Category Archives: Love Story

Time to Face the Music: Tell the Parents!

I fell in love. I fell in love hard. After a few years of dating and multiple breakups in between we were finally together. However, even in the midst of these ups and downs I knew I needed to tell my parents. They didn’t need to know the exact details and certainly didn’t need to know all the details, but I figured they needed to know.  So, my parents have been in the loop regarding the seriousness of my relationship for the very beginning.

Within a few months of officially dating I told my parents I was serious about Shreemati and that I loved her very much. In fact my sister and mother both talked to Shreemati during this time. I felt the communication needed to be open and I needed to be up front with everybody. I needed Shreemati to know that I was for real and that I’d be willing to deal with the consequences. I needed my parents to start imagining this future and start dealing with it sooner rather than later.

As things progressed, Shreemati and I eventually visited Nepal.  It was an official introduction trip. She met everybody and everybody met her. It was a great time, however, later that year we broke up. We still had some issues to work out.  Things were not as smooth as we had thought. I didn’t tell my parents of this breakup. I didn’t feel it was necessary for them to know right away, but I was planning to tell them if it became “permanent”. I really felt like things would work itself out and we’d be back together again. I also figured that news of this breakup would affect their support later.

I bring  this up because I am reading about a lot of relationships where the guy hasn’t told his parents and the years are just ticking by. I know everyone’s situation is different. But I will say this, there does come a point where a man has to be a man and talk to the parents like a man and face the consequences. Its pretty plain and simple.

Dragging it out and just kicking the can doesn’t help in the long term. If you love her and you’re worked out all your issues (and you’re already living with her), then its time to deal with the consequences.  I don’t think its fair to the woman or to yourself to keep dragging.  Afterall its not like you just woke up one day and realized there would be consequences. You knew there would be consequence for  becoming involved with  a Western woman for the day you left South Asia.

One of my mangers gave me a book called “Eat That Frog”. It is a self hep book that provides tips on how to better manage your time and get things done.  The idea being that you do the most uncomfortable task first thing in the morning. That way you can enjoy the rest of the day doing the stuff you like to do. Similarly, once you’ve been dating for a year and you’re serious its time to eat the frog, tell the parents and enjoy the relationship.

I know it’s not easy. Believe me. I’ve been through it. But let me tell you this, even the most hard core parents will eventually bless your union once the grand-kids arrive.  South Asian parents (regardless of how traditional) will melt their hearts out when they see your offspring. So, it’s only bad for a few years!

Once Upon a Time On a College Campus Far Far Away

I first saw her at the International Student orientation. She was there because she had heard some German students were coming. Having been born and raised near Germany to American missionary parents, she was curious and excited to meet others who spoke German. I happened to be the Nepali boy sitting next to one of these German students. She came with a group of Japanese students and it was clear she enjoyed hanging out with anybody from anyplace.

I would  not call this our first meeting though. We exchanged greetings and that was about it. She was most certainly beautiful and attractive. Her eyes drew me and she certainly gained my attention. A few days later I saw her running across campus. She waved and screamed “aren’t the guy from Nepaaaaaaaal”. I yelled back but she was long gone. And from there it was mostly bumping into each other here and there. Nothing really interactive.  We were at a  small college and so there was plenty of opportunity to have mutual friends and acquaintances.

Our fist conversation occurred in  the library. I was doing my math homework in one of the rooms next to the computer lab. I was the only person in this relatively large study room. She knocked, poked her head in and asked if she could do her homework at the other end of the large desk. I was glad to have company.

I was focused on getting my work done but soon we started talking. She asked me about my background and my family. I was happy to share. I then asked her about her background and listened. We talked about our majors, our families, our faith and everything else. I can’t remember if I got my work done that night, but I really enjoyed the conversation and interaction. Being an international student can be a lonely experience, especially coming from Nepal. While there were other international students there were only two others from Nepal. In many ways this conversation in the library meant a lot to me.

Not much happened in the ensuing weeks and months. Over next few semesters we started to have mutual friends and so we often bumped into each other at different social settings. However, during the second semester of our sophomore year we hung out quite a bit on the dorm floor of a mutual friend. We ate together, watched movies together and stayed up really late talking about all sorts of stuff. That is when I first felt a really strong connection with this beautiful American woman.

Then our junior year she become involved with the International Club as the President and I served as Vice-President (this arragement still exists to this day by the way.) As a result we spent a lot of time together and became very familar friends. I started to feel an inner attraction towards this beautiful person. I enjoyed our club meetings, our phone calls (all business of course), and all the interactions in between. I was sad to see the year end.

Then lo and behold as if God had moved heaven earth to bring us to gether she moved next door for our senior year. I was sitting in my apartment drinking a beer with my roommates when she came up the stairs, walk by our apartment with a bunch of boxes and announce that she was in apartment 7 (I was in 6). I couldn’t believe my luck! I was really excited.

I didn’t tell anyone I had feelings for the girl next door. But my roommates and friends tell me it was pretty obvious. So, all senior year we played this game of denial. Everyone around us knew we liked each other and wanted to try the relationship – but we pretended like it would never happen.  There were too many barriers to overcome. Without saying it we told each other that this would never be, so just enjoy the final year of college and get on with our lives.

And that is exactly where thing were headed until the week after graduation. We were both emptying our places out and many of our friends had already said their goodbyes and left. I bumped into her at the mail room and walked back to the apartment together. I told her I had some extra food if she wanted to join for a quick bite. She accepted the invitation. Then as the food was warming up she asked me who my first love was. And without missing a beat I broke down and poured out my heart.

We cried, we hugged, we talked all afternoon and all night. The freedom of being able to love and to be loved was exhilarating. I was in love and love said she was in love too. We set aside all the barriers we would have to overcome and plunged in head first without giving a second thought. We have been inseparable ever since!

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

A reader asks, “after all these years with your American wife, what do you wish you would have known in the early days of your relationship?”

Like many relationships I was quite mesmerized in the early days. I had never been in a relationship quite like the one with Shreemati. I went to a boys only boarding school in Nepal – and had no experience even relating to women, let alone having a relationship. Also, while in college I was pretty set in what I wanted to do and who I wanted to hang out with. I knew an arranged marriage was in my future and any “interest” I may have with women was temporary and normal guy stuff. Nothing more. Hence I never really dated or pursued any particular person.

However, it was different with Shreemati from the very beginning. It was forbidden love and I enjoyed it. I knew I was going to marry her quite early. It took her a while to figure things out (story for another time). We got married within four months of our engagement. I was in graduate school at the time and it was all just a whirlwind, with very little time to think. Then we had our ceremony in Nepal and before we knew it we had a house in the suburbs in the Midwest.

Looking back I wish I had a mentor to bounce things with. Someone who had been through my experience and could share some insights. I don’t know what impact that would have had. I don’t really have any regrets or any sense of having done something wrong. However, it would have been easier to process things. There are not a lot of things but some of the more notable ones include dealing with the in-laws and the American side of the family.

I have not had any issues with my in-laws, but the relationship is very different if it had been with a Nepali family. Everyone on Shreemati’s side of the family is very independent and set in their own ways. I struggled with that in the beginning since I didn’t feel anyone reaching out to me and welcoming me into the family. I wanted a closer feel and sought a firmer relationship – with introductions to customs and traditions etc.  I wanted to learn about the other side of the family – personalities, histories, characteristics etc.  But that never really happened. I wouldn’t say that this is necessarily a Nepali thing, maybe more of a personal thing.

Aside from the in-law situation early on in my marriage I was also trying to think of my American wife as a pseudo-Nepali woman. I think this mentor would have told me that the American wife is indeed an American wife. She’s not an educated white woman who is now all of sudden going to act, live and be like a traditional Nepali wife. That instant transformation I subconsciously sought never happened. I had to face the fact that she’s independent, she’s going to question me and she’s going to speak her mind. I have struggled with these things at different times.

I am by no means sexist or seeking a submissive, quiet housewife. However, the cultural indoctrination and assimilation is bound to have a residual effect in ones outlook. And I can not claim to be an exception, no matter how hard I try. Also, once you’re married (and especially when you become a parent) you fall back to things you saw when you were growing up. Like most people, your parents become your role mode (or at least what you thought of your parents when you were younger). So, when Shreemati questioned my thoughts, my opinions and things like that it became an issue for me at times.

I had to come to grips with the fact that, at the end of the day, I’m married to an American woman. She might be adaptive and willing to see things from my way, she may cook and dress at times like a Nepali person but she has distinctive American characteristics that make her who she is. I can not expect her to be a typical Nepali wife and I needed to come to terms with that. I think it took me a few years into my marriage to fully understand and appreciate this aspect of the relationship.

Image used under Creative Commons License from Flickr account ID .:Camilo:.

Why I Advised My Cousin to Not Marry Outside the Culture

I can’t really say when the regrets started to come, but we had been married about five or six years. It’s not like these feelings were overwhelming and I was carrying around a heavy burden or anything like that. In fact I wasn’t actively telling people that I was regretting the marriage or the person I was married to, but in subtle ways I was making comments to that effect.

So, when my cousin called asking about his own situation I was not at all surprised at the answer I felt compelled to give. I wanted to be honest and I didn’t want to give a pat answer. But when I mentioned my thoughts to Shreemati, her reaction was not what I had expected. At first she laughed I think, but then when we talked further it became apparent she was offended and not sure what to make of the situation. She had a look of concern on her face and I knew we needed to talk through this.

In short, I was telling people around me that inter-cultural relationships were hard and should be avoided when possible. There wasn’t any one incident that made me feel this way. However, there seemed to be things swirling in my head that was making me feel like I was mourning something. We had been married a few years already, and even had our first child by this time. But, some thoughts and some ideas of our future started to bother me. All of a sudden I wanted a more traditional setting. I wanted a Nepali wife and a lively Nepali community around me. I had been living in the US for almost 15 years and was getting tired of being here. I felt that having a white-American wife constantly kept me in the midst of American culture – both at home and work – and I was getting tired of it all. I was seeking a refuge where Nepal could be found – at least at home.

In many ways what I was feeling had very little to do with Shreemati. It was more to do with the isolation and distance I felt from Nepal, my homeland, my family and everything else that goes with it. Living where I live, there are not a lot of Nepalese families near by – and those that are close have not been very eager to get to know us or be a part of our lives. In many ways I figured it might be my married situation that was causing this. I had noticed that while it’s fun to go to Nepalese events and have some community, the ladies in these gathers tend to leave Shreemati out. Sure there is the small talk and such, but then the conversation turns to Hindi movies and clothes and husbands (all in Nepali) and she feels lonely and isolated and left alone. This happened more than once and so after a while our excitement for these events dissipated. More on this later, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Nepali people can be extremely prejudiced without overtly trying.

With all of these things going on in the background, and of course accumulating over the years, I started to have feelings of regret. Hence, without really thinking through what was going on I was all of a sudden advising people not to marry outside their cultures.

I can understand that Shreemati would be upset and one evening during this time she asked me very directly if I regretted marrying her. I was caught off guard, because I had told her many times before that “of course I didn’t regret marrying her”. But this time I knew she was asking for a heart-felt answer.

I paused and looked into her eyes and realized the lie I was starting go belive. The truth is I did not regret a moment of our marriage. I remembered our long distance courtship – the international flights – the longing to be together. I thought of the apartment we rented (we never lived together before marriage, but had apartments close by) and the dinners and parties. Then of course the wedding, the honeymoon (long story for another time) and our first house. Then of course our first daughter (and two more since then). I knew in the bottom of my heart that I never regretted marrying her, it’s just that I hadn’t taken charge of making sure Nepal remained close to me.

As a side note – my cousin ended up breaking up with his girlfriend. Not because of anything I said. They graduated from college, he moved to Italy and she went to LA to pursue acting. And before you know it they had moved on.

Photo used under Creative Commons License from Flickr account ID zensquared