Before marrying into another culture it is important to take a moment to reflect on whether you are willing to adapt to your partner's culture; for life. For instance if it is a deal breaker that you live with your in laws under the same roof, then you might want to reconsider if you cannot come to a compromise. Unfortunately love is not always enough when it comes to integrating different cultures. Particularly if you are accustomed to your way of life and your partner isn't willing to compromise on any of his traditions or customs.
The Indian Culture is particularly traditional with many customs that are of utmost importance to them. So if you aren't able to compromise on things now, than it's highly unlikely things will change later on. As with any relationship communication is key, so it is best to start discussions early on to avoid any sacrifice on your part. As it is easy to simply surrender your culture to your partner's culture to keep a relationship going despite you not being happy doing so. You will find that you won't reach a resolution immediately however it is more about raising your expectations with one another.
I have had several of these conversations with my husband both before and after marriage. Although I may raise my concerns in a gentle manner, sometimes it is difficult to not take things to heart which can result in an argument. When that happens I leave the subject alone then raise it again later once he has had time to mull it over. This goes both ways and there certainly are times I take things personally as well. Although you may think you have raised all your concerns about his culture up front there is always something new that you uncover along the way. Here are just some of the more dominant aspects of the Indian Culture that you may want to discuss with your partner before tying the knot. Keeping in mind that culture differs across regions of India so not all may be applicable to your circumstances. However if you don't ask the question you may not know if it applies to you or not.
10 Matters To Discuss With Your
INDIAN PARTNER BEFORE MARRIAGE
ARE YOU WILLING TO BECOME VEGETARIAN
The Sikh faith is strictly vegetarian, for those who follow Sikhism stringently that means they are forbidden to take another's life. Therefore they are not able to consume any meats or eggs. However for those who don't follow the faith as stringently they typically eat chicken, goat or eggs. Given Sikhism is open to followers of any faith you will find they won't eat beef or pork. So be sure to discuss with your partner if you will also be expected to become a vegetarian. Most forbid the consumption of beef or pork in their home with the exception of other meats should one not be a strict vegetarian. When living with my in laws my mother in law who didn't consume meats would always vacate the house when meat was cooking. As just the smell of meat cooking made her sick. Although she was okay with non vegetarians consuming meat and eggs in the house.
THEY HAVE BEEN RAISED IN A MALE DOMINATED SOCIETY
Boys were traditionally viewed as more useful than girls in the Indian Culture therefore most still hold very traditional views on women. This could mean that they are against you continuing with your career although you may currently have one. You may also be expected to become a house wife after marriage. Be sure to discuss what your role is after marriage and if it will be frowned upon should you decide to not be the traditional Indian house wife.
YOU MAY BE EXPECTED TO HAVE A SON
Given boys are viewed as more useful this has contributed to sex selective abortions of unborn girl children. Therefore if your family expect you to have a son they may request you abort any pregnancy if it should be a girl. It is illegal to determine the sex of your unborn child in India however given this is not the case abroad it may be expected of you to abort your pregnancy if it is determined to be a girl. Sex selective abortions in India are still prevalent so be sure to know what your family's stance is on the topic.
WHOSE RELATIONSHIP WILL BE PRIORITY IN THE FAMILY?
Many Indian men respect their mothers so much so that their relationship is typically valued more than their wife. This may mean that they run major life decisions past their mother first before discussing with you. Or he may not even consider needing your approval and make the decision on his own once he has mothers opinion on what to do. Then there are some who will prioritise their children and consider their wife to merely be the person who raises his children. This could mean he always sides with his children or never takes on board your opinion on how to raise them. He will spend every waking moment with the children and not prioritise any time for you. It is definitely a good idea to discuss the family hierarchy before you are married. My husband respects both his mother and I as two individual relationships. Which is refreshing given many I dated before my husband always put their mother before me.
THEY'RE ACCUSTOMED TO OTHERS CARING FOR THEM
Growing up as a boy in a family household means you don't have to ever lift a finger to help with the household chores. This is solely a females role and young girls typically help their mother whilst boys once older will help their father. As a wife, once you marry it is then the wife's role to take over the mothers role. So he may be expecting you to pick up after him and wait on him hand and foot. Even if he allows you to have a career he may still expect that you take care of him. Thankfully my husband doesn't expect me to do this although I don't mind taking care of him should he be the bread winner. Before living together I wasn't working and he was the sole income earner so we came to an arrangement whereby I would take care of the cooking and chores and he would earn us an income. When we moved to India with his family and both weren't working we both took care of our own chores. Although his mother did most of the chores for him in the end.
THEY ARE VERY FAMILY ORIENTED
The Indian Culture is especially family oriented with many generations usually living under the one roof. It is not unusual to have the Grandparents, Parents, Children and Grandchildren living together as a joint family. Once married the wife is expected to live with her husband's family. However should they be a little more modern you may live on your own together for some time. Though once his parents become elderly and you aren't already living together they will move in with their eldest or only son. So either way it is possible that you may be expected to live with his family. This was a topic my husband raised with me before he would marry into my culture as this was very important to him. Being the eldest son his parents will live with us once they become elderly and can no longer care for themselves. Given this won't be for a good ten years or more I was more than happy with this arrangement as long as we have a household where we can have our own private living areas. If your in laws are expected to live with you then it is a good idea to then discuss what living arrangements will look like.
DO HIS PARENTS APPROVE OF YOUR MARRIAGE?
If you are fortunate enough to have met someone who is willing to go against his parent's wishes that's fantastic. However it won't be easy for you when you have to get together with the in laws knowing they frown upon your marriage. You might want to set boundaries with your partner as to how you handle these situations before they arise. As some mother in laws can be monster in laws. I am very fortunate that my in laws are very accepting of me and support our marriage 100% which makes get together's a fun occasion.
HOW WILL YOU RAISE YOUR CHILDREN?
How to raise a family is particularly important if you both are planning on having children later in life. There are so many customs and traditions when it comes to raising children in the Indian culture that may dominate your culture. You can read more about Things To Consider Before Starting A Bicultural Family. Though some things to consider would be who would be involved in raising your children. Especially since it is common for Grandparents to raise their Grandchildren in the Indian culture.
THERE IS A FESTIVAL FOR EVERY OCCASION
Both the Sikh and Hindu faiths have a festival for every occasion, you will find you are celebrating a festival every other day. They are all generally considered of the utmost importance and celebrated with much gusto and enthusiasm. This can easily dominate your culture especially should celebrations fall on the same day. If you want to integrate both cultures then it is important to prioritise which festivals and celebrations from both cultures you wish to celebrate. And whether or not you alternate celebrations each year as a compromise. I found living in India I missed out on important celebrations such as Christmas given there always were conflicting plans. Though since we live between both our home countries we alternate between what we celebrate.
IS IT OKAY TO SHOW YOUR AFFECTIONS FOR ONE ANOTHER
If you end up living with his family or make the move to India to live together then you may want to know where boundaries lay with showing your affections. In Punjab it is very traditional still therefore men and women do not have any physical contact, even if they are married. The Sikh faith believes only in having relations to raise a family and not for personal pleasure. You won't find your mother and father in law holding hands or kissing one another. When I first lived with my husband's family in India my husband was against us showing any affection which was extremely difficult. We could only do so behind closed doors. However with time his family became more accepting of my culture and they were okay with us hugging or holding hands. Although we never did this in public only when around the privacy of home. If affection is important to you then it might be a good idea to find out what will be expected of you.
How did you go about these discussions with your partner?
Are there any other items for discussion that you would add to this list?
When Culture's Collide
The Difficulties Of Being Married To An Indian
Being A Married Couple In India Is Hard
My Top 5 Benefits To Being In A Bicultural Relationship