Friday, September 25, 2015

Ask Firangi Bahu: "How can she be the first to break tradition of generations of arranged marriages?"

(Img via Mayur Gala)



Sharing a letter from a reader...


"Hi,

What a wonderful website, as it has lots of information, and is 100% related to my situation. I was hoping that maybe you could give me some advice.

I am an American guy living in the Midwest. The Indian girl I love is from Kolkata. Actually, she and I work for the same company. We originally began corresponding over Skype, as coworkers, which transformed into a more personal relationship. Then when my company sent me to Kolkata for 3 weeks, we had a chance to be together and we shared many things, and several which would 100% be against the culture of an Indian woman.

She and I desire each other more than anything. We want to get married so very badly & have a family. However, there are several obstacles in the way.

First, her father does not like Americans. He has a certain view of American people.

Next, her parents forced her into a socially arranged marriage. Since then, she has not lived with him, did not take his last name, still lives with her parents, refuses to recognize the arrangement, and says she'll fight it to the very end.

And finally, there is the Indian culture. She tells me that no one has even done anything other than an arranged marriage in her family for many generations, and how can she be the first to break tradition, to hurt her family?

I am also 15 years older than her. She is 30, and I am 45. The age gap is no issue for us, but it may be a problem for her parents.

I told her a story of a someone I know from the local gym, a black guy, who also met a girl from New Delhi when his company sent him there. They also fell in love, and after 1 year, against her family, she left and they got married. Her parents did not talk with her for 6 months. And after she became pregnant and had a daughter, all of a sudden, he is the best son-in-law in the family and can visit anytime!

Her comment to that is, "My parents are not her parents". When I ask to make contact with her parents, she just asks me not to make the situation more complicated. Yet she tells me she is afraid of going through the rest of her life without me.

An Indian man at the same gym told me that if I want her bad enough, all I need is patience.

She often tells me that I should forget her, that it will just not work, that there is no way it can ever happen. I then ask her, "can you forget me?"  And of course, she replies "No." I tell her that women all over the world, including Indian women, make this choice. I have told her that I will learn whatever Indian culture is necessary or needed.

We talk every day about so many things, and so much about a possible future and family we both want with each other. I tell her how once her family sees how happy she is here, and how successful she is, and what a happy family we have, they will accept me.

I ask her what kind of parents she has, if they know she does not love or care for the arranged match, yet they force her to be with him.

I try to explain to her that she has a God given right to be happy and choose her own way. And that once her parents are gone, who is she doing it for?  I try to show her the freedom here. To explain that the decision she is making is not hers, but someone else living her life. I tell her that she is not someone's pet, but has desires and wishes and wants and needs to do them for herself. The world is a huge place, and life is short.

She agrees with it all, and tells me she is afraid of going through the rest of her life without me. but always comes back to telling me how complicated it all is, and just to forget her.

Can I win this? Can I make her strong enough to do what she desires, instead of letting someone else choose her life? Do we have any chance of a future.......... because I love her, and she loves me. How can I convince her parents?

Please advise, and thank you very much."

------

Dear readers, have you ever been in this situation?
How can you break free of generations-worth of arranged marriages?
Do you think Indian girls in particular are raised to put their parents' wishes before their own?
How can this man convince the parents when her father doesn't "like" Americans?
What should the next step be for him, being the man in the relationship?

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10 comments

  1. Sorry for the harsh words but her parents are stupid. He should give her a certain time period to make a decision because life is short and everyday spent unhappy costs a lot.

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  2. Oh my. You know, my husband used to say the same things to me. He was scared of confronting and hurting his parents. He used to tell me that parents were like God, and that he could never hurt or go against them. We were deeply in love. I am also from America. He was from a very small traditional town.

    He used to tell me to forget about him and to have a nice life. Many hurtful things, because he was afraid.

    But he finally told them, when we both knew we couldn't be apart. They were mad at him. They ignored him for awhile. Maybe six months. But he still would not proceed with our relationship without their consent. I was becoming increasingly hurt, and he became aware that I could not live life never knowing whether or not we would have a future together.

    When he finally told his family he wanted to be with me (again) they reluctantly agreed. The next thing I know, they were planning our wedding and now we are married. And we have an excellent relationship.

    I would suggest you maybe take some time apart to make her see that she does need to stand up for herself. A few things you should know, is that life is harder for women in India, than it is for men. Having a love marriage is taboo, but divorce is a bigger taboo. But I believe things will work out for both of you, and she just has to be really strong. I do understand her hesitation and fear. Good luck to you, brother.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello,
    Your situation is so very much like ours except we are on the other side of it. I know what you are going through. I am an Indian girl and fell for an American guy. I am the first person in our family to ever have a love marriage. My parents were out of words when I told them I want to marry a white guy. It was a struggle for over 3 years when they finally came around. We had a court wedding immediately. A year later my family flew all the way from India for our traditional Hindu and Christian weddings. Now we are married three times which sounded impossible 1.5 year earlier.
    It's a tough battle but we were determined. I told my parents I won't marry without their blessing but at the same time I wasn't going to marry anyone else. I gave them all the time they needed but eventually they had to come along. My hubby wrote them a letter telling them their blessing is very important to us and he will never steal their daughter. He was very understanding through all this like a saint. He respected my parents very much and understood the Indian family dynamics.

    We finally persevered my parents realized that he can be a great husband for their daughter and gave in. When his dad met my parents before our wedding they had so much praise for him. That was such a beautiful sight and I can describe in words the way I felt.

    In conclusion, be patient Rome is not built in a day. She should be motivated to stand up and you can't push her. My husband always said I can't make you choose between your family and me. He was prepared to lose me than separate me from my family. Like I said he is a saint ;). I also blogged about our struggle two years ago. I haven't updated it in a while because I was busy living life. Anyway if you are interested in our story look it up here earthonebigfamily.wordpress.com

    BTW when my mom met hubby's family she said they are no different from us proving my blog name to be right ;).

    ReplyDelete
  4. My situation is in between the writer's and the last two comments's situations. My boyfriend (M) finally started fighting with them a year and a half after he first told his dad about me (two months ago). The only reason I got to meet his parents is because he has leukemia and was in the hospital and the fear of meeting them couldn't keep me from him. He's been fighting with them ever since, despite his condition, medical bills, and visa worries. He says a lot of the same things; he can't go against them, he feels so awful for hurting them, he doesn't want to force them, that I should just forget him and find someone else. He keeps telling them he won't marry anyone else and they are adamantly against it, saying I'm not brahmin and can't perform the rituals etc etc. All this after I brought food for him and his mom at the hospital everyday and kept them company. They want me to be just a friend.

    I have also told him that he needs to do what's best for himself, and live true to what he wants. He says that's a very "american" notion and that indian families don't work like that, that he should sacrifice for his parents because he loves them so. He's caught in between but he's still trying, still fighting. His greatest fear is that they will ignore him forever.

    Show her this blog and all the stories. Her story isn't completely unique, although she and M both think their families are so much different than others. They're not. And the only way she's going to be happy is by fighting for her happiness. It will be a long hard road but it will be worth it. Support her and stay together. Her parents will come around.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting story, but for me its not a happy ending. This hits home so much right now. I'm in love with a guy from Hyderabad whom I worked with, but he is destined to move home to take care of his Mom (a widow) and have an arranged marriage. He has told me he won't budge on this and has no choice. He also is Muslim and says he cannot marry a Christian and especially a western woman. I find it very strange and sad, I couldn't marry someone I didn't love. He tells me the love "grows" after marriage with an arranged marriage. I'm super sad and disappointed, because I haven't been this attracted to a man both physically and emotionally in years and I wish he was my husband. I really love him and will miss him. Doesn't stop up from fooling around though :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. this comment can sum up all the comments and story from sad woman in this blog u where abandoned by indian man for an arranged marriage.

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    2. Well he was up front about it from the very beginning. I chose to keep hanging out with him so it's my choice in the end. I will meet the right person for me eventually, but still like reading these sweet stories.

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  6. Dear LW - my advise would be to move on with your life. She is already married in a marriage arranged by her parents. What do you think is a bigger "stigma" in Indian society, marrying an American or divorcing a husband who she said was "picked and forced" to marry by her parents and "ruining" her family's name within the community? Try the latter. Indians care too much about saving face and what people will say. Happiness is never really considered as primary reason especially when it comes to marriages.

    Love is wonderful and all but a lot of people live in this fantasy world (I see this with a lot of Western girls who are involved with a Desi guys) when it comes to these type of relationships. Cultural differences, the parents wishes, what will people say, this have never been done in my family and the list goes on. Whether you choose to live in a fantasy world is up to you. But can you really say that she has been honest and straight with you? She is in India so all you know is what she is telling you.

    Whether she has taken his name or not, still lives with her parents, will fight this to the end and blah, blah, blah... For how long are you willing to put up with this? A lot pf people say to have patience. For what? She is married, won't even let him prove himself to his parents (which he should not do to begin with) but she is still stringing him along with.

    In conclusion no, I don't think you can win or have a future with her, you cannot make her stronger only she can and you shouldn't be trying to convince her parents like you are not good enough or something so you have to work extra hard for them to accept you.

    Millie B

    P.S.- can we stop using the excuse of "is Indian culture" to justify ridiculous behaviors? It takes away from real brave Indians (men and women alike) who have chosen to fight for their happiness and what they want against all odds.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I mulled over this for a day or 2 because it seems complicated to me.

    Do not forget that she is married and does not seem like she wants to divorce in the first place. If she does not recognize this marriage, why did she marry and why is she still in the marriage? Why not divorce?

    "Can I win this? Can I make her strong enough to do what she desires, instead of letting someone else choose her life? Do we have any chance of a future.......... because I love her, and she loves me. How can I convince her parents?"

    - You cannot make anybody do anything even if you love them a lot. They have to do it for themselves.

    ------

    Dear readers, have you ever been in this situation? No

    How can you break free of generations-worth of arranged marriages?
    - Just marry if you find someone we love.

    Do you think Indian girls in particular are raised to put their parents' wishes before their own?
    -Yes. Not only women but also men.

    How can this man convince the parents when her father doesn't "like" Americans?
    -She should be bold and say that she wants to and will marry him and then they would naturally one day want to know the "American" husband.

    What should the next step be for him, being the man in the relationship?
    - First make a decision on how long you wish to wait and invest in this relationship. How much more time would you like to give to yourself to wait this out. Ideally, it might be 6 months to 1 year.
    - Second, have a talk with your girlfriend. Tell her this is your timeline and how much you will wait and even though you love her a lot and will support her throughout this battle, she has to decide to fight and for both your sakes, if nothing is done in the next 1 year, this relationship should be let go.
    - Third, say it and stick to your timeline. Sometimes, we have let go of what we love.

    ReplyDelete
  8. First, the issue is that she is married. Is she legally married? Does she plan to get a divorce? Is she taking the necessary steps to get a divorce? How long will it take her to get a divorce? Deal with that part first.

    Once that is all settled, you can tell the parents but it should be done in a sensitive matter. You can win this, but only if she is not already married. I would not tell the parents before she is divorced, as they could blame you for splitting up the match, even if they were unhappy already.

    ReplyDelete

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