Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Intercultural Love: Crystal & DN


Crystal is a talented Midwestern American expat, newly married and living in New Delhi with her handsome honey!


Introduction....
My name is Crystal, and I'm from Kansas City, Missouri (U.S.A.). I write a blog about my life in India, called My Hindi Heart. My husband is known as "DN", and is a North Indian Hindu, from the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. We met online a little over five years ago. We were married last month, in his hometown in India, though we are currently living together in our apartment in New Delhi. 

Three words that describe you...
Loving, loyal, determined.

Favorite childhood memory...
I have many favorite childhood memories. Sometimes the little moments can mean the most. Like fishing with my dad, or teaching my brothers swordplay, using brittle sticks. I was great at using my imagination, so even time spent alone was time well spent.

Where/how do you feel most inspired?
I feel the most inspired when I'm reading, travelling, or dreaming of the future. 

Where/how did you meet your spouse?
We met on Facebook, believe it or not. He randomly added me. At that time in my life, I wasn't opposed to talking to people I had never met. At the time, his English was a bit rocky, but we understood each other so well. We clicked right away, and became so eager to learn more about each other. 

How long have you been together?
We have been friends just over five years. We started developing true feelings for each other about three years ago, but our relationship didn't become official until a little over a year ago, after we had already met in person. We've been married for a month.

What qualities do you admire in your spouse?
My husband is so intelligent, passionate, and funny. He is also extremely family oriented, and has a big heart. I always tell him so, but I wish I could be more like him. ♥

Favorite memory together as a couple...
Our favorite memories are mostly the little moments we've shared together. Those are just between us. Our next favorite memories, are the memories of our travelling adventures! Travelling to Nepal, especially. Taking on an unknown city in an unknown country, together, really brought us closer. Cold nights in separate hotel rooms... Joyful days, wandering the crowded streets of Kathmandu, in search for a new experience. Ahh... ♥

What did you know about your spouse's culture prior to your relationship?
The funny thing is, I had really learned a lot about Indian culture... Religion, beliefs, eating habits, society, and women... But I found out I didn't know much about his culture at all. I was foolish to believe that studying Indian culture would give me an idea of what to expect. The truth is, there are thousands of cultures in India. Beliefs, traditions, and expectations change from family to family. 

How did you tell your friends/family about your intercultural relationship? 
My friends and family knew how much I cared about DN prior to our relationship. They found out about our relationship the day it started. Since I wasn't able to call anyone, I made my friends and family aware on Facebook, and then again on my blog

How has your relationship enlightened your life? How has it changed you & your outlook on life?
My relationship has enlightened my life. I have learned so much about myself since the beginning of my relationship. So much has changed, it's really hard to put it all out there. What I wanted in life, my dreams and goals, changed significantly the more I fell in love with DN. I never knew how much I was meant to be here, before coming to India. 

It really is hard to describe how much I have grown... But with my growth came a lot of guilt. 
I wish I had all of this wisdom many, many years ago. I would have taken better care of myself a long time ago.

Who proposed and how?
No one proposed. Before our relationship officially began, DN and I discussed how relationships work in India, or rather, in his culture. When you enter into a relationship, it's for life. The next step is marriage! So when our relationship began, I knew that we would never be apart again. I knew that things would only get better.


Describe your wedding...
My wedding happened so fast... DN joked that I would be arriving in India as a guest in my own wedding. He was spot on. I arrived only a few days before my wedding. My mom was able to attend my wedding, as she came to India with me this time. 

I didn't see DN until about half an hour before our wedding ceremony started. I had no idea what I was doing, or how to do it. I just did what everyone told me to do. My heart jumped out of my chest when we exchanged garlands and walked around the sacred fire. Everything else was a blur of photos, TV interviews, and endless ceremonies.

What does being married mean to you?
Being married goes beyond the commitment of staying together forever. Love is a verb, an action. Marriage is also an action, something you have to work for every day. Being married is more than being together every day, it's making sure you are taking care of yourself, your spouse, and working every day towards your common goals. Marriage is a lifetime partnership. 

What are your dreams for your future together as a married couple?
It's so amazing how dreams blend together when you find the person you will spend the rest of your life with. Our ideas of our future have seen many changes, but a few core dreams will always remain the same. We dream of starting our own successful business, starting our family, helping people in need, travelling, and taking care of the ones we love the most. We are most passionate about helping others and taking care of our family.

What's the best marital advice that you received from elder family/friends?
Honestly, the best wisdom we have is what we have learned through our relationship with each other. Advice we have been given is very cookie-cutter advice. “Don’t fight,” or “Always communicate.” These are things we already knew and constantly practice.

What positive cultural values do you bring to your relationship?
I’d like to think I bring a few positive cultural values to our relationship. For one, I’ve taught DN to express love and gratitude not only through action, but through words as well. I’ve helped him broaden his mind, and I taught him to think positively. He’s learned to be a helpful partner, but I can’t take the credit for that. He learned that one on his own! ♥


What do you do to keep your relationship alive? What kinds of things do you do to connect with your spouse?

When I’m frustrated, overwhelmed, or tired, I remind myself why I have to keep going. DN and I are both under a lot of stress at times, and there’s no need to make him feel like I’m never happy. My happiness is DN’s happiness, and we both go above and beyond to make sure the other’s needs are fulfilled. So that’s just it: I don’t spend a lot of time complaining if I’m uncomfortable. Instead, I tough it up and focus on my work. After a long day of work, we spend our time either quietly resting beside each other, or talking about anything and everything. 

In what ways have you adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
In many ways... I love wearing traditional Indian clothes. We also eat Indian food every day. I exhibit Indian etiquette, as I learn it. In the presence of his family, I show the same respect any bahu would, as I know he would be equally respectful to my family. 

Has your family adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
My family eats Indian food more frequently now, but many members of my family don’t really like spicy food. I guess I get that from my dad. ☺

What aspects of your spouse's culture do you find difficult to embrace? 
I’ll never be particularly fond of acting like strangers in front of elders when we are home with his family. We don’t really sit next to each other, we don’t talk openly unless we have something important to say. We certainly don’t show any signs of affection. All out of respect, of course.

Name some cultural faux-pas that you have unknowingly committed...
Quite a few. Most recently, I was beginning to get a heat rash, and my bangles were making wounds on my wrists… So I took them off for a day. My mother in law was not too happy, and told me I must always wear at least two bangles on each wrist. 

What was the most challenging time in your intercultural relationship?
Being apart was the most challenging time in our relationship. I worked very hard to get back to India every time, but DN suffered a lot, mentally and emotionally. 

The next hardest part was the initial disapproval from his family. It really hurt me, and in turn, our relationship was deeply affected. 

What's the best and the worst part of being in an intercultural relationship?
The best part is who I’m in a relationship with. Blending cultures comes naturally for us, and we have a lot to learn from each other. 

The worst part is the confusion that comes from time to time, over innocent topics or events. 

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that people have about intercultural relationships?
People seem to assume there are always a lot of problems that come with being in an intercultural relationship – and it doesn’t have to be that way. People also assume that couples will either assume one culture or the other. 

What are the biggest misconceptions about white American women? 
There’s a big misconception about “Western women” in general, especially in the East. People seem to believe Western women to be party-going, easy, and they particularly believe we will leave a relationship if it’s not convenient. Sad generalization… 

Have you come across people who disapprove of your intercultural union? If so, how do you deal with them?
When I first entered my relationship, my best friend exited my life. To be fair, I had been so focused on understanding culture that we didn’t have much time to talk at that time. Those that disapproved simply took it personally, knowing I would be living in India and away from them, and that fueled their disapproval. No one ever disapproved of my relationship, per se, on my side. There were a few naysayers on DN’s side, at first. 

There are also strangers who seem to disapprove. The truth is, whether stranger, friend, or family, the only thing we can do is ignore the negativity and move on. We don’t live our lives to please everyone else.

Take-away advice for other intercultural couples...
Respect your partner’s feelings, respect their culture. Give them the freedom to express themselves according to their culture, and love them unconditionally. Don’t let petty disagreements or different points of view start fights in your relationship. Be a good partner, a good helpmate, and become comfortable with sacrifice – it’s essential in any relationship, though especially intercultural relationships.

(All photos courtesy of My Hindi Heart)
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4 comments

  1. Crystal,

    So happy for you and DN on your marriage, may you both have many happy years together.

    Melissa

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Crystal! I saw you post on a ldr forum before. I liked reading your story here. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  3. So nice to see other inter-cultural marriages here in India :) all the very best to you and yours, Crystal!

    ReplyDelete

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