People often ask me if I’m married when they see the gold ring with the pattern of a heart on my left finger. I smile and say “No, I’m engaged,” or if I’m really not in the mood for details, I just say “Yes.” I’ve even been told it looks like a wedding ring since it’s gold and I don’t have a “rock”. There is a reason I don’t have a “rock” and the ring is pure 24 karat gold (I always try not to bend the band out of shape).
I am engaged to a man from India, where gold is highly prized and is believed to be the best material for traditional bridal jewelry. The ring was a gift from my fiance’s mother and both culturally and symbolically it was her way of accepting me as the future wife of her son. It is not an everyday custom for a man to bring an American woman home to her family and present her as his future wife.
Of course, when I mention that we’re in a long-distance relationship, I get question time, and the most popular ones have been, “How did you meet?” “That must be really hard. How do you handle it? When are you getting married? Why don’t you move here? Why don’t you move there? What does your family think of you marrying a foreigner?
That’s why I tend to avoid revealing details of my relationship to people I’ve just met, especially those who ask these kinds of questions. It is clear that they may not be open-minded enough to try to grasp the finer details and efforts that a long-distance relationship requires. So ladies, this is how I handle these questions.
How did you meet?
In the modern world, more and more couples meet online through social networking websites or even apps. The couples have met on Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter. My fiancé found my email on a job search related website in Japan, so I find it best to reply “He was my pen pal”, which is the truth, except we exchange emails and handwritten letters . Honesty is your best policy at this point and if the person asking can’t understand how you developed a relationship over online communication and visits, that’s your problem.
Or maybe they met while studying or working abroad or even while on vacation and had to return to their home country. Whatever your circumstances may have been, there is no reason to hide the truth.
That must be very difficult. How do you handle it?
“We chose to handle it. I think it’s worth waiting for my fiancé until everything is in place and we can see each other every day. We communicate daily and try to set up visits when we can.” When I’m feeling sarcastic, I sometimes want to reply that long distance relationships are not for the faint of heart or the needy. It takes a strong heart to get through those periods of time when you don’t see each other and the unknown projected events and timelines that a relationship could take.
When are you getting married?
This is my favorite, because I really don’t know. Haven’t you heard of immigration laws? Or maybe we’re just not ready to set a date?
Why don’t you move here?
Please refer to the reason above.
Why don’t you move there?
Your reasons will vary, but once again, I am frankly honest with my interlocutor. “My fiancé and I have no interest in living our lives in India and my lifestyle and commitments require me to live in the United States.”
What does your family think of you marrying a foreigner?
This has to be one of the most insulting questions and I’m sure many people in intercultural relationships have experienced it. Why does it matter what country my future spouse is from? That is a personal choice and maybe my family is not racist. My favorite response is: “They don’t care.”
I constantly have to remind myself that not everyone will be able to understand the concept of long distance interracial relationships. Some people may be genuinely curious and not realize that the questions they are asking can be considered quite intrusive or even rude. Then there are those people who seem to understand and connect with and don’t mind sharing details about my relationship and the person I love.