Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Year Of Intercultural Love Stories


Exactly one year ago today I featured the first post of my new series My Intercultural Love which quickly became one of my readers most-loved series. Since then, I have featured 43 diverse couples of all mixes. Originally, I thought it would be a cool idea to feature real life cross-cultural couples documenting their love stories and how they make their relationships work. I also wanted it to serve as a resource for other intercultural couples who don't know many couples like them.

It has been so rewarding for me to host this series and create a platform to celebrate cross-cultural love. I have learned so much from all these couples and have loved reading their stories. My original goal was to do it for a year, but I'n still getting more submissions so I'm hoping it will run as long as there are intercultural couples! The best part about doing this series has been that my readers enjoy it as much as I do!

Here is a look back at some of my favorite couples and their responses:

Allyce: [My relationship has enlightened my life by] reflecting much more deeply on my personal values and opinions. To explain to other people from another culture about why you think something or why you feel a certain way about something first you have to understand why yourself. It has made me question many things I took for granted and opened me up to whole new perspectives on life.

Karen: People’s cultures and certain ways of thinking are built into them from early childhood, and people have a tendency to think that their own way is the “best” or most “natural” or “common-sense” way. But someone else may feel that their own way, is the “best” and most “common-sense”. It stands to reason that this is just our own point of view, and not necessarily “true” objectively.

Brittany: Fight prejudice and racism by sharing your story. So often it is fueled by ignorance. Tell people how you blend cultures and answer their questions - even if they ask in the wrong way.

Cyn: Living in India has changed my life more than I think my husband did. But it is hard to really explain what changed. I have become a bit more flexible, and less prone to become catatonic if things don't go as planned. You need to be super flexible and adaptable to merely survive India. I was already flexible, but it really taught me that I was quite adaptable - much more than I thought I was!

Sophia: When Matthew and I first got married, everything we owned fit into a box - but we were so happy. Our dream for the future is that we can maintain that happiness. Even though God has blessed us tremendously and we are not where we were when we first started, we both see happiness as a key ingredient for a blissful marriage. We have a beautiful baby boy who is a year old. We want to see him grow and prosper. We want to have grandchildren and great grandchildren whom we can pass on our family heirlooms to. The thing is, my son is going to move out. My grandchildren are not going to live with me. My great grandchildren will outlive me. The one thing that stays permanent and stable is my husband. Due to this, we find it so imperative that we stay happy. At 21, my husband made me happy and he took care of me. I want to feel the same way when I am 85 years old. We want to be able to be an example to our kids and descendants of a healthy marriage.

Teja: I live in the American Deep South, so of course we have [dealt with people who disapprove of our relationship]. We have seen KKK members fly their flags in front of us disapproving of our union. We have had Indian people look at us like we are zoo animals. But in the end, our family and our friends support us and that’s all that matters.

Tans: Earlier in our relationship, I felt that I needed to fully understand Indian culture and their way of doing things. I was also concerned that my partner would get tired of the “difficulty” of being with a Western woman. It finally got better once I realized that he fell in love with me, not an Indian girl, so I did not need to change my personality or habits to be more “Indian”.

Desiree: People think that being in an intercultural relationship is more difficult than other relationships. But, I don't think everyone realizes that every family has a culture, and when you get married each culture will clash and you have to work through it. Just because my marriage is more outwardly intercultural doesn't make it more difficult than any other. I have actually found our relationship to be fairly easy compared to many!

Kristy: Many people think intercultural relationships are not as valid as same culture/same race relationships. People always want to ask you if he married you for a green card or you get disrespectful looks and tones when they find out you met online. They can’t seem to understand that people can be attracted to something more than they're used to seeing. They can't fathom people are willing to work this hard for a relationship and they can't understand how it is worth it when there are plenty of men locally.

Tina: Many people have assumed that I pursued my husband only because he was from India - that I was looking for something exotic. Others have assumed that my husband pursued me because I was white, and that he needed a green card (which was not true). These people could not see past the color of our skin. We did not see color/ethnicity/or culture. We saw each other as individuals.

Deb: Just because I fell in love with someone who was not born on the same patch of earth that I was, suddenly we becomes the target of all sorts of suspicions and accusations. There is not a lot you can do to change people's opinion other than living your life and making your relationship a success.

Krishanu: I wish a lot more people would be in relationships that bring together different cultures and upbringing. The key is to have an open mind, always...

Jocelyn: [The biggest misconceptions about intercultural relationships are] that [they] can never work. While culture and language are important and never should be overlooked in a marriage/relationship, I think your relationship – as in, who you’re married to – matters a lot when it comes to whether you’ll stay together.

Radhika: [The best marital advice that I have received is] live each day like it's your last. Love fully - accept the ugly, with the beauty. And always talk it out; but first give him the space to process it! Men need quiet time to make sense of what is going on. Women can just start talking and come to the same conclusion. It's important for us gals to understand this, and give our men the space they need. We can call our mother, call our best friend or any girlfriend, but we can't expect him to be that person. Men just aren't wired that way! He'll talk when he is ready, so allow him to have the time he needs.

Desiree: [The best marital advice I have received is:] “Imagine what it’s like to be married to you, and adjust accordingly”.

Jennifer: 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.”

Tina: I love the fact that we can teach each other about our culture and traditions. It’s never a dull moment in our marriage. I learned to love my culture even more when I shared it with my husband. I learned to love his culture when he shared it with me.

Silvia: I think diversity is at the same time the best and worst part [of an intercultural relationship]. In a way, you are always discovering new views and broadening your horizon, but there are a few times when you would like to just have the same "experience" on things.

Jasmine: Because Hitomi and I come from very different backgrounds, I have the opportunity to see things in a new light. It makes me a more "complete" human being; a better version of myself. I learn a lot from him, mainly because we have vastly different personalities and way of thinking. I also like to see my own country from a different angle - some things I used to think were universal are questioned by Hitomi, because he's not Canadian. It then makes me see my culture with new eyes. That's very enlightening.

Jocelyn: "[Being married means] it’s a partnership. You might say I inherited that from my own parents. They walked through their marriage together as equals, supporting each other in work, family and achieving their own dreams, and that’s what I've always wanted in my marriage. I’m fortunate to have found a husband who wants the same thing – a man who wants his wife to succeed as much as he does."

Andrea: Being married means sharing everything. It means that you have someone who is as excited or scared about your future as you are because it’s theirs as well. Being married is seeing life with 4 eyes + 2 brains with completely unique visions of the world and making sense out of it together.

Jess: [Being married] means love, respect, honesty and future. Being married is a choice. I chose who I wanted to marry and they in turn chose me. We made that choice and we have to respect it - for each other and our children. Anyone who is married knows how tough it can be to stay married. It takes work, commitment and compromise, but it demands to be upheld and admired.

Susan: If the people in the relationship accept themselves and the relationship, others will accept you too. It is only when we ourselves have doubts, that we allow other people’s comments to bother us. If we are secure in our relationship, other people’s comments cannot disturb us.

Ellie: Understand more about your partner's culture before getting married. Be open to doing things that are important to the family, yet remember who you are and let them know if you are not comfortable. Make it clear to each other what is expected and not expected of each other. Enjoy learning about each other's culture and the differences!

Allyce: Really think about what you can and can’t do before getting married. It’s easy to think in the romantic haze and excitement of an early relationship that you can convert your religion or give up meat, but it’s completely different to live that your whole life. Be yourself, your spouse loves you for yourself. If someone wants you to change everything about yourself or will let his parents force you to change then it’s not worth it.

Maya: Enjoy the country you are living in, even if you miss your homeland. If you miss your homeland or think you can't handle living in India anymore, realize that you are doing it for love. With love you can do anything - it doesn't concern nationalities or countries.

Ruth: 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!

Simi: Stop building monsters in your head and don’t assume things. I spent well over 2 years going through my family’s reaction to Sergio and it was nothing like I imagined. Might as well have saved myself from the anxiety!

Sophia: Never be afraid to stand up for who you love. In my culture, family is number one - and I spent my entire life with the understanding that I needed to make sure all of my decisions would be pleasing to the family. When I fell in love with my husband, it went against my original idea of what I needed to do for my family and what I should see as love. I was scared to fight for my love. I was so afraid of losing my family - my own blood - that I was too scared to stand up for the man I loved. I waited for such a long time to tell them about him, when I wish I had told them from the very beginning! If your partner makes you happy and you both love each other - you should be willing to stand up for them and for your love. It's never easy going against your family, but fear does not make us - it breaks us. The sooner you are able to open up and be honest about your relationship, the more FREE you will feel! My biggest piece of advice is to remember that when it comes to MARRIAGE- your spouse always comes FIRST. He/she comes before your parents, siblings, friends, grandparents, etc. You can't devote your life to a partner who comes second to everyone else.

Raina: Be there for each other. You have to remember as a couple that you are a unit and you must work together for each other. Yes, your parents gave birth to you...but your spouse is your life partner and your loyalty should always lie with your spouse. Especially among Indians, I think this can be a huge issue where parents get away with emotional blackmail and guilt tripping. Don't let your parents do this to you - parents are human beings too and often act toward their own interests. When you get married, you are part of an exclusive unit and you must protect the interests of that unit.

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Stay tuned for more real life love stories in the upcoming weeks!
In the meantime, click HERE to read all of their stories!

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1 comment

  1. My favourite "Remember, your inlaws will be with as long as you are married! Don't say things you don't want remembered that long."

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