Breaking the Cultural Taboo

brealove

‘What?! He’s not South Asian?! You’re parents are going to kill you!! How are you going to tell them?!’

My boyfriend is African/Middle Eastern. We have been together a little over three and a half years and we are still learning new things about each other because of the different backgrounds we come from. I’m not saying things are rosy twenty-four/seven, that would just be absurd. We have our ups-and-downs like any other couple in a long-term committed relationship. But ultimately our differences keep things interesting!

The best thing about being in a relationship with someone who is not from your own country is that things are always exciting and new. You continue to learn and view the world slightly differently as well as allowing someone else a glimpse into your world. Cultures, traditions, faiths, religions and beliefs all play a central role in shaping the person you are, the person you become, and the fundamental point in which these beliefs are either accepted or rejected  starts with family. Personally I have never felt comfortable dating guys from my own country nor any other South Asian country. It’s not because they’ve all crawled out from under a rock somewhere, there are a lot of very good looking and decent South Asian men. It is because all South-Asians feel like family to me, which makes it extremely hard for me to actually feel attracted to them.

For South Asian girls, such as myself, the idea of dating first of all is a no-no, secondly dating a guy outside of your own country is considered taboo and something that is kept hushed. For example, to stress the scale of the inability to accept such a union, if a South Asian girl wanted to marry a guy from another South Asian country (Bangladesh/India/Pakistan) there would be a huge fuss. Be prepared for a lot of shouting, tears, argument, threats, plates being broken, bags being packed depending on the type of family you come from. South Asian countries all have similar fundamental cultures and tradition regardless of whether you are Muslim, Hindu or Christian. Damn it, the women wear red and are adorned in gold on their big day, we take a lot from each others cultures, the language is more or less similar and we all love curry and naan! So why the big commotion? If South-Asians can scarcely accept inter-marriages with an individual form another South-Asian country imagine how they would react to someone who isn’t even from the continent! As I have reiterated in previous posts, not all families are like this but the majority are!

[Not] looking forward to breaking this bombshell to my parents when technically I shouldn’t even be dating let alone be involved in a committed relationship! That’s my parents arranged marriage plans out the window! Oh well!

The Pursuit of Marriage

The Pursuit of Marriage

At this time in my life there is only one thing that’s on my mind, and that is marriage. Not because I want to get married but because my family believe that now I’m out of education and on the cusp of finding work it is time. As far as I am aware they have been checking out potential ‘husbands’ for the past two years, maybe even three, but they have not approached me directly yet. They think I am getting too old and they’re worried I will turn into a spinster because no one wants an old bride now do they?

I’m in my early 20’s. Hardly ready to take up a walking stick!

What makes it a high pressure situation is that the majority of (South Asian) girls my age are either already married (some have been for several years and some even have children) or have already started the lengthy process of allowing their parents to find them a husband. Of course there are some who will get married to their other-halves, but I am pretty sure their family will be able to pass that off as an ‘arranged’ marriage, so no-one but the immediate family will know of the pairs ‘scandalous’ history. South Asian girls are brought up with the mentally that they need to be good daughters, study hard, get a job and get married, in that order. I ask myself ‘there must be more to life then marriage, settling down and having children’? And there is. But when you’ve been brought up in that sort of environment it’s hard to break free, family ties and expectations are deep and sometimes suffocating.

I deliberately took a year off after finishing my Bachelors degree and before going on to enroll for my Masters to throw my parents off the search for a husband. My parents were annoyed to say the least. They could not understand why I would choose to work a year and pay for my Masters, when they were more than willing to pay for it themselves (my parents are scarily education orientated as are a lot South Asian parents!). The year I took out represented a year of me ‘wasting’ my life when I could have been closer to finding a spouse. I am currently taking another year out (I only finished uni last week) to gain payed experience working at a school so I can apply for my teachers qualification teaching secondary and college students! Muhaha! My evil plan is in progress! Time to take possession of my life and fulfill it the way I see fit me thinks.

I know for South Asian girls our families expect us to get married in our early twenties (for some late teens even) but the thought just makes me feel depressed. I know a lot of girls grow up understanding that this is what they must do and it is a duty they must fulfill. Don’t get me wrong, there are also lots of girls who want to get married early and start a family, and if that is what they sincerely want then that’s great! I am not against this system of marriage but only if the person really wants it. I just don’t believe marriage should be a duty. Do it because you want to and because it feels right, regardless of whether its arranged or with someone of your choosing.

Ps. I am nowhere near ready to get married yet! I want to live some life before settling down, is that so bad? Rhetorical question. ‘Living life’ is the job, the marriage and honouring my duties and commitments to my family. My family are lovely really however old fashioned and traditional they may be, they only want what they believe is best for me! A good husband with an amazing educational background, high-flying career and a loving, decent, hardworking family who will welcome me with open arms! Now that’s not so bad is it…?