My Cross-Cultural Marriage
In November of 2012, I had announced on my old Youtube channel that I was open to an arranged marriage. My older sister had an arranged marriage and it worked out for her. Maybe it would work out for me as well. Although I was opposed to this specific cultural norm for the longest time, I had begun to think that it was the best option that ensured my parent’s happiness and approval. Now, most arranged marriages in 2015 are not the oppressive, forceful unions that you might think they are. Just think of modern-day arranged marriages to be like E-Harmony where the parents are playing the matchmaker. Basically, our parents play cupid and hope to find a solid match. If we’re open to it, a beautiful and grand wedding is planned.
I firmly believed that I would be having an arranged marriage before Seth came into my life and stole my heart. Seth was this gorgeous, tall blue eyed cutie that worked in the same mall as I did. He was a Sales Consultant for AT&T and I was a front cashier girl at the family restaurant during the weekends. I remember seeing him stand in line at the restaurant for the first time and I immediately rushed to the kitchen to ask the cook if he knew him. The cook, Curtis responded with, “Yeah, that’s Seth! He works downstairs. Really good guy.” I rushed back to the register and took a few more orders until finally it was his turn to place his order. He was so sweet, polite, and very obviously reserved. There was something about him that gave me instant butterflies. I couldnt explain it but I found myself looking forward to the weekends when I would work at the restaurant in hopes to see him again. Each time it would be a bit more flirtatious and sweet. I could tell he was shy and that just made me like him even more. However, due to his shyness, I wasn’t sure if he had feelings for me as well. So, I tried not to think much of it and continued to believe that my future was completely planned out, and that it had no room for crushes and flings.
So, with my feelings for Seth pushed away, I told my viewers on November 2nd of 2012 that I would be having an arranged marriage. I had it all planned out! I would make my parents super happy and marry an established Bengali guy and have cute little brown babies. My parents would be content and therefore, I would be content. Everything was set. At least, so I thought. On November 3rd, 2012… Seth asked me out on a date.
Just like that, the future that I had crafted for myself seemed less certain and feelings for a guy I barely knew began to strengthen.
I decided I would go on one date with him, just to give him and us one actual, true chance. Before I knew it, one simple date turned into several dates and a harmless crush turned into real love.
In our culture, dating is not typically accepted. So I had to sneak around and date Seth in secret. I knew what was at stake and knew that what I was doing could possibly crush my parents. As much as I wanted to not like him, I couldn’t fight it. I hated myself for loving him and tried pushing him away several times out of guilt and fear. Seth was unbelievable during this time. He was incredibly patient and loving and understanding of my situation. He knew I was torn between my hopes and passions and the expectations from my parents. Not once did he pressure me to introduce him to the family, nor did he ever ask me to “choose.” He wanted my parents’ blessing just as much as I did, and it made me love him even more. It was impossible NOT to love this guy. He encouraged my every dream and passion that I neglected out of fear of disappointing my parents. He reignited my love for music, design, writing and creating content just by unconditionally supporting it. Because of him, I released my very first single, which was written about our love and our journey towards acceptance.
Now that I was completely, head over heels in love, I knew that I had to break it to my parents that I was in a relationship and would not go through with an arranged marriage. It was time to open up to my parents and ask for their blessing. When I did, they rejected us. It wasn’t out of hate or intolerance. It was out of fear. They immigrated to this country in hopes to see their kids achieve great things while preserving their cultural roots. One of the biggest fears many immigrant parents have is that their kids will forget their roots, and that was a huge fear for my parents. I understood that and I wanted to assure them that I would never lose sight of who I was, nor would I reject my background in efforts to build a new life with someone else.
This is actually the part of my relationship that people ask me about the most. How did we gain my parents’ approval? It was tough. It was a long, hard journey that I never thought I could travel. I was certain that they would never accept us. They were opposed from the moment I told them about Seth and assured me that their views would never change. However, with time and patience, their hearts did soften towards us and after a year of fighting for our love, they agreed to meet him. Fast forward to today, where Seth and I are planning our fusion wedding in August.
It took a lot to get here and we had to answer a lot of tough questions. Would our kids be multilingual? How would we raise them spiritually? Would we celebrate Christmas or Eid or both? And most importantly, would I still be able to blast Bollywood songs in the morning as I get ready? We addressed every concern with care and open-mindedness and focused on painting our future with love, not labels. Each day reveals a new challenge or unique aspect to being an intercultural couple, but we face each challenge together. We’ve had to adapt to each other’s cultural backgrounds and traditions and it’s been the most beautiful, thoughtful experience.
Even our families have come together and embraced one another in the name of love. Just the other day, my mother visited my grandmother-in-law to discuss plans for the bridal shower. Immediately, they began to exchange family recipes and share ideas. A few weeks ago, my future mother-in-law came over for dinner and tried traditional South Asian dishes. My mother, who never thought she would see her daughter in a traditional American bridal gown, joined me for a dress appointment and shed tears with me when we found “the dress.” Seth has been spending his nights learning Bangla and Arabic while I’ve been researching classic American recipes. We’re all learning and growing, and it’s been incredible witnessing our families open their hearts and minds towards new ideas, traditions and beliefs.
So, whether we bring a South Asian dish to the next Christmas party or play board games till midnight on Eid, we will embrace and enjoy our differences while forging our own traditions and making our own mark. We will all continue to grow as a family and will always choose love. This is what it’s all about. A love that is so passionate and sincere that it provokes change, not just within you but among those around you. I hope my story inspires you to boldly live the life of your dreams and to always, always, always choose love.