“Love doesn’t erase the past, but it makes the future different” – Gary Chapman, author
Almost everyone has baggage which they carry into their next relationship. My husband and I are no exception – to that end, we’ve decided to be open about our pasts, warts and all.
Before he met me, one of his serious relationships was with someone of a different ethnicity.
It didn’t work out (obviously), or else we wouldn’t be married, would we? They are both good people though, and it’s a shame that it didn’t work out.
Honestly, I felt a stab of jealousy writing this, even though we’re currently married – but I think it’s important to share his story nonetheless, just in case there are other people in a similar position.
He met her during one of his work conferences, and they exchanged numbers. A few mamak outings and movie dates later, they became a couple.
She was from a staunch Buddhist family but she had friends from all backgrounds, so she was familiar with the Islamic faith. They ended up together partly because he wasn’t preachy about his religion at all. They both respected each other’s faiths, although they knew it would be a problem in the future.
While they were out on dates, he’d occasionally excuse himself and stop by a mosque to perform his daily prayers. She didn’t mind it one bit. Occasionally, she’d speak to him about Buddhist teachings, enlightenment, and meditation rituals, which he didn’t mind either.
All differences aside, they really just wanted to be with each other.
Of course, it also helped that she’s fond of Malay food and all things spicy. On his side, he liked Chinese food too, so they made it their ‘mission’ to hunt for halal kopitiam outlets and Chinese-Muslim food.
Things eventually got more serious, and he introduced her to his mother, who accepted their relationship and didn’t mind that she was of a different faith.
Naturally, he asked to meet her parents for their blessings too – he did intend to marry her. He drove all the way from KL to Terengganu just to meet them.
Her family rejected him flatly.
Things escalated when she told her family that she was converting to Islam. Her parents were outraged, and her siblings were so incensed that her brother grabbed him by the collar and literally threw him out of the house.
It made no difference even when she assured them that nothing would change and that they’d still be a family. Her family gave her an ultimatum – leave him, or they would disown her.
Throughout the shouting and yelling, he was looking at her from outside the house. He could never ask her to choose between him and her family, just for the sake of their relationship. As much as it hurt him, he made a painful decision right there and then.
He broke up with her in front of everyone.
He returned to KL gutted and heartbroken. She followed a few days later, equally in grief.
Her family were adamant with their decision, and there was nothing either of them could do to change that.
Things were tough for them after that, and their relationship was on-and-off a few times. She even hatched a plan to secretly convert into Islam and marry him. She thought about pretending like nothing’s changed in front of her family.
But they both knew it wasn’t going to work out. He wouldn’t let her, and he didn’t want them to start their new life together with a lie.
Eventually they broke up for good, and even stopped being friends. They cut off each other cold turkey and blocked all communication.
The last he heard of her was a few years ago. She had moved back to Terengganu to be with her family, and remained a Buddhist.
“It’s too bad cause love is blind…” – Alicia Keys, award-winning singer
Interracial relationships can work out, despite the many challenges. Some couples make it work with the blessing of their families, while others don’t.
My husband fell in love with someone who was of different faith, but he put parents and family above everything. Including love. He could’ve just eloped with her, and continued their lives being together. But it was too much of a cost to bear. It wouldn’t be fair to her either.
I guess it just wasn’t written for them.
Curious, I asked my husband if he ever regretted breaking up with her, and why didn’t he pursue her again, when he was older and presumably wiser?
And this is what he told me:
“I did what I thought was best at the time. There were no regrets at all breaking off the relationship. I just couldn’t live a life in pretense and deceit, especially towards her family.
Sure, I had thoughts about rekindling the relationship a few times. But someone special told me once – “just give time, some time.” I’ve moved on, and had no intention to let old wounds bleed again.”
(FYI – that ‘someone special’ is me).
Before they ended all communication, she sent him a long text detailing how she felt.
To an extent, he knew she blamed him for the lack of, (more) aggressive actions regarding their relationship. “To tell you the truth, I felt like punching her brother when he threw me out of the house.”
That wouldn’t solve anything anyway, he added.
Don’t let his story discourage you from pursuing your own matters of the heart though, he added. Different people has different stories and endings. Time has changed now and families are more accepting. The interracial relationships, like any others, will always be full of challenges. It’s up to us on how to deal with them.
True to his words, my now-husband always tells me to prioritise my parents, as “they are our tickets to Heaven.” Over time, we may and would change partners or lovers, but we’d never be able to change our parents.
I guess I married the right guy.
For more stories by Nazmie, read I Was a Cougar Before I Met My Current Husband. Here Are the Do’s and Don’t’s When Dating Younger Men, and I Had a ‘Friend with Benefits’, Which Went Completely Wrong. Here’s What Happened.