My parents had an arranged marriage. Theirs is a story that’s evolved every day for forty years. It’s silently there when my father leaves insulin near the dinner table, in case mother forgets; it’s in the silent way he has lent a hand in the kitchen; it’s in the way my mother has checked on his health from time to time, the way she learned how to make tea exactly the way he likes; it’s how my mother wears red sari occasionally because that’s his favourite colour, even though she thinks it looks ‘too much’.
Theirs was not a marriage that happened because two people met, fell in love, and just could not live without each other. It was an arranged marriage where my father met my mother, the families knew each other and the prospective bride and groom seemed to have no qualms. It was process of six months, where my parents met a couple of more times, the dates were fixed, and here they are – forty years and counting. Isn’t marriage about companionship? Isn’t that what leads to love?
Forced to be married to a person is wrong, but if it’s an arranged marriage I have consented to – what right does anybody have to look down upon it?
First things first, stop looking at arranged marriages as synonymous with dowries, forced decisions, and haste to find a partner. It happens, but that’s not what all arranged marriages are about.
When did we develop the audacity to define love? How did that higher authority evolve in us to judge how people fall for each other? Arranged marriages work on the phenomenon of friendship- people of the same community, who’ve followed the same beliefs, are brought together so that they might have a chance at happiness. It’s then left for the young people to decide whether to pursue the proposition or not. Arranged marriages have becomes a propaganda to sell off women when consent is not a factor. If it is, well what’s the harm?
Marriages, commitment, and love, all should rest on the cornerstone of consent. If at a certain age, a person consciously presents their parents with the idea of a marriage through their intervention, just how the hell does that become something that makes me an oppressed woman who needs to be rescued? What makes you assume that it marks the end of me living on my own terms? I’d still be very much my own person.
If the people who had an arranged marriage are now happily in love, do we really have any right to question their choice? The problem lies not with the institution of arranged marriage, but with the commercial market that we’ve made out of it.
As long as the people who choose to live together are happy with each other, pretty much nobody should have a problem, and if you think arranged marriages are for lazy people, you’re as bad as those who judge the institution itself. Any relationship takes an effort to build and nurture. In an arranged marriage, the challenge is upped by the fact the two people have to start from scratch; they have to know it all, practice patience, understand things about their significant others’ habits and then come to a compromise after many massive fights, maybe. They’re fighting it out so that it works, are we really an authority to judge them?
And love marriages stand just as much a chance as arranged marriages. Everybody is looking for love and companionship in their significant others and there’s no saying when things fall apart.
Marriage is the conscious decision to be a part of someone else’s life day in and day out. It’s a combined effort where both try to work out their differences and come to a consensus; it’s a grueling process of knowing each other over the years, better and better, and yet staying by each other’s side. It’s a house of cards that can fall anytime a card falls out of place. In the end, it’s all a gamble by a bunch of mortal beings trying to make the best of what they have, thinking it’s the best they deserve. How far a relationship goes is based on individual efforts made by people, so can we leave it at ‘to each his own’?
Some relationships are forged just so they can find a life partner in the other person. It’s their personal choice. If that begets love and companionship, doesn’t the means justify the ends? Not every moment needs to be a walking collection of memories and meet-cutes. Can we all just live our own lives?