I think it is always good to fall in love and when both sides are serious, it is a great thing! I also have a partner from a very different culture and background but I have to admit we had an advantage: I had been living within her culture for many years already before we even met! I had an open mind and had got to know already a lot about how western women and people in general think differently from Indians. I want to share a bit of that knowledge and the experiences we both made in our years together so that any western-Indian couple may have a benefit from it!
I want to give you some concrete examples of the areas where you will most probably think differently. The first one is the relation in between man and woman and the cultural difference in between men and women in India and the west.
Ladies: in Indian culture, the husband is a provider while the wife takes care of the home and the children. This is most probably what your partner has seen in his home. Nowadays and especially in big cities, more and more women get a good school education, go to university and also get a job, working in the field of their choice. Walking in a metropolitan city like Delhi or Mumbai, you will see a lot of women in business suits walking to or from their workplace.
In the cities there is only a small part of the population and even there, a lot of young women still decide to become full-time housewives and mothers after marriage! They do this because it is what they believe will fulfil them and maybe also what society expects of them.
Do you fit in that image? If you decide to move to India, can you imagine just living in the joint family of your partner, doing housework and minding the kids? Would this satisfy you completely or would you need more than that? Whatever you feel about this topic, you have to express it! There is no wrong or right and especially when you are walking this path in between cultures and societies, you first of all both have to know what you want and what the other one wants.
Gentlemen: in most western countries, parents find it equally important for their girls to study and get a job as they do for their sons. Women, in the consequence, get just as good jobs as men and they earn their own money. A marriage is a big event but it normally only changes the woman’s private life – not her working situation!
Mothers use to take a few years break of working when they get children but once the kids go into day care, they usually join the work force again. It is, in many western countries, necessary financially so that the family can afford a good living standard. At the same time however, women want more than just a life in their homes. Remember that they usually also don’t have the social setting of a joint family but individual households where nobody is at home if you are at work and the child in a childcare institution! They may even expect you to take time off work and be a househusband for some months, too, while they go back to work.
What is your stand on this? Do you see any issues with your wife going out and earning as much money as you do or even more? Would you stay at home with your child so that your wife can go to work?
Discuss a few scenarios, considering the options of being in India and being in her country. Get to know more about each other! Once you spend time together, you will find out some more differences in general behavior – but more about that tomorrow!