M and I recently celebrated our third year of marriage. Our relationship is one that is unusual and we both know it. It’s not often you see unions such as ours (African American and East Indian). We live this crazy upside down life with 8 year old boy girl twins and two poodles (Miles and Ella). Adjustment to two different cultures is easier on some days than on others but each day we awake and start again to form a new building block to our future together.
M and I met during a time I promised myself I would never get into another relationship. I had just come one that had left me rendered mentally and emotionally drained. However, a friend recommended we meet. M emailed and the rest as they say is history.
Initially, I wasn’t interested in getting to know him or being involved with him but his intelligence and wit grew on me and the fact that he was pretty darned cute helped his case even more. Having just come out of another intercultural relationship (Saudi guy) I knew that relationships outside of the culture were frowned upon and even more so with an African American woman. I addressed this head on and M assured me his family wouldn’t frown upon our relationship. Even though he told me this, I still had my doubts. I consider myself to be a realist and the reality was that Indians rarely formed intimate relationships outside of their culture.
The other thing that made our relationship an even bigger no no is that I was divorced and had twins from my previous marriage. M had never been married and was the only son in his family. They had been trying to arrange him in a marriage for years but M, being the rebel he was always said no. He says he knew he always wanted to marry for love. By the time we met and married he was 38. We knew that given all of the parameters, the odds were more likely to be against us than for us.
M was still in India when we met and I was still in the U.S but I didn’t let the distance scare me away. We spoke by phone several times a day, emailed and chatted. Boy did we run up some phone bills! Our love for one another grew quickly. Within three months, I was head over heels in love and M had asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Was it fast? Yes! Would I recommend this type of speed? It depends on the two people in the relationship. For M and I, we were older, (both in our 30’s) and we had been through the relationship wringers and knew what we wanted.
In March of 2006 I flew to India to marry him. On a sunset beach in Goa we quietly (and secretly) said our vows to one another in an intimate ceremony where we were the only guests other than the people staying at the Inn where we chose to marry. The next day I flew back home to the states-I know ..how sad.
After a few weeks of bumpiness and lots of separation anxiety, I decided to take a leave of absence from my job, pack up my home and my children and move to Delhi. I did this in May of 2006. I should mention that while M told his family we were married, I didn’t tell my family until a full year later when we had a traditional Keralan ceremony in M’s home state. You’ll see why as you read on.
The initial reactions to our marriage were strangely much more different than I expected. His mother and one of his sisters has accepted me and my children with open arms. It warms my heart to hear my mother in law speak to my children and ask them if they know who she is and then she says “I’m your grandmother.” One of his sisters has always had a rocky relationship with M but when she found out that he had married a non Indian girl, her reaction was less than thrilled. Her husband later told me in an email that they were against the marriage from the very beginning. I have yet to get a direct answer as to why they were so against it even though I ask all the time.
I thought my family would ALL be extremely receptive but the most supportive people were my aunt and my sister. My mother and other aunt were less than thrilled but for very different reasons. My mother’s reaction was swift and racist. She went on and on about how she didn’t trust foreign men and how I should think about what I’m doing and the safety of me and my children. And of course she cited the movie “Not without my Child” as an example of what I would be facing as life in India.
No matter how much I tried to explain to her that those were totally different cultures and that India and specifically M were not like what she saw in the movie, she wasn’t convinced. She cried, she yelled and she did everything she could to hinder my relationship with M and my moving to India but I was not going to budge. I had come to the point in my life where I was no longer making decisions that would make others happy but was making those decisions that I felt would be best for me and my children. So often we live our lives not for ourselves but for others and sometimes we don’t know it until it’s too late.
My youngest aunt’s only reason for turning her nose up at the thought of M was not just because he was foreign but more so because my aunt had a close bond with my ex husband and she still had not gotten over the idea that I dared divorce him.
Today, my mother eats M up. She sees how good he is with my children and how gentle he is. She sees that all of the stereotypes she had about him and his culture are wrong. My youngest aunt has also taken to him as well. She sees that he’s just like any other guy and wants the same things for his family that she wants for hers.
I know this blog post is long and the first few probably will be as I bring you up to speed. I know there are lots of questions because I had lots of questions about relationships like ours. So over the next few days I’ll try to address some of those like :What it was like living in India, how M and my ex get along, how M adjusted to being in the states once we returned, how the kids and M’s family and I get along, the religion difference, cultural differences and how we handle them, what the Indian cultural attitudes towards blacks tend to be. If you can think of any questions you’d like me to address, I’ll be more than happy to. Just let me know!
It’s not easy putting your life out in cyberspace to be judged but after much thought, I did this with the purpose of hopefully offering hope to others in relationships like ours (culturally mixed) and that I may be able shed some light onto something so uncommon. Until the next blog!