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?