Marriage: The Second Issue

Parental Expectations and the Immigration Bubble

The unnecessary angst that develops inside my head when the topic of Marriage is broached at home is due solely to my inability to discuss the concept with my parents. I find it particularly difficult to break through my mother’s unrealistic notions of how I’m going to meet someone. Her idea is very simple. Go to Homeland, get introduced to the family of the boy, then meet the boy, because soon as you hear someone’s interested, so shall your interest peak. You’ll meet the boy. The rest is history. Everything’s quite simple.

Trying to explain to my parents what I want in a man and how I would like to go about meeting one, is an area I do not feel comfortable talking to my father about, I’d talk to my mother if she could actually listen, absorb and then reflect on my ideas. Simple reason why she can’t, because it didn’t happen that way for her. Therefore our minds are all made up and that area of life has a linear equation with which I will measure everyone else’s understanding of this complicated notion.

Once I find a man with a good character/deen and want to marry him, I won’t have many problems convincing my parents. All he has to do is come home, or bring his parents to meet mine and do it all properly. Hurrah, sound the wedding bells. My problem is centered around the meeting of such an individual, and the possible consequences of said act.

I come from a family full of women. Girl cousins outweigh boy cousins by far and we are four sisters with no brothers. Don’t lament, if in fact you are, because I love the fact that the only male presence in my house is my father so when he’s not around its a humming pot of synchronised female harmonies. Its lovely. My sisters and I don’t fight nor have we ever the way a lot of girls are perceived to. We’re not petty, etc and have had to deal with some serious “real life” issues to realise what’s actually important in this world. On the flip side, our discussions/arguments are always supremely intellectual. On lookers are always amused.

I’m proud to say that I come from a good family where my father’s tenacity and mother’s tenderness have melded together to make a pretty cool person. I will never sell myself as the bride for a desi household but I do know my strengths and luckily I’m well aware (maybe too aware) of my weaknesses and am happy to work on them. My parents rely on me for emotional and other kinds of support, they tend to want to know my opinion on important matters and rely on me to make things happen. Its a position I hold dearly because in my father’s eyes, not many can be trusted with the charge of the family unit. As I grow older and the responsibility aggravates, confusion results when my father finds it difficult to hand over responsibility because I’m still a girl.

He will never take money from me and he will never ever expect or ask that I take over from him. He just can’t. I don’t resent that. What I’m trying to explain is my parents cherish my existence and if it weren’t for their patience and respect for my wishes, I would’ve been married off a long long time ago.

Now that I’ve set the scene, I’ll explain the reason for my post.

When my parents (father) decided to give us a better life by giving us the best of the West they didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into. Similar to many migrating families, they moved their lives without moving their mindset. Things got complicated and life got in the way of figuring out a way to settle their children with those of like values, meaning culture. My parents are exemplary in that they decided to send their daughters for an overseas education. Who does that?

While they were busy making plans, life carried on. We grew up, got educated, got jobs and grew brains. We developed our tastes and values in a cultural landscape much different to their own. Even though the focus of many desi parents is the settlement (read marriage) of their offspring, they probably never imagined that there would be a difference of opinion between their views and that of their childrens’ when the time came to bid farewell to the nest.

Life moves really fast, especially when you’re busy making other plans. Before you know it your girls are of marriageable age, and oh so capable (not necessarily in the desi sense). So now they have to get married. The time is nigh.

And now, what do you do? Ah, crap.

“I know! Let’s send them back to the Mother Land! They’ll get proposals from out of the ether and they’re bound to say yes to at least one of them! Surely! Yup, yup, it will work. Beta, take leave off work, you’re going to Mother Land!”

If you want your kids to get married in similar cultures make sure they have a similar mind set to yours. Don’t deflect, ignore or over power arguments stemming from a belief system different to yours. Its counter productive in the long run. Its rich for a person so privileged and inexperienced to give such advice, but hey, it affects me as well. Once I’m married, I have to live with that man for the rest of my life, not for the rest of my parents’ lives.

Irrespective of the amount of mutual love and respect that exists between my parents and I, we will always come to loggerheads when having discussions on Marriage. There are things I just can not explain to them. Though I’m lucky that my dad will explain his side of things and invite suggestions from my genius on how to facilitate the situation. My mother will ask me to say yes to a taxi driver, here on questionable terms whose name we don’t actually know.

For example, no its not a good idea to go off to Mother Land and sit around waiting for the men to come. This theory frustrates the hell out of me and I don’t feel desperate enough to pack up and ship myself off in search for a husband. Caring as they may be they will never understand that my need to be married doesn’t outweigh my pride. I will not ship off on a boat to go looking for a man. FUCK THAT. He knows where I am tell him to come to me!

Push comes to shove, you’re expected to behave in the manner that fits your parents ideals. They expect you to get excited about some guy, some where, who could possibly be interested in coming to Australia marrying you. They expect a “shy bride” routine where the girl gets giggly, embarassed and retreats to her room. Good luck with that. You instilled a strong sense of self importance in me so now deal with it!

And so the question remains. How do you bridge the gap? My one and only suggestion, actually I have two.

1) Listen to them, go to Mother Land and meet the losers bachelors.
2) Find someone and find him quick!

Are we beginning to see why this issue frustrates me into silence?

For related posts, click on the Marital Matters tab on my sidebar.

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5 thoughts on “Marriage: The Second Issue

  1. You’re Australian? this may actually be the 1st time i’m reading an Australian blog. (I’m from the other side of the Indian Ocean, South Africa)

    ok, well you set the scene very well, and although i don’t have the ‘culture clash’ with my parents that you do (they were born in S.A. – and of my 4 grandparents, only 2 are from India) – i do get what you’re saying. and it probably can be frustrating.

    but hey, your father seems to be very understanding and seems more likely to be the one you talk to about these things. i’m not a girl, so i don’t know the intricacies of the mother-daughter relationship; but i do imagine that it is very important to you that your mother understands and accepts your ideas. i think in any parent-child relationship, we want our parents to understand our point of view and accept that we are now grown and can have our own perspective, and want them to accept that perspective – even if it doesn’t agree with the ideas they’ve always had.

    i’ve had quite a while of this kind of struggle: me being the youngest, i had this perception that i was not being taken seriously, and that despite all my talking and arguing – i was never being truly heard and accepted.

    but u know, my parents and i have gotten past that stage and my mother tells me that it was just my perception – that i wasn’t being heard. maybe its just her way – but she gave off the impression, all those years, that she was only saying what she wanted to say, and whatever i said was not heard.

    she can be stubborn, but so can i – and thats probably the reason we clashed so much.

    but things are a lot clearer now – she sees me as the grown up i am. i felt i had to ‘fight’ to be seen as a grown up, and now i get the impression she sees me that way.

    when it comes to marriage, it was on my mind for a long time, but i never spoke of something so personal to my parents, and it was only when there was a prospect from Morocco that i told them – which was a huge, huge ‘scare’ for my mother. it kind of woke her up about where i am in my life, and we’ve had lots of discussions since then and talked through each other’s mis-perceptions – and i think we have a good understanding now.

    we may not agree on all things related to this – but the important thing is the communication lines are open; and we are able to talk about this kinda stuff now – which is a great comfort to me, after years of feeling like i was all alone in this and couldn’t talk to my parents. (my father is very understanding and supportive).

    ok, i realise that was just personal history – but i hope that you can draw something out of it that will help you when it comes to talking to your parents.

    they really do want the best for us, and everything they do is with that in mind. but its just that because we’re different – either different generations, or different cultures – that we sometimes disagree.

    that doesn’t mean we should avoid the discussion. but we should work on our communication with them. appeal to their love for you – they want only the best for you, they want you to be happy and have the husband that is the man of your dreams, right?

    so, try to explain to them that although you respect their history – their culture – you’ve grown up in a different time and place; and they can’t expect you to have the same ideas as them.

    at this stage in life, you’re grown up – but you’re still, and will always be their child. the relationship matures as the child gets older – so now, you want them to be ‘guides’ – not people who try to dictate your life.

    they’ve raised you well, and have instilled good values in you – and now, as a grown-up, you’re out there in the world. they gave you a good foundation, so they have to have faith that the girl they raised is now grounded enough and smart enough to know how to live in the correct way.

    you live in a different society to the one they did when they grew up – so obviously your challenges and the ‘norms’ are different.

    but, as long as your deen is strong, i believe we can live and thrive in any society – because Islam is the best of foundations; and if we try to live according to it, and we go about things (i.e. this ‘search for the soulmate’) the right way – then we don’t have anything to worry about; because Allah is in control of everything, and insha-Allah, He will bless us with everything that we dream of and everything that we need.

    like i said, i can’t really relate to the ‘culture clash’ u have – but i hope that, with faith and patience things will go very well for you. and remember to make lots of Dua. always make lots of Dua for the things you want – no matter how impossible they may seem 🙂

  2. Dreamlife, I just want to say, you’re fantastic. Good luck wtih your Moroccon Lady, I’m sure luck is not what you need but you go!

    “…try to explain to them that although you respect their history – their culture – you’ve grown up in a different time and place; and they can’t expect you to have the same ideas as them.” –> not going to happen. they’ll shut off and there’s been some history which will make them completely and instantly averse to any such discussion.

    “they gave you a good foundation, so they have to have faith that the girl they raised is now grounded enough and smart enough to know how to live in the correct way.” –> um, no they dont 🙂 but thanks for being so positive, its refreshing 🙂

    will remember about the Dua, I am after all a needy human.

  3. The Moroccan adventure was over long, long ago. I followed their advice on that one, and that’s now history.

    well, hopefully they *may* just hear u out…u never know. make Dua and just take a chance and see how it goes.

  4. It seems that one can might as well say that people from different era and cultures live in different ‘worlds.’

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