A Journey In Black and Indian Love

A Peek inside the marriage of an African American woman and her East Indian spouse

Communication in the Key of C December 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alisa @ 5:52 am

C. That’s the grade I would have given me and M’s communication a year ago. It would have been a solid C. I know this may sound confusing but even though we love one another and we get along well for the most part, our communication styles are different. I think this is because we were raised to communicate very differently. I’m very open and rather no nonsense. I believe in sharing my feelings no matter what and M is quieter. He holds things in and topics that would generally warrant a discussion for most people usually stay tucked in for him. M says this is cultural. I say I agree to a certain extent but the communication style that he exhibits can easily be applied to others from around the world.  That being said, I’ll give you a few  examples of what I mean.

Here’s a simple one. ..we talk to M’s mother.. if M interprets, I know I’m not going to get half the details. Amma can talk for 10 minutes straight and I’ll ask M what she said and he’ll say…’oh she said her foot hurts.” I’m a detail gal so knowing everything she said helps me understand her better. My solution? Years ago I hired a translator so that Amma and I could talk between ourselves without half baked interpretations.

Another example.. a repairman came to our business and was quite rude to M. I politely tried to point out the guy’s behavior but M never stood up for himself. Both my sister and I finally got so fed up with the repairman’s attitude towards M that we handled the situation ourselves when politeness didn’t work so well anymore. M’s response? To say, yes he noticed but he didn’t see the purpose in saying anything.  For me, I felt it was important to address for several reasons.. 1) I don’t want the repairman to think it was okay to come into our place of business and treat us like crap whenever he felt like it. and 2) To let the repairman know it’s not okay to treat anyone like that regardless of whether its a business or not, especially when we were polite to him. I understand that some people you can’t change but…and my last example of how we communicate differently..

The other day we had our date night and over dinner we discussed family and marriages etc. Both of M’s sisters had arranges marriages and I was asking them who arranged them and how the process went. At some point I asked him how Ambili and Minnie felt about being arranged. He shrugged and asked ‘what do you mean how did they feel?’ It’s not something you discuss you just do it. He then went on to say that here in the US, people are accustomed to talking about choices and how they feel about them whereas there in India people sort of know what is expected of them. In other words his sisters got married without complaint. I cannot imagine marrying someone I had only seen or talked to a couple of times.  What is slightly more irritating about this subject is that M went on to say that he refused to go meet families to be arranged except on one occasion where his mother begged him to so that people would say that he at least went to one arrangement meeting. He says he went only because of the love for his mother but he never went on another one again. What irritated me about this story was the VERY OBVIOUS sexism. He had choices his sisters didn’t. He could talk about what he didn’t want but his sisters couldn’t. WTH?

I’ve heard from many women over the years who are married to Indian men and complain about what appears their lack of concern over very serious subject matters. M and I have had this experience and he has explained to me several times that his silence on things have nothing whatsoever to do with how he feels.  He says he doesn’t want anyone to feel even worst about a bad situation so he keeps his comments in. I feel sometimes  it’s moreso a matter of if he doesn’t talk about it, then perhaps it won’t exist. He has a happy go lucky attitude about everything.  

Today I give the communication between me and M a B. A solid B. We talk more because I understand him a bit better and he understands my need for details and expression. Until the next blog my lovelies…

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12 Responses to “Communication in the Key of C”

  1. Emily Says:

    Hi. I enjoyed your post, as usual. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one who has these problems. My East Indian husband will go on for 20 min. about the details of a football game (which I have zero interest in, but pay attention to be nice) and I’ll ask him about his family after he talks to them for an hour on the phone and “they’re fine, my Mom says hi”. Okkkaaayyyy! haha

  2. Neveen Muthana Says:

    Hi, I spent today reading your posts and I’ve found so many true things in what you’re writing. I was ro into an interracial family, my mum is east indian and my father is a blk trinidadian so i saw the samethings with them as far as what your’re talking about. My husband is from india as well but he was raised same as indians from my country. I would tell anyone who marrys into the east indian culture to learn the lingo and sometimes accept what you have chosen. I’m not saying it’s a good thing but sometimes it helps us get along better. I speak india’s native language and urdu as well and that’s how I became accepted. Sometimes mum’s have a hard time letting their kids marry into other ethnic cultures and that will always be a factor. My father had that problem and I’m sure it’s never going to change. I had an arranged marriage as well but it was what I wanted. We did it the modern way like i met with different families of my mum’s caste and finally chose the right guy for me. GOOD LUCK !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Sarah Says:

    Very interesting. I could relate not because of my Indian husband but because of my father (who is European). It is taxing on my mother in order to get my dad to share with her and emotions had better not exist (he has no idea what to do if she crys).

    I think the only thing my husband has difficulty with is trying to ensure that I do not cry–he, like my father does not know how to console. As he mentions, men don’t cry in India, or atleast not real men!

    Communication is key and I’m glad to hear its improving. I think my husband and I are A++ communicators, we talk about everything and anything but then again he is a very special man.

  4. Ann Says:

    My Dear please allow a man to “handle” his own business. Your Dear M. knew the guy was being rude; however, he chose to take the high road and simply ignore him. You and your sister are ladies stay out of “men” type issues.

    • blindianlove Says:

      Ann,
      “Men type issues?” LOL. Funny. Rudeness does not have a gender and if someone is rude repeatedly, I happen to think it should be handled. M will wholeheartedly tell anyone that if he were in India he would have handled things differently. However, because he’s here he feels that he can’t always be himself so to speak. That’s part of what I’m talking about. The fact he’s an immigrant here, he feels he has to follow different rules. I don’t like this because I don’t agree with it. Hope this makes sense.

  5. Ann Says:

    @Sarah, I believe most “old schooled” men do not communicate well to woman. But, that is not to say they cannot learn.

  6. Ann Says:

    @ emily, His Mom is probably talking about the same old boring family stuff and he probably do not wish to talk about all of that again with you and do not take it personally. Men are like that, they would rather talk about fun stuff like a football game. LOL…we women we always want to try and fix things. If your relationship with your man/husband is going along well then that is all you need to be concerned about.

  7. Ash Says:

    Good Post !!!, I am a East Indian born and brought up in India, I would agree that there is obvious sexism in india but that also depends on which part and which social strata you are coming from, both of my sisters had arranged marriages but they did had a option to say NO and they did that on many ocassions.
    and in contrast i was different, i would find hard to say No to any girl i met

  8. I was a little offended when you said ” he has a happy go lucky attitude about everything” well I do too. Ok you see the four letters in the middle of my name? INFP this stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. It sounds like your husband is an introvert. Most introverts like to read and we don’t like confrontation. If we get tired enough we can become monsters, give him a chance to show you his fight. Research what it means to be an INFP more and I believe that you will have much much relief. Actually if you accept me to your facebook group I will post little things about the INFP personality type so that you can read them.

  9. Hélène Says:

    Hello, I am in a Whidian (?) marriage, we were married 11 months, me divorced with 2 kids and him a former bachelor from South India, so I’m very excited to discover your blog !

    I have the same kind of communication problem as you expose ; thank you for your insight, it’s very useful !

    Take care.

  10. Joanyett Says:

    Hi there. I’d like to respond to this posting. I’m currently “friendly” with and East Indian man. I am AA woman. Not only do we have cultural differences but we also have a 12 gap in age. I’m older. I find him very interesting and our communication is actually a B+. I get his sarcasm, he gets mine. But I do find it difficult to get more details out of him about him in general. He has sisters, one arranged marriage, one “love” marriage, one single. But when it comes to him it’s kinda fuzzy. I think part of it is he’s not sure what his future holds and also his culture. He seems to be torn between what he wants and likes and what’s expected of him. So, at this point, I do a lot of listnening and ask a lot of questions. Thanks for this post.

    • Alisa Says:

      I hear this alot about Indian men not being so forth coming with details. While this is a generalization, in my experience I have found the same traits in M on ocassion. I think you’re doing the right thing… listening and asking lots of questions. Good luck!


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