By Lela Struga
Being married with a Pakistani man is an interesting life experience.
Stefania is a 25 year old Romanian girl, currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark, with her Pakistani husband. She left her job and some of her passions in Romania, not abandoning them, but putting them aside for a while, to focus more on the family future. Love has led her to Copenhagen, where she lives now with her husband, Sikander.
Our love story started almost four years ago. At that time I was 21, still a student and he was 28 and came for the second time to Romania for his studies. We met by coincidence, and the first date felt like a reunion of two old friends. I felt like I knew him forever. Nobody believed in us. My friends and family were against us, especially because of the religious differences. My parents did not agree from the beginning with our relationship, and it even went until the point where my father made me choose between him and them. And I chose him.
Four months after we met, we went to the mosque to get married, to do the Islamic wedding, Nikkah. It was just the two of us and the witnesses. Nobody else knew. It was a way to declare our love in front of God. Two months later we married at the City Hall legally again, without telling anybody. It was a decision we took for ourselves. It was not easy, not having our families with us there, but we did not want to let anybody or anything come between us.
At this point, only my mother and sister knew that we were married. The other members of the family waited for the big wedding. They learned to love and accept him with time. They managed to go beyond stereotypes and fear, to learn more about his religion and culture. And now they love him and accept him as being part of the family.
Two years ago we decided to move from Romania and start our life in Denmark. Moving there brought us even more together. We were both foreigners in a world that was very different from the one we were used to and we had each other to count on. It was a struggle and a difficult process during which we and our marriage matured.
Is all about mutual understanding and acceptance
Being married with a Pakistani is an interesting life experience. It was challenging in the beginning, due to the culture and religious differences, but I was lucky, because he never tried to impose anything on me. If one of us did not agree with something, we would discuss it. It is a matter of reciprocal respect. I love his culture, listening to his childhood stories and he is a great chef, so I love Pakistani food. We both respect our own religion. There are times when we pray together, I listen carefully to his stories about Islam and the Prophet, and he listens to my stories about Christianity. Is all about mutual understanding and acceptance.
We embrace the differences and we welcome the new from both of them.
It was a blessing to understand more about Islam
Being married with a man from a different culture is both a challenge and a blessing. In terms of challenges, for me one of the biggest challenges was to try to make the people around me understand the beauty of his culture, religion and to see him as a normal person. Coming from a small Romanian town, marrying a foreigner was not accepted, especially, if he was Muslim.
To everyone he was just a Muslim, and nobody tried to see beyond the image the media was creating. For me it was a blessing to understand more about Islam, about the benefits of Ramadan and about Pakistani culture. We come from two different worlds, and I think we are both blessed to bring into our marriage the best of both of them. We embrace the differences and we welcome the new from both of them.
Our main rule is to listen to each other.
We started our life from zero, we did not have the support of anybody and we learned every day to grow and to stay there for each other. We had moments of crisis, especially economically, and we stayed away from each other for six months as he was the first one to leave Romania in search for a better job, but trust and unconditional love was an important part of keeping our relationship stronger.
Our main rule is to listen to each other. We talk openly about what we like, or don’t, and it is up to each other to accept that. We usually reach a consensus when we deal with family decisions and most of the time it is all about respect. We are growing up day by day and learn from our mistakes.
My wife was a strong support in all the struggles we had.
As a Pakistani man being married with a European woman is for me both a challenge and a gift. It was a challenge because I had to firstly make her family accept me, and then the Romanian people understand from where I am coming and the difference between our cultures. My wife was a strong support in all the struggles we had all these years, and we finally reached a point in our lives where here family is happy with our relationship and want to know more about my roots.
It was a challenge because I had to firstly make her family accept me.
I always loved Romania, the people, the traditions and the culture. It’s enriching to be part of a Romanian family that still keeps the traditions and having my wife introducing me to them was always an adventure and a positive experience. Even now, being in another country, we happily go to Romania and we enjoy every moment of it.