Here’s a conversation that happened during a routine eye check up, circa 2013. The doctor was a sweet old man who was very curious about India, especially Indian arranged marriages. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:
Doc: Are there still arranged marriages in India?
Me: Yes, they are very common.
Doc: Was yours arranged?
Doc: So did you run away???
Me (grinning) No, we did not have to 🙂
Would we have run away??? I don’t think so…but it sure would have made for an interesting blog!!!
Let’s rewind a bit, to the time when my parents came to know about our relationship. My father asked me, “How serious are you about this relationship? Having been married to your mother for so many years, I can tell you that I cannot live without her. Do you feel the same way about him?” Honestly speaking, I was not sure then but of course I said yes. Things are different now…fifteen years of togetherness has validated that unsure ‘Yes’. We have had our share of awesome highs and the lowest of lows, but I think that a relationship that weathers through it all is built to last.
In the society in which I grew up, love marriages were less prevalent and most middle class families preferred arranged marriages. A friend, Ms. U, recently wrote a little note where she said, “For most middle class girls born in the late 70s and 80s, marriage was a destination. Right from our childhood, our character, habits, and overall qualities are focused on becoming a good wife, daughter in law, sister in law etc. Just like the other girls of my age, the incidents in my life had the same pattern: everything revolved around my marriage.” Most parents also took it upon themselves to find a groom (hoping that he turned out to be the right one) for their daughter(s). I definitely made my parents’ lives easier, by finding my own groom :-).
I never felt that my upbringing was centered on grooming me into a perfect wife and daughter-in-law. I believe that my parents focused on simply molding me into a good human being, which is what ultimately matters. Thoughts of my prospective marriage may have been in the back of their minds, but never did they let it show. Based on the conventional norms though, I don’t know if I am anywhere close to being a good wife, daughter-in-law etc. (you’ll have to ask my husband and his folks). Note to Mr. P — Please say nice things about me if someone asks!!!
Slightly off track, but still a related topic: how many of you believe in the matching of horoscopes and the coveted ‘porutham’ (compatibility) deducted based on how your stars are aligned? I am glad that both our parents weren’t keen on checking our compatibility. Whether our horoscopes match or not, we have managed to be together for so long now…I guess it was in our stars anyway.
At the cost of sounding like an old grandmother, relationships today are nothing like when us 80s kids were kids. I think my generation is sort of stuck in the middle of traditions handed down from our parents and grandparents and the modern generation that does not have faith in and also doesn’t see the need for marriage. For instance, there was a discussion today themed ‘Kya Bina Shaadi Ke Kam Nahi Chal Sakta? (Can’t Things Work Without Marriage?). A cousin of mine, Ms. A, was part of the panel and I was amazed at how strongly she and the other girls voiced their opinions about and against marriage and how they spoke about building a sisterhood, where women would support each other, even in old age. This would completely negate the age old concept of, ‘A girl should get married and have kids so that she’ll have someone to look after her in her old age.’ Girls today are capable of taking care of themselves, but does that mean they shouldn’t get married? Is marriage only an insurance that you’ll have someone to take care of you? I may not understand their concepts completely, but if that’s what feels right to girls today, more power to them.
Coming back to the topic of love Vs. arranged marriages: some people I know have this notion that love marriages are like fairy tales and always end with the clichéd happily ever after. And there are others who feel that arranged marriages are the only way to go, because they sustain the bumpy ride called marriage. Well, I am not an expert but all I have to say is that though the journey to the destination called marriage may be different, the life after is all the same.
In conclusion, regardless of whether you dated for a few years before marriage, went from being ‘strangers’, to ‘engaged’ to ‘married’ all in one year, or opted to ‘live-in’, it takes equal effort to keep a relationship moving forward. And even if you don’t find marriage to be relevant in today’s society, here’s to all those who cherish their relationships and strive hard everyday to keep things rolling smoothly: “Good relationships don’t just happen. They take time, patience, and two people who truly want to be with each other.” Anonymous