There has always been a long held discussion of love marriages as opposed to arranged marriages. Even to this day in schools, colleges and even b-school admissions, this meaty topic is given for discussion among eager discussants. While the mass perspective still stands divided, how does a man approaching marriageable age view arranged marriage? Does he approach it with regrets of not having tried his hand at love and then miserably failing? Is that what arranged marriages are – a failsafe option? Or does he believe in the sanctity of the customs preceding an arranged marriage, and that he’s saving himself for the ‘one’?
A ‘marriageable’ man
Let’s look at common criteria that make a man eligible for marriage. He has finished the society-approved ‘normal’ amount of education, has found and ‘settled’ in a job/business for a company whose name can be recalled with difficulty (except guys working at Infosys of course!), has overcome the customary mid-mid-life crisis by buying a Bullet/bicyle/DSLR camera/all of the above. The “eligible” ones push multiple degrees and jobs before one day realizing that the set of “eligible” bachelorettes in the market are rapidly getting smaller and a choice must be made soon.
Love marriage – for the bold and the dauntless
Ironically, time left till the dreaded 30 and Minimum Societally Allowable Income (coined by yours truly as abbr.MISAI) are not the primary criteria in love marriages anymore. The onset of pressure in love marriages is from the girl’s side when her parents start asking her to get married. In rare cases, the guy musters the courage to approach the girl’s family, settle then and there, as his current condition allows. In other cases, of course, he escapes to foreign locales for higher degrees. For those that do get off to a shaky start, there’s the tricky case of the girl who does better at her job than the guy, swelling the deep rooted insecurity that he houses, that he needs to earn more. As can be expected of the social norm, people look down upon the man who is financially less capable than his wife, even one’s own family.
Let’s be honest. In many cases, arranged marriages are really a matter of lost hope. For those that tried and failed, and have made arranged marriage as their fall back option. Love isn’t for everyone. It takes the bold, the committed, the ones willing to risk bruises in their relationship with their parents for the ones they believe will be their soulmates. It takes a delicate balance to pull both ends to tie amicably in the middle, and many brave souls even manage to make this happen.
Arranged marriage – the timeless crucible
This is where an arranged marriage could really help out, to pick and choose the one we like, measuring them up against a checklist of expectations! The ones we manage to filter through the sieve of our needs find an intersection with the set of available eligible single ladies/ladies that your community/parents/matrimonial sites manage to bring to the table. Marriages are hard, and we believe that by deliberately making choices and picking our partners, we will eventually learn to respect them and try to live a life with the ones we pick from this intersect of need meets availability.
A guy’s bio-data/curriculum vitae is as important as his matrimonial profile. First meets become a matter of suitability, with the guy trying to bring everything impressible to the conversation- the family lands back in the native, the promotion that’s been due for a couple years now, the road trip to Leh, the last artsy play he saw with a bunch of liberal friends, and so on. Let’s not forget the girl, who for this occasion, has been forced to wear a sari that she’s as uncomfortable in as the conversation that must ensue. The traditional tea/coffee platter and his-eye-meets-her-eye tradition, which has been built up over weeks of nervous twitching and subconsciously practiced tray holding, only adds to the solemnness of this moment. Those that manage to get to the second meets are fortunate to engage in lighter conversation, lesser pressure, and diverse topics that intersperse bouts of awkward pauses, furtive glances, and shy smiles.
Arranged marriages though, are the norm for most. Those shy guys who eyed the girl they couldn’t proclaim their love for, even when the opportunity presented itself multiple times, will now rely on the bespoke methods of arranging to find love. The varieties of means and modes these days for arranged marriages are almost as tricky as the whole hula-palooza of dating. If there is an absolute need to admit oneself in the institution of marriage, one might as well go about it by his or her own choice.
There is, however, a middle ground that many youngsters are discovering. To fall in love (with deliberation and choice) with friends of yesteryears/acquaintances who belong to the same religion/community. This is what is termed as “easing the resistance” at home. I’ve personally admired the conviction of some young men in my circle who have found their mates like this.
Nobody ever approaches an arranged marriage in quite the same way. There come individual choices that will need to be weighed on gentle scales of maturity vs. trust. Would it be wise in an arranged marriage, to settle with the girl who was raised an only child and has never been in a relationship? Do we bare all about the relationships we’ve been in? Or do we just describe the perfunctory glibness of being in an erstwhile relationship, breaking up, getting sad, going through a beard-and-beer phase, and growing out of it to a phase of readiness to commit and live anew? Paralysis by analysis is undoubtedly a major feature of this phase!
Marriages – arranged or love – need dedication
No matter what the mode of admittance into a marriage, once the hype and the romance and the rose tint on the glasses wear off, it is going to take a lot more to keep the bond afloat and strong, at that. To all my friends and random young men seeking to get admitted into this institution, I wish you the faith to keep looking, the luck in finding her, and the fortitude to take each married day as it comes!