What Is Love? Baby, Don’t Hurt Me, No More.

What do you think marriage should look like?

I’m going to try my best to explain what I think it should look like. I believe that it should be a best friendship where there is love, respect, and trust with a lot of attraction mixed in. There should be understanding on an emotional level. There should be laughter and fun. There should be a belief that no matter what, you both are a team together.

So then why are there so many people out there making fun of their significant others? Why is joking about our marriage something that serves as way to bond with other people? Why is your spouse not held in the highest regard?

I understand that marriage isn’t always heaven. We show our worst to that person. Everything bad that happens in our lives will fall on the other person. They are our rock and our punching bag.

But isn’t degrading them in front of others disrespectful? Or is that just another way that people show their love towards their significant other? Maybe that is the bond between a couple, the ability to tease and make fun without resenting them. Maybe there are stronger people than I who can deal with this type of relationship.

For me, though, I can’t do it. I know that my husband and I will have to fight about things. I know that when the kids are exhausting, it takes a toll on us as a couple. As long as we can create some space to enjoy each other and continue to respect each other, I think we will be fine. But I don’t think I could survive being with someone who thinks putting me down is an acceptable form of affection. I might be too sensitive or I might just need something different.

I know we have all seen it throughout the generations and throughout different cultures. We have “husband” jokes and “wife” jokes. We hear this in wedding speeches all the time. There are stereotypes like the uptight wife or the messy husband that get reinforced over and over again. Can this change if we don’t agree with it? Why must this be the way to connect with others? Why can’t we use something positive instead?

I’d like to know what your thoughts are. I know that all marriages are different and have different bonds. I’d like to hear about what keeps your marriage strong. I’d like to also hear about what things you’ve heard between a couple that really irks you.

The Other Part of Me

It’s been 2.5 years since we had our first child. It’s been 1 month since we had our second. We have started doing the normal, everyday domestic things like managing our own house, cooking, and cleaning. We have to have a regular schedule throughout the week now since our first child does go to school and classes on a weekly basis. Even when I have a break, I just want to sit and binge watch some laid-back Netflix show. The only other things I think about doing during a break is catching up on sleep.

Let’s put it this way: it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about me. And I don’t mean in the way that I want to do something and haven’t had a chance. I mean in the way where I think about where I am in life.

Suddenly, my days were just about getting things done and taking care of my family. Everything started to become a routine. I was just trying to get somewhere on time, cook dinner, get laundry done, and get the kids to sleep so I could spend some time with my husband (that is, if one of us hadn’t already passed out from pure exhaustion). My entire goal for the day is to just get through it.

What about me though? I danced, I read, I wrote, I analyzed my life and tried to be grateful for everything that I’ve been fortunate to have. I stopped doing all of that. When I had a spare moment, I went on Facebook and just read the articles that popped up there. I occasionally danced for a friend’s wedding. I completely stopped writing. And I haven’t even thought about keeping a positive mindset or about what I am grateful for.

With all of the things going on in this world, I decided I needed to take a break and read something else rather than the articles on Facebook. I picked up the Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive from my bookshelf and am currently trying to read a couple of stories of it when I have a few spare moments.

It has made me realize that I haven’t thought about myself. My passions have taken a backseat currently. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the things I am doing now. It’s just that there is so much more to me than just being a mom and wife. There are things that make me feel alive in a different kind of way. I don’t want to resent not nurturing my passions. I want to feel more. I want to be aware of more.

Writing this post is a promise that I am making to myself to bring this part of me back to life.

Dowry

So, yes, it still exists in India. One of the drivers we met in India told us that he was working as hard as he was because he had three daughters that still needed to get married. That means that not only does he have to pay for the cost of the wedding (which will be over-extravagant and way beyond the family’s means) but he has to give the groom’s family a variety of gifts.

The official definition of dowry according to Google is the property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage. In India, as far as I know (and you can correct me if I’m wrong), the groom’s side asks for a bunch of things from the bride’s family as part of the requirement to marry her. Yup, that’s right. The bride’s family is required to give him all sorts of stuff in order to marry her. Now you tell me how that makes you feel if you’re a woman.

My mother-in-law told me the other day that the ratio of men to women in India is now 6:1. That means there are so many more men than women there. Women are valuable and in high demand. So why and how the dowry system still exist? And I know it does because I’ve heard accounts of people dealing with a situation where the demands of the groom’s family are getting out of hand.

My big question is what if that driver invested the money he was saving for his daughters’ weddings into their education instead? Wouldn’t that then provide these girls of a way to become independent and financially support themselves? They wouldn’t need to marry unless they wanted to. They wouldn’t need a husband to take care of them. They could choose a partner based on mutual respect and equality.

Is that even a possibility? Could you imagine what would happen if so many more women were able to take care of themselves?

If these women could get an education and financially support themselves, would they have the confidence to refuse to marry someone who was asking for a dowry?

My Child Is 3 Different Religions. Is That Even Possible?

Religion has been a hot topic in the world, well, pretty much since the beginning of man. Just recently, I talked to someone who was having trouble with her parents because she was dating someone of a different religion. I wanted to talk about this a little bit.

Traditionally, in Indian culture, a child takes his or her father’s religion as their own. Of course, this probably wasn’t an issue when everyone was still marrying inside their own religion. But now, in today’s world, we have a lot more mixed marriages. So how do you raise your child?

My father is Hindu and my mother is Jain. I know these aren’t religions that are extremely different from each other but they aren’t the same religion either. I knew that, according to tradition, I was considered Hindu. But I’ve always told people that I was half Hindu and half Jain. I’ve always considered being Jain a part of who I am even though I don’t practice either religion too strictly. I grew up in a household where my mom wasn’t really religious and my dad was. The beauty of my dad’s religious beliefs though is that he didn’t discriminate by religion. To him, God is God however and wherever you choose to practice that belief. He will just as easily go sit in a church, a gurudwara (Sikh temple), a mosque, as he will any mandir (Hindu temple). He actually has copies of and has read all of the religious books corresponding with each religion.

When we were growing up, my parents put us in a Christian elementary school and then a Catholic high school. They wanted us in private school and the only ones around us were religion-based. Their ultimate goal was for us to get a good education and, as long as we were getting that, they were fine with us learning about other religions in the process.

My husband is Sikh. The Sikh marriage ceremony differs from the Hindu one. I have seen a lot of people choose do two weddings, one in their religion and one in their spouse’s religion. While this works for some people, I could not imagine getting ready twice and sitting through two wedding ceremonies. So we decided to do the one that worked for us. My whole family loved the Sikh ceremony. It’s one of the most peaceful, beautiful ceremonies I’ve ever seen. And I have no regrets about celebrating our love and commitment that way because regardless of which religion we celebrated in, we meant those promises to each other.

Now we have a child who is half Sikh, 1/4 Hindu, and 1/4 Jain. So now what? So far, we have taken her to the gurudwara to get a blessing and soon, we will be taking her to a mandir as well. Does it matter than she is this mix of religions? How does it affect my child to grow up in a world where there are people fighting and using religion as an excuse to do so?

It doesn’t matter to us what religion she chooses to define her (if she even chooses one and not all three) as long as she respects the good values they all teach. We want to teach her to be proud of who she is and understand her culture (her Punjabi, Gujarati, and American background). In the end, we want to teach her how to be a good person. That’s all that matters.

Are They Really Happy?

So I was watching this wedding video the other day and as I watched, I noticed that not at any point did the bride and groom look at each other and smile or interact. The first time they even looked like they were married to each other was during their slow dance at the reception. And then it ended. 

What’s the deal, man? Is it possible that a couple is so shy that they just don’t interact at all? Is it just me or does it seem somewhat off to you that the couple doesn’t even acknowledge each other’s presence on what is considered to be one of the more important days of their lives? Where do you even see that there is love present in this relationship? 

When I say this, I honestly mean the little moments. The one where the first time the bride comes into the room, the groom smiles or his eyes light up. The one where you can see one of them talking to the other about whatever is going on in their day. The one where you can see some inside joke or thought pass between them. 

Are we supposed to act distant and proper when we’re getting married? Because if that’s the case, I totally messed it up. 

It always makes me wonder if the couple was more interested in becoming an official couple rather than spending their lives with someone they really love. I don’t want to judge a couple that I don’t really know. I know it’s possible that this is their dynamic. Maybe it’s what makes them happy. I see couples that don’t spend that much time together in general. I wouldn’t think that was a happy relationship on both ends but then again, I want more than to just be a wife in name and in duty. 

I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. 

If anyone can explain this situation to me, I’d like to learn and understand why certain couples look like they’d rather be anywhere but with each other. Or that they are indifferent to being next to their significant other. Because I still don’t understand it. 

Looking forward to your thoughts. 

Marriages vs. Weddings

In the past 6 months, I have been to 7 weddings out the 10 we were invited to. Seriously? Let me preface this by saying I love these people. Most of these weddings happened to be people that either my husband or I grew up with or are really good friends with. We love them dearly. I just hope that every single one of these people puts as much effort in their marriage as they did their weddings.

Let me start off by saying that I don’t think this is always the bride and groom’s fault. We, Indians, come from a culture where we like to show off and weddings are the epitome of being able to do that. I also think this is something that comes strongly from the generation before us. I wonder if we took a survey, how many couples we know would rather have run off to Vegas and got married versus having a huge, extravagant wedding.

I don’t want to sound judgmental. I definitely enjoy most of these weddings, especially when my friends are there. But, at the same time, I want to emphasize the importance of remembering that this is the first step in a marriage. It’s not one day. It’s our entire lives. I used to tell people that if you got married at 20 and lived until 80, then you just spent 75% of your life with one person. That’s a really long time. And living day in and day out with that one person will show you quickly how compatible you are with them.

I honestly can say that I think I have found my happily ever after. But it takes work. It takes constant growing and reconnecting and being able to be there for each other through the challenges that life brings us. It takes being able to laugh together and have fun together. It takes a lot. But I continue to look forward to all the experiences that we get to have together because I know that our wedding was only one day of our entire lifetime together.