Masala Relationships: How do They Work?

Ever wonder what it take to make a Masala relationship work? What adjustments are needed from both people? 

Here are some reflections from my own masala marriage. 

Sometimes when I tell people that I am married to a man from India I get the reaction “ how does that work?” or “it sounds like it would be hard”. I always shrug off the comments with just a quick canned response, “ we make it work”.  If I were to stop and truly talk about the complexity of an inter-racial/inter-cultural/inter-religious marriage it would take a lot of time. The ultimate truth is it is hard! It’s worth it but it’s a challenge. If I had married and had kids with an American man, life may in fact be simpler. The reality is that I did in fact fall in love with, and married a man from India and with that union came many adjustments for both of us and our families.

My life has changed in so many different ways as a result of being married to a Punjabi. I have had to learn a new language, a whole new style of cooking, a new culture, a new religion, different clothes, new traditions and social beliefs. I have to keep a balance of my own beliefs and traditions while also embracing his. To ignore the stares from people, and standing out at Punjabi gatherings as the only Gorri ( American) in the room. The struggle to define my own identity while also creating a masala or mixed culture for our daughter. If I had been like so many of my friends and married an American I would most likely not have these struggles. No new language, religion, culture, or food to learn.

I would not trade my masala marriage for anything in this world. I do not resent having to learn and adapt to our unique relationship in fact I find it beautiful and I feel blessed. Blessed to live in two beautiful cultures and traditions. Blessed to learn a whole new style of cooking and a whole new language.  I feel blessed to raise our daughter with this unique multi-cultural identity.

In summary a masala marriage is difficult at times and requires effort that not everyone is ready for. It requires a person to be able to adjust and adapt. To be able to see the beauty in their own culture as well as their partner’s culture. To have a strong sense of personal identity and an accepting nature! To know what is most important to you, and to stand firm in your beliefs while also understanding the needs of your partner’s beliefs. To not lose ones self and feel resentment, but instead come out stronger.

A masala relationship is truly beautiful but requires true effort as well.  The couple must have a strong sense of commitment to each other and a willingness to communicate openly and honestly.

It has been five years since we started on this Masala journey and we have both made many changes in our lives along the way. It is a process, and we will keep working on this relationship.

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4 thoughts on “Masala Relationships: How do They Work?

  1. Happy Anniversary, Tina. We’re celebrating 18 years this weekend. My DH is originally from Croatia but lived in Australia age 1 to 14, so he was fluent in English when we met. He does speak Croatian, but our two wins don’t speak it. He didn’t think it was important when they were little, plus both are hearing impaired so learning a 2nd language would have been very hard for them. Our marriage is not as simple as it would have been if I married an American. He tends to look at things from a more European point of view/perspective. He believes in the long haul, though, and I like that. 🙂 Susan

  2. Wonderful post. I too agree that being in an intercultural relationship, I feel blessed. I get to learn about a completely different way of doing things, and I love finding ways to do both. It absolutely takes a lot of effort. I am similar to you in the mindset that our differences are beautiful and should be celebrated. Not everyone is prepared for such a relationship….you have to be of a certain mindset like what you mentioned.

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