The epic battle of arranged versus love marriage has been going on since time-I-really-don’t-care-about. The older generation always seems to be hinged on the importance of caste and creed in the matter of marriage. As soon as a daughter leaves home for the prospect of a better education or career, an impromptu meeting, more like an intervention, is set up and the entire family nags every bit of hope of having a tiny bit of romance out of her system. Somehow, the charm of their daughter being presented and analyzed like an electronic item or a business deal and rejected for lack of a pale dark complexion, clouds the thought process of her family. And the idea that someone might actually like and respect her just the way she is, is absolutely abhorrent to them.
While her parents and family put a red carpet and rose petals on the path that leads to an arranged marriage, her friends lure her to the magical world of love. Youngsters these days believe in an early start, and have love interests even in high school. So when a girl decides to marry the ‘one’ selected by her parents, it is secretly (not-so-much) deemed that there are intermittent issues with the girl. She might be a classic case of all love lost and the guy she was in love with has ditched her. Or she is very nitpicky or has too high standards, impossible for a human boy to fulfil. Or she could have finally succumbed to emotional blackmail of some member of her family who is pretending to be dead soon. The reason that a girl wants to have an arranged marriage is because that is what she wants, can never be a reasonable choice.
The Suitable Girl:
Although there is a change in societal values, the checklist of the qualities a girl should have has still not changed, but rather updated. Now she is supposed to look like one of those models that stepped out of Vogue, cook like Gordon Ramsay (without the swearing, of course), and take care of the house as if she is Martha Stewart. And she must also have a respectable job, with her earnings added to the ‘future goals/aspirations of the couple’ piggy bank.
Even if the guy has left behind a string of raging girlfriends, the girl must be….hmmm what is the word, ‘fresh’, as if they’re buying vegetables at a market. But finding a suitable girl isn’t that much of a problem these days as it is finding the eligible bachelor.
The Mutual stuff:
As a girl and a boy both have equal chances of making their mark in the world, the rules of eligibility now also include ‘mutual understanding’ among complete strangers. The raw materials a girl gets for building a lifelong foundation are one or two pictures of the guy, second-hand information about his job, education, age and his family.
Of course, this guy has been thoroughly investigated and filtered through a complicated apparatus called parents, and only then is the girl told about him. His salary or the prospect of going abroad for work are highlighted, and the fact that his weight might lead to a heart attack during the process of wedding never reaches the girl until she sees him.
The Tea Party
A date is set when the girl and boy will finally meet for some fifteen minutes or so, and will be coerced into liking each other. Best crockery and draperies are laid out. The girl has to pretend that this is her first ever contact with earthlings. She is asked to keep all her vocabulary for after marriage chats and talk in monosyllables, lest he misinterpret her higher knowledge of the language as ‘high-maintenance’. She has to behave as delicately as possible as if even a flower could prick her. Then starts the half-hollow praises by the families of their own ward.
Even the nervous guy is a sight to behold. Dressed in his best shirt, hair combed to perfection, jaw clean of any whiskers, with a haunted, clueless expression in his eyes. He half-smiles at everyone, stealing occasional glances at the girl. To think that the girl and the boy could have an honest conversation during this time is foolishness. Both of them would want to have at least one other chance of talking to each other, in a less daunting environment.
This process might repeat a few times with different guys, but you never get accustomed to it. Things that may have led to rejection in earlier cases are re-checked, avoided or rectified, as the case may be.
The whole package:
Love marriage becomes an easier option when it comes to compromise in the relationship. As both are already in love, sacrificing a few things or changing some habits for the other comes naturally. However, in arranged marriages, every situation becomes a test of commitment towards each other. Also, the past is something that you can never come out of. If the girl says that she never had a boyfriend, the husband finds it difficult to believe. God forbid if she did have a boyfriend and comes clean to her husband about it. What ensues is a never-ending comparison and competition started by the husband with an unseen and equally uninterested opponent. For god’s sake, she married you, not the other guy!
The essence of marriage is working together like a team, not over-thinking or rationalizing every situation. Whether the marriage was after love or the love came after marriage, being in love with your spouse is more important. Not to scare you, but ‘choosing your battles’ is likely the only mantra that can lead you to a successful relationship. There are always some expectations, and it is part of human nature. But sometimes, it is good to keep those needs aside to open your eyes to what is already being done for you. Marriage is a journey, and you have to tackle every obstacle just as it comes!