In the recent past I have been thinking a lot about marriages. The true meaning and relevance of marriage in one’s life and even types of marriages, for, Indian marriages have types too (unlike the rest of the world).
I personally think the topic of arranged marriage v/s love marriage is dealt with like choice of eating butter chicken v/s paneer butter masala. I say so, for busying ourselves in these comparisons we tend to forget the real purpose of getting married.
Let me begin with examples from my own family.
My first cousin, Sonam* is one month younger to me. We have never been close but share a lot in common. We got married the same year (one month apart again), have been professionals in the same field though in different countries. There is one more rare similarity we share, we both are separated from our spouses. Though I am divorced, she has decided to not take the matter to the court.
While I have had an arranged marriage, she went on to marry her boyfriend of five years. I recently began thinking on these lines when someone, absolutely unrelated, commented that divorces and separations are common in love marriages whereas success rates of arranged marriages stand as role model for the entire world.
My arranged marriage wasn’t the typical one for my opinion was highly valued about everything, including the boy I’d marry. No horoscopes were matched and open talk about dowry and other associated issues (common in Indian weddings) was done in thorough detail right in the start. What happened in the days to follow has been written about in detail in my earlier posts. But there is something very important I wish to convey from my personal experience.
Despite the sufferings my married life threw my way, I still hold strong belief in the institution of marriage. I strongly believe that patriarchy and the arranged marriage system alone don’t stand to be the cause of my/any other failed (Indian) marriage.
I say so, for like Sonam’s case I too had a long-term interaction period with my ex-husband, though on a long distance basis for he was settled abroad. I can confidently claim to have spoken about all vital issues with my (then) would-be-spouse before tying the knot.
Then too I failed to seek acceptance in his family. I had not had a love marriage, neither was it an inter-cast one. I was the first choice of my ex-MIL and also my ex-husband. So in an ideal Indian setup it was a wedding arranged in heaven when all the lucky stars aligned to create the perfect match.
Still, Sonam and I suffered a breakup. Because, in both our cases our spouses betrayed us. Blatantly refused to accept all the promises they’d made prior to the wedding and chose everyone but their spouse and kid when the time came.
So what is the point I am trying to make?
Just that, the success or failure of a marriage is solely dependent on the people who are married. Rest everything else is immaterial, unimportant and a mere waste of human emotions and time. If only the spouses stay loyal, respectful, supportive and honest life goes on smoothly, every hurdle can be changed to a stepping stone to success.
In my personal opinion, arranged or love marriages should only differ in how the spouses met. Themselves or through their families. Rest everything else should be left to be discussed, shared, decided and planned by the people getting married, not by the people around them. This thought often provokes a response, as to compatibility of the daughter in law in the marital family can be judged only by the boy’s parents and family for they have better life experience.
To that, I’d like to say that if the boy getting married isn’t mature enough to be able to decide what kind of life and spouse would suit him, he better wait till such maturity dawns over him. No one has ever gained anything except frustration and pain when people other than the people getting married make the final choices. After all, the people who are to spend their lives living up to those choices should rightfully be the ones making them.
Instead of debating which type of marriage, whether arranged or love is a better one, emphasis should be laid on instilling the right essence of married life. Look for compatibility and companionship. Person with whom you are on the same page in your values, vision of life and beliefs will make for a better spouse irrespective of how you met him/her.
* Name has been changed to protect identity.
The song on my mind: Le jayenge, le jayenge ~ Chor machaye shor