Shama Sikander talks about her recent engagement to James Milliron and the challenges of being an intercultural couple.
Related reading: Dating a foreigner is worth it! Here’s why…
What do you love about James?
He is someone who doesn’t complicate life and make a big deal out of everything. He has always loved me without any fear and has been straightforward in expressing it. I have been with a lot of complicated people before. Nowadays, marriage is over-rated — both getting married and not getting married. And here’s a man who sees ‘marriage’ just as it is, no terms and conditions attached.
The best part about James is that he comes from a family where his parents have been married for donkey’s years and still love each other with all their heart.
I don’t like a man who is great only around his girlfriends and treats others in a different manner. James treats everyone with compassion and respect. I love that about him.
What is the story behind your relationship?
A common friend introduced us to each other at a dinner party. I saw a sweet good-looking guy from America and left it at that. I didn’t think about it any more, as I had just gotten out of a relationship. I was still enjoying being single. James invited me to another party with his friends and I accepted. But only two of us turned up — I and another guy. So I asked him, “Were you lying to me?” But he assured me he did invite all his friends, but no one turned up except the two of us. After this incident, we started meeting each other for coffee and things took off from there.
What challenges do you face as part of a cross-cultural couple?
He comes from a very orthodox family — they are very introverted and conservative. They raised him to be simple, loving, caring and respectful towards others. I love all cultures. For me, it’s never been a problem, and thankfully James and I have a very similar view of life.
I can only say my relationship works because I don’t put any pressure on him. Nor does he push me to change my culture.
Related reading: In love with my wife, because she’s ‘different’
We just accept each other the way we are and enjoy each other’s company. We don’t let any religion interfere.
How secure do you feel in your relationship?
My career is demanding, so is his job. But we both understand that well and accordingly give each other the required respect and space. I don’t know about the future, but we continue to spend enough time with each other and there really isn’t any space for insecurities. And yes, James is human, obviously he is bound to get insecure sometimes. But he trusts me tremendously and that trust is something you have to build yourself. I trust him in a great way, as well. Any time we have any confusion, we talk it out. We are a very talkative couple — I don’t think any relationship can survive for long if there is a lack of communication.
We share things with each other without a fear of what the other person would think. We just share everything and come to a conclusion very quickly. If you conceal it or lie, the problem will never solve itself.
The moment when he proposed…
All my former relationships have been very deep and long, but they never reached a proposal. So when James took that step without any hesitation, I had tears in my eyes. It was totally new to me and absolutely what I had always wanted. Though it was a wonderful surprise, it was equally an emotional moment, as well.
Do you have an ideal for marriage that you would like to emulate?
For the longest time, my parents formed the idea of an ideal couple for me, until they decided to separate. The whole idea of marriage breaks down when your parents are not together any more. If anybody is able to carry forward their relationship for long years, then it’s a commendable feat, because it’s really tough to be with another person for all your life.