Dear Sheryl, I Need Advice!

How can my intercultural family celebrate holidays from both our faiths?

How do I get along with my in-laws?

How can we raise kids to be proud of both cultures?

Are the problems in my intercultural relationship the clash of cultures or the clash between how men and women see the world?

Is love enough to sustain a happy intercultural relationship?

How much compromise do I really have to make in this relationship?

 

If you have ever asked yourself similar questions, then you are in the right place.

Years ago, when my husband and I made the blind leap together off the cliff of life as we knew it, we landed in a spot of isolation.  It was like we stood at the beginning of a dark path, with only the light of our own commitment to light our way.  Some people said he’d lost his “Indian-ness,” while others criticized me for changing myself to please him and his family.  I wished many days that there would be someone out there to talk to who could relate to our intercultural journey.  But there was no such person for us.

Now, I am no therapist, and don’t claim to have the “right” answers, but I am here to listen to your questions and offer my two cents worth, based on my own experiences.

By posting your questions here, you can get my experienced opinion, and may do with it as you please.  But by airing out these issues that sometimes fester inside us, we can also help others who read this that may be going through the same things.

If you have an issue that you really need to discuss, but do not want it out in cyberspace for all to see, you may email me. I will reply as soon as I can.

sparbh@gmail.com

Post away!!  I am eager to hear from you!

 

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24 thoughts on “Dear Sheryl, I Need Advice!

  1. Hey 🙂 I hope you doing good . You’ve got a beautiful family . Reading your blogs make me feel so happy .
    I have an Indian boyfriend too , he is amazing . Kinda the best relationship i have had so far. He is just too perfect , and it scares me sometimes . He’s made me meet his family and they have all been so kind to me .
    I love him like crazy but i am not sure if i am the right person for him . He is so intelligent educated handsome , in short he is like the perfect guy the kind you only see in stories.. I am just scared that some day he will know how imperfect I am . He keeps saying how good I am , but i fear i may not rise to his expectations of me .

    He never even asks for anything , He never even complains and he is very shy .
    Are all Indian men like that ?
    Sometimes i don’t tell him how messed up I am fearing he would dislike me after that . In short i don’t want to loose him .
    Please please help me out here .. How do i be the perfect Indian girlfriend or wife ( in future ) ?
    And most importantly how to make him be a little less shy .. ??

    – Emily

    • Hi Emily,
      I appreciate your openness with me about your relationship with your boyfriend. It sounds like you have a really great guy with an understanding family. The first thing I have to tell you is this: there is no perfect girlfriend or wife, Indian or otherwise. Nor, is there a perfect guy. Try to look at your relationship as between two people, not between an Indian and a non-Indian. He sounds like he is as enamored of you as you are of him. Don’t be afraid to show him who you are, even if you feel like you are messed up. If you two are meant to be together, you can’t hide who you are. You can learn from each other. My husband accepts that I’m nuts, and I accept that he is, too. 🙂 You will both have to accept the other person’s faults Everyone has them!

      As far as Indian men never complaining and being very shy, here is my take. No, they are not all shy. I know Indian guys of all personalities. My husband is as outgoing as they get, but everyone is different. I think all you can do is to support him if he is going to come out of his shell. But keep in mind that opposites attract, and you can complement him if you are more outgoing.
      As for not complaining…my husband is that way, also. As the oldest son, the head of the family, he has to take a no-nonsense approach to life. He is strong and has good attitude. He often tells me that if you have a problem, the best thing to do is to come up with 3 possible solutions to it. Self-pity is non-productive. I have learned from him to stop my own whining sometimes, because it doesn’t really do any good!

      I hope this helps a little bit, Emily! I am happy to talk with you more about it if you need more help. Take care!

  2. Thank you for replying to the email . You explain really good . You are right , i just should see him as a guy i love , keeping other factors at bay . Don’t wanna complicate things with him . Its just that he is so amazing and sometimes I don’t believe my luck .
    I probably am going to shift to India with him . He doesn’t like it here. I went to India 4 months back with him and absolutely loved so I think that wont be an issue .

    Anyways It was a pleasure talking to you . You are amazing . Not many people understand what i am trying to say . I am glad you did .
    Thank you
    Have a nice Day ..:)

    • I’m happy for you for finding your amazing guy. And I don’t believe in luck. My mother in law has said that my husband and I have some connection to each other from a former life, and I believe it. When two people like ourselves are drawn to such different partners, there is a reason. Enjoy him!
      I envy you for your opportunity to go to India. I’d love to hear your perspective – I’ll live vicariously through you. 🙂 Take care.

  3. Hi Sheryl

    I feel really tragic writing in for advice. But I’m lost and have no one else around me who I can talk to. I mentioned to you in other comments my interracial marriage as an Australian born Indian married to a Filipino man. We have 2 kids and have been marrie 8 years, together 12 years. You would think after all that time togther and 8 years of marriage things would be getting easier, but for some reason things are just getting harder!

    My family is similar to your husbands in that we see my parents daily as they help with looking after the kids, my mum cooks meals for us, my dad helps with random house jobs and entertaining the kids. My parents still both work full time so we really appreciate the assistance they give us while my husband and I work full time. We help my parents and sibblings out with anything and vice versa. We talk regularly and are always in contact. We celebrate all the Hindu festivals, and religious milestones and I try to get involved and involve my children. My little girl who is 8 loves it and always wants to dress up and go to the event and be involved. My son is a baby still and isn’t into it yet.

    My husband is Catholic by name but not practicing and almost atheist. Lately he has been getting frustrated with me, and told me he is feeling overwhelmed with things. He isn’t great at articulating his feelings and tends to let things boil up.

    My parents have recently gone to India and all of a sudden my husband turns around and says that if my parents bring us a religious picture or item, he doesn’t want it in the house. I have a little shrine where I can pray, and while I don’t want anything large in terms of a shrine, I was very upset that he was ordering or demanding that I bring nothing else religious into the house. When I finally got him to articulate what he is feeling, he said that he feels like my religon, family, beliefs, events, festivals are suffocating him and that our kids are only seeing one cultural side.

    I am very open towards his beliefs and anything he wants to do, religion wise, but he is practically atheist and doesn’t want to take the kids to church or have any of his religious symbols in the house. His family is also not as involved in our lives on a daily basis but we do make an effort to see them regularly to achieve a balance for us all. I am always encouraging and supportive if he wanted to do something in terms of his religion but he isn’t interested. But then gets upset if I get too involved in mine and bring things into the house.

    On top of this we recently purchased a new home and I am keen to have a small prayer ceremony at the new home with family before moving in. Not because I’m overly religious, but because that is what we always did when I was a child and someone moved into a new home. I have such good memories of the ceremony and the fun hanging out the my family afterwards. When I mentioned this to him, he was very against it and did not want this to happen. If he chooses to not get involved in his religon, that is his choice. But why should I not be able to practice mine and perform a small blessing ceremony? I am open to compromise and even not doing it if it bothers him so much.

    What really upsets me is the way in which he decided to communicate this with me. Lately his sole method of communication is to dictate to me what he wants/doesn’t want. I am walking on eggshells all the time as I feel like I have no voice. I feel that rather than addressing me calmly and at the time something is bothering him, he lets it boil and fester and then it explodes into a terrible arguement. Then he gets angry at me when I get upset and teary.

    I just don’t know how to make our marriage work, and as much as I love him, lately I have been wondering if things would have been easier if I had married another Indian or Gujarati who had a similar background. I want to be a good role model for my children especially my daughter, but how can I be when all she sees is mummy being upset and teary and dad being gruff and bossy.

    I have tried to tell my husband that we need to work on our communication, and I am trying to communicate with him in a manner which works for him. I feel like he just has all his defenses up against anything to do with my culture, religion, beliefs and this in turn affects his mood, and how he communciates with me.

    We are just going around in circles and nothing is getting resolved. I feel like we are constantly battling each other, and we aren’t even friends anymore.

    The funny thing is my parents warned me about this when I decided to marry a non Indian, at the time I thought they were being silly and we would work it out and overcome it all and be happy. Now I’m not so sure.

    • Hi vv, I wonder if it’s too late for me to ask how you are doing now? I hope things have worked out for the best and that your kids aren’t getting stressed out anymore. Sometimes, anonimity allows us to seek and receive advice that we would not from our best friends. If things are still bad, my advice would be to first forget the religious issues and sit and talk about why your husband is changing towards who you are. Once he opens up a bit, you might understand what’s wrong. I’m in a inter racial marriage too, and we too have kids, that’s the only reason I wished to give my two bits. Be happy!

  4. Hello 🙂
    i’m feeling so good after read ur blog.u have great family. It’s exactly what i want kkk
    i’m here because i have indian boyfriend. We’re in india right now. We’ve been in relationship for almost 2years and decided to marry. But his family doesnt want him to marry foreigner even they dont wanna meet me. We really dont know what we should do now 🙁 can u suggest me something ?

    • I am groveling and asking forgiveness for my very late response to your question. My break from the blog was longer than I’d planned, and I missed your post. I know it’s late, but I’ll try to help.

      Your boyfriend’s parents don’t want to meet you or marry their son. That’s hard. I think the biggest thing you need to explore with him is how important their presence in his life is to him. Like I said to Desperate, you just may have to go on with your life with him, and wait for them to come around. They may come around. They may not. But, if you two go ahead with marriage, make sure you and he are okay with the possibility that they may not come around.

      If you do ever get to meet them, make it clear to them that you respect them and their culture, and their position as his parents. Don’t give up…acceptance can take a long time.

      Please shoot me an update on how you two are doing. I hope to hear some good news!

  5. Dear Sheryl,

    I must say, you a true inspiration. To read you blog, has been the most uplifting piece of hope I’ve had in a very long time. Here’s why:

    I have dated an Indian man for 4 years. He’s more Westernized, even though the first 12 years of his life were spent in India. He loves me with his entire heart. His sister (who his parents do not want to know about me), knows about me and loves me. His mother and father, I have never met. Why? They’ve never made the effort, nor have they accepted my efforts. I’ve never spoken with them personally either. As a southern woman myself, it’s quite difficult for me. His parents aren’t the kind to play match-maker for him, however they don’t seem as accepting of me as my lover would like me to think. Of course as a southern woman, we’re raised to bring the man home to meet our parents. My parents love him. Men are then expected to do the same, yet this has never happened.

    Is there any word of advice you can give me? It’s heartbreaking, I’m sure you can understand and it makes me feel as though I am despised and unwanted. It’s come to my attention that I believe his parents see me as a phase he is going through. I would hate for the day I meet them, to be our wedding day!

    If there’s any advice you can give, I would greatly appreciate it.

    • I must apologize from the bottom of my heart for my very delayed response to your post. I missed this while I was on my break, and, though this may be a “too-little-too-late,” I will do what I can to help.

      I understand that it is heartbreaking for the parents of the man you love to want nothing to do with you. I’m sure his loyalties are divided, and you feel rejected, and the two combined can be hard on you as a couple. But, my advice is to carry on with your life with him, and let them come around in their own time. Try not to take it personally. How could it be personal? They don’t know you. For many Indian parents, the idea of a non-Indian daughter-in-law is incomprehensible. But that doesn’t make them bad or vindictive. It’s just what they know. I have an Indian friend who married a southern white person, and the Indian parents did not have much to do with them for years. But,the parents are actually wonderful, loving, spiritual, giving, (did I say wonderful?) people. They just needed time to digest and readjust their ideas about their family. Today, they all are very close and the most well-adjusted family I know.

      Time. Patience. A thick skin. And the ability to let go of resentment if, and when, they reach out to you. These will all help.

      Another thing…one cardinal rule: never bad-mouth his parents or their actions to your boyfriend. Even if he says things about them, his loyalty to them is solidly planted. Express your feelings, but never try to undermine their role in his life. And help your parents understand the same.

      I hope I have helped a little. Please do update me and let me know how you guys are doing! Again, I apologize for my delay.

  6. Hi Sheryl,
    I am really happy that you are doing this! I love the positivity and the enthusiasm. All I see and hear is negativity around me and it is refreshing to see a positive story. Maybe, my relationship can work as well! Your positivity is contagious! 🙂
    I am in a relationship with an American (originally German) and I am Indian. We both were born and grew up in Florida. We have been dating for 3.5 years (the last 2.5 years has been long distance, between Michigan and Florida). I have told my strict Indian parents from the beginning but they just thought we were friends. Once it got more serious, they were upset for a while. I was raised very Indian and they have sacrificed a lot to make sure that I learned the language (how to read and write), the religion, the festivals, and sanskrit (including ancient Indian texts like the veda). I would not want it any other way and am very grateful. 🙂 With the relationship, they thought that my Indian culture would be lost and the marriage would be much harder. I am like your husband and will do anything for my parents (and they will for me). For a while, it was bad but once I became more confident and they saw I was happy, they have become more supportive and just want me to be happy.
    But they have valid points. I know it will not be smooth sails. I know that I was raised with a strong Indian culture influence and it is very important to me. My boyfriend is very supportive and perfect for me. We share the same morals and I am inspired by him daily. 🙂 However, even though he respects my culture and knows how important my culture is to me, he doesn’t understand how much it will entail. I don’t think he will appreciate going to the temple and be judged by the Indians there (and he shouldn’t have to). I know he will try but if the interest doesn’t come from within, I don’t think that it will last. I don’t want him to change at all, I just find my Indian culture important and want to pass it on. I know that for our children to take interest, we both have to be on the same page. I want to compromise, I just don’t know how to without letting some part of my Indian culture go.
    Maybe you can help.
    I really appreciate a positive space to talk about this. 🙂

    • Hi Zaara,

      I’m so glad you reached out for support with your situation. I’ll do whatever I can to give perspective to what you’ve written.

      First, you are truly blessed to have such a loving family who gave you a solid foundation in Indian culture. That can’t be easy to do in Florida, surrounded by American culture. You are also blessed to have found a man whom you connect with and want to share your life with. So, you are starting off on the right foot to begin with!

      I don’t think either of you has to sacrifice your cultural values or traditions to be together. If you are open, and put everything on the table, you can start your life together clear on your views. But, both of you will have to compromise. You won’t always feel okay with his way of doing things, nor will he feel that way either. Don’t give up your culture, but be open to including his, as well. And I think, if he is willing to learn and try going to the temple, etc., accept his efforts. His willingness to “try on” Indian culture for you will probably keep him open to feeling it inside himself eventually. My husband and I have agreed to disagree on some basic views of life, and that’s okay. I love him for his convictions, and I think he loves me for mine. We have both gone through the motions of observing each other’s cultures, and over time, we’ve both come to absorb some parts of them.

      In marriage, people don’t have to change, but they can evolve into something new, maybe better. Your life will not be the same as your life growing up. No question. And you will hit your heads against a wall sometimes when porblems arise because of cultural differences. With my husband and I, it’s not about “my way,” or the “wrong way,” except with the laundry and loading the dishwasher. 🙂

      You absolutely can merge your traditions and beliefs, pass them on to your kids, and remain true to yourself and your family. Maybe you will have a Christmas tree, and go to Sunday services with him, but I’m sure he will embrace the importance of family and tradition in your life together, too. It doesn’t make you any less Indian, or him any less German. Put it all on the table and talk. A lot. Then talk some more.

      But give him a advice from me…fitting in to Indian family is a process that takes getting used to. It can be hard, but the struggle is worth it in the end.

      I hope this helps! Keep me posted on how things are going!

  7. hi Sheryl ,
    i dont know if this is the right place and the right question here ,but still i will ask as i dont know enough people who can give me a western perspective .i live in india and have a french girl working along with me and i m an indian.i have been interacting with her with her soince last two months and were good friends till i started to have feelings for her.i expressed it to her and she said that she was after another french guy .But then again i was not going to give up as i really like her and i think she is the one and i made it clear to her too and she just smiled.now, this girl is not in relationship
    with the french guy.i just cant get her out of my mind.i just dont know how to go about it.is it right if i still go after her ?

    • Sorry for the delay!
      From a western perspective, I think it could go either way. Her smile may have been a way of not hurting your feelings, or it may have been happiness. She may just want to be friends, or she may be interested and taking her time. Everyone is different, but western women tend not to be too shy about being assertive with men and sharing their feelings, unless she has a shy personality. Now that she is not involved with the other French guy, I think you should lay it out for her and tell her that you’d like to take the relationship to another level. If she cares about you as a friend and is not interested in romance with you, then she will tell you, and you can move on. If she is interested, then you’re golden. But, with western women, I think it is best to not beat around the bush. We are pretty direct. Try telling her one more time, so you can know one way or another.
      Good luck! Keep me posted on what happens!

  8. Hey Sheryl !
    it appears like she never was after someone ,was just a way for her to say no to me,probably love is not enough ,anyway i am trying to get over her ,difficult for me though , and yes i definetely will be concentrating only on my career in the future,as i always have got pain in it,inspite of doing everything right ,and having true feelings about the girl. thank you though for ur advice ,take care

    • Don’t give up on love! I have found in my life that when I really want something, it comes to me when I least expect it. Focus on work, continue doing everything right…and the right person will find you. Take care!

  9. Hi Sheryl,
    I just stumbled across your Blog, loved it and had to tell you. I’m an American of Indian (Gujarati) descent (hate the hyphenation) married to a great American guy of Italian/Irish/English/German descent. We met in a martial arts class 24 years ago, got married 20 years ago and are the harried parents of twin college bound seniors. When we decided to get married, we just knew we were perfect for each other. We liked many of the same things, loved the same kinds of books and music and just clicked together. We live in central New York, and back in 1993, would occasionally get a second look. Today, I don’t notice anything…maybe I’m oblivious now. My father really liked my husband when he met him. He had grown up in Fiji, and I think was secretly relieved he wouldn’t have to try to arrange a marriage. My mother on the other hand was devastated. She kept telling me that I was good marriage stock…tall, slim, educated, fair (for an Indian). I could do better. I’m sure my husbands mother felt the same. She’s a devout catholic from a big Italian family. She had also broken some taboos in the 50s by marrying my father-in-law, who was German/irish. Both mothers tried to be as welcoming as possible and we had a traditional Indian ceremony. We compromised with my mother about this because she really wanted it and paid for it. My relatives flew in from all over the world; cousins, uncles, grandmothers etc. My husband only had his immediate family and friends because the eight hour drive was too much for the rest. We had agreed to raise any children we had as Hindu, but decided to baptize them to make my mother in law happy. I was okay with them going to church, but my husband had to take them. He really didn’t feel up to giving up his Sundays though. My mother in law would take them to christmas and Easter service and my mother to whatever temple was in flavor for that month. Thus my children grew up to be educated, responsible individuals, with no loyalty to any particular religion. Marriage is about compromise, and we joyfully did. We have a wonderful family, are close to both sides of our family (very hard not to be with the indian side as they’re around or calling frequently), and love each other more now than 20 years ago. When my father needed hospice care, we turned our living room into a bedroom and nursed him in our house. In a traditional Indian household, that would have been a sons duty. My father, who also had a son, felt that my husband was also his son. They had grown very close. I hope everyone who reads this recognizes that it’s true love, commitment, respect and compromise that make a marriage, whatever your race.

    • I am actually in tears right now after reading your lovely story. What touches me the most is that you are so joyful about your life with your husband.
      When my father needed hospice care, we turned our living room into a bedroom and nursed him in our house. In a traditional Indian household, that would have been a sons duty. My father, who also had a son, felt that my husband was also his son.
      I think that this is a true expression of love between you and your husband and your family. When my father was sick, and my husband proved to me and my father, that he was a son of my family, as well.
      Thank you so much for sharing your success story with the world. I know for a fact that you will inspire so many of my blog readers.

  10. My heart was in my throat as I read your story. I want to reach out and give you a hug and tell you:

    His behavior has nothing to do with culture. You are not the problem. He is.

    From what you have written here, I think you are married to an abuser.

    It is true that traditional Indian culture has women caring for the home and the kids, and the man is head of the household. And I know that there are people in India who treat women this way. But, culture is just an excuse. I have never met an Indian man, whether new to the country or Americanized, that ever, EVER treated his wife, mother, or daughter, Indian or white, like he treats you. And I do not know a single Indian woman who would think this is an acceptable way to be treated by her husband. His family and friends are full of crap.

    You are a valuable human being who deserves to receive health care, freedom, respect and love from her family – this is a right, not selfishness. I suggest you look at the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.

    http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/

    It lists signs that you are in an abusive relationship and a hotline to call for support.

    Do you have any non-Indian friends? Can you talk to a neighbor, or mom of your kids’ friends, or someone at a church nearby, a therapist, or even your kids’ school counselor? Try to create a network outside of your home. You need other people who will help you see your worth – that is the ONLY change you need to make in yourself.

    Please, please keep me posted on your well-being.

  11. Hi Sheryl..

    I found your blog on line and am most interested in your thoughts regarding a wedding ceremony. I am in addition to a floral designer, a wedding officiant. I have been approached by an American bride to officiate her and her Indian grooms ceremony. There will be a separate Hindu ceremony prior to the western one, however the bride wishes to incorporate some Indian/Hindu components into the western ceremony. With your Southern heritage (Im originally from Mississippi) and Indian spouse, I thought you may have some insight.

    Additionally, the bride is not getting a lot if any information from the grooms side of the family. The groom’s family is from southern India. Mom is a doctor, sister, also, dad is an engineer. Groom is a doctor, she an elementary school teacher, and his mom is not overly supportive of this union. The groom is urging her to not to try to incorporate any Hindu/Indian aspects into the ceremony. She will, however still be sporting the mendhi on her hands and arms from the earlier Hindu ceremony. Do you think it would be acceptable to incorporate an explanation of the mendhi during the western ceremony? Any other thoughts or suggestions?

    My goal is to try to please the bride all while NOT insulting the grooms family.

    Thank you for your assistance.
    Warmly,
    Robbin

    • Hi Robbin,

      I’m honored that you would ask for my opinion on this matter. This very tricky! I see your point in not wanting to insult the groom’s family while pleasing the bride. With this type of wedding, that’s a tough one.

      I do think that it would be acceptable to explain the mendhi on her hands during the western ceremony. It is a part of her appearance, guests will be curious, and it’s an acknowledgement of the intercultural facet of their union. We did not have an Indian ceremony, and I wished we could have. I think it is wonderful that they are doing both, and in my and my husband’s opinion, there is no need to incorporate Indian-ness into the western ceremony. Her fiance knows his family well. So, I would take his lead on that. In my experience, Indians like their ritual and tradition, and may see it as diluting their traditions, especially if they are not fully accepting of her in the first place.

      Our pastor included a portion of the ceremony to talk about the commitment we were making as an intercultural couple, and that we must be especially devoted to each other because we were willing to tackle that. He read a poem by an Indian poet, and darned if I can’t remember what it was called. (23 years is a long time!). But, the poem, along with the reading of Biblical scripture, demonstrated subtly the mixed culture commitment between us well. There are many Indian poets and I know you could find something online if that’s something she wants. Even Deepak Chopra has some good things on love out there.

      I hope this helps! I invite you and the bride to send me any more questions you may have. I’ll do my best to help.

  12. Hi Sheryl,

    I absolutely love your blog! I find your stories and your life inspirational. I am glad that I stumbled upon your blog, and hope that I can gain some sound advice and support from you.

    I am American (in fact, a Southern girl at heart) dating a South Indian man. We have been dating for 9 months. He has been living in America for seven years, now. I am not the first white American girl he has dated. We often refer to the beginning of our relationship as a whirlwind romance. We are passionate about each other, and have shared many things with one another that has made us so close. The love I feel for him surpasses anything I have ever felt before in my life. He is intelligent, passionate, adventurous, caring, thoughtful…He has expressed mutual feelings for me. He has not told his parents about me, and I’m okay with that. While our relationship is one of intense passion and love, and we have spoken of our future together, I know he is not ready. I try to be supportive as possible.

    This is my first serious relationship. I am at the stage now in my life where I am ready for marriage, children, etc. However, I feel that I am having a difficult time transitioning into the role of “partner”. Recently, we have been having tough conversations about each other’s roles in our relationship. He expresses concern that he feels he is doing ‘everything’, i.e., caretaker, breadwinner.. He is a very independent person and I am having a difficult time inserting myself into his life as a caretaker for him. He’s not demanding, in fact he cooks for us, he makes me tea, he is extraordinarily thoughtful. But I think he is feeling the weight of doing all of these things all the time. When I do try to help out, I feel it is inadequate, or I don’t do it the way he would do it. I think due to his strong independence he is used to doing things a certain way all the time. Basically, I’m not meeting his expectations as a partner. I do feel that he does more in the relationship as far as caretaker. I’ve tried to do little things, like clean his house or cook dinner more often to show I am trying but he has expressed that it hasn’t amounted to as much effort as he would like. He asks me if I think his expectations are too high, but I can’t imagine myself asking him to lower his expectations of me.

    I would like advice on..how to become a meaningful contributor to our relationship? I feel a lot of pressure to do more. I have a career but I feel that I haven’t quite figured out my role in our relationship. I just don’t know where to go from here. I am in love with him, and that has been my main focus since we’ve been together- how we make each other feel, our deep connections, etc. But I don’t think that would necessarily make me a good wife? I don’t want to fail at marriage. I want to be successful. He’s asking more from me, and I want to give him more but I don’t know how. I don’t necessarily think this is entirely an intercultural relationship problem, although I’m sure there is a lot of influence – he has even told me he does not expect me to be an “indian wife”, as he’s explained to me what his mother’s role was in his family and in general what indian women’s role is in the family. He loves me for me, and is not asking for me to change who I am, just contribute more. I’m feeling a ton of pressure, and the desire to do more is certainly there but I feel like I’m constantly failing at trying to show him/us that I can be a meaningful contributor to our relationship. I don’t know what to do; my fear is that our relationship will ultimately end if I can’t do more. I’ve told him that it helps when he gives me positive reinforcement, but I also don’t expect him to ‘train’ me or constantly have to tell me what to do all the time. I don’t exactly have the best parental role models either, and I find myself wishing I had a close family like his. Currently we do not live together, but I am basically staying with him on all of my days off of work.

    -Charlie

    • Thank you for sharing your story here! It sounds like you are in a passionate, loving relationship with a man you really love! That is hard to find!
      I think, in general, the Indian people I have known have more structured home lives than American people I have known. And in Indian families, there tends to be very set roles in household upkeep, whether it is mom who does it all, or whether duties are shared by the whole family. There seems to be a “right” way to do things that is unspoken. You may be like me, but I came from a southern family that is laid back, and things just got done when they got done, by whomever could do them, and in whatever way. Nothing set in stone. So, I think some of this is cultural, for sure.
      He says he doesn’t want you to be an “Indian wife,” but for any person, what they grew up with is the standard they subconsciously use in later life. His mother probably did certain things without it ever being spoken, and he probably doesn’t understand why you don’t understand what he is looking for in help around the house. It’s an Indian/American thing, and it’s a man/woman thing.
      That being said, you should make it crystal clear to him that he needs to be explicit in his expectations of you around his house. If he criticizes you still, then it is a “him” thing, not a “you” thing.
      It sounds to me from your comments that you feel like your relationship hinges on your performance as a housewife. I think you two need to get it all out on the table. Try to talk to him about the differences between cultural expectations of men and women, and look at specific examples to illustrate them. You are not wrong, he is not wrong. You just come from vastly different world views, no matter how “Americanized” he is.
      Finally, don’t put pressure on yourself on how to be a successful wife, please! It’s not about that! Marriage is about how two people can be successful together as life partners who take care of each other. It’s not a mold you have to fit into.
      I hope this has helped a little! Please keep me updated!

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