INTERRACIAL/INTERCULTURAL MARRIAGE: INDIAN WOMAN AND IRISH MAN
Hi! I am Reena, a 31-year old, British Indian woman from Yorkshire, England. I am married to 31-year old, Kevin from Ireland. We have been together for 13 years and married for 3. Kevin is a Christian while I am Hindu. We met at University when we were 18 years old in Liverpool, England. And we both agree, what a rollercoaster ride it has been since!
HOW WE MET
The story of how we met is a bit random, in particular, the location. We met in a renowned gay nightclub in Liverpool, England but on a midweek student night. We met on the dance floor while both enjoying the music and cheap drinks. We had a great night! We discovered: we both lived on the same university campus for almost a year, and we had never seen each other once! We were even studying at the same university. We swapped numbers at the end of the night as we realized we had a spark between us, and well, the rest is history.
Meeting Kevin’s parents was a bit nerve racking. Kevin invited me to his parent’s house in Ireland for the weekend when we were 19 and as Kevin was my first boyfriend, I had no idea what to expect, or how to act. I decided I just had to be myself. I was really nervous and my father-in-law told me he remembers how quiet I was. Yet they felt I was a brilliant influence on their son as he began to settle down and focus on his studies more. Kevin’s parents didn’t interrogate me with millions of questions but they did fully support our relationship. And they have always treated me like their second daughter from day one.
The most important bit of advice that they gave us was just to make sure nobody gets hurt. At this point, they knew that my parents were not aware of our relationship and so this advice always stuck in the back of my mind. I have a fantastic relationship with Kevin’s parents and it is something I am thankful for.
MEETING REENA’S PARENTS AT THE HOSPITAL
Reena shares that my husband met my parents under slightly unfortunate circumstances. This was at a point where I was extremely unwell in hospital and my parents had found out I had a boyfriend after 10 years. S o, my husband told me what happened. He came to my parents’ house for lunch with his mother with a huge bunch of flowers in his hands. He told me on the drive over, he was so nervous that he actually pulled over his car, and threw up as he did not know how the meeting would go. However, he was welcomed with open arms and Kevin was instantly at ease and spent the day getting to know my parents. So, it went very well. My parents adore him and they could see that he was the one for me as he stuck by me through thick and thin. He made weekly trips over to England so he could spend time with me in hospital and also get to know the rest of the family. Now we live close to my parents. Thus, whenever he can, Kevin spends time with my parents. He often goes to watch football with my dad and helps my mum in the kitchen sometimes, which I think is really sweet.
Reena says, when I asked my husband for his top tips, his answer was ‘my top tips are ones that I would give to any couple/relationship irrespective of race. This is very true to Kevin as the saying, “Love has no color.”
1.) I think the biggest tip I could give is … Tell your parents /loved ones about your relationship sooner rather than later. DO NOT keep it a secret for longer than you have to. Unfortunately, I found myself having to keep our relationship secret from my parents for so long because I was afraid of their reaction but, I should have realized that if I was happy they would have been happy. The amount of stress, upset and worrying caused my health to be affected, but thankfully the love and support I continue to receive has helped me get back on my feet.
2.) Respect each other’s beliefs/cultures and learn about each other faiths. I often go to church (Kevin is Catholic) with Kevin on a Sunday, and Kevin comes to the Sikh /Hindu temple when I go to worship. We celebrate Christmas, Easter, Diwali and other festivals – we really get the best of both worlds! And even after 13 years together, we are still learning so much.
3.) Get each other’s families involved! In my culture, when we have wedding functions in the immediate family my mother and father in law are always invited. My mother-in-law even owns her own sari which she proudly wears to weddings and it’s nice that she can also experience a different culture too.
4.) Introduce each other to different foods as soon as possible. Kevin was born and raised in a very small town in Ireland so when I met him he had never eaten Indian food before. I would make him different curries and we would eat out so he could experience lots of different dishes. This, in turn, made it so much easier when he first met my parents and had dinner at their house -he loves Indian food now.
5.) The final tip would be just to keep positive. There will be lots of trials and triumphs that you will face but, as long as you keep a united front and, keep communicating your relationship will be a great success!
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM BEING IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Reena states, I have learned so much from being in our relationship. However, the most important thing has to be if someone is worth fighting for then keep fighting; go with your heart and it will work out in the end.
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