One phenomenon that hasn’t changed over the years, and continues to remain a puzzle and intrigue many people, especially the youngsters of this generation, is the concept of the ‘arranged marriage’. While the institution of marriage itself is becoming a debatable factor, and we are in an era where the social sites have taken over, where marriages happen virtually, it is indeed a wonder that arranged marriages still work!
For the benefit of those who are perplexed about this arrangement, here is how a typical arranged marriage works. The individual’s parents or older family members screen for and find prospective mates for both the man and woman; based on the compatibility of horoscopes (it should have read ‘horror-scopes!). The search is extended through their social circle, extended family members, community, or by advertising on matrimonial websites or newspapers. Once the match is found after all parameters have met, the family gathers for an initial meeting, after which the couple get a few opportunities for guarded courtship. The decision (whether a yes/no) is seldom shared immediately, similar to an interviewer’s clichéd response “will let you know later”! After several rounds of discussions and exchange of information, if the answer is a ‘no’ nothing lost, and if it is a ‘yes’, the process for a long term arrangement begins.
Sara is 27 years old and her husband, Antony, is 32. Before they were married, she lived in India, he in the United States of America, and Sara’s parents were insistent on them finding a prospective groom for their only daughter. Sara and Antony met after her parents placed an ad in the matrimonial column available in their parish church.
Sara recalls “my dad, every Sunday after service in church , would screen for the responses received and he would mark them and tell me to choose the one I thought prospective , he would say “Whoever you are interested, keep them aside.” Although Sara would have loved say “No, I’m not going to go through that. I am certainly not going to do that,” she realises that she will not win against her parents’ decision.
It was not very different for Antony too; “I was sifting through emails, of the ‘biodata’ of prospective brides, sent to me by my parents. I picked Sara and I emailed her and on my visit to India, my parents had arranged for us to meet once, and then we talked once, and I gave my nod.”
Sara and Antony were engaged soon after, as he had to get back to work in America. In the meantime back home, all arrangements were being made for the wedding that was to take place six months later. So, was there long distance relationship happening between Sara and Antony? There is really no need for that! Antony flew down a week before his wedding and the next meeting between them was at their wedding!
It’s hard to comprehend how two people can decide on their future life together without dating, without interacting and go by the trust their parents have placed? This is a gamble! A game won in a glorious manner and a leaf to take out from the lives of our parents.
Marriage is a bond, it is a partnership — a long term equal partnership. There is nothing like you can find the right one waiting for you out there for you, somebody perfect, because no one is perfect; and if you think, this is not working out and you will find someone else and that they will be better and more perfect, that’s not even a remote possibility. That’s the fun of being in an arranged marriage because you are getting to know the person all along. There’s no fear, you can make mistakes and you know that the other person is not going anywhere. There is no judging the other person; it’s all about making this relationship perfect. After a decade of being married Sara says, it’s like falling in love each day, like you’re still dating like he’s my boyfriend we don’t feel like we’ve gotten married.”
Marriage is for keepers and this institution is forever. It’s not like buying a commodity that can be returned or exchanged if you don’t like it or are unhappy with it. You grow together as beautiful people learning life’s lessons all the way. It’s about loving an imperfect person perfectly and to keep it together, you have to grow with the other person and that is the secret of success of the many arranged marriages.