Saturday, August 15, 2015

My Intercultural Love: Ruth & Kumar

This beautiful Masala couple has been together for 17 years and they live in South India with their 2 amazing kids...

I am an American of typical mixed ancestry (English, Swedish, French-Canadian, etc.) My husband is Telugu from Hyderabad. We met in the US and now live in India. We have two children - a daughter, 14 and a son, 9.

Three words that describe you...
Kind, studious, adjusting!

Favorite childhood memory...
I had a great childhood, with a very supportive loving family and lots of great experiences. If I had to pick one defining experience, it would probably be the fact that we started doing international travel when I was about 13. Our first trip was to Peru. It changed my life, broadened my horizons and probably set me on the court I followed the rest of my life. After that, we started going to India on a frequent basis for volunteer and charity work.

(Img via Alan Levine)

Where/how do you feel most inspired?
I love to travel, I love planning our trips, figuring out routes, and investigating the history and culture of a place!

Where/how did you meet your spouse?
We actually met online....back in the day when people only met stalkers and murderers online! I was in grad school for South Asian Studies and he was had just graduated and started working - we were both living in the USA at that point.

How long have you been together?
17 years!

What qualities do you admire in your spouse?
Hardworking, great father, smart, a planner.

Favorite memory together as a couple...
Pre-children, I would have to say our weddings - they were amazing!

What did you know about your spouse's culture prior to your relationship?
Lots! I had spent a considerable amount of time in India growing up, had studied abroad in India, worked in India and had a Master’s Degree in South Asian Studies.

How did you tell your friends/family about your intercultural relationship?
My friends and family were not surprised! It was more surprising that we met on the internet!

Describe your wedding...
We had two. A very HUGE traditional Telugu wedding in Hyderabad and a smaller wedding in my father’s church in the US. Even the US wedding had lots of Indian touches - Indian dresses for the bridal party, Indian decorations, Indian food.

(Img via Julia Gross)

What does being married mean to you?
It means a lifelong commitment, through the easy times and the hard. It means working to create a joint future and identify at the same time, while working to preserve your individual goals and dreams. It means compromise. It means a partner in all things that you face as a family.

What are your dreams for your future together as a married couple?
Right now, we are focused on what we can do together to support our children’s dreams and goals.

What positive cultural values do you bring to your relationship?
I think as an American, we are more open to all the possible futures for our children. There is not one “right” path or “right” career choice. I think my perspective on that balances out the more traditional perspectives on education and careers that my husband brings to the table.

What do you do to keep your relationship alive? What kinds of things do you do to connect with your spouse?
We love watching bad TV together - late at night after everyone is asleep! 

In what ways have you adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
We live in India, we eat (mostly) Indian food, the kids celebrate many Indian and many Hindu holidays - I think we have adopted MOST aspects of his culture at this point!

(Img via SanFranAnnie)

Has your family adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
My family has a great appreciation for Indian and Indian culture that pre-dates my marriage. They have not “adopted” parts of the culture but they love and respect my husband and his culture.

What aspects of your spouse's culture do you find difficult to embrace? 
 I probably still prickle a little at the lack of “thank you's” between family members - the expectation of happy service!

Name some cultural faux-pas that you have unknowingly committed...
Luckily I was so steeped in Indian culture before I met my husband, so I don't think there are any…not that anyone had told me!

What was the most challenging time in your intercultural relationship?
The most challenging time was the period between when he told his parents about me and the year later when they finally agreed to our marriage. It was really, really hard on my husband. He had weekly conversations with his parents who were very unhappy and very upset. But he persevered and in the end it all worked out!

What's the best and the worst part of being in an intercultural relationship?
The best part is the family we have created together. Our children are amazing blends of two cultures and two worlds. They are going to contribute great things to the world and it is absolutely because of the intercultural relationship that produced them!

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that people have about intercultural relationships?
That religion will be the biggest stumbling block. My husband identifies as Hindu and I identify as Christian. We have raised the children with respect for both (and more!).  Hopefully they will find their own paths as they grow and develop their own belief systems.

What are the biggest misconceptions about American women? 
That we cannot adjust, that it is “our way or the highway”, that we can never be happy living in India. It is well known in my extended family that I have adjusted much more than some other family members!

Have you come across people who disapprove of your intercultural union? If so, how do you deal with them?
No, not after we got married.

Take-away advice for other intercultural couples...
The challenges will arise in places that you don’t expect them. Perhaps in attitudes about money, or the way that free time should be spent. They most likely will not arise on the issues that everyone else expects them to arise. Every marriage requires compromise, consultation, adjustment. Intercultural marriages probably require a little bit more! Inlaw situations can be tense and stress inducing. Remember, your inlaws will be with as long as you are married! Don't say things you don't want remembered that long. Remember, you may represent the loss of pretty much everything they expected for their child’s future. It will take a while for them to adjust to the new reality!



  1. Nice family ! I would agree that intercultural relationship require a little bit more work than others... and also that some challenges are about money and free time... and food of course. I am curious, are you cooking yourself, Ruth, or do you have a cook ? (Padparadscha)

  2. Beautiful family, my best to you both.


  3. Nope - I don't cook. I find that Indian cooking takes WAY longer than I would like to spend on that task. Luckily, in India you can hire wonderful ladies who will cook fantastic Indian dishes fresh every day!

  4. "That religion will be the biggest stumbling block. My husband identifies as Hindu and I identify as Christian. We have raised the children with respect for both (and more!). Hopefully they will find their own paths as they grow and develop their own belief systems."

    I would love to hear more on this, Ruth, if you are open to sharing. I am Christian (and faith is very important to me) and my boyfriend is Hindu, and we have both had concerns about what raising children in two faiths would be like. I have noticed that many "masala" couples tend to practice one or the other (or none at all) and I would love to be able to raise our (potential) children in both faiths as much as possible. I would follow you if you have a blog. Or would appreciate hearing some stories or things that have worked for you and your family. Thank you so much. :)

  5. Hi, Ruth and Alexander. It's very encouraging to read stories from interracial couples. I would like to ask do you face problems from astrology aspect when both of you decided to tie the know with your partner. I'm now facing a major issue from astrology mismatched on top of the interracial problems. His parents is a strong believer n v have no idea how to go about it.


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