02 January 2024

# Our Mixed Marriage

How I met your father - my multicultural marriage story

Over the years I've had a lot of "Oh, your surname doesn't really go with your first name, does it?". I'd then reveal that my husband is from Pakistan, and this would usually be followed by "Wow! How did you two meet then?"

I kind of wish I had some exciting story about this, but it really is quite ordinary - we simply met at work. We both used to work at Luton airport, in restaurants next door to each other. Our places were managed by the same company though, and shared a cleaning area at the back of the house, so we naturally bumped into each other a fair bit. At that time I was good friends with another Polish girl, who started the job at the same time as me, and who was already in a relationship with a Pakistani guy at that time - she was working with my now husband, we all sort of clicked and that's how I became friends with him.

We'd known each other for about 2.5 years before we began our relationship. There was a lot of stuff happening to both of us during that time, and I was adamant I'd NEVER be with him. We used to chat online a lot - it was the glorious time of MSN Messenger, and we'd sometimes chat up until 1-2 am, but I always put him firmly in the friendzone. Not sure what eventually changed, but here we are!

We moved in together pretty quickly because I was getting evicted by my landlord who decided to sell the house I lived in. 3 months into the relationship, I think. We knew each other for quite a while though, and since I had no other choice but to find a place anyway, we figured out that we might as well find one together.

I wasn't Muslim at the time and was really only starting to learn anything about Islam, and that was also only because my life partner happened to be a Muslim. Shortly after we decided to share a home, he asked for us to get Nikah, the Islamic marriage - I remember him coming home one day after meeting his friends, with a realisation that we'd have a more blessed life if we did things properly and have the religious ceremony.

I'd obviously never heard of it, and not gonna lie - at the time it freaked me out a bit. Of course, I did think of our relationship as something long-term, quite possibly permanent. But that was unknown territory, it was *his* faith. At first, I refused. It seemed scary - I was brought up a Catholic, and religious marriage was something really serious, the whole "till death do us part". He didn't push, it wasn't a "make or break" kind of thing at the time, he just asked me to give it a thought. I took a bit of time to read about it, trying to understand what it would mean for me in the future. When I realised that it was actually a pretty straightforward thing, if things didn't work out we could just get a simple divorce, I agreed. While at that time it had no real significance for me, it was important to my husband to make our relationship "proper". The nikah we had was a simple affair, held in his friends' house with one performing the ceremony and the rest of them being our witnesses. 

I say that to me it wasn't really that important, just something to make him happy. I could see though, that it mattered. From that moment, if we stumbled across any of his friends in town, he would proudly introduce me as his wife. And since the relationship was "halal", he decided it was only right to introduce me to the family. I remember him being really worried about what his parents, who live back in Pakistan, would say - on one hand, he wasn't comfortable telling them he started living with his gori girlfriend, but also felt guilty that he didn't inform them about his intention to get the nikah done. Their reaction was great though, especially mum - she was absolutely lovely and you could see she was genuinely happy for us.

This happened in early 2011, and as we continued living together, we eventually decided to get married officially, and in September 2012 tied the knot in a small ceremony. No grand wedding, either Polish or Pakistani style - this would be my ultimate idea of hell, being a centre of attention at this massive party. Ours was a simple registry office ceremony, followed by a dinner in a local restaurant, with just a handful of our families and friends attending. I honestly hate massive weddings, even as a guest, so this is what I always wanted for myself, and I'm glad this suited my husband too. We did make it into a bit of a cultural fusion though, just a litttle bit - more on that another time though, or this will go on forever.

As I'm writing this in 2023, two kids and a global pandemic later we're not divorced ;) We're still massively different people and sometimes our views still clash, but there are way more things we agree on, and some that we compromised on over the years, so it just goes to show that our kind of cultural mix can successfully work.

I hope that after reading this you'll come back for more stories! 

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