Sunday, January 13, 2013

Setting Boundaries Before Marrying an Indian

While these or similar standards could potentially work just as well for any intercultural relationship, I'm mainly focusing on Indian/pardesi marriages. This is what I know and have experience with.

It's common sense to expect there to be differences between you and your Indian sweetheart. There may be a lot of things you don't realize could affect your marriage later. Previously I wrote a post on What Do You Want in a Desi/Pardesi Partner - Top 20 Questions to Ask Yourself and you can look there for ideas of what to talk about before committing to marriage. It's important you both understand each other on the topics that are important in your relationship before you even get engaged. (Of course, this is true with any relationship - even in the same culture.)

When it comes to Indian/pardesi mariages then you have to consider the differences in culture more carefully. For example, many Indians only have 2 children. So if you plan on having children, you should agree to a number before marriage. You should also discuss the possibility of twins and what you will do if they're the first pregnancy or second pregnancy. Another discussion related to children is whether or not to adopt or seek out medical assistance with getting pregnant. Will you breastfeed, engage in attachment parenting, send the kids to special schools, etc. These goals all have profound effects on the marriage for years once they happen. Don't wait until they happen to decide.

Not all Indians believe in adoption, some outright refuse it. Some don't want "test tube" babies. Others only want you to breastfeed because it's best for the baby. I've even had a few Indians tell me that adopted kids don't love and respect their parents the same as blood children. Whether any of these things is true or not is irrelevant. It's about what the two of you are willing to do during the marriage.

Another hot topic is who will work - one of you or both of you? Will you work only until a baby is born or until the kids start school? How much of your income will be saved to pay for the expenses of raising kids? Though women are increasingly more active in the home, some Indian men still prefer to be the sole breadwinner. Some pardesi's still prefer this as well. Find a common ground that works for you and be sure of it. Not every woman can stay home with the kids all day while cooking and cleaning. It's not nearly as easy as it sounds.

Will you pay for purchases in full at the time of purchase or use credit. Indians are just starting to use credit and it's not mainstream there yet. The US credit system is complicated but essential for just about anything in life here. If you decide to save money and pay in full, how much of each person's income will be saved each pay period? (Personally I'm big on percents. I learned that from the The Motley Fool Investment Guide: How The Fool Beats Wall Street's Wise Men And How You Can Too.)

Holidays. Ha, bet you didn't think of that one. What holidays does your Indian celebrate? You should research these a little beyond what he tells you they're about and have a healthy discussion about whether or not you support them. Will you celebrate with him or should he go out with friends and enjoy it on his own? How about American (or your country's) holidays? Will he celebrate them with you or should you go out with friends and family?

Which brings me to my next point. Will you go out with friends and family? How often? What is acceptable. Like it or not, there are some very traditional and archaic social rules still in place in some of Indian society. Does your Indian agree to you having a girl's night out once a month? Should outings only be with his mother or your family members? Of course, all of these answers depend on where you intend to live during your marriage. You could have 2 different sets of rules to live by if you move between the two.

All of these could cause potentially serious problems in the relationship if not discussed ahead of time. You don't want to get married only to find out a year later that you're not allowed out of the house without an escort because you moved to India. (For this one in particular, also consider how comfortable you will be if you go to the area, how safe your area is, etc. What are you capable of managing? What would you do if eve-teased?)

You also don't want to get married only to find out that his family expects you to keep a fast for him so he can have long life if that's something you don't agree with. As for the kids, they can become expensive really quickly and financial troubles are responsible for most of the divorces in America. Financial stress causes too much tension. So work this out before hand so you know what you're committing to and what you can live with.

What are some other suggestions you have that I missed?
What agreements did you make with your Indian before marriage if you're already married?
Was there anything you didn't talk about before marriage that you wish you had discussed?

14 comments:

  1. Very Good article and good insight. Most of the time we think that small things doesn't matter in relationships but they matter the most. A small detail to occur everyday is more important than a big concept like religion. One's preference of food and clothes is more important than their views on politics.
    A good article indeed.

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  2. money is something you dont think about until after the fact. good post and useful tips even if your not Indian

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  3. I have never sated an indian mostly because of the HUGE difference in religion. I would not be willing to compromise on most of the things you mentioned.

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  4. It's so important to understand each other's differences and to try to find some common ground in the relationship.

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  5. Very interesting post. I've never thought about how much goes into marriage. I never knew that many Indians only have 2 children, I agree you should discuss these things with your partner before marriage.

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  6. So how do you do it then? Do you do everything his way or do you mix it up and integrate both cultures. I know it's not the same thing, but my friend, who is Jewish, married a catholic man and they celebrate all holidays in both religions, but they keep them all light. It's more to teach their kids that there is more than one way to look at things.

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  7. This is a very interesting post and i agree with you.
    Though i am not married to an Indian problems of this comes up in any inter cultural marriage as well as some one from their own culture.
    Another thing that may seem minor but can turn in to a big issue is food for example some cultures have foods that are very time consuming and you yourself may not like (talking from experience).The best way around it is in a way agree to disagree lol,as long as you make the effort to make the other person have what they like you can also have what you like and then give you kiddies the best of both worlds.No matter what their will be a lot of differences but if you really want to be with someone you will make it work.

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  8. Several of these are great things to discuss in any relationship, my husband and I never discussed the kids, I wanted more he wanted less and it was a huge argument. I wanted to adopt he refused. I think these are great things to discuss for everyone.

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  9. I think many of these thoughts and questions can pertain to a variety of mixed married couples and even those that are of the same race and religion. Marriage is tough and being proactive is the best thing to solving problems before they get out of hand.

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  10. I think this goes for everyone about to get married. They are all important points everyone really needs to be going over before they commit to each other.

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  11. Virginia @thatbaldchickMarch 20, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    It is good to discuss boundaries and learn these details ahead of time in any relationship. Having realistic expectations will save a lot of headache later.

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  12. Terry My Journey With CandidaMarch 20, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    I think all the points you made could be incorporated into any marriage. Although, I am sure marrying an Indian would have greater issues than someone from your own culture.
    You know, it used to be Indians were what we now call Native Americans and sometimes when you say Indian, I think of them. LOL silly me.

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