Ironing out dissimilarities

TWO TO TANGO

Experts say minor differences cause the most frustration and require the most flexibility in a marriage. “Whether opposite personalities or from differing cultural backgrounds, every married individual must adjust to qualities in a spouse that were not noticed or ignored during the dreamy days of dating. So, whether we are planners or dreamers, reserved or extrovert, tidy or scatter-brained, we need to live with our differences and hopefully laugh rather than cry over them,” they say.

When Farah and Sandeep met at work, they were instantly drawn to each other. What they never contended with was the cultural, linguistic and religious differences that they would have to overcome to make their marriage work.

“I am a Parsi-Muslim and Sandeep is a mix of Reddy and Christian. Both our families found it very hard to overcome their initial resistance to what they knew would be a huge adjustment process. Sandeep took me home to meet his parents soon after we committed to our relationship. My father-in-law was strongly opposed about my religious background and I had to deal with insensitive remarks from members of the extended family as well. Right from the wedding ceremony to daily food habits and routines, there were loads of compromises to be made,” laughs Farah, who changed to sambhar-rasam diet, early morning rituals and conservative dressing.

Her in-laws, whom she lives with, have been won over by the lifestyle changes she has made and her marriage has benefited greatly by the fact that she shares a close bond with his parents.

In spite of coming from different religious and cultural backgrounds and sharing two very different lifestyles, Harathi and Mithun Rebello look like they have few adjustments left to make. She held a high-flying career in public relations while he worked in a conservative law firm, and now the two appear to have been married for a very long time, say their friends.

Sharing both a career in real estate and an active social life, they end up spending most of the day together. How do they avoid getting on each other’s nerves when most
couples want to scream Space?

“Luckily, we worked together as business partners first, lived together for a while and finally got married. So there were no nasty surprises after we tied the knot. Mithun used to go out with his buddies a lot after work to unwind but he has given that up in favour of spending leisure time together,” says Harathi.

“I have given up my bachelorette trips abroad and I feel that my in-laws have
significantly contributed to the easy transition by giving us space and respecting our privacy,” she adds.

Michael and Sunita Rodrigues have very different palates. He is a die hard non-vegetarian Mangalorean and she is a pure vegetarian Marwari.

“Coming from a conservative society, it was much easier for me to adapt to Michael’s family and lifestyle. The only difficulty was the food and that was a daily problem. I cannot bring myself to cook or eat meat of any kind and Michael can’t do without it. Luckily my mother-in-law sends food everyday for him with the driver and that takes care of the situation nicely,” says Sunita.

“Over the years, I’ve learned to make eggs for breakfast and hire a cook occasionally as my son Mihir is growing up and prefers non-vegetarian food just like his dad,” she adds.

Coreen and Ammar Fareed have been married for several years and have two children.

 “We dated for a long time before we got married, so we were able to understand each other out quite nicely. Ammar has six brothers, who live overseas, and when my mother-in-law comes down from America, she is fairly easy-going.  During Ramzan, I wake up at 4 am everyday and see to it that he has his meal before sunrise even though he feels bad since I have a whole day ahead looking after the kids and coping with exams. We built up our leather business together and work well as a team.

Come Christmas time, Ammar helps put up the lights and decorations and comes to church. The biggest gap in a mixed marriage is religious practices, something, we have overcome with understanding and sensitivity,” says Coreen. The Fareeds have brought up the kids with both faiths, Muslim and Christian, and make it a point to celebrate each other’s festivals and keep each other’s traditions going.

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