Is the Institution of Marriage Still Relevant?

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?
Me: No
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.

My favorite saying about us!

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!!!

True story?!

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.

On a lighter note!

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

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12 thoughts on “Is the Institution of Marriage Still Relevant?

  1. It was a short (considering the topic and the prominence, extravagance and detail associated with it) and fun article! There was a time when I was involved in a group discussion with some friends during one of our hangouts and were fortunate to have one of them already married/engaged considering we’re “young”. It was more of a grilling since the idea of a life long commitment seemed scary and almost implausible at the time and we had a lamb who’d already be making it to the other side so we really tried to figure out how he decided his wife/fiance was “the one”. He told a story with a moral along the lines of you’ve to settle for a fruit that seems good at some point, you can keep looking in the hope that you could find something better, it’s possible you might and there’s a good chance you might not as well so in a way it’s a risk averse gamble to settle down with one person. While it makes sense logically speaking, and it has its subtleties to it, I guess relationships are a lot more complicated and like you said totally work only if both people are on the same page on where they want it to go aside from liking/loving each other, being able to handle the ups and downs and that by itself is a very, very rare “super-apple” I’d say. The other point of discussion is of course if arranged marriages are a good idea/if they’d “settle” for an arranged marriage, there were of course people of the current generation who detest the idea of arranged marriage, I guess in the small sample set they were mostly girls which is kinda interesting. (although one of my closest friends, a guy, says he’ll not get married if it comes down to having to settle for arranged marriage) I feel however that arranged marriages aren’t a bad idea, it’s just parents approved dating, to an extent at least (unless I’m extremely mistaken about how things work in India, now, in cities at least), with relationships one finds you have the liberty of having an indefinite trial period but I guess you really don’t know a person completely unless you live with them and that can’t happen, while we’re following our traditions, without getting married, so it could be a chicken and egg problem! So I guess nobody could say “YES” with certainty at the point you did say you’d be unable to live without the person you’re dating, because you only get to that point after having lived together long enough that your lives are intertwined enough that you can’t imagine not having them around!

    P.S. I apologize for rambling on your ramblings! 😛

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    1. Hari, thank you for rambling on my rambling! Committing to one person is definitely a scary thought and it is true that you don’t get to know a person until you actually share a roof with them. People can be very different in that way..you get see all their quirks and maybe shortcomings too. But that’s what makes it fun I guess. You learn more about each other’s plus and minus points and adjust!

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  2. For me the last para says it all… marriage is like any other relationship..all relationships need the same things to survive…respect , acceptance and lil bit of love ❤️
    “Kya shaadi ke bina kaam nahi chal sakta?!” Kya kaam? If shaadi is done to be able to achieve something it’s plain sad …
    As usual well written Mrs AP🤩love you favorite quote😘❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well written. We are glad that you acknowledge our effort to bring you up a little more free than scores of other girls and boys. There was an initial jolt on your announcement of having found a suiable partner. Good choice it has turned out to be.

    Liked by 1 person

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