Goris with no intercultural problems

Most of us goris would admit that being in an intercultural relationship is much more complex than being with another ‘white’ man from our own country.

The core relationship issues that face nearly all couples are arguably about compatibility, love, future needs and trust combined with stress factors like job, money and family issues.

But in intercultural /multicultural relationships, these are just a small part of the relationship issues we face.

There are inherently more difficult pressure points in our relationships that require a great deal of compromise, patience and respect if you’re are truly serious about making the relationship work (well that’s been by experience anyway).

 From the online group of goris I have met, most of them have created blogs to share these problems/difficulties about their relationship and find support from the few other people out there who are in the same situation.

Whether it be about cultural differences, expectations of each other and our ‘roles’ within the relationship, issues with parents, in-laws and acceptance, visa issues, culture shock in our partner’s country, managing long-distance relationships, language problems or something else, I think most of you would agree that at some point in our relationships, we have really struggled because of all/some of these added ‘pressure points’.

For god’s sake we even have pressure points relating to what food we are going to cook at home!! (Most people wouldn’t have that problem- ‘just steak and veges thanks darling’)

For me and Rabindra, it has taken us a long time to accept the differences in one another and acknowledge how different we really are.

I’ve had to teach him about ‘my’ culture i.e. we meet our boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents almost immediately, couples show affection in public, we are independent women who have our own jobs and money and not expected to just cook/clean at home, it’s common for couples to live together before marriage and so on.

He’s had to teach me about ‘his’ culture,  which is pretty much completely the opposite of what I have written above 🙂

It hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination. We have both made major compromises out of love for one another but like I said earlier, it has taken a lot of patience and determination to get to the place we are now.

So you might be wondering where am I going with this whole blog post?

Well I’m a little bit baffled because I know some other girls in intercultural relationships like me and they don’t seem to have any intercultural relationship ‘pressure points’.

When I first met another Australian girl who was in a relationship with a Nepali, I was so excited to talk with her about all the issues I seemed she would have faced like me.

I wanted to know- How was she going with learning the language? What are you going to do if you don’t get a visa to stay together? Have you been to Nepal yet? How long did it take your man to tell his parents about you?  What Nepali recipes can you cook? What is it about his culture that you love/hate?

Well, the answer to most of these was she wasn’t interested, she didn’t know or hadn’t experienced it.

She told me if his parents didn’t accept her, that’s not her problem, and that they  will get over it.

Ummm I don’t think she realises how different Nepali people are regarding how they treat their elders. I’m pretty sure that if they can’t accept you, he is going to have a very difficult time in deciding between his parents and your relationship into the future.

I met another girl on the weekend who was married to a Nepalese guy and didn’t even know what ‘namaste’ was. Can you believe this?

They had a shotgun wedding pretty quickly (I’m not criticising others who have had a marriage registry quickly) but I must admit, I couldn’t help but think that his family know nothing about her and he is probably using her for something else like a visa or sex (I don’t normally judge that quickly but I got the impression she had no interest in his culture which makes me think the relationship is bound to end up in divorce down the line).

I have had to ask Rabindra lots of difficult questions since the start of our relationship. Big things like- what will you do if your parents don’t accept our relationship and want you to get an arranged marriage? What will we do if we don’t get a visa to stay together? Etc etc

These were ‘deal breakers’. If he couldn’t make these commitments to our relationship, how could we stay together?

My impression of these relationships where there are seemingly no ‘pressure points’ are mixed. My theories are as follows:

(1) The guy may be very ‘Australian’ and the guy doesn’t bring up his culture much with his partner therefore not many cultural ‘pressure points’

(2) She doesn’t care about his culture and hasn’t come across many of the cultural issues they will most likely face down the track

(3) She might find out these issues down the track and it will lead to divorce

(4) He’s using her and trying to make the relationship go as smoothly as possible for the meantime

(5) Maybe she is just a real easygoing person who can deal with everything very smoothly

Maybe I am completely off-track here by making these judgements but I must admit I’m very perplexed about their easy road to marriage.  For example:

Does she not care that his parents don’t know about their relationship? Do she not care that they are doing many things against his culture that could cause problems down the track? Does she not care that he hasn’t invited her to Nepal yet to meet his family/friends?

Do you know  of any other goris in similar circumstances?

Are you one of them who could possibly shine a light onto this issue?

Have your say.

This entry was posted in Cross-cultural, Culture, Differences, Family, Intercultural, Intercultural Relationship, Interracial, Love, Nepal, Women and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Goris with no intercultural problems

  1. air says:

    Hi, very interesting post. I have been in a relationship with an Indian man for more than a year now and getting married in a couple of months, and im a constant reader of many of the goris blogs, one thing i have to differ is that at least in my case i have no horror MIL stories like most of the goris have, its quite the opposite, for the rest i have the normal issues of intercultural relationships.

  2. lkafle says:

    great cultural insight, true real portryal of humanity

  3. Bibi says:

    My experience has been that a lot of Nepali/Indian/Asian men that move away from their home country want to completely lose their native culture. I’m not sure why.
    My husband is a lot more ‘gung ho’ all American than I am, I’m more interested in other cultures (not just Indian, Kashmiri, or Nepali).
    The biggest clash in our relationship has been communication, I honestly can’t figure out what he’s trying to say sometimes. Between the language barrier (Indian English is difficult to understand sometimes) & the different cultural mindset (from vague innuendos to a completely opposite ideals) it can lead to a lot of misunderstandings.

  4. Andrea says:

    Air- I also do not have any issues with intercultural stuff in my marriage. (or none that are so glaring that it keeps me up at night or gives me anxiety).
    We have been together 2 years, married for 1. I have met my in-laws (in India) and we get along nicely. Hubby is not an ABCD and has only been in the states for maybe 7 years… he is westernized to a point, but still a desi through and through. I care about my culture as well as his, so it’s not like our “easy going marriage” is because I’ve let my culture die off. It’s quite opposite. We partake in both equally… whatever floats our boat, we do it. From reading blogs and having numerous Gori wives as friends, I think I know more of the “cultural issues and pressure points” than even my hubby does. I often initiate conversions about the “what ifs” and so far, we’ve met each challenge head on and come out on top. If my loving husband is using me, then the joke is on him! If God forbid something happens down the line, he’s going to wish he didn’t try to mess with this American! LOL. His MIL will disown him too! And I’m not really too easy going. I’d like to say I am, but sometimes I am a drama queen and yes, even a crybaby. It takes two of us to work our marriage, but what marriage is all rainbows and glitter? We face the same issues other couples do…money, shopping, vacations, where to go to eat, who didn’t take out the trash…. and in comparison to the other wives I know… we are at the bottom of the list when it comes to desi-centric drama interfering in our lives.

  5. Abby says:

    Hmm I might be a cynic, but I think some people have low expectations about marriage and their life partner. So they overlook any difficulties hoping things will improve with time. If their current partner ticks a few boxes, that’s all they need. Other people are more picky and are looking for someone more compatible. (I’d put myself in the latter group.)

    For me, I couldn’t imagine an intercultual relationship being successful if I didn’t throw myself into the culture of my husband. This means knowing the country’s history, following the politics, learning the language, cooking the food and all that jazz.

    I thought I’d look like a ‘vase’ (pretty on the outside but empty inside) if I didn’t give a speech in his native language at our wedding. I can’t believe someone could be married to a Nepalese person and not know what “namaste” means! Even I know – from reading this blog. 😉 Unless perhaps the guy is born overseas, speaks little Nepalese himself, and is very out of touch with his own culture.

  6. I’ve encountered a few people, even in blogland, who have no issues and are really self-righteous about it as though the fact that they haven’t encountered problems makes them better people somehow. One girl practically called me a racist because she married into a wealthy, anglicized, anglophone, anglophile Bengali family who had no issue with her. She took the fact that I have problems to mean that I’m the problem, which was pretty mean!

  7. Sara says:

    Our relationship had almost no cultural issues (except Midwest/East Coast) for at least the first 6-8 months. A is American (especially in language, sports, cooking, media, etc. — aka most of the tangible/observable markers of culture that would affect friendships/relationships) and was (is) very private, and part of that privacy was downplaying cultural differences, so these differences really didn’t come up until we were serious enough to talk about family and marriage. I think part of the difficulty of being bicultural (for him at least) is never being quite sure where the boundaries are until you’re right up against them. He also hadn’t put much thought into what he wanted in a wedding, family life, etc., so it was slow going for a while.

  8. kay says:

    I’m a person of Nepali origin who’s in a a long term relationship with an Indian man and we’ve had no problems on the inter-cultural front. I do think it’s weird if someone’s spouse hasn’t introduced them to his/her family or friends though. I would also draw the visa conclusion from this kind of situation.
    I have to say though, not all Nepali/other relationships would face intercultural problems. I come from a family that’s quite liberal [not to say not traditional though, my mom’s a homemaker who’s a vegetarian and quite religious–just that she doesn’t force it onto other people including me and my dad]. One of my cousin’s is openly gay and she came out when she was 18–no problems there. She’s in an intercultural relationship [her girlfriend is white] and that’s not remotely an issue. My other cousins have chosen their own spouses from different ethnic backgrounds [again, no issues].
    I do admire the openness exhibited by a lot of women in intercultural relationships with men who come from traditional backgrounds. If I thought my fiance came from a traditional Indian family, I would most likely never have started a relationship with him in the first place.

    • thanks for your honesty kay. I agree with someone in your circumstances, they wouldnt all face intercultural issues. some people’s partners come from very modern thinking families and it makes it so much easier

  9. intercultured says:

    Our main problems are:
    – A.’s parents and their “attitude”
    – living in a foreign country (to both of us) which brings visa/residence/money/language issues
    – people from the outside, with their racist approach (from both sides)

    Honestly, there are no personality/values/habits clashes between us. We’re aware of the differences which our backgrounds bring, but as I said it many times, we live a pretty western life alltogether and if not A.’s parents, things would be almost like for any random couple.

  10. ally says:

    Ouch Casey, I hope she doesnt read blogs. Since reading this Ive been thinking of all the couples Ive known over the years. Two things stand out, most of the relationships havent lasted and of the ones that have I dont think I could’ve predicted it, you can never truely know anything about anyone elses relationship. I definately know of some couples who appear to have encounted no issues, do I count myself as one of them hell no but I feel were at the stage now that when there’s a problem its interpersonal rather than intercultural. For me, most of my inturcultural issues have been with family, friends and co-workers not necesarily with my partner and I dont know that I’ll ever reslove those issues. Ive also been blessed with an incredibly easygoing partner, his most frequent response to any problem weve had is ‘why worry’ and ‘I dont care what they think’. He also falls into the category of someone who was more than happy to leave parts of Nepali culture behind and take on Australian culture, as have I with Nepali culture although not to the same degree. Weve just been lucky, he is also one of those rare Asians who doesn’t need to eat rice or Dal Bhat everyday and for that I give thanks because to cook a Nepali meal takes a substantial portion of your day.

    • i hope i dont sound nasty!! lol i dont think she reads my blog otherwise it would be truly embarrassing. you are right about not knowing what goes on inside other people’s relationships. i shouldn’t judge so quickly. i guess i just find it hard to believe that some have no interest in his culture despite being married to him…especially not even knowing ‘namaste’

    • taswin12 says:

      Hi Casey thanks for a thought provoking post. When I first read it my immediate reaction was “Woah she doesn’t even know what nameste means?!”
      But then I thought about it and realised I don’t know the word for hello in L’s language.
      Then I thought about it some more and asked L if he knew the meaning of ‘namaste’.
      His response? “The meaning of what?”
      So I guess we’re a pretty bad example when it comes to the intercultural understanding side of things! (good thing I waited to post my comment ;))
      L has never really had many African friends and I’ve never seen him in ‘cultural context’. I think this probably has a lot to do with it – social situations amplify cultural difference and because I’ve mainly known L with western friends I’ve always seen him as pretty western. In my case, I know others whose parents are Nepali while they’ve grown up in the Australia…but they all fall into the category of ‘family friend’ who I see once a year, not my immediate, everyday circle of friends who know L. (Even if I did hang out with them, ‘namaste’ is not really an everyday word unless you’re speaking to older people…I’ve very rarely used it in Australia). So he hasn’t really seen me in that kind of cultural context either. Like Ally, in our case most of our issues stem from interpersonal (and individual) stuff rather than intercultural. I think I have more intercultural issues with my mum (though they obviously all become highly personal as well)!!
      I will say this for L – he grew up around a sizeable India population in east Africa and coming from a non-western country himself he has a very intuitive understanding about how people from other backgrounds perceive the world and social and familial relationships in a completely different way. However, for the sake of our own sanity we have had to say “it’s none of our business whether or not my mum accepts our relationship” (we’ve had no issues with his mum). I think we’re still trying to work out that line between understanding cultural differences (i.e. with my parents) without just accepting everything and coming to compromises which would undermine everything that we value.

  11. renxkyoko says:

    I have encountered this kind of problem before… but it’s a harder problem to solve. The problem was religious. I am catholic, he’s muslim. ….. never the twain shall meet.

  12. Lani says:


    I am in an intercultural relationship and I don’t have too too many issues (that have come up). Every so often we have a misunderstand that boils down to language or coming from different places. I think it helps before meeting I have lived in Asia with an Asian family (eating rice for every meal every day doesn’t phase me, neither does sleeping on the floor curled next to six other women, but it was an adaptation) and before meeting me he lived in Europe. Luckily he east cheese, pasta and other milk products (I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t because I have many things to say about fish curries) – but it makes the whole food discussion easier. We have also worked with people from many countries in high intensity situations, cultural issues come up but I think we are mostly practiced in recognizing them (doesn’t mean we don’t get annoyed at them.) We both live in a country foreign to us. The visa issues have not come up but are worse fears.

    So, I think we knew what we were walking into. Or just that we had been through the cultural shock before, which was in no means easy (I am also a product of an intercultural marriage).

    But I do wonder if sometimes if he has thrown himself too much into my culture and I am constantly try to learn about his and have it take equal share. Growing, my parents did actually did
    a great job of giving both cultures equal importance in my life.

    However, I do have more intercultural issues with others. I always feel like I have to defend my choice , especially when I say he is Pashtun from Pakistan, by saying 1. Most of the women in his family are educated with Masters degrees 2. Many of the women from the family don’t know how to cook and he has no problem doing these things (though he does think we are getting a maid from Pakistan….yeah :)….). I have some funny stories about the guys who came here to study(and had to cook!) trying to explain to their fiance’s back home about how to make biryani and other dishes. 3. That he has family and a close family friend who have intercultural marriages and the families were fine

    And the upsetting, Getting stared at, getting told he just wants sex with you, being called a whore (not to my face)….sigh. This is the most difficult part.

  13. KC says:

    Simba and I got into a small argument last week (over politics) where he randomly said I am an arrogant american who doesn’t care about any other country or culture (clearly not the case). He of course apologized later but I have to admit I was very upset with him for that comment…precisely because my bookshelf is full of intercultural/multi-cultural books (that I do actually read and thoroughly enjoy) and just the day before I had been to the library to pick up a book on Indian cooking (they didn’t have any on Nepali cooking) and a book on Buddhism. I have bought almost every book about Nepal that I can find and read them as soon as they arrive. The week before his comment I read “Sold” in one night and then insisted on watching the cnn special on lost children in Nepal…twice. On a daily basis I am talking about one of these blogs and with the exception of learning Nepali (I admit I am slack there) I feel like I’ve tried to make every effort to soak up as much information on his culture as possible. And it’s not out of some sense of duty…I truly want to learn as much about Nepal as possible because I want to understand his roots and the country and culture that shaped him. I want to be able to listen to him talk about his childhood and his country and feel like I have some small grasp on what he is talking about and his feelings. So, I agree with you that in the examples you talked about it does seem very strange that they wouldn’t even know the term “namaste.” It just seems natural that if you’re in love with someone you want to know as much about their background as possible..but I guess each relationship is different. Enjoyed the post though as I always do.

  14. White Bhabi says:

    Like others, I can’t speak for the couple you mentioned. I have very few problems in my intercultural relationship and I realize most of the ones I do are not too different from adjusting to any new relationship (where a couple didn’t live together first lol). I don’t have MIL issues other than I can’t speak with her the way I would want to because of the language gap. Everything is a work in progress and unfortunately as an American I want it all NOW. And it’s just not happening that way lol. That’s another story altogether.

    Anyway, I too see some things on the blogs, in real life and other places online that get me to thinking WTW. My only thoughts is that in any relationship you can’t last if you don’t understand and respect your partner. So for intercultural relationships if you don’t understand some of his culture (doesn’t have to be all) then how well do you really know him? I mean, if he grew up in a different country you can’t take for granted how he thinks/feels/acts no matter how westernized he becomes. If you try to make him bow down to all of your rules then you don’t love him, that’s control. Any two ppl who get married must blend their personalities, backgrounds, etc. To not know anything of the other person’s culture or history spells disaster – no matter what kind of relationship you are in. Everyone has problems, denying them to the world isn’t so abnormal, but selfishly demanding your own way is the biggest problem of all.

  15. Amanda says:

    I am starting to feel like everything i do and say leads to some kind of intercultural learning or discussion (READ: FIGHT). I don’t know how, if you really love someone, you couldn’t end up talking about the big issues or why you wouldn’t want to learn about the culture… but maybe that’s cos I live over here and i have no choice but to learn about it?

  16. Ash says:

    My husband and I only really seem to have one major problem regarding culture. FOOD. I cannot handle spicy food and he is south indian. As far as he is concerned the food is completely void of flavor if it isn’t five alarm. The solution is I just don’t eat it. I can follow a recipe well enough to make the food and if he ever weren’t using all of the kitchen and everything in it when he is home I might even cook for him. Otherwise our issues seem more related to our 18 year age gap instead.

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