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 BHABI JII:
SHOULD I LET MY PARTNER ABANDON
HIS FAMILY FOR US TO BE TOGETHER?
Dear The White Punjabi Bride,
I met my Punjabi boyfriend when I moved abroad for university. We became friends thanks to my Indian flatmate and we didn't get together until I ended my relationship with another guy because I wasn't from his country. I took the break up really bad. I didn't want to fall for my now partner out of fear the same would happen in the long term. Therefore my boyfriend and I haven't been dating very long.
However, we both agreed quite quickly in the relationship that we would like a future together. We decided not to tell our parents that we were dating just yet. Simply because of the shortness of our relationship they might think we are crazy. Mostly because where I'm from couples start saying they want to get married after years of being together. Even though our families don't know we're dating, we've been trying to warm them up to the idea that we could possibly be marrying someone outside of our culture. By dropping hints that we like each other and seeing how they react.
On my side, everyone's fine, a few jokes here and there and only one negative response from a cousin, which I could not care less about his opinion. On his side, everyone's okay with it except for his parents. This is where my question starts. His parents who are obviously the two most important figures in his life, have already told him several times that they're disappointed that he even likes me. That they've been through so much, and that an interracial marriage never works because I will never be able to integrate into their society. They were adamant that he has to uphold his place in society.
They've even used his younger sister as emotional blackmail retorting "what would she think" and his younger cousins "look up to him". My boyfriend has said several times that the relationship he has with his parents is not the closest and that he's certain that he'd have no problem leaving the entire family behind if it meant staying with me. However I personally believe this is not true. I can see how much he cares about his cousins and his sister. Although the relationship with his parents might not be the best, I'm sure he'd absolutely hate being apart from them. He's said before how he'd like to live near his parents after university.
He's told me several times he could deal with losing his parents but he'd be absolutely lost without me. I don't want to make him choose between me or his family. I've said several times I'd remove myself if it meant him being happy with his family and forgetting about me so he can find someone more suitable for marriage. Each time I say this he gets upset at me for thinking that I'm not important enough in his life.
The only thing I want right now is for his parents to see I'm trying my best to integrate their culture and that nothing would be lost if his son married me. Do you think that in the event that his parents never approve of our relationship, I should let him cut them off? Even if that's something I absolutely would hate for him to do.
Thank you so much for your help.
It certainly sounds like a difficult situation to be in.
All hope isn't lost if they are simply concerned about you fitting into the Indian Culture and taking on board their beliefs and traditions. Many parents are worried that if their son marries outside of the culture then that means she will disrespect their heritage. To some parents it is very important to uphold their heritage.
For instance one important aspect is that the eldest son will traditionally be the one who cares for his aging parents. Once he marries his bride moves into his family home with him and they care for his parents until the day they pass away. He then inherits their property and continues to take care of any other female siblings that he might have.
So the eldest son typically has a huge responsibility weighing on his shoulders once his parent's feel he is of marrying age. Usually before they marry the parents allow them to let loose and enjoy life, then once they are old enough they are then expected to marry and return home to take responsibility. So you could imagine if this happened to be your in laws retirement plan, then they would be very concerned about who he marries. However it may not be a concern to them if this is a tradition that their family doesn't follow.
Other cultural aspects that concern parents are that you will be a stereotypical western woman and have absolutely no cultural integrity, have no respect for elders, drink excessively, smoke, won't care for her husband by cooking and cleaning, are promiscuous and might cheat, and then eventually end in divorce.
It sounds like they might be worried about him potentially being divorced as it will tarnish their reputation in the community. If this is why they are concerned then you can continue trying to prove that you respect their culture and embrace his traditions and beliefs. Though they might just outright believe that simply being in an interracial relationship tarnishes their reputation. If so, then you will need a lot of perseverance to try and overcome their objections.
You are right in saying that although he says that he does not care much for his parents, deep down there is always a connection. Particularly when it comes to the Punjabi Culture as they are raised to value the importance of family. It is a tricky situation to be in and hopefully it doesn't come down to them cutting him off. Though you don't want to make up his mind for him as he might resent you for that.
But you also don't want him to have any reason to resent you in the long term for him making the decision to leave his parents behind to be with you. Although he has made that decision himself, eventually he may become resentful as he only made that decision so that he could be with you.
If the worst case scenario did happen, it doesn't mean that you both have to completely cut off his parents although they may have chosen to do so to you both. Time can heal even the biggest wounds and if you both continue to show that your relationship is strong and continue to show that you respect their culture. You might just be able to get them to change their perspective with time.
If his parents live abroad then they already live in a modern society with western influences. Rather than living in India where the community is more likely to be judging them. Which would mean that the chances of them changing their perspective would be little to none with societal pressures. Although the Indian community would be quite large abroad they are already living in a western community. Therefore many families may not be as traditional and may not judge as harshly.
You are so lucky to have met a Punjabi guy who is devoted to you and willing to be with you at any cost. This is very rare and so many want what you have. But although he is willing to leave his family if it comes to that I wouldn't be so quick to do so. I would say take it as it comes and make your decisions together as situations arise. Decide if you are both willing to persevere with an interracial relationship and the challenges it faces. And if his family do disown you both, perhaps give them time to cool off, then over time try to rebuild a relationship with them.
The White Punjabi Bride
Dear The White Punjabi Bride,
Thank you so much for this detailed message explaining the culture around it.
I have never felt any hatred towards his parents, and now I understand better why they might feel the way that they do. It has also helped me with my own self doubts about persevering with the relationship if the problem continues. My desire to stay with my partner is very strong so I'll definitely be trying my best to make them understand no culture will be lost and that I can integrate into "their society" as much as they allow me.
The main reason they give for not wanting him to marry outside of their culture is; "It won't work. She can try her best but she'll never be able to integrate into our society". Hopefully they give me an opportunity to prove them wrong. I do hope that one day I have a good relationship with them for their son's sake. As I know he wouldn't be completely happy without his family in his life.
It has cleared many self doubts and I will stand by any decision that he makes.
Thank you so much again for the message!
I'd love to hear from you lovely readers.
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