I come from a strict Bangladeshi Muslim family and like most people of my background, I wasn't allowed to date or have a boyfriend. But of course, like most 'good girls' from my background, I dated secretly and never introduced my parents to any of my boyfriends. Even though I was born and raised in New York City, I tried to stick to dating Bangladeshi Muslim guys, so that if things did ever get serious with any of them, my parents wouldn't throw a hysterical fit. So, when I met my now boyfriend about two years ago, it shouldn't have been a problem when things got really serious between us and he proposed to me after dating for only ten months. After all, he is from Bangladesh and he is Muslim. But, convincing my parents to accept him was harder than I imagined.
Why, you ask? Well, in addition to being of the same religion and nationality, my parents have a whole another list of criteria that their son-in-law just had to meet or else they would disown me. The biggest problem my family has with my husband is that he did not go to college here. He finished college in Bangladesh but by the time he came here, he did not have the situation nor the desire to get an American college degree. He also does not have a 9-5 job. He runs a small business and my mother has no respect for businessmen. It's all about reputation, you see. How could she give away her college-educated daughter to someone who isn't on the same educational level as her? So, although he is successful in his own right, my parents refuse to accept him.
Things got out of hand last summer when my parents found out that I was dating him and refused to meet him when they heard that I was serious with him. Although I graduated college a year ago, I still lived with my mother, so she literally threw me out of the house when I refused to stop dating him.
And if that wasn't dramatic enough for a Bollywood movie, I decided to secretly marry my then-boyfriend. He lived in Atlanta while I lived in New York, so when things got out of hand at my house, I flew to see him and we decided to elope. After we got married, we realized we weren't ready to live the life of a married couple. I was pursuing an editorial career in New York City and he was setting up his business in Atlanta. We also still wanted the wedding reception we dreamed of and we knew that my parents would completely disown me if they ever found out we got married.
So, we came up with the brilliant plan of living our lives as if we never got married until we were ready to move in together.
That plan backfired when after ten months of living life secretly married, I got caught by my mother. She found my paystub, on which my status was noted as 'married' and all hell broke loose. After weeks of arguing, my parents have given me this ultimatum;
Either divorce my husband or never speak to my parents again.
I have a big decision to make and it makes me wonder, do most couples care so much about parental consent when it comes choosing their life partner?
Stay tuned for next week's column as I make my decision!
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