Cultured Couples Brave through Differences
With Hong Kong being Asia’s World City, A-Desiflava explored how the increasing number of resident inter-culture couples tackled through their differences to become flag bearers of multicultural relationships.
With the advent of social media, meeting new people across boundaries, countries, and cultures is now easier than ever. As people from different cultures connect, relationships too have become increasingly multicultural. This rising trend prompts one to question what difference, if any, does a difference in cultures have on the compatibility, longevity and overall success of a relationship. ADesiflava met up with representatives from five couples – most of who chose to remain anonymous – to find more.
- Indian & Japanese:
We met when we were colleagues at the same company. I was immediately attracted to her, and I was sold on the spot; not only was my love blind, but even as a lover, I was blind to all the potential pitfalls. It required an extra effort to break the ice and find a familiar ground. Needless to say, over movies, music, and meals of each other’s culture, we bridged the gap between us. We eventually found the commonalities in the cultures, both of which boast of a long history of tradition, roles, and responsibilities. Perhaps such a teething period would not exist in relationships between people of the same culture, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Afterall, as the adage goes, “the greatest journey is the distance between two people,” and after a decade of being together, we still enjoy discovering something new about each other every day.
- Indian & Chinese: Mr Jayaraman Sivakumar and Ms Li Yunyun We got to know each other over the internet initially and since we lived close by happened to meet soon enough. Over time, we realised that we both believe in being forthright, simple, and positive, sans a flashy lifestyle. Culturally, both of us pay a lot of respect to our families, especially elders. As the two of us got closer, we realised that Chinese live with more freedom, and can do anything as long as they do it with right intention and dedication; Indians, though, tend to worry more about the social implications of every act, fearing judgement at every step. This was most noticeable when we were ready to get married, when all our Indian friends and relatives expectedly were taken aback. When rearing our child, we endorse universal values such as respect, honesty, dedication and commitment. As mother plays the most important role in a child’s life, we have prioritised using the child’s mother language – Cantonese – over others, and have even officially given our child a Chinese name. Looking back, our relationship survived the test of time because of the respect we had towards each other’s feelings, opinions, and values; mutual compromise, understanding, cooperation and a calm composure have all been keys to our longevity together.
- Indian and Filipino: Mr and Mrs Sailesh Chandiramani With Indians being known for their excessive conservative rules, regulations, and traditions, it was not easy for us to see to eye. In comparison, Filipinos are open minded, accepting, and more liberal and even carefree. Naturally, the imminent social stigma was a cause for concern, particularly family and relatives. The way through it for us was to simply see each other as fellow humans first and foremost, beyond the veils of identity that society imposes. Beyond our race, we were simply two people heartfully in love one another, and our commitment was kept us together through the uncertainties and troughs.
- Indian and Sri Lankan: Although we are both South Asians, our differences are still significant. Most importantly, one of us goes to the Church every Sunday for Mass, while the other is a pure vegetarian, and visits the temple each Monday. In this case, having friends from each other’s culture really helped us to clarify our uncertainties – especially in the beginning, when we were too afraid to ask each other. Living in the same neighborhood allowed us to ‘coincidentally’ meet each other regularly, and gradually introduce each other to our hobbies, habits, and values. Over countless conversations, and compassionate compromises, our relationship has stood the time of over 25 years, and we still love each other just much every day.
- Indian and American:
Although we were both curious to know about each other’s cultures, the perspective changed as we became more attached and involved in each other’s lives. From mere tourists marveling at each other’s cultural differences at a distance, we soon realised the gravity of the situation as we respected each other’s culture as our own. While we never placed any requirement over each other, nor our kids, to learn a language, or follow any traditions, we could not just be ignorant or play dumb about each other’s beliefs. Being in a multicultural relationship really necessitates each partner to shed away all their preconceived notions, stereotypes and judgemental attitude. As an American, I insisted to test the waters first through a live-in relationship, sans any commitment. Ironically, it was I who proposed marriage first, and I couldn’t be happier now. At the end of the day, this practice has not only improved our relationship, but also made us better humans as individuals.
From all these stories, it is evident that true love can transcend beyond the costumes of culture, religion and tradition. What is most important is the sustained mutual commitment, intimacy, compatibility, and passion to support each other through the troughs to triumphs. While, of course, a longer period may be required to acknowledge, accept – and in some cases even adopt – each other’s culture, love truly trumps all. Pretty soon, such a concept wouldn’t be seen as novel.
Suraj (Sam) Samtani is an international Writer & Editor, with articles published across medias. He is also an Academic Coach, Native English Teacher & Tutor (NET), Management & Marketing Consultant, and Award-Winning Poet.
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