What is Love? - Sumaiya

Love is Compromise: Sumaiya

“It’s being aware of your significant other and making sure that their needs are fulfilled, that they feel love, rather than you saying “I love you” all the time.”

Relationship Status: Married for 4 years

Can you name a memory when you felt love?

When my baby gives me a hug, because he doesn’t really give hugs.

What is love?

For me love is a little different, it’s not affectionate. I know I like when my baby gives me a hug but more so, for me, love is providing things for my child or my husband or my parents, and making sure they have what they need and all their needs are met.

How did you perceive love growing up, because you didn’t choose a love marriage originally?

I didn’t really think much about love. For me it was about doing what you have to do in life, and having your needs fulfilled. Marriage was never something that I was fond of, so if it was left up on me I would’ve never gotten married.

Did you ever date on your own terms?

No I never dated, I just didn’t want a relationship. Love was never a thing for me.

So why did you get married?

A lot of brown girls I know have chosen not to go into arranged marriages. For a lot of them who were my friends, they’d tell me, “This is not how you do things, if you’re from the West and grew up in the West.” An arranged marriage was never expected of me, but it was hard to explain to them that it was just a decision I made because I wanted to give this thing to my parents.

My parents sacrificed a lot of things for us—they came here, they left their high paying jobs for us, working whatever they could find here—and I feel that is love and I just want to make sure that they’re appreciated.

Were your parents an arranged marriage? And how did you see their love flourish growing up?

They are. With arranged marriage it’s not just two people getting married, it’s two families getting married. And sometimes it’s not easy getting along with the families, and that’s something I saw in my family. So they had a hard time adjusting to each other and I saw them fight a lot. And maybe that’s why love was never a thing for me. But now that I see them they’re more affectionate to each other and in love.

What is Love? - Sumaiya

So you went into this to please your parents, did you go into it thinking you could grow to love this man?

I actually didn’t care to the point where I was like “If it works out it works out. If it doesn’t work out, then big deal, I did it for them and it’s over. And if it doesn’t work out then I’m going to get out of it and not think about it.”

How has marriage surprised you?

It’s nice to have a person that actually cares about you and has been in a similar situation as you, who also chose an arranged marriage as well. You understand you have to really work in your marriage. He’s really caring and it has definitely changed. Now it’s like, “Okay, maybe we can love each other maybe we can spend a life together.”

Did he go into this with the same mindset?

I don’t think so. He’s a very romantic person so for him it’s like he still… have you seen Bollywood movies? He’s very much the Bollywood type, where he believes “Whoever I’m going to marry to I’m going to fall in love with that person and make it work.”

So how did you and your husband meet? I know according to the Global article a Skype call was involved.

My dad’s sister was going around and talking to people asking if they had a son who’d want to get married to me, her niece. And his mom was like, “I’ve got a son, we should talk about this.”

Our Skype call was really really brief and we didn’t talk much, but I actually met him on our marriage day. I chose to have that kind of a marriage where I didn’t want to get to know the person, based on my previous experiences with being set up—because I hated it.

Wasn’t that terrifying?

This had been going on for two years: this whole meet this person, get to know this person, and I had gotten so annoyed, and my parents were getting annoyed with me, and I just told them “You know what? Just get me married to who you want.” I had gotten to that point where I didn’t care enough.

But I think it was a lot scarier for my husband because he hadn’t seen other girls before me, so for him it was just, “Is this even normal?” because it was not normal for him.

Has love grown in your relationship since then?

It started off with friendship and love has definitely come in. We do definitely love each other.

For him it’s more like showing affection and hugs and kisses. For me it’s making sure if there’s a breakfast sandwich that he likes, and I make him the sandwich even though he can make it himself, as well—but it’s just like doing the little things.

What is the key element to making any relationship work?

It’s being aware of your significant other and making that their needs are fulfilled, that they feel love, rather than you saying “I love you” all the time.

Love is…? Fill in the blank with one word or two. 

Love is compromise. Even with the love with a child, sometimes I need to compromise and sometimes I don’t want him to do something, but he’s one and sometimes I have to do things according to his way. And that’s the same with my parents and my husband, and learn to step back and do things as needed.

*Photo provided by Sumaiya

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