I am struggling with a marriage proposal from my former boyfriend, who moved out of state for a job. I really care about him, but we decided to be friends because of the distance. The other night, he asked me to marry him. I was shocked. Plus, this was a phone call, which made the proposal so impersonal. I did not know what to say, and we left it at that. I am concerned because we are from different cultures—he is Indian, and I am Mexican. We get along well, but he has not said what his family (in India) thinks. I wonder what they would say. My family approves. How do I ask him about his family, which is a touchy subject with him? And should I speak with him in person or have him come here?
Cast logistics aside for a moment and tell me about your feelings. How do you feel when you imagine investing yourself in a lifelong commitment in which you will be for him and he will be for you, regardless of the difficulty or benefits of the union? How do you feel when you consider that marriage calls you to a conversion of your ego so that you know yourself better and learn to love yourself, your partner and others with fewer conditions? Now, tell me your thoughts: Are you both faithful in mind, body and spirit? Do you tell each other the truth? Is there trust between you? Are you supported in following your dreams? Can you both give up thinking like single people and make decisions together, even if it means the delay or demise of a dream? Those are the elements of a genuine marriage.
Fusing two cultures through marriage expands your belief system, expectations and comfort zones. Why not live the integration as a delightful adventure? Though it is good self-care to ask what his family thinks of the union, don’t predicate your decision on its approval. When women were their father’s property and were swapped for a yak or trunks of linen, the belief that you married a family, not a man, prevailed. But now, literally and symbolically, you must leave your parents’ house to create your own home with your partner. The support of in-laws can quell your insecurities about belonging, but so can the realization that marriage bonds you to the human family.
If his family is a touchy subject, broach the topic in person. But with physical distance between you, it’s vital to discuss some challenges by phone. If you plan to greet his proposal with a yes or even a maybe, visit him. Get the flavor of your new home. If your answer is no, then call him. And although fairy tales promise otherwise, in reality, proposals arrive by phone. That doesn’t make the intention “I choose you as my life partner” any less remarkable or romantic.
How does someone who has been sexually molested deal with inappropriate comments? I was enjoying a conversation with a man at a party when we were interrupted by another man who loudly suggested that I wear less the next time I visit. I didn’t know how to respond.
Living with a history of abuse means that you (and those who love you) will frequently be surprised at how your history can quickly eclipse pleasure. But each time someone objectifies you, you are being called into practice of who you are now, not invited to return to your suffering. Like the archetypal wounded healer, you must fight against falling backward and choose to listen to your soul reminding your ego, “Forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” After some practice in this art, you will know when, how and whether to address boorishness in your brothers (or sisters) on the planet.