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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Dear Readers, Do you have any advice, experience or a fresh perspective to offer? (Helpful and respectful comments only)

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I Met My Soulmate, Online

It was a very cold December in 2012 when my life changed forever, I had just started to recover from a deep depression which had left me unhealthy, exhausted and completely depleted. I felt there was something was missing, I was suffering from a deficiency of some kind, I couldn’t work out what.

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was about fifteen years old. One evening, I felt so weak I needed to take action. I picked up my phone bought chicken from the local chicken shop, thinking it might be animal protein I needed to fill the dull emptiness.

I woke up the next day feeling awful. I looked at the box of chicken bones and let out deep sobs into my pillow, not for the remains of the bird, for what little remained of me. I took the box and, still in my pyjamas, I walked the short distance to the sea. Dawn had just broken, a heavy salty mist hung over the pebbles. I threw the box of bones into the sea and watched it float back and forth in waves for a while. I saw the misty outline of someone walking in my direction along the shore, so I left the beach and slept until the evening.

When I woke up, I tidied my bedroom, made a large cup of tea and brushed my hair. I decided it wasn’t meat I needed, it was self care, patience and time. I considered I might be lacking in protein too, I wanted to do vegetarianism better. I opened my laptop and became a member of a vegetarian forum, eager to learn more about getting the right nutrition on a vegetarian diet. Minutes after signing up, I received a message.

I wasn’t the person who spoke to strangers online, it was something I found odd and unnecessary. Usually I would completely ignore any messages from unknown senders, but for some unknown reason, I replied.

My heart started to beat faster as in no time we were discussing everything about our lives in uncensored detail. It was unbelievable how intense the conversation became with this faceless person within minutes. Trying to come with an explaination, I wondered whether we had a past life connection. As this thought crossed my mind the words, “we must have known each other in previous lives” popped up onto my screen.

These moments of synchronicity continued, it was as if we could read each other’s minds. I couldn’t believe it. Within hours we started to imagine our a life together. Had I gone mad? I realised I loved him, but, how could this be? We hadn’t met, we hadn’t even seen each other.
He was in New Jersey and I was in England. He had gone to America from India to gain his masters degree and stayed there for work. After just a week of instant messaging, he had asked me to marry him. One week after that, he had quit his job and booked a flight back to India so he could tell his family that he had met the woman he wanted to marry. The flight was via London with a long layover.

I stood as still as stone, my gaze fixed on the arrivals board. The moment came and when I saw him I was filled with joy, I can still see him coming through those double doors. We had ten beautiful hours together before he had to catch his connecting flight to Mumbai.

We took the underground to central London and walked around the street lamp lit city under soft rain, we saw the sights and talked all night. We seemed to be the only people in London. Those hours past in a heartbeat and soon it was time for us to separate. I cried hysterically when it was time for him to leave. I could feel my heart telling me to never let go of him.

Life was hard during the months after London, but he kept me going throughout. I completed my masters degree, and now it was my turn to catch that flight to Mumbai.

In June 2013, I arrived in India for the first time, only six months after our first online conversation. We had a secret marriage ceremony in a temple, just the two of us, one week later. I had found what I had been looking for.

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Are you looking for a Universal truth?

Growing up, I was always searching for the universal truth, I really wanted to be religious and have faith. I wanted to know which religion was the true religion. I was jealous of those people who had a strong faith, I wanted that certainty and security, I wanted to know what or who God was.

Whilst researching all the theologies and ‘rule books’ of all the major religions, I felt conflicted and confused. I felt simultaneously attracted and repelled by separate parts of each religion. Unlike many people, I didn’t feel I fitted into a single religion. If only I could take all the pieces I felt resonated with me and ignore the other bits, but I assumed religion doesn’t work like that, religion doesn’t involve cherry picking. During my early teenage years, one of my friends told me that it didn’t matter how good of a person I was, I would go to hell if I didn’t become a strict Christian and go to Church every Sunday, that scared the sh*t out me for a while (just to be clear, that is not the opinion of many Christians).

When I moved to India, I slipped from an untraditional Christian tradition, into a traditional Hindu tradition. I automatically began to compare, contrast and search for the similarities between the religions my husband and I were born into. When you go to Church you pray, you look towards the altar, sing together, receive bread and wine which has been blessed. There will be flowers, candles and occasionally incense, there will be a sense of community. When you go to a Temple you pray, you look towards the deity, during aarti (a ritual) you sing together, receive prasad (a small token of food) which has been blessed. There will be flowers, oil lamps, incense, there will be a sense of community. I found the similarities between an Eastern worship and a Western worship, fascinating and I have found solace in both forms. 

All religions at their heart value love, kindness, compassion, charity, faith, truth, peace, tolerance and forgiveness. All people should have those values too, sadly that’s not always the case (even those who would label themselves as ‘religious’). The way people from each religion worship, see the world and live their lives can be extremely different, but we humans are all different, this shouldn’t be a reason to discriminate and hate. Surely God, in his omnipresent and omnipotent splendor, would lay out more than just one road towards him/her. I now feel that wisdom can be found in every tradition, we don’t have to sign up to religious sect to feel worthy, we should concentrate on being good people.

“One should not think, ‘My religion alone is the right path and other religions are false.’ God can be realized by means of all paths. It is enough to have sincere yearning for God. Infinite are the paths and infinite the opinions.”

-Sri Ramakrishna

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I love Indian Rain!

Coming from England, I know a lot about rain. It rains so much in the U.K., and it’s usually a miserable, bitter and cold type of rain which strings your face. Dreary, I think that is a good way to describe English rain.

Indian rain on the other hand, there are not many things on Earth which are more delicious to the senses than Indian rain! It’s spectacular and dramatic, fierce and romantic, refreshing and warm. During a storm, I love to open all the windows, watch the lightning shatter the sky and feel the thunder shake my body.

Summer is coming to Nagpur and the nights are getting stuffy and the sun is getting heavier. I waited until five o’clock to take Alfonso for his afternoon walk  today, avoiding the height of the heat. As I stepped out of the building, I saw the clouds had turned grey and could hear thunder in the distance. “I hope it rains”, I said to Alfonso. Several breaths later, the grey clouds broke and large round drops fell on to the dusty road.

If I were in England, I would turn back and go home, but this is India. Rain is exciting! Thunder rumbled forward, a lightning flash filled the sky, the playful screams of children running for cover, the rain falling steadily. The deep smell of the dry Earth cooling, the warm rain touching my face, the air full of electricity. I love Indian rain, I chose the perfect moment to leave the apartment, I love today.

Alfonso wasn’t such a fan of Indian rain, he didn’t find it romantic at all. He pulled me back towards our building, so we went home…

I’m dreading the blistering summer Nagpur is famous for and starting to brew, I’m already dreaming of that first monsoon rain which marks the end of those harsh summer months (the only down side to Indian rain is, it brings those pesky mosquitoes!). I thought that little storm, which only lasted a couple of minutes, was beautiful. Alfonso, not impressed.

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