The Authentic Journey of Sanjay and Julie (Part 1 of 3)
Two People Living Their Best Life Possible Above and Beyond Culture and Appearances
Sanjay Krishnan and Julie Williams-Krishnan
8 September 2010
(1) What are your feelings or thoughts about being a cross-cultural couple? Do you think people approach cross-cultural couples differently than those couples who appear at first glance to be from the same culture? Do you feel terms get in the way of just being two people trying to live your best possible life?
Being a cross-cultural couple comes with rewards and challenges. It’s not something we think about on a daily basis when we mostly try to be two people (and a couple) trying to live out the best possible life. But sometimes, cross-cultural issues pop up in our every day lives. For example, we have Indian food a few days a week and non-Indian food a few days a week. We go to the temple as often as we can (which is never often enough). But it is true that in the US, we have felt that people approach us differently than in the UK. In London, people assumed we were a couple; in the US, people assume we are two separate people waiting to talk to the customer service representative at Best Buy. Some people may think that it is "cool" that we are a cross-cultural couple but we don’t think it is cool – it is just who we are.
(2) Were the cross-cultural differences part of what attracted you both to each other at first or was it something else?
No, the cross-cultural differences played very little part in our attraction to each other. Both of us had dated people outside our own cultures before we met. We were attracted to each other at a human/personal level – such as intelligence, love for travel, sense of humor and of course our pheromones got along very well.
(3) Were there any cross-cultural differences that you had to negotiate before you decided to get married?
Many, many, many. Julie comes from an extremely conservative Christian family while Sanjay comes from an extremely conservative Hindu family. There were a lot of landmines we stepped around and some we had to step into. Julie’s family accepted Sanjay a lot quicker than the other way round. Julie is not vegetarian but Sanjay is – so we don’t cook meat at home but Julie eats meat at restaurants. This works well for us. The family and the culinary challenges were the biggest that we had to work on before we decided to get married.
(4) Do you have any advice or thoughts for cross-cultural couples thinking about getting married?
Don’t take any rejection from parents personally. They mean well – keep loving them but keep doing what you believe is right and important for you. And keep talking to your parents even if they try to avoid unpleasant conversation. Just love and respect each other and the families. Also, respect the process -- think of the situation as a challenge for you to overcome. Furthermore, be patient – reconciling cultural differences across multiple generations and long distances is time-consuming – it may take 1-3 years. Don’t get mad and walk away after the first obstacle – always keep the door open.
End Part 1 of 3. Thank you for sharing, Sanjay and Julie.
Keep Tuned in for Parts 2 and 3. Thanks for Reading.
The previous interview in this series: The Authentic Journey of Lisa (An American in India)
Part 1 of 3: From U.S. to India - The Struggles of Identifying with India While Growing up in America
Part 2 of 3: India it is!
Part 3 of 3: Fighting Stereotypes and Embracing Identity
Thank you for spending your time on Alaivani.com.
Jennifer Kumar, author of this cross-cultural lifestyle interview understands that the cross-cultural marriage like any other has it's ups and downs. Myself being married cross-culturally; an American married to an Indian; I understand the struggles you face in balancing cultures, maintaining identity and the understanding that cross-cultural marriage is more than 'cool' or an 'experience' but a part of a regular life that has it's ups and downs just like any other. Contact her if you'd like some help sorting out issues in your American - Indian cross cultural marriage.