Knotty issues


Of late, I have had the chance to witness some recent marriages unfolding in their aftermath a series of changes in the personalities of the people that entered into matrimony. One of them is a marriage of a person, known to me through my husband. Although I cannot claim to have known him very well even before his marriage took place, the change in him is so evident that even a bystander can smell a burning issue. He has had an arranged marriage and was quite a disheartened soul during his bride-seeing days. I had often remarked to my husband about why he shouldn't or wouldn't take a stand or the initiative in looking for someone for himself. Even if the customary essentials of horoscope/caste/class/etc/etc had to match, there was sufficient scope for his intervention to make him the lead decision maker rather than just wait for the final event of bride-seeings.

Another instance is of someone I used to know. The girl was smart and well-educated and had a mind of her own too. She happened to be at someone else's wedding and apparently her (future) MIL saw her, liked her and immediately pressed for matters to be taken ahead. Things happened very quickly, the girl and the boy (who was an NRI) apparently never got a chance to speak to each other or even meet properly before the engagement. The wedding which took place soon after the engagement was all a rushed affair and the girl flew to the US with her husband to discover in horror that the guy had a psychological problem. The ensuing turmoil and hardships that she had to face is anybody's guess. That, she finally got divorced and is now happily remarried is another story.

Marriage seems to have different effects on different people. The effect is quite proportionate to the amount of expectation or thought that has gone into it. The more one has thought independently about this aspect of life, the more he/she is equipped to deal with the after-effects. Marriage is the biggest event after graduation, sometimes even before, in India. Yet, unfortunately, not much of a thought goes into this life-altering event. Either by the parents or the concerned bride/groom. A large number of marriages still take place by the intervention of parents and sundry relatives without any regard for the preference or criteria in the bride/groom's mind. But the worse, I have seen is, a lot of the youth have no idea of the kind of life-partner they would like to have. They haven't explored the possibility of thinking it out on their own, handling over the reins to their parents in entirety. Parents, howsoever attuned to the offspring's nature/personality/tastes, cannot and ideally should not be the deciding factor in something that will impact a whole lot of equation between two set of individuals.

Agreed. Everyone does not fall in love and sometimes arranged alliances do turn out well. However, even if the alliance is a seeked out one, the search criteria should be set by the person to be married and the final decision needs to stay with the said person. A criteria that is not influenced by the norms of a patriarchal society. Something that has evolved out of one's personal thinking, attitude and values. Alright, that someone was suggested by a distant relative. But, the job of that relative ceases then and there. Isn't it vital that the concerned two sit down and discuss at least important topics that will affect their married life, for instance, career, finances, values, children, expectations from both sets of parents, outlook towards life? Should lives be pledged upon the mere fact that the heavenly horoscopes matched and the prospective bride and groom liked each others' face, height and colour in the brief encounter during the seeing ceremony amidst a jingbang of sundry people? How can seemingly smart and educated young people do this to themselves?

No one can guarantee the success of a marriage. Marriages need to be worked on to make them successful. Things can go horribly wrong even with a person who was not a stranger before marriage. There are several instances of happy marriages where the bride and the groom interacted very briefly and were pretty much strangers before tying the knot. That, however, does not mean you should leave all to destiny. Whichever way you wish to get hitched, spend some time thinking about why you are getting married and who would be a likely candidate with whom you'd be ready to spend the rest of the life. It is not possible to have a perfect picture in the mind but there needs to be some shape however hazy to get a sense of ownership. Without ownership there won't be the will to plough the marriage through the weeds and thorns. Sometimes, life has a way of handing over lemons, one way or the other. But isn't it stupidity to set out to buy sweet limes blindfolded and then crib about landing up with lemons instead?

24 comments:

  1. a very though provoking post.. what i have seen in the arranged marriages is, bride and groom meet once or twice, amidst family members and get engaged, which i find quite absurd.. i think it's very important to know well the person whom you are going to spend your life with.. even if it's an arranged marriage.. am i right??

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    1. I agree. One needs to at least think through and have an idea about the future spouse. Arranged marriages unfortunately still has a lot of limitations with respect to letting the girl and the boy have multiple dates before deciding. The girl and boy need to meet in private and discuss at least important issues. But what are important issues can only be understood if and when one spends some time in introspection.

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  2. beautifully written Uma! I agree with everything that you have mentioned! :)

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    1. Thanks, Haritha! and welcome here :-)

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  3. Grrrr.............just typed a looong comment and it disappeared...damn Gurgaon electricity board!!! Am so mad :(((
    Laterz :)

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    1. Uh..oh..:-(...Bangalore elec board is not doing gr8 either..:-(
      Pliss to re-write that looooong comment again.

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    2. What I wanted to share was an incident, which is actually 'incidental' and tangential to what you were saying in your post. There's so much info available on the web, that making a decision is both easier and harder. Recently I was asked to introduce 2 families - one is my uncle's family and they were looking out for a guy for my cousin sister, the other is a friend's family where there was an eligible 'boy'. After seeing the fb and linkedin profiles, pictures of the entire family on fb and the detailed profile on tamilmatrimony.com, my uncle's family decided that they boys side were too 'traditional'! I thought it was very unfair - the poor guy never stood a chance!
      I think what I am trying to say is that the research and thought process starts a lot in advance of the actual meeting/seeing and while this may mitigate the risk involved, at the end of the day there is no substitute for actually spending time with the prospective life partner.

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    3. Poor boy!
      I agree. Sometimes, the information/photos available makes draw hasty pictures about the family and the boy/girl concerned.
      Yes, research and process by the family is good but they cannot take over the reins of thinking for the boy/girl too.
      The main point I am trying to nail is there are young people out there who do not take the trouble of giving this matter some thought, leaving everything to destiny and parents which kind of irks me.

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    4. Actually, Uma, I feel that nowadays expectations (which are sky-high) are also the problem. Most people (I mean the younger generation) seem to take the easy way out of having a bucket list of criteria with no scope for refinements or flexibility. So I feel that they have thought it out - just without any commonsense and hoping that they somehow blindly manage to find someone with that criteria. This is not by any standards an informed opinion or anything since I don't have much experience in these matters - but based on my few interactions with people half a generation younger than us, this is what I feel.
      I remember my husband telling me when I asked him how he would have chosen a girl if he had to have an arranged marriage - and he gave me a formula full of weighted averages and I was like - what????? :)

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    5. hmm..yes,I agree. that is another extreme! the usual society driven or influenced irrational expectations..again not thought out with a sensible head. But again such expectations are only a product of nonsensical minds which, going by the matrimonial ads, unfortunately form a major percentage. Sigh!

      weighted averages, huh? :-)

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    6. Well, there is one more point here.

      What are the chances that couples who have found their partners with expectations met have successful marriage? As Aparna said, expectations are so frivolous... Post marriage hardly anybody fights over those points. Of course, I came to know of all this only after I got married. I wasn't so intelligent earlier. ;)

      Marriage has a lot to do with maturity and looking at differences from a distance to evaluate them. I know far too many couples who lead an immature marital life. And they are not younger than me either. Even older couples can have immature fights and cold wars. Being childish is alright as long as you know when to grow up and take control of a situation going haywire. Sadly, this aspect of marriage is never revealed unless one gets married.

      So I think a lot remains with an individual to sort their differences or even similarities. No parent seems to make their kids understand this. Rather they are hell bent on finding someone who resembles a showpiece for all to see and gloat over!

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    7. Even I had frivolous expectations which I came to realize much later :-) Thankfully I also had a bunch of sensible ones too ;-)

      "So I think a lot remains with an individual to sort their differences or even similarities. No parent seems to make their kids understand this. Rather they are hell bent on finding someone who resembles a showpiece for all to see and gloat over!"

      These lines have enough material for another post :-)
      Very few parents prepare kids with life-skills that are actually more necessary than education itself. Puberty, marriage, sex, children, these are all beaten-round-the-bush topics. Do what everyone has been doing so far is the unsaid dictum. I hope we are able to make some difference going forward. Easier said than done!

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    8. This is a discussion board now! :) :) I think we should co-write a book on Marriage! :) ;)

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    9. hahaha...good idea! ;-) :-)

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  4. Bravo! and how well said!

    well, my two cents on the issue.

    Having gone through the groom search (before finding my mate myself), I know how insecure one feels. Though my parents had guaranteed me 100% that the last word would be mine. And yes, there were times when everything was good (horoscope, education and sundry) and still something did not click and I said "No" even before meeting the guy. Thankfully, my decision was respected.

    I have always wondered how people leave everything to the stars and let their destiny happen. I think we do have some control over how we want our lives to turn out.

    Again, the decision of getting married to KK, whom I had never seen was scary; even for me. Yes it was Love Love love, but then I kept my eyes open. I had been conversing with him for almost a yr and a half. and I figured it was way better than seeing a person, talking to him for half an hour and making a decision that'd last for a lifetime. Like my husband always says "A known devil is better than an unknown angel"

    All through this, I kept a plan B in my mind. What if the person who I am talking to isn't who he shows to be? What if he turns out to be those sweet talking ones who later say, "I was just flirting. You became serious. Not my problem!" Thankfully, I hit a jackpot and he was as he used to be.

    Not much thought goes behind getting married. and someone who'd take time to think about it, is usually reprimanded by parents for "taking too much time".

    Most of the marriages hit the rocks due to misunderstanding and mis-communication. even though they stick together for a lifetime, it is hard to say if they really want to be together. I have seen couples having so much bitterness between them. probably the foundation of their marriage never got a chance to solidify.

    Everybody has expectations from their (would be) better halves. and sometimes a tad too idealistic. Talking out helps erase those false expectations and come to terms with reality.

    Be it arranged or love marriage, life starts only after you start living together. Thats when you shed all inhibitions and get down to being your real self. If that's agreeable, people stick. Some come to terms with the reality, some make it work, some understand their responsibilities.

    and I strongly think, that despite friction one can make a marriage work. I am not saying that in case of physical and mental harassment one should stay married. But I have seen so many people fall out just because one likes their eggs scrambled and other likes it sunny side up! Such insignificant issues become sole reasons for divorce!

    Sigghh!! My two cents indeed!

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    1. "Not much thought goes behind getting married. and someone who'd take time to think about it, is usually reprimanded by parents for "taking too much time". "

      EXACTLY! the arranged set up has this limitation but a person who has taken the effort to take marriage seriously and is not getting married for the sake of it will somehow work his round this too.

      Loved your two cents! Very succinctly put.

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    2. Thoughtful post Uma! And Purnima, really like your points. Maturity, assuming responsibility, seeing the other person's point of view, balancing expectations or even modifying them at times, open communication and compromises between the couple, it can sometime take a long time for a marriage to get truly going! Not for the faint-hearted!

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    3. Very true, Vibha. Sometimes it can take a long time for a marriage to truly get going!

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  5. Well put as usual Uma :). To add my 2 cents about making marriages work - even in a love marriage, the amount of things you don't know about each other until the time you spend "all" your time together is stupendous, and needs a lot of adjustment and work to make things work. I feel nowadays lot of youngsters (I am including our generation) take the easy way out and choose to opt out even for frivolous reasons :(. This is from a couple of split-ups that I know of. Of course many of the other kind too, when there are irreparable reasons and it is good that women especially are able to make bold choices instead of staying stuck.

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    1. Hey you've removed moderation?

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    2. Thanks, Aparna..you're right about love marriages needing to be worked upon too. Any marriage will need to be worked on and if you give it some thought before entering into one, you'll perhaps be better equipped. Of course, a sensible head before and after is a sure prerequisite ;-)

      yep, moderation off..:-)

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  6. hmmm...the thing is, all the marriages I know that have broken up are love narriages and not arranged. in fact all the AM I know are very happy ones-go figure

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    1. The kind of marriage one has had does not determine it's success rate, me thinks. The amount of introspection one does beforehand and the amount of commitment to try and work out things later is the key.
      Of course, am not talking of abusive and ill-balanced relationships here that eventually lead to a break-up.

      Welcome here :-)

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