Advice: Mother Doesn’t Support My Decision to Live in India

Dear Lauren, It has been my dream since childhood to live in India. I have lived my whole life in the USA and I visited India for the first time last year and confirmed my love for the country. I met a boy who I would consider marrying. I’ve tried to mention this to my mother and she screamed at me and said I’ve ruined her life and have to stay in the USA. I have Italian citizenship, so either way I’m going to leave the USA. My dream is to settle and marry in India! What should I do? Should I just not tell my family? They are mean and don’t understand my deep feelings.

Anonymous Reader

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I’m sorry your mother feels this way, it must have heartbreaking to hear her say that! There are a couple of things I would like to talk about. Firstly, visiting India and living in India are two very different experiences. The first time I came to India, I stayed for five weeks and thought living here would be a little hard at first but I would soon feel completely at home. It actually took me about two years to really feel settled in India, to understand the cultural divide enough not to get frustrated at absolutely everything that didn’t fit my expectations. Have you considered coming to India for a prolonged stay before moving?

I’m not sure if I am mistaken, but from your message it seems that you are considering marrying an Indian so you can live in India. Please, don’t marry someone for this reason. If I have misread your message, I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. When you move abroad for love, it’s of paramount importance that your spouse is supportive, understanding and open to discussing the dynamics of the country so you are able to learn and understand where you are both coming from if cultural conflict arises.

Finally, your well-being will be your mother’s priority, even if she is hurting you now, it’s most likely because she is worried that you will get hurt in some way. She might have preconceived ideas about India and be confused by your decision. Give her space and time for it to sink in, it would have been a huge shock. Not only that, she will miss you.

My advice would be to visit India again before making a permanent move, to get to know this guy better and to give your mother an opportunity to make peace with the idea. Perhaps try to find an internship or something similar. I wouldn’t just leave without telling them, it’s best to be honest and to try to reassure them that you haven’t taken this decision lightly. If they still don’t support you, at least they know where you are. Sending love.

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Advice: Should I Continue Our Relationship?

Dear Lauren, I am Australian and started a relationship with an Indian online. It seemed exactly the same experience you described, how we instantly felt like we had known each other forever. He has called me everyday since, and we talk for hours each time. After a month, he told me he loved me.

After three months, I visited him in India. He was very caring and responsible. No one has ever made so much effort for me. The whole time we were inseparable and we couldn’t stop laughing. It seems strange that there could be any other conclusion other than that we are meant to be together.

But of course, there are huge Indian cultural complications. Although his family moved to a more developed town when he was a child, they are originally from a small farming village. Needless to say, most people in his family don’t speak English and have never met a foreigner. Love marriage, especially outside of caste and religion, almost never happens.

I only want to marry him because I know that otherwise, moving together in the same country would be difficult. Unfortunately, his parents expect to choose his wife. Not spending my life with him seems unbearable now. He tells me he wants the same, however, he tells me it’s almost impossible and that it would kill his parents. I knew this complication existed from the start. I continued this far in the relationship because I thought there was at least a hope, and this man was worth the risk of heartbreak. In any case, I didn’t expect to fall so much in love. I thought as time went on, the hope would increase, but the reality has only become more dismal.

I want to know if I am being a fool by pursuing this relationship. Should I continue this relationship with the faintest hope we could be happily together? We’ve also talked about continuing the relationship even after he marries someone else but it seems incredibly painful and complicated just to see each other once or twice a year. Should I expect him to go against his parents to be with me?

We have such a strong bond. We are so perfect and happy together. My better judgement tells me to leave him but it feels impossible and unnatural. I feel like I physically need him, and I know from our previous arguments, he will not stop contacting me which will make it even harder.

I really don’t know a way out of this.

Anonymous Reader

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I’m sorry you’re in this dilemma. I feel that you should expect him to tell his parents about you. I know of several Western girls who have married men from similar backgrounds. At first their parents were heartbroken, but it didn’t kill them. After some time and negotiation they accepted their son’s decision. Especially after they have met the woman and they can see how much effort she has made to understand their culture and build a relationship with them (this really helps). It will be very difficult for everyone involved, but slowly they should come round to the idea.

I really hope your boyfriend gets the courage to tell his parents, and that’s what he will need, a lot of courage because it must be extremely scary and difficult. I understand that, it’s something that may shatter their dreams, but if he does want to have a life with you he will find the bravery. His parents will most likely be devastated for a while.

If your boyfriend says he will eventually tell them, have patience, it is definitely a huge deal (those who are unfamiliar with Indian culture may not realise how huge). If he tells them, you will both have to have another dose of patience because it may take a long time for them to digest this information.

Couldn’t he at least try? Wouldn’t the initial upset and hard work it will take to convince them be worth it if ultimately you are together?

It would be extremely unfair to continue your relationship if your boyfriend does marry a girl his parents choose for him. You would be able to walk away at anytime, but the betrayed wife would most likely be stuck in the marriage for life. I think that if he does continue to contact you if he does marry someone else, you would have to change your contact details.

I hope this is helpful and I really hope this all works out for you both.

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Dependency on Domestic Help

Oh the shame, before moving to India I had never dreamt of having a maid to do the washing up (…maybe a dream about husband who would do it) but I have discovered how easy it is for one to slip into such a lifestyle. In India, almost every middle class family has some form of domestic help. I hated the idea of having a maid come into our home to begin with, I felt it was intrusive and strange. Okay, I will admit it (as I am already shaming myself here) I was scared and used to hide in my bedroom!

That didn’t last long of course, I was soon friends with the regular ladies, enjoying their company and how the apartment is transformed after their visit. What a difference a couple of years makes, I already feel dread when our maid, who comes to our house most mornings, doesn’t turn up! The woman who comes to do our washing up and sweeping has gone on holiday for five days. Just five days and my initial feeling was panic, what am I going to do without her?!

Alfonso jumper green pug

Alfonso in his jumper from England, for those winter nights!

To shame myself further, I have friends and family who are mothers, work full-time and still manage to do all the housework and put dinner on the table!! To be fair, they don’t have the atmospheric dust to contend with which creates a new layer of grime every couple of hours (hmm… I think I have failed to find a valid excuse for my feeling of dependency).

Lauren, snap out of it!

I guess I was overreacting, I soon discovered that I obviously still have the ability to do the washing up without much of a fuss. Our maid comes for less than half an hour every morning, that’s all. I can put some music on and have everything done in no time. I am so surprised by how easy it was for me to feel dependent on domestic help!! It’s not just the work, it’s having the friendly face and that extra structure to the day. I cannot begrudge our maid a holiday, but I will be glad when she returns! In the meantime, I really need to go and wash some pots!

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Praying for Nepal

On Saturday, I felt something very strange, something I had never felt before. I felt the Earth move. At first I thought I was hallucinating, then minutes later I saw the news on my computer screen. That small wobble that lasted merely a minute, that had made me question my sanity and my stomach feel uneasy, had just destroyed the lives of thousands of people six hundred miles away in Nepal. My stomach was now in knots, my heart breaking, how could this happen?

I pray for those who have lost, I pray for those who are lost, I pray for those who are searching the rubble for precious lives and those who are working tirelessly to heal the wounded and care for the displaced. 

Just as those tremors touched my city, this tragedy has touched my heart and left me, and the rest of the world, devastated. When a huge tragedy like this happens, we are reminded of fragility of life. We remember to hug our loved ones extra tightly and that we share the suffering of others, regardless of where on our planet they happen to be born. Tragedies like this show how irrelevant and pathetic racism and prejudices are. Death, suffering and even the Earth doesn’t discriminate. We all feel pain and loss in the same way.

Please send your love and prayers and give to a reputable charity if you can. 

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