Ask Bhabi Jii: My Punjabi In Laws Don't Approve Of Our Engagement
In this series 'Ask Bhabi Jii' I publish questions from readers along with my response based on my opinion and personal experience. I encourage fellow readers to reach out and share your experiences and opinions so that it may assist the writer and any future readers in similar circumstances. In the interest of privacy the writer's identity will always be kept anonymous. Therefore questions are edited to change any information that may be revealing. No nasty or distasteful comments will be accepted, this is a supportive community to share experiences with no judgement.
ASK BHABHI JI:
My Punjabi In Laws Don't Approve Of Our Engagement
Dear The White Punjabi Bride,
I hope to be you some day... I'm finding much more cultural resistance than I ever imagined towards getting my Sikh Punjabi boyfriend's family to agree to our engagement. We've been dating for a year now, he proposed two months ago but his parents said to wait a year to give me an engagement ring, and make sure I sign a prenup?!?! Both of his parents are extremely affluent doctors. My boyfriend and I attend a medical school, where we met on the student government association.
I was just wondering if his parents will ever like me or think I am good enough... or if I should give up. I put my life on hold and took a year off from medical school to "cater" to their son's every need and only just last month re-entered my medical studies. He keeps saying he wants to go home next month to get a ring from his parents to bring back to me. But how would they agree to that if they think I'm some blonde gold digger? I have a pedigree that exceeds his, with graduate and undergraduate degrees from a prestigious University whereby he has a bachelors from a state school. There is nothing wrong with that, however I just don't understand, given the circumstances, why they think I am a gold digger.
Please advise how I can shake off this weird stereotype and how I can get he and I to the next step of engagement in the upcoming days/ weeks. Apparently my previous methods have failed.
I am sorry to hear about your circumstances, it certainly is a difficult situation to be in. I am fortunate that my in laws accepted me with arms wide open. My mother in law was an English Teacher and my father in law was in the Army. I find that the middle class seem to be more open about cross cultural marriages and love marriages. The only advice that I can really give here is to continue being yourself and don't change for the sake of impressing anyone. It usually ends up that it was all for nothing and their opinions don't change and you have lost your identity in the process. Though that shouldn't be confused with respecting his culture.
My husband once said to me, if I wanted to marry an Indian woman who dotes on me, has no opinion and has no interests of her own because her interests are the same as her husbands, then I would've married one. Instead I chose to marry a woman outside my culture because I want a woman with her own personality. So it's pointless if I thought I should try to be an Indian Housewife with the intention of impressing him. With that said I should still carry myself with integrity as an Indian woman would and not smoke or drink and little things like that. So despite being of another culture my extended family all accept me. It's typically outsiders who don't accept our marriage.
Your partners parents may just need time to get to know you as a person before they accept you or they may never think you are good enough simply because you are not of the same culture. I couldn't say as I don't know them personally and what you have gone through with them. Have you asked your partner if he will go against their wishes if they say no to your marriage? It is not uncommon for Indian parents to insist on a prenup even if it turns out their son actually has no assets to protect anyway.
I believe the most important factor to consider is if your partner is willing to go against his parent's wishes and support you as his wife to be. If he isn't and wants to please all parties involved then it could be a very long engagement. I have met some women who have been courting their Indian partner for years and the parents never approve. Some son's go against their parent's wishes and are disowned as a result, while others aren't but their wife is never accepted. And some actually end up leaving their western fiancé or girlfriend for an arranged marriage. Of course not all love stories end in tragedy, there are some who are able to make it through all the odds. Though only you know your partner better than anyone else to decide if it's worth fighting for.
The White Punjabi Bride
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