India is a “secular” country, with many religions, cultures, races, and ethnicity living together under one roof. And the one common thing among all of them is the “Concept of Marriage”. The glimpse of history reveals the true colors of “secularism”. Since the time of Independence, our country was always covered with bloodshed, not just of the soldiers, sadly also with communal violence and intolerance towards diversity in our society.

Today, Indian society has changed and so is the institution of marriage. A decade ago, this institution was ruled completely by the societal norms; decisions were taken by the elders of the family and society. NOW, we see a radical shift in the way this association is perceived with “Intercultural” Marriage coming into existence. The recent surge in such marriages in the community can be attributed to higher educational achievements, intellectual thinking and economical opulence.

Intercultural marriages — marriages between people of different faiths, races, ethnicity and geographic regions — has become a part of our modern Indian society, though it is still not being accepted graciously. The most common external factors influencing intercultural marriages are the acceptance of the family and the society in which the couple lives. Sometimes, the families of the couple display rejection, resistance, hostility and lack of acceptance of their kin’s partner. Dealing with refutation from outside sources is a common area of potential conflict.

Although the family accepts the couples’ decision, certain other decisions remain with the family. Issues such as the wedding custom, methods, rituals, traditions, etc., always remain as a topic for negotiation between the two families. Fusing both cultural traditions in a wedding celebration may even be manageable, but cultural issues are sure to collide for the days after the wedding. Some differences that were cute before the wedding can turn into major issues later. On one side where we see the spur of intercultural marriages, there is also a scene, where many such marriages are leading to domestic abuses and divorce in the similar type of wedding.

In India marriage is not only about the couple, it is also about the family that gets bonded for a lifetime. Just when the battle of getting married is being completed, the real game of life begins. In reality, cultural differences often show up in more subtle and unpredictable ways leading to frequent misunderstandings and fights. It’s important to acknowledge and understand how contrasting customs and cultural backgrounds are likely to impact marriage and family life. Pride also raises its head when one spouse believes that the other’s culture or beliefs are inferior or strange, thereby discounting the other person’s importance in the relationship. Different customs and cultures teach different values and priorities.

Communication can be one of the biggest difficulties faced by the intercultural couples. This can include the challenge of, literally, speaking different languages. Communication also becomes an issue when it affects the way a couple solve problems. Different cultural attitudes towards the respective roles of men and women in the home can play havoc with this area of the relationship. Another potential challenge to racially or culturally mixed marriages is that of isolation. During the dating and engagement phases of the relationship, it’s relatively easy to believe that “love conquers all” and that a couple’s mutual commitment to one another is all that matters. But after the wedding, broken family ties and friendships can haunt couples for the rest of their lives. This aspect of the situation needs to be weighed very carefully. Mixed marriages often face additional struggles and challenges in the field of parenting. Raising a child always leads to conflicts if the parents are not on the same page. The involvement of extended family members in the child-rearing process, behavioral expectations, and the question of what is considered appropriate frequently cause heated discussions.

An interracial marriage is a marriage across cultural barriers. It is vital for the couple to understand and accept the differences not only between them, but also with both the families. It is crucial for both, husband and wife, to understand each other’s family completely, the various boundaries and the culture that they venture into. Not just for the sake of knowing, but also to respect it equally. It is essential the couple gives each other the space and independence to live life to one’s individual thoughts and not thrust hard values of one’s family, which the other person might not prefer to observe. Ultimately, their relationship should be strengthened by their “Love and Trust”, the two most replaceable aspects of marriage.

In norms, every marriage requires copious doses of love, patience, tolerance, maturity, humor, respect, compromise and accommodates one another’s contrasting ways of perceiving life. And when it comes to intercultural marriage, the couple has to put in extra hard work, to make it successful. As in any relationship or marriage, both partners have to be flexible and open-minded when facing unexpected arguments and issues. The romance must convert into more meaningful companionship as the couple grows older. A strong commitment to overcome all challenges that come with intercultural marriage is fundamental to make such relationships thrive.

A few adults have challenged the societal norms and discarded the thorns of differences among people leading to the commencement “Intercultural Marriage”, where “Marriage” is purely on the basis of “love and trust” and not any religious or cultural norms. The first baby step towards the barrier free society has already been taken. A huge path to take a giant leap is yet to be walked through.

P.S: With due respect to each and every family & couple who are continually working on their intercultural marriage.

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