Arranging your love – better than loving the arrangement ?

Marriage. They say it’s not a word, it’s a sentence. A sentence that means a million different things to a million people across the world. And yet, it is considered the most sacred of all institutions that exist in this world. Across generations, thought processes have changed, new cultures have emerged, humongous technological advancements have happened and yet, Marriage is a kind of mystery that is still incurable, still indecipherable.

The decision to get married brings with itself a host of responsibilities. And add to that, with a paradigm cultural shift, we have another very important question that has apparently gained more importance than the original “To marry or not to marry” confusion and that is, “Love Marriage or Arranged Marriage”. And this is one topic of debate that was prevalent even when I was in school and I think it’s going to be relevant even when my kids decide to get married. I only hope we (my kids and I) agree one of those !

Now, there are a lot of pros and cons associated with each kind of marriage, and in a nutshell if you ask me, I would just say, “To each his own”. But seriously, if I were to elaborate to sort out my own thoughts on the topic, I would address them as below.

1) Basics

Arranged Marriage (AM) is a pretty consistent procedure. You turn a marriage-able age. Your parents decide to find a suitable match for you. When they find it, you get married. Contrast this with a “Love marriage”. Random boy meets random girl. They hook up and start dating. And sometime later, they decide to get married. Do they end up getting married? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Random people, random answers. But what really bothers me is the characterization of this entire mess as “Love Marriage”. What I mean is that in this case, you will find stories, each one eligible enough to give our quintessential Bollywood romances a run for their money. And sometimes, heavily inspired from them – couples having a huge age difference between them, couples from contrasting financial backgrounds (one super rich , and one poor), from different castes, different religions and sometimes a mixture of more than one reason and you know you have a spicy Love Marriage chaat at hand compared to the boring and predictable Arranged Marriage samosa.

 

 

A contrast in the kind of freedom people feel in AM v/s LM !!

People say the divorce rates are way higher in Love Marriages. Aren’t they bound to be? I mean, if you look at the kind of risks involved in an unstable chemical equation that a Love Marriage (LM) is, what with age gaps, financial constraints, caste and religion differences, break down is a truth, rather than a possibility. Whereas in an AM, all the possible risks are covered up at the first step. But this does not mean that LMs are bad and AMs good or vice versa. And as far as risk proofing is concerned, AMs aren’t all that fool proof. What with the girls of our generation being financially independent and not taking crap from anyone, divorce rates are pretty steep in this section too.

2) Head v/s Heart

Indulging in extreme behaviors. AM – all thought, no heart. LM – all heart, no thought. Why? 

It’s not necessary that everyone will/shall fall in love. So, if you are looking for a soul mate, instead of just check marking the usual parameters like caste, religion , height, weight, salary, try to find out more about his/her personality. And here, I believe that if the parents allow kids to meet a prospective groom/bride of their choice, they should also provide the kids an ample amount of time to take their decision. At least in India, it doesn’t happen like that. Nobody can judge a character in a couple of dates. I think this is one area where LM score over AM – Understanding your partner. In LM, since the partners have known each other for quite some time, understanding comes a bit easier.

The kind of proposal you might get in an AM!! 😛
While in a LM, the couple is kind of cocooned in their world where they have eyes only for each other, oblivious of parents or relatives and they might be misled to believe that Love conquers all. Sadly not for everyone. But while you are being all rosy eyed and believing that this world is nothing but a lovers’ playground for you, it is important to understand the fact that once a relationship becomes formal, it comes under the scanner of society, parents, friends and two sets of relatives. And that is the time when the actual pareeksha begins. And so even though you may have fallen in love with all your heart and your best intentions, it is very important to give it a thought with your pretty head too. And kind of question yourself if you will be able to take a downfall in the relationship (which is inevitable) with different kinds of expectations. We live in a society and can’t really live exclusively. 

These Relationship Basics are good to know in both cases.

3) Just Married 

This is the most blissful phase in both types of marriages. Starting a new life with your partner, where only you two are the cynosure of all eyes, gifts, parties, romance and honeymoon make one dreamy eyed and push them far from reality. But once all the excitement dies down, it’s a reality show. Couples in AM have a lot of catching up to do in terms of knowing each other likes and dislikes apart from getting acquainted to the whole new world of being married and all. On the other hand, LM couples finally heave a sigh of relief at having successfully made to the altar, but kind of realize that marriage and courtship are not really the same things. And so, a couple of months after marriage, everyone goes through different kind of struggles. And I think here parents and society play a very crucial role. 

I have seen instances here where parents and society adopt a dual nature. If it was an AM, they would advise their son/daughter to talk it out and reach a compromise, and sometimes even intervene in a positive way to make things better. But God forbid if it was a LM, they start blaming the son/daughter and “they always knew this was going to happen because he/she didn’t know bad from good”. Do you think that serves any purpose apart from putting additional pressure on the couple? The point here is that any kind of marriage requires some time to settle down with a partner and people and parents should understand and respect that.

4) A couple of years later….

All people change for good and bad with time. Sometimes people and their love for each other outgrows. This can happen in both kinds of marriages. Although chances are high of it happening in a LM because AM somehow takes care of a lot of aspects of your future beforehand. And also because couples in a LM have very high expectations from each other and when they don’t get fulfilled, they begin to question the love. But that doesn’t mean failures don’t happen in AM. May be just a little less than LM. 

Of the above analysis, I understand that AM are (statistically) more secure than a LM. And yet, why do people marry the one they love? In spite of knowing all the difficulties they might have to face and having heard the above from friends and family umpteen number of times, why do they still go ahead with it? I think that madness is called Love. People who have never experienced that kind of madness might never want to believe it and even rubbish it away as a mere hormonal rush. But only the people who have been in love know how magical it is. Its maddening enough to make people forget who they are, change them in ways they would never have imagined, and do things they may have never thought themselves capable of. And it is for this magical madness that people are ready to risk it all. And after all, if it doesn’t work out, they still have the satisfaction of knowing that they are solely responsible for their actions. For nothing do they say, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all”. And for what it’s worth, you can’t really blame your parents for a failed AM, because they had your best interests at heart! 

But the most important thing to remember is that any relationship (be it love or arranged) requires a lot of work for maintenance. Just in different ways. Love just doesn’t automatically stay in a LM nor is it automatically created in an AM. It has to be built, taken care of and nursed to enjoy its beauty always. And on a “bidding adieu” note, I would like to say again, “To each his own”. If you find true love, hold it tight. If you don’t, have faith. Your love story might just begin after you say “I do” 🙂
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*All images courtesy Google