Marriage – Arranged? Trust?

Marriage means choosing your partner, the one person who would be sharing your life, your joys, your sorrows, your triumphs, your failures, and however clichéd it may sound, that is still the one person you would dream of getting old with. A dialogue from the movie Shall we Dance sums up the entire concept of marriage beautifully:

In a marriage, you prepare to share all times, the good the bad, the mundane. We need a witness to our lives, and in marrying you’re saying that your life will not go unnoticed, because your partner will notice it.

In the light of this, the notion that someone else will decide which person is suitable for you, that someone else is better qualified to decide who you would be calling multiple times a day just to ‘hear them speak’ seems so alien, right? But this is what the Indian society is based on: the concept of arranged marriages, where it is your genes, your family and your wealth which first decide whether the match is suitable or not.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the concept, indeed I know several couples including my own cousins who are happily married. Maybe, when it comes to me, I might choose the same, but that is a long way off. What I do want to talk about now, is the actual process of ‘match-fixing’, so to say, and the social and moral responsibility attached to it.

When one knows that they have a suitor and that he or she would probably become THE one for them, they start dreaming… fantasizing what their life would be like together. The society having progressed, they are allowed to interact, and of course the final decision is theirs. But the inadequate courtship period leaves a lot to be desired.

And then there is a catch. Nobody knows if the information about the prospective match or their family is correct. Of course there are ways to scrutinize, and private detective agencies are increasingly being employed to establish the legitimacy of the claims, but more often than not, it is based on mutual trust.

In this situation, crushing blows are delivered if and when you come to know about some past that ought to have been mentioned and was neglected. A hidden affair, or unsuitable character traits. The whole fantasy world comes crashing down. What I am trying to say is that when an entire society is built on trust, then every person involved has a responsibility, because from the stand point of arranged marriages, it is no more about two individuals but about entire families and in a number of cases even reputation. And that precisely, is the problem.

A good family is no guarantee of a suitable suitor. You look at the lineage but neglect scrutinising the individual. Especially when he or she, as is the norm now, does not stay with the family but wherever career calls. It is solely the youngsters who have to come clean about their life and how they wish to live. Buckling down to pressure from the family will not help if you have already chosen your life partner or an alternate lifestyle. The only sane thing to do is to make your intentions clear and inform your family of your wishes, because if you neglect doing that, you could be helping in building up that fantasy world, brick by brick. And the day this structure comes crashing down, as it will sooner or later, that day you will have left another individual shattered!

The fault to some extent lies with the parents of the erring individual as well because in a number of cases, the youngsters are scared about how their family will react. But it is necessary that they realise how their actions could ruin someone else’s life.

Hurt is never easy to deal with, especially when it comes at the behest of those you have trusted, and this kind of betrayal can leave another person’s self confidence in pieces. A person who wasn’t at fault to begin with.

Arranged marriages have been accepted for as long past as I can remember. Even though the shift in the lifestyle of the youngsters is apparent, a lot of them choose to stick to the tradition. However, it also calls for shouldering of more responsibility, which is essential for the youth to understand.

Akansha Agrawal

The author is an engineer, have been a blogger who loves to bash for some years now, an amateur photographer with a ready cam, a philatelist and a numismatist. The issues she feels strongly about get reflected in what she writes and she uses the skill to express opinions, to compliment and to criticize.