :-).

    I am a woman, from Karnataka, with an American husband. I told my mother (she answered the phone first) flat out. My attitude wasn't about asking for blessings, it was more about informing my parents.

    Not knowing your boyfriend's father, I would say introduce the idea of you via Skype or phone without you there. This way, if there are any (negative) reactions, you will not hear them and remember them for life. The situation is a little less intense as well since both parties will have the chance to say- "okay, things are getting out of hand, let's talk again later"

    Once Dad is used to the idea of you and his son, and assuming he is okay, then you can come in to the picture to talk to Dad. If Dad is not okay with the idea, then your boyfriend will need to work on Dad and stand firm with an attitude that says- I am not asking, I am telling. He can do this while still being very polite, I should know, I did it :-).

    As someone else has also commented, maybe spend time with his dad first without letting him know, BUT the Dad might figure out the situation and might not like that he was kept in the dark, so you should be prepared for that as well.

    As for no one marrying the younger sister, I have a younger brother and he got married just fine, even after people knew that I had married an American man. Yes, there are always pockets of conservatism, but people ARE a lot more accepting now. Also, wouldn't the father like to get his daughter married in to a loving and accepting family instead of one that judges and dismisses because an older brother married a Czech-American? This is a possible argument your boyfriend can use with his father in case the "who will marry your sister if you do this?" question comes up.

    Raina.

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  7. I would advise to let your BF tell his father and sort it all out. He can gauge if the father wants to meet you. After everything settles down, you guys can look at going to India and if you both want a traditional wedding.

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