Lately I’ve been lonely, in need of a social life. In need of friends I can talk to, verbally, that understand my struggles. In need of the occasional social setting that melts away any other problems I may be having. In need of support.
Opportunities to meet other foreign girls married to Indians, here in Delhi, are few and far between. Not to mention, the thought of meeting strangers (however alike our stories may be) makes my husband a nervous wreck. I imagine a coffee shop with soft music and warm chatter, talking to a friend, or several friends. I could settle for once or twice a month. For now it’s a distant dream.
We used to go out every weekend, even if we didn’t spend any money other than to ride the metro train. Which was nice – but we have been down on our luck, financially. Both of us have jobs, but neither are paying very well. My passive writing income had become the main source of money a while back, and now that I’m not getting any assignments, we are struggling. My husband is building his portfolio in hopes of getting a freelancing job with an American company. I am working on an ebook (that realistically may never earn me any money) while I wait for more writing assignments from my client.
Can you imagine how stressful that might be? For both of us.
My husband has become distant, spending most of his time working. He will leave during the day to work with his client, which is a great arrangement for him, and when he returns in the evening, he’s ready to lock himself in his office and keep working. This is very hard for me, emotionally, as I feel the need to connect with him after a long day.
I started to get upset, and when I brought these feelings to DN, he became frustrated. I know he needs his space, and he feels the need to work as hard as possible to lift us up. I have done my very best to get over myself, and give him the space he needs.
Until recently, I’ve been doing all of the cooking and cleaning as well. When it became mandatory to actively work to earn money, it became overwhelming, and the result was either half-done housework or half-done writing.
We tried finding a maid, but the first maid that showed up, came at a time when my husband wasn’t home, and neither of us could understand the other. She left, with the promise of returning the next day, but never came back.
At this point, my husband stepped in, and began helping me cook. He makes an excellent helpmate (a helpful companion or partner) – an important quality in a life partner.
Though we have both adapted, I know my husband is going through just as much cultural frustration as me. It bothers him that I can’t speak Hindi. He desperately wants to communicate in his native language. It bothers him because I can’t understand his family and they can’t understand me. I hate to compare, but in any situation when I get frustrated or emotional, an Indian girl could have easily adjusted or held it together.
It’s not easy for me to learn a new culture, and at times I can become overwhelmed. The first time we stayed with his family, just after our wedding, I was hardly frustrated at the lack of understanding Hindi – we all adapted to my inability to understand and speak Hindi. However, I did become frustrated with going to other peoples houses, just to sit in a room and listen to other female family members talk about me and laugh. I could partially understand what they said.
It was frustrating, and it’s completely natural that I was frustrated by that. I know they meant well.
I love my husband’s family, and I think very highly of them. They were laughing at my awkward Indianness the same way I giggle at my husband for forgetting to turn off the bathroom light, or for pronouncing an English word wrong. I know they meant well… but at the time, it was embarrassing for me.
We’re about to return home for Raksha Bandhan, a Hindu festival celebrating the relationship between brothers and sisters. We will stay for a week and a half. I can tell you that there will be confusion and frustration – but the love, memory making, and happiness will far outweigh any negativity. DN is not anticipating the frustration and confusion.
You see, me and my husband are both prone to anxiety. So when we become overwhelmed, things can spiral – and things are pretty overwhelming.
But we are working on it.
I’ve been trying to teach my husband that our differences help us balance each other. He’s worried about our disagreements, but I know that we are still learning each other and learning to work out our differences. Relationships take work, especially intercultural relationships.
I hope he is looking on the bright side as much as I am. I hope we can get through these difficult times as quickly as possible.