The Difficulty of Being Married to an Indian

by Sharell शारेल on April 18, 2009

in Culture Shock in India

The topic of intercultural relationships seems to be a popular one at the moment, particularly relationships between Indians and foreigners. Therefore, I thought I’d talk a bit more about my relationship, and how I find being married to an Indian guy.

We’ve been married for almost year now, so his family have gotten used to and accepted me. I get along great with his friends, and they in turn treat me really well. They appreciate me for appreciating their culture, and trying to fit in. They even find me and my bad Hindi amusing at times.

The biggest problem I have is with strangers’ reactions to our relationship.

The fact that I am married to an Indian is greeted with shock by many Indians. I can read the expressions on their faces. Usually, it’s something along the lines of “why would she choose to marry him?”, as if my husband isn’t good enough for me.

The situation isn’t helped by the fact that I’m taller than my husband. I’m quite tall by Western standards (175 centimetres/5 feet 9 inches), but I’m very tall by Indian standards. I’m way taller than a lot of Indian men. Normally, I would prefer to be with someone taller than myself, but love is blind!

The point that I’m getting to though, is that I unfortunately and frustratingly tend to get treated with more respect than my husband.

The way a person is treated in India is very much based on their position in society. In fact, upon meeting someone, the first thing that an Indian will usually do is determine that position, then act accordingly. That is one of the reasons why Indians ask so many intrusive questions, such as “what do your parents do?”, “have you been to college?”, “how much do you earn?” (yes, they really ask that!), “are you married?”, and “do you have children?”.

There is a general rule though, and it’s based on skin colour and gender. White men have top position in the pecking order, followed by white women, then Indian men, and lastly Indian women. In my experience, if I go out somewhere with a gora (white man), he will be the one that gets the attention from waiters, shop assistants, and Indians in general. If I go out with my husband, Indians will usually defer to me.

There have been so many times that I’ve had success complaining about something where my husband hasn’t. There have also been many times where a place has willingly opened its doors to me and my white skin, but has resisted letting him in. I’ve even managed to make an unreasonable traffic policeman behave properly by reprimanding him.

Although I try not let it bother me, it does upset me occasionally. I see my husband as my equal, and I wish that other people would as well. It’s not fair that he should be treated as second class in his own country.

For me, this is probably the hardest thing about being married to an Indian and living in India. Unlike adapting to my new surroundings, it’s not something that’s likely to get easier either. My husband says that it might improve once we have children and look like more of a family. Hopefully, it will. Let’s wait and see!

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© Copyright 2009 Sharell शारेल, Diary of a White Indian Housewife 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

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{ 1376 comments… read them below or add one }

AlphaChick October 1, 2013 at 11:38 pm

@Kartik .. whoa there! you’re way to focused on meeting that blonde white woman. Slow down.
1. You can’t fish for salmon in powai, if you get my drift, and going to clubs in Bombay is the same as visiting your local aquarium.
2. To quote Napoleon Dynamite “Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.”

Go find a hobby you enjoy in a place where white women are the majority, assimilate into your adopted culture and It’s only a matter of time for you to meet the person right for you. OTOH, you could continue what you doing as of now and wait.

Good luck!

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Pooja October 2, 2013 at 12:00 am

Hi,

I am sure this Karthik is a fake personality who is here to troll. Please dont give him leverage by answering him. I know Indian guys could be desperate but not like this, its a troll. Please discourage him by ignoring. Please.

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Grrrl November 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I too am a white female married to an Indian male. I’ve had good experiences with my in-laws and friends of the spouse, but strangers are another thing. We have been in situations where I had to pull out the copy of our marriage certificate I keep in my bag to prove that I wasn’t an illicit mistress, usually when talking to potential landlords. Apparently white females are good enough for a romp but not for marriage??

I’ve also found that many locals are very presumptuous and TV brainwashed, assuming we’re all mutton eating billionaire nymphomaniacs.

Indians, check it out:

1. I’m NOT a whore. (I’m also NOT the one in the skimpy top putting my belly, chest and back on public display for men to look at, that would be your amma. MY amma would hit me for showing so much skin.)

2. I’m NOT wealthy. (My spouse and I live here because it’s the lesser economic evil for us. If I had half the money you people assume I have, we would be in a civilized place where gang sodomy is not a spectator sport and basic sanitation is not science fiction.)

3. I hate mutton. And beef. And pork. (I also know several white vegans.)

4. I am NOT Christian and neither is my name. (And I don’t HAVE to be.)

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Manny November 11, 2013 at 2:29 am

“assuming we’re all mutton eating billionaire nymphomaniacs.”

You are not? I’d be darned! :)

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Tamasha the Choto Rani November 18, 2013 at 10:01 pm

No, I eat buffalo & chicken.
What’s the problem with being a nymphomaniac?
My hubby ain’t complaining.

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Sunny November 21, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Hi,
I am in process of marrrying a mexican girl. She is scared to come to India.

How was ur experience in India? And u were from?

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Jane December 6, 2013 at 11:40 pm

I was with a man from Iran whose culture was similar to indian (baluchi). We got along great but most of the prejudice came from his side, not mine. My family accepted him after 1 year or so but his family was not so open minded. (And we are told whites are prejudice!). I just wanted to ask something if this is part of indian culture. We were together 11 years and he had an indian friend. At times his friend would invite him to his home and family- I was never invited. All the attention was on HIM. At times this friend’s mother was trying to find him an indian girl to marry but he didnt want that he was with me and happy. Also they had a few parties and I was not invited, it was all indians and my boyfriend. I am a very nice person and this guy rohit seemed very nice, I dont understand why I was not invited to his house, not once. COuld this be discrimination. Did they think i was just a play thing because we were not officially married or what. I also have had the same experience with vietnamese culture, as soon as you land at their home the men and women seperate and the women all go downstairs. This is not north american culture….anyways!

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umots December 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm

If you want to get an opinion thats anywhere close to reality, you might want to specify the culture your boyfriend is from. India is multicultural, there is nothing like ‘Indian culture’ that would explain your position in how you are treated by your boyfriend’s friends and family.

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Someone December 16, 2013 at 7:58 am

The thing is, if an Indian man gets married to any American Woman and settle in India, your screwed. Sorry but living in India is nearly impossible because of unsanitary conditions, overcrowded population, noise and pollutions.

Many say that Indian men are just looking for sex but I highly disagree, some men such as myself are very caring, passionate when it comes to Love and Marriage. I have seen the way my parents have bonded, they both care about each other and their behavior towards each other has shown me how important it is to respect your wife’s happiness.

Sadly many are too blinded to see this and will continue to insult use with their ridiculous curry, spice jokes. I am an Indian who is not after sex but after a happy life where I can take care of a wife and her beautiful children.

May God bless this world!

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Erin August 21, 2014 at 11:22 pm

I actually appreciate your response, I feel very much out there for the American women here in the us that met an indian man that has a very strong culture, to be deceived by what they are willing to offer the relationship. I agree with some things you have mentioned as well.
I believe and at the same time not too sure is that we believe in others because we believe since we would never intentionally want to hurt anyone that they would want to do it to us. That could go at fault for both ourselves for too much trust and giving people too much of your hearts and then on the other hand how dare someone take advantage of people in any kind of way. I just don’t have the heart too. I couldn’t even pick up a dollar from the floor at a department store because it wasn’t mine.. idk.. I mean if it was maybe 100 then who knows but my point is that I would not take anything intentionally not mine. Or say I could offer anyone something I couldn’t find it in my heart to do so..

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Erin August 21, 2014 at 11:28 pm

sorry for the extra comment, but why would anyone want to waste someone else’s time… its not fair. I think its very selfish on their part. I hope people would get a grip and try to at least be truthful to the person that has been giving them their heart willingly.. the girl did not get anything out of it but she trusted him and gave her heart to him. I feel her pain. I think sometimes there will just be questions you will never get the answer too. and then when you go through so much I think there comes a point within your self that you just don’t even care what the answer is anymore. – Hope the girl is better off as no one deserves to be played with, we all have feelings.

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katie January 7, 2014 at 1:33 am

reading your articles feels so good. :D God bless you and your family ! :D

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Balaji January 9, 2014 at 9:38 am

Hello, I would like to meet women sharing a common interest in adventure, travel and wild life. I am a traveler and would like to see every little scrap that this planet has to offer. :) I am a shy guy and fun to be with. I am an accountant by profession and 36 years of age. I have never been married and I have been raised in India.

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Tarun February 16, 2014 at 11:59 pm

from which angle does this look like a dating website to you? Kindly stop being an idiot and try using that brain God gave you.

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Swati Chauhan January 15, 2014 at 7:47 pm

HI Sharell,
Its the sad truth, yes. That’s the way Indians respond, they prefer fairer skin color above all. In reality a person’s skin color has nothing to do with his personality traits, knowledge or behavior. I hope things get better for you soon.

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Prashant June 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Would you marry a guy who was dark skinned?

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Riya January 16, 2014 at 6:46 am

Interesting blog!!..Reminds me of my own experience when I visited Delhi with my husband for the first time recently..only in this case it was worse because I was a brown skinned woman! There was a street beggar who directly asked..what would happen to your pussy if you gave me some money that you cheat off this white man!!!!:O well what can you say!! My vacation..:( I have not had such experiences anywhere outside India. There were countless more happenings over a short 3 day visit. Oh yes we also remember waiters and hotel managers treating my husband like a king, and me …mehh :P
I sincerely hope this attitude of Indians treating fellow Indians like shite and white skin like you-know-what stops someday..And please someone tell the people at Taj to write citizens and foreigners instead of high value and low value customers..:P (people who have visited the Taj might know what I’m talking about!)

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Sharell शारेल January 16, 2014 at 5:38 pm

How horrific, especially what that beggar said! :-(

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tplaws January 16, 2014 at 9:47 am

When it comes to ethnic groups and shall we say ‘race’ (how much I loathe the term but will use it for convenience sakes) I have never made an issue of it. I tend to think that ‘Human Beings’ are to dynamic to be objectified, vilified, diversified, culturalised, categorised, labelled as, determined as, defined as, this or that, etc. Surely there are differences when it comes to our biological makeup such as Male and Female, the Skin Pigmentation you happen to inherit, or whatever part of the world you happen to grow up in and learn its behaviours. But its irrelevant when we are capable of being more than what we’re conditioned to be – to me it just confuses the fact! So in my opinion the issue isn’t with any clash of culture or ethnicity but rather against our own mental conditionings. In this case the attitudes you experienced in India is the result of conditioning and this same attitude permeates around the world. Whether it be an African man with an Asian woman, a Polynesian woman with a Middle Eastern man – it doesn’t matter! Humans have proven to be dynamic by realising they can marry someone from another country and live together on the principles of trust, commitment, love, respect and understanding rather than adopting ‘in the box’ attitudes like 1st class, 2nd class, 3rd class citizens and be treated accordingly. It’s 2014 and it really is time to get over our evolutionary makeup!

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alok February 26, 2014 at 1:49 am

I’m 173 centimetres

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Lesley March 1, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I am not married, but my partner is Sikh. We have been together 17 years. However, we live in the UK, so our situation is different I suppose to a mixed race couple living in India. I am friends with a white woman who is in a relationship with a Hindu man (total coincidence). Luckily, none of us have ever experienced any issues with our relationships. We do also have friends ranging from Polish, African and all over the world, so I suppose I am pretty much used to a cosmopolitan lifestyle and tend to embrace and love the differences we all bring to each others friendships and relationships. Before, I had always had relationships with White British men and again, so had my friend. I certainly think that this relationship and the fact that Britain now has a variety of ethnicities, has really broaden my outlook as an individual and feel I would have ‘missed’ out if I hadn’t had the experiences I have had over the last few years.

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Subrata June 7, 2014 at 12:38 am

Hi, wish you a happy day. Yes you got well. I am an Indian. Actually we Indians feel that whites are superior to us. We blacks always too much loyal to whites but not so much to blacks. We blacks are dream to be white. As one general people of US respects to their President, here the same.
Most of all logical education, proper education and social education we cant get from society, our children are also learning from us the same. It is going on generation by. Yes your hubby is quite correct, it will take time to improve.
But I want to appreciate you specially because you got the difference what we cant. We are suffering in India but you are living your life in Your country.
Stay with us for a long time and you will realize more side effects by the time. Take care of yourself.

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