Love and Marriage in Clashing Cultures

culture clash
Photo by Vitaliy Lyubezhanin on Unsplash

If you hadn’t guessed from the title of my blog, I’m Sikh, a British-Asian Sikh to be exact. Being of a certain age, and from a pretty traditional family, I’m at the point in my life where I’m being pushed to get married. And herein lies a shit-storm of issues. Being raised between cultures, I’ve grown up with a blend of views and perspectives on everything. But when it comes to the concept of love and marriage, I’m at a loss. In a grey, misty place where I’m not quite sure what I think. So I’m writing this post in an effort to somewhat demystify my own thoughts on love and marriage in clashing cultures. And if anyone can shed a light, (maybe a really strong fog light), that would be most welcome!

A romantic at heart, I always thought (in the back of my mind at least) I’d meet someone, fall in love and settle down. But things haven’t happened that way – in fact, that’s not happened full stop. So now that the subject of marriage is on everyone’s lips, I tend to duck, dive and disappear away from these conversations. 

In terms of Indian culture, marriage isn’t portrayed as a Disney fanfare of romance and love. It’s a practicality. Traditionalists will see marriage as something you’re ‘expected’ to do. In the same way, as a woman, I’d be ‘expected’ to have children after marriage. And marriage is very much seen as a union between two families, rather than just the husband and wife, which makes some sense. But what really doesn’t make sense is the degree of influence family, society and culture can have on the person you marry. Marriage should always be a choice. But I’ve come to realise, you can be made to feel like you’re given a choice, but within very restricted parameters – in which case, does that make it a choice at all?

You might be confused, it wouldn’t surprise me as I’m feeling pretty confused myself. But essentially, coming from a traditional family, I’m being encouraged to settle down. My parents are quite open minded in terms of how I meet my future husband, for example, they’re happy for me to meet someone online, or equally, they’re happy to introduce me to someone. The caveat of all of the above being, this person has to be Indian and Sikh. Which slashes my prospects of finding someone dramatically; after all Sikhs don’t form the majority of the population in the UK (or anywhere in fact, bar maybe the Punjab in India?), we’re a minority. And this is not to mention the fact, Sikhism preaches that you shouldn’t look at people in terms of colour, caste, creed etc (but this is a whole other kettle of fish, the kettle which refuses to distinguish culture from religion).

You might think my parents’ perspective is wrong, old fashioned, narrow-minded. But as with everything, it needs to be placed in context. It needs to be placed in the context of where and how they were raised, and the fact they’ve raised children in a diaspora, which means they are even more passionate about keeping our culture, religion and traditions alive. In all honesty, I don’t agree with their views on marriage. But I do understand their perspective. Luckily for them, I haven’t met and fallen madly in love with someone who falls outside of their parameters. But what if I did?  The truth is, I’ll avoid all possibility of this happening, to the best of my ability at least. Because the reality is, the fallout of pursuing a relationship like this would be immense .

But if put in this situation, should romantic love take precedence over familial love, or vice versa? In an ideal world, neither would take precedence, both are of equal importance, and neither would have to be sacrificed for the sake of the other. But if you had to choose, what would you choose?

6 thoughts on “Love and Marriage in Clashing Cultures

  1. Thoughtful and interesting post. It’d be awful to have to make such a choice I think. I hope you won’t need to! That said, I have friends who have defied their parents’ marriage expectations and their parents came round, so I guess that does happen too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. People get this idea in their head of what they envision and can’t grasp the concept that something might exist out of those parameters. I am not saying that someone should be purposely rebellious and go against their parents wishes out of spite, but Sikhism says that we are all one. If your “soul mate” is supposed to be a white man from Edinburgh, there isn’t much that can be done about that. You deserve happiness. And while that might not fit the vision your parents may have created, the baseline has to be that they want you to be happy. Even if its difficult, I can’t imagine parents not being able to accept it eventually.

    I have been told over and over that I should try dating out of our culture. My parents are quite open to the idea that I might marry out of culture/religion. But personally, I feel more connected to Indian men (even though the majority I have come across are so useless). I have opened my mind to the possibility that my “soul mate” might be someone out of the vision I have created for myself. Dating is just a big leap of faith – all this stupid shit we go through will eventually result in finding the one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very fortunate that your parents are more open minded. I think I’m as open minded as they come, but sadly my family doesn’t necessarily think along the same lines. I do also agree that most parents, irrespective of how traditional they are, eventually come around if their children do marry outside of their vision – although how long eventually is might vary considerably!

      I hope we both meet ‘The One’ soon – other people make this shit look too god damn easy lol. But we must have faith – like you said, a big leap of faith is needed with this malarky 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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