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Modern-Day Arranged Marriages

Arranged marriages were the norm at one point in time but lately they have been shunned and not as widely accepted. People are more open to dating and finding their life partner as opposed to having potential matches introduced to them. The question that often arises is whether arranged marriages belong in the 21st century and are they practical? What compels people to take this route in finding the person they want to spend their lives with? I recently sat down and spoke to several couples. Read on to learn their stories.

Arranged by Friends

Meet Rahul and Kiran. They were introduced to each other through friends who thought they would be perfect for each other. Sure, we have all been set up on blind dates, but that’s what it is: A DATE. How often does marriage come out of it? Not too many that I know of. Rahul and Kiran were lucky enough to find each other through their friends. They have been married for only one year and could not be happier.

Kiran found it difficult at first, adjusting to living with her husband in their new home. She was used to having her personal space and time and now sharing it with someone new was awkward.

Kiran, a bio-chemist, was at the point in life where she knew she wanted to settle down or at least take the first few steps towards that. She wanted and needed to be accepted for herself and respected for who she is. Kiran wanted someone who could meet her on an intellectual and emotional level as well. Coming from a small family, she also needed someone who would appreciate her parents and respected them. Rahul, a businessman, always on the go, needed someone who would accept his lifestyle and be equally hard-working as him to succeed in life. Family and friends are very important to him and he needed someone who would understand that and feel the same way. They had mutual friends who knew them so well and they decided that they would be perfect for each other. They met, talked, understood each other and got married.

Kiran found it difficult at first, adjusting to living with her husband in their new home. She was used to having her personal space and time and now sharing it with someone new was awkward. Compromising on issues and respecting the need for privacy at times was the crucial element. Sure, they get into tiffs, but over coming them is all part of the package! They have come to realize that they can’t agree on every issue but they have learnt that they don’t have to, not if they can respect each other’s thoughts and accept it. Marriage according to them is a huge responsibility which is not to be taken lightly and is a work in progress. Their advice: Learn to compromise and respect the other person, the rest will fall in place. Whether it is arranged through friends, family or parents, you have to work hard to make it successful.

Immigrant Woes

Meet Vijay and Savitha: Savitha a former micro-biologist, now a stay at home caring for her 2-year-old daughter, Vijay a well-qualified engineer. Two successful people who chose to take the often traveled road of arranged marriage. Both hail from South Indian backgrounds where family values and tradition garnered great importance. Everyone gets to a point in their lives where they are settled down in terms of education and career; the next question that crops up is NOW WHAT? Vijay’s parents often questioned him about his next step in life. One of his close friends had an arranged marriage, and he had seen that it was successful and decided to explore his options albeit being apprehensive at first. Savitha, on the other hand, knew that she would have an arranged marriage, since it was engrained into her by her parents for all of her life. He wanted to make sure that she was not being forced into anything, while she wanted to make sure that he respected her and her family. Mutual respect, education and being able to find a similar platform of understanding were high on their lists.

After the initial meeting process and getting to know each other, they got engaged and remained engaged for about six months before getting married. They took this time to get to know each other better and learn about their desires and goals as well. Marriage made in heaven? Hardly. The point they both stressed was that, life after marriage takes a lot of compromise and understanding. He gave up many things that mattered to him, mostly watching ALL sporting events (that’s a guy thing) and opted to spend time with her, considering that she had left all of her family back to live in a new environment. She compromised by letting him watch some sports (I am sure many women are familiar with this) and trying to accommodate his wants and needs. Result: a successful 7 year marriage culminating in the birth of their 2-year-old daughter. Their advice: You must know what you want, be patient and open minded to everything.

Four Years Down the Married Road

Meet Vikram and Anjali: good looking, young, successful computer engineers, married for four years and making a go of an arranged marriage. I recently sat down with them and got their thoughts and feelings regarding the whole process and requirements of the whole process of arranged marriages. Coming from a traditional family where arranged marriages were the norm, neither of them questioned what they knew was destined for them. The one thing they knew for sure was that they had to recognize and realize what they wanted in a life partner. This is not always easy, as this is something that would affect the rest of one’s life. Anjali mentioned how she would have loved it if someone like Shahrukh Khan swept her off her feet, then again who would not? How realistic is that though?

They meet. Fireworks? YES! Did they understand each other and find the qualities they were looking for? YES!! Has it been smooth sailing so far? Yes and No.

Anjali came to terms with reality and started evaluating her stance in life. She refused to be paraded in front of “potentials” as though she was being sold in a market and realized mutual respect was the most important thing on her list. Her parents being more liberal gave her the final say in choosing and gave her the opportunity to talk to the guy in depth and see if there was something there to explore. Family was vital in her life and she wanted both families to get along. She needed someone who would allow her to be herself and not try to mold her into something she is not; education, career and someone who was outgoing and liberal in thinking was also a must.

Vikram is liberal and open-minded, but also family oriented. So, right off the bat he knew that his future wife had to get along with his family and be family oriented as well. She had to attractive and well educated as well. He knew what he wanted, but he was not sure if he would get it all. What if he picked the wrong girl? What if he liked a girl but other people thought differently? These were some of the issues he was faced with and decided to talk to people who had been down this road to get a better idea of what lay ahead of him.

They meet. Fireworks? YES! Did they understand each other and find the qualities they were looking for? YES!! Has it been smooth sailing so far? Yes and No. As long as you are committed, understanding of the other person’s wants and needs, and willing to compromise, life should be smooth sailing. Being open minded is key to embarking on this journey. Their advice: Don’t rule arranged marriages out and go into it with an open mind.

Looking at these three stories, my advice to you is this: Make sure you know what you want, and keep all your options open. Arranged marriages, dating, no matter which road you choose, you must be ready to work hard to make it work! — Swetha Amruthur

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