I met my husband in California during a program with our church. We were just two young kids falling in love. We were lost in our own world. The scope of our differences didn’t really come out until we were engaged. We decided to have a half Indian and half American wedding. We had this grand idea of a perfectly blended wedding, which would lead to a perfectly blended life.
We did pretty well bringing both cultures in, but the more we strived for perfection, the further away it got. I finally got to the point during all of my wedding planning where I decided to just let the pieces fall where they may. It ended up being just what we needed.
Our wedding was beautiful. I married my best friend. Afterwards, I sat there, during the reception, holding my husband’s hand. We were watching two cultures collide beautifully. Americans and Indians were dancing together to Bollywood and American music, wedding traditions from both sides were coming together smoothly, and everyone was having a great time celebrating.
Then I realized that perfection didn’t matter. All that mattered was my husband and I were bringing two cultures together into one family.
Fast forward almost six years later and we’re still using what we learned during our wedding. We now have three little boys. We have often felt pressured to raise them with one racial identity. Instead, we want them to know how special they are to be raised in two cultures.
Sharing both cultures with our boys has been hard. We both want to share our traditions and values, but choosing what tradition to follow can be difficult. It requires a lot of communication, open mindedness, and grace for my husband and I. As we are faced with decisions, my husband and I have to decide together what’s best for our family. Often times, this means choosing which culture’s way of doing it works best for that situation.
The biggest thing that helps our family is encouraging our children to fall in love with both cultures. Looking to see why we love both cultures helps us make our decisions. One reason we love Indian culture is because of its emphasis on family. That means if a decision comes up about family, we know right away what we would do.
Indian culture has taught us that we should always step up when our family is in need. When my husband was little, his mom was in nursing school. She had recently moved to the US with her husband, who was working full time. She needed help and her parents immediately stepped in. They raised my husband in India for two years, while she finished school. A few years later, his mom was pregnant with twins. She had a rough pregnancy and was put on bed rest. Her sister stopped everything in her own life and moved in with them to help. Indian culture shows us that family needs to be one of the most important things in our lives.
American culture is around my family daily. Our children are able to learn about it every day by just walking out the front door. In addition to traditional American values that they are exposed to daily, my husband and I go out of our way to share my family’s traditions and values with them as well. One value I have been able to share with my children from my culture is independence. My mother was single for half of my childhood. Being raised by a single mother taught me the importance of independence. While this can be a conflicting value at times with Indian culture, I think it can be a big benefit as well. My children are able to learn how to take care of themselves and those around them.
The values of each culture helps to lead us in our decision-making. The worst thing you can do is to make it about an “even trade.” We do this for my culture and this for yours. If you make it about being even with your culture, it turns into a competition.
Blending cultures perfectly is impossible. It’s the wrong thing to pursue. All you can do is take it one situation at a time and do what’s best for your family. The more our kids fall in love with both cultures, the more they naturally make decisions based on both.
Brittany Muddamalle is the mother of three boys under four years old. She has been in an intercultural marriage for six years. Her and her husband are currently raising their children in American and East Indian culture. She is also the writer of The Almost Indian Wife blog. Her hope is to make a change by sharing her experiences with her own intercultural marriage and raising biracial children.