Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Intercultural Love: Jennifer & Prateek

Jennifer & Prateek are an marvelous and wise couple who live in New York together...

I’m Jennifer, and my husband is Prateek. Our friends call us Ging and Mowg! I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and Prateek is from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.

Three words that describe you...
Unconventional, loyal, and playful!

Favorite childhood memory...
I went through an Elvis phase in grade school. My grandma surprised me with a trip to Graceland on my 10th birthday. It was nice spending a week traveling around, just the two of us. 

Where/how do you feel most inspired? 
A long drive with the windows down and the radio up!

Where/how did you meet your spouse? 
We met online. Prateek and I both attended college in Ohio, at universities about an hour apart. He was finishing a summer internship in Buffalo, NY and I was home in Cincinnati with my parents for the summer when we started to get to know each other. 

How long have you been together? 
We have been together for 4 years now. We dated for a year before we left Ohio and for another two years here in New York before we got married. 

What qualities do you admire in your spouse?
Prateek is an awesome blend of wit, snark, and brutal honesty! These things combined with his willingness to push himself outside his comfort zone are the qualities I admire most about him.

Favorite memory together as a couple...
Jim Gaffigan says, “Now there are adults without children who go to Disney, and they are called weirdos. Very nice people. Absolutely crazy.

It was February and there was 5ft of snow in our front yard, and we were huddled in the living room complaining about the cold. We agreed we needed to spend a week someplace warm and someplace fun. We agreed on Disney World because Prateek had never been and I would never pass up an opportunity to relive my childhood. We didn't go on a honeymoon after we got married so going to Disney became our honeymoon!

What did you know about your spouse's culture prior to your relationship? 
I knew the things about Prateek’s culture that one can learn in a geography course or from watching a BBC documentary. I had no idea how complex Indian culture really is, and 4 years later I am still learning.

How did you tell your friends/family about your intercultural relationship? 
We kind of just jumped into the deep end to see if we could swim, and for the most part everyone has been supportive. There were questions from both sides of the family in the beginning, but never any attempts to sway our opinions of one another. Some of the more traditional members of our extended families have objections to our relationship, but they are not a part of our everyday lives, so it is never a constant problem. 

How has your relationship enlightened your life? How has it changed you & your outlook on life?
I am a true Midwestern girl, born and raised. I've spent my entire life with people just like me. I never imagined when I found love it would be with a man from the other side of the world. While we have many differences, there is SO much we have in common. The things we share have enlightened my life and changed how I view the world. I feel like society focuses on the differences between people i.e. skin color, language, and religion. Loving Prateek has taught me that all of us have a lot more in common than we might think, and by embracing these things someday there might be a little less of the "us vs. them" mentality in the world.

Who proposed and how?
We had been in New York for about a month and finally finished unpacking and getting settled. It was the first weekend that we didn't have housework to do so we planned to get up, go out and have breakfast, and visit the Top of the Rockefeller Center. Hurricane Sandy had other plans, so Prateek surprised me with breakfast in bed. The ring was on the tray next to the pancakes! 

Describe your wedding...
We weren't having much luck planning our wedding! The details kept getting in the way of the fact that we just wanted to be married. We planned to spend Christmas in Cincinnati with my family that year, so we loaded the car and made the 12-hour trip back to Ohio. There was a “we're here, let’s do this” moment so on Christmas Eve the Mayor of Cincinnati married us with my parents, sisters, and grandparents watching. Afterward we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. 

We also plan to have a traditional Indian wedding when we visit Prateek’s family in India, this coming year. 

What does being married mean to you?
To me, being married means we've decided to become a team and to navigate life together. Marriage is a promise to place value on the success of our team, a promise to support, love, and encourage each other, a promise to make sacrifices for the good of our team should the need arise, and a promise to help each other accomplish whatever goals we set out to reach. 

What are your dreams for your future together as a married couple?
We travel as much as possible, and we plan to continue that tradition. We also hope to add new member to the family soon!

What's the best marital advice that you received from elder family/friends? 
A friend once said “surround yourself with friends who will strengthen your marriage and remove yourself from people who may tempt you to compromise your character.

What positive cultural values do you bring to your relationship?
I think personal independence and living life in the moment are positive cultural values I bring to our relationship.

What do you do to keep your relationship alive? What kinds of things do you do to connect with your spouse? 
We set aside time every week where the responsibilities of life are left behind and we just have fun together. 

In what ways have you adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
It’s a running joke at our house that I've stopped clipping my fingernails after dusk and I no longer blow candles out! In all honesty though, we don't really have individual cultures anymore. We have a family culture that’s a little unconventional. We've picked aspects of each other’s culture that we love and appreciate and we've adapted them to fit our lifestyle. 

Has your family adopted aspects of your spouse's culture? 
My family goes to great lengths to make sure there is always vegetarian food no matter the holiday or occasion.

What aspects of your spouse's culture do you find difficult to embrace? 
I struggle with the notion that showing physical affection is frowned upon. I understand the reasons why, but I forget sometimes and I don't think my in-laws appreciate it. 

Name some cultural faux-pas that you have unknowingly committed... 
I became friends with my brother and sisters-in-law and a few aunts and uncles on Facebook. There have been a few instances where I have posted photos of Prateek and I standing a bit to close together, and it caused a stir!

What was the most challenging time in your intercultural relationship? 
The uncertainty of Prateek’s parents’ reaction when it came to telling them about our relationship was the most challenging time in our relationship. I didn't really understand why dating an American girl was such a big deal because I didn't understand his culture and so I took his hesitation personally. 

What's the best and the worst part of being in an intercultural relationship?
Best: Adding new perspectives - and cuisine to the routine. Teaching by example, our relationship is just like everyone else’s. Sometimes it’s hard work, but it’s so worth it.
Worst: Managing societies expectations/misconceptions.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that people have about intercultural relationships?
That people in intercultural/interracial relationships are not desired by singles in their own race or they are dissatisfied by their own culture/race.

What are the biggest misconceptions about American women? 
From an Indian in-law perspective, American women are party girls with loose morals and no commitment to family or culture.

Have you come across people who disapprove of your intercultural union? If so, how do you deal with them? 
There have been a few occasions when traveling together in other parts of the country where we have been met with the uncomfortable stare. We live in our own world and most of the time we don’t notice the things going on around us. If I happen to notice, I make eye contact and a smile helps.

Take-away advice for other intercultural couples...
Be yourself and love each other. Let NOTHING get in the way of that. Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter won't mind!



  1. I love, love, love this "Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter won't mind!"


  2. Lovely couple. I'm still blown by the wedding story. Wow, you guys drive 12 hours and get married on Christmas Eve, wow.


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