Mixed Matches, Chapter 2

The next chapter of “Mixed Matches” focused on why a person chooses to be in a mixed match. The author’s idea is that sometimes people do not feel comfortable in their culture/family of origin.  They seek out relationships with people in cultures different from their own so they can experience what they think they are missing and create more balance.  For example, someone from a subdued culture might be intrigued by more expressive cultures and seek out relationships with people from expressive cultures.  The danger though, is that the very differences that drew people towards each other can also divide them later on after they have to live with their partner’s quirks day in and day out.  The author wants each partner to be aware of stereotypes they may carry about their partner’s culture/family of origin and to proactively discuss differences before they cause major difficulties.

 

At the end of the chapter, there are exercises to do.  Each partner has to discuss how they view and experience sex roles, religion, etc in their own family and in their partner’s family.  We did these out loud instead of writing down our responses.  I still don’t have any easy answer about what makes me an American of mixed Swedish-Slovenian-Swiss heritage.  Satya doesn’t know what makes him an Indian. 

 

So far, we didn’t discover any earth-shattering truths or huge roadblocks.  Both of us come from very practical, religious, quiet, close families.  Surprisingly, in some my family is more conservative and authoritarian than his-for example, everyone was required to go to church once a week, my siblings and I underwent the full Catholic initiation.  His family left religion up to personal choice, but both of his parents are firm believers.  Both of us had fathers that worked full-time and mothers that were homemakers and caregivers most of the time.

 

Both of us were willing to date outside of our cultures.  I had always been intrigued by India, but from a distance.  Satya was only the second Indian man I ever went on a date with.  I’d gone out on dates with a variety of others.  Satya had gone on dates with Chinese-Americans, Indians, and Caucasians.  

 

Before I met Satya, I just had a superficial appreciation of India.  I liked the music, movies, colors, food although I didn’t know much about it and most of what I did applied more to North Indian culture than to Southern Indian culture.  The close family relationships seemed familiar.  The rituals seemed fascinating.  The gods and goddesses seem similar to Catholic saints.  I guess you could say I had positive stereotypes about India before I met Satya and even now before I’ve been to India.

 

For those in mixed relationships, what did you know or believe about your partner’s culture before you started dating your partner?  What major cultural differences have you encountered?