“I am betraying my parents, country and culture by not having an arranged marriage, people are talking, younger sisters not getting married.”

Sharing an email.

Hi there,
I can’t believe I am writing to you but I guess when you think the only way out it to kill yourself then you must make sure that you have checked all avenues before blaming yourself to be source of all pain (and therefore concluding that eliminating yourself is the only solution).

I am a female, 31 and (for my sins) single. I have been living in UK for 11 years. I studied in UK and now have a good job, circle of friends, my own flat and I am about to start studying for a second masters degree this year. My family lives in India (in one of the two big metro cities). I have not taken a single penny from my family since I have left India, in fact I have helped them when they needed it. We are three sisters and a brother ( I am the eldest).

My parents have made my life miserable for the last 6-7 years about getting married. My parents want me to marry a Brahmin Indian guy selected by them in an arrange marriage fashion (their source for guys is the TOI and HT matrimonial sections). I don’t believe in arrange marriage.

I was in an on and off relationship with a British Asian guy for 4.5 years. We broke up when I was 29 because of his commitment phobia (he is 37 now).  I partly blame them for my only ever relationship not working out. Even while I was with him, they kept asking me to meet the people they were selecting because my ex was one caste lower and therefore not acceptable to them. I wanted to please them (was too scared to let them down because they have taught us that if one upsets ones parents then one leads a horrible life and gets sent to hell by God) , was weak and was not feeling secure in my own relationship either, so I kept meeting other men they were suggesting on the side. I didn’t remotely like single one of them.

Parents have visited me once in UK (my sisters have been here a couple of times) but that makes them qualified (they think) to choose a suitable guy for me.  I, who has resided here for 11 years and made all the adult life decisions alone, am not qualified to choose my own life partner.

I thought if I tell them that I will no longer meet guys they are suggesting, then all this will stop. So I did that a year ago. But they did not listen. Recently they still insisted that I speak with another guy. I spoke with him reluctantly on the phone. As expected he was not my type, so I refused to see him. My mother has not spoken to me since because I did not meet the guy and said no after a phone conversation.

The emotional blackmail is relentless: younger sisters not getting married because of me, dad’s age (he believes he is very old at 65 and can die any moment), I am betraying my parents, country and culture by not having an arrange marriage, I am the cause of everyone’s illness, I am selfish, I don’t care about anyone as I am use to being on my own and living an independent life, how can I be happy if I am not married,  “ladki haath se nikal gayi” when you left India, I trusted you but you betrayed us, you are ungrateful for everything we have done for you, people are talking all kinds of crap about you….the list of what I am apparently doing wrong by not having an arrange marriage is endless.

Dad today also said that I should give up everything in UK and come back to India. I asked him why do you want that and he said “So that we can marry you and show the world that you married a guys of our choice. There is nothing wrong with that, is there?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! It was as if a devil had taken over my dad! This has been the last straw for me.

I am tired of this now. I cannot think of a way out of this. I feel alone as I am ashamed to confide in people in the UK that my parents are forcing me to get married. I think that if I die then all this will die with me and they will not be upset anymore. Help me please. Is there anything I can do to change this.

Thanks.

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76 thoughts on ““I am betraying my parents, country and culture by not having an arranged marriage, people are talking, younger sisters not getting married.”

  1. Been there, done that. My advice is to cut off all contact with your family until they come around. You don’t need such negative influence in your life. If they genuinely care about you, they will learn their lesson try to reestablish contact at some point. Don’t meet any guy or talk to them. Just ignore all phone calls, emails, messages from these guys. You are not obliged to be upfront to anyone because you have already made your stance clear. Don’t get into arguments with your parents, they are better and more experienced at emotional blackmail. Just nod along and whenever they create a ruckus, make sure you don’t talk to them for a certain period. Use the carrot and stick approach – if they behave well, call them frequently, if they behave badly or they abuse you, avoid picking up their calls. They will get the message even if they pretend they don’t. Most of all, show them that you don’t NEED them in your life, but you want them all the same – on your terms.

    We are all taught that family conflicts must be kept within the family and must not be aired to the public. That is not good advice because it leads to abuse being kept quiet. What is happening to you is abuse. Talk to your friends, those who are on your side. Don’t talk to traditional Indian girls, they won’t help you. Every time your parents do something crazy, tell . people. Put it on FB, shame them. They are doing wrong, not you.

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      • What struck me was how she’s “betraying her country” by not marrying a man of her parent’s choice. As somewhat of a patriot myself, that raised an eyebrow. I had no idea that railing against an arranged marriage was an act of high treason. Or maybe I’m just reading the Indian Penal code wrong?

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      • similar thing is happening with me now a days m so upset.i am 27 yrs going to be 28 within 2 months..my parents are forcing me to get married to a guy who is much older than me.and he is not even according to my dream partner.i am 5-3 hgt and 60 kg wgt that guy is 6ft and would be of 120 kgs ..just because he is rich..i will be happy after marrige thats what my parents think…i mean how can parents think like that ..i thought that gal must have thay guy who is attracted to her..they both should compliment each other…but since 5 yrs m getting such options i have never even think of that…i dnt knw whether m wrong or not…i want to leave this place but m stuck…they emotionally blackmail me..m earning but not much to settle myself.even i dnt have much confidence to live alone…sometimes i think to die..because everyone is unhappy because of me…my frnds compliment me for having beauty…but its of no use when my luck is not with me…sometimes i feel if m going to reject all these guys i will left single at the end…how can i find a rgt guy in small town..i dont have any source to meet someone like me…marrige is just about money?or love?…it is a curse to be girl..and i felt that my entire life.

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  2. Agree with Fem above. If this is the product of Indian culture, then we all have a duty to kill it. Emotional blackmail should never be tolerated. The gall of saying that you’re selfish! The MOST selfish people in this case are your parents. They don’t care about your happiness. Only about what society will say about them.

    It’s not as if they did you a great favor by bringing you up and taking care of you. That was their duty. Even animals take care of their young till they can fend for themselves. This is not some amazingly virtuous deed they have done.

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  3. First of all, if you’re feeling suicidal, for any reason at all, or at any point even considering taking your own life, please call this number:

    Good Samaritans:
    08457 90 90 90
    http://www.samaritans.org/

    This is the UK suicide hotline, if that is where you’re still residing. Don’t ever, under any circumstances, take your own life. You have a long way to go.

    Second of all. Screw your parents, screw your country, and screw your family “name”. You are 31 years old. You are independent. You have shown that you are fully capable of taking care of yourself, and you have proven that. The Republic of India does not need you to submit to an arranged marriage in order to be the country that it is. Actually, what your country needs from you is to say the loud, resounding NO, and hang on to every last shred of self-preservation you have in you. As for going to hell, I can assure you right now that you will be in excellent company and they have air-conditioning. Your father will not die at 65 years of age, if anything, he’ll hang on for another twenty years, at least. Nobody is getting ill from you. They are getting sick, because they’re bringing all that stress onto themselves by inserting themselves into a problem that isn’t even theirs to start with. You are not selfish. You are a grown adult who is chafing under having someone else place pressure on you to do something that you don’t want to do. Your father is saying what he’s saying because he’s going totally spare and is utterly desperate and on his last hinges. He knows very well that what he’s asking of you is totally absurd. And look at the way he’s worded it too: “so that we can marry you and show the world that you married a guy of our choice.” Who’s being selfish here? It’s not you.

    Also, consider this–what can your parents do? Can they force you to get married? No. You’re legally an adult, and even if you weren’t, they can’t force you to consent to anything that isn’t your choice. Can they blackmail you into doing things? No. They have no material. The only thing they can do is torture you like this. And if I were you, I would seriously consider never picking up their calls ever again, unless you can help it. Actually, if I were you, I would have flatly told them that I am not going to pick up their calls and talk to them unless they respect my wishes and leave me the hell alone. I think it’s time that you seriously considered that. Take confidence in the fact that you’ve been doing the right thing the entire time. You’ve put your happiness first, which is what you should be doing. This is your life. This is your future. Everything is in your hands, and you’ve done a fine job of handling things so far. You can do this too. Trust me.

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  4. When parents emotionally blackmail you they have lost the game. That is the significance of emotional blackmail. As long as you are clear on your stand follow your heart. Appeasement never works in personal life. Make it clear to your parents you are willing to listen to everything except your marriage. No one likes to forcefully watch the bad movies again and again. Even we have choices to eat the food what we want and like. Dont know why the kids should be denied the privilege of marrying their choice. Certainly a big no to parents. They will come around after some time.

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    • “Even we have choices to eat the food what we want and like.” Try being a non-vegetarian in a vegetarian home or a vegetarian in a non-vegetarian home. Not everyone has free choice on food either.

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  5. Please dont even think of taking your life.
    Please read Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert.
    I came to know of this book via this very same blog, unfortunately I do not remember who mentioned it or what the post was.But my heartfelt Thanks to whoever it was.
    Good luck.

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  6. Ignore your family, limit contact and live your own life. Point blank refuse to even look at people they produce before you. No talking, no checking.

    They have to resort to such blackmail coz they can’t control you. Stop feeling guilty because you are letting them succeed in guilt tripping you.

    For heavens sake do not go back or quit your job or anything.

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  7. Wow, first of all, however bad the situation gets, killing yourself is not an option.

    Secondly, you not getting arranged married isn’t going to betray anyone. You need to believe that first.
    I know they are emotionally blackmailing you. Because the thing is most people from their generation know just that. According to them, you’ll be happy only if you get married (& married to someone of their own choice).
    They are worried about the “Char Log” & the society because that is how they have been brought up. They were taught to care about those things & their priorities in life are different. They think about what would happen to you if they die or something bad happens to them. In their minds you, being a woman, are still weak & need support of a man. Some of them also think that they can make their kids obey them as they owe them somehow for bring them into the world & raising & educating them.

    You’ve already shown them that you are independent & highly capable of taking care of yourself. When you call them or they call you, you need to explain that no matter what they say you will stick to your ideals. That you getting or not getting married will not affect your younger siblings marriage. Tell them that when they say all those hurtful things, it brings down your self-esteem & confidence & makes you depressed to the extent that you actually consider killing yourself.

    Maybe it would also help if they visit you & see that you are well settled & happy.

    It will take a while but eventually they will get the point or just “accept defeat”.

    Just believe in yourself & don’t contemplate suicide. If you do it would mean that the ideals that you believe in or stick to aren’t worth it.

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    • I don’t think she has to explain anything to her family. She has already told them how she feels about the entire thing, and that should be it. They need to respect her wishes, and if they choose not to do that, they’ll pay the price.

      If she continues talking about her lowering self- confidence, that’s exactly what they want. They’ll dance for joy knowing she is being beaten down by them. Never show weakness to the enemy. And yes, the family is the enemy at this point.

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      • You’re absolutely right. It’s just that I thought if she could just make her parents understand that her ideals are not the same as theirs, then they may understand ( they just might!) even if the possibility of that happening is bleak.
        But yes, your suggestion is definitely the way to go if her parents continue to berate her.

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      • I did think of that of course, but what I wanted to emphasize by mentioning that was the depth of distress that her parent’s emotional blackmail was putting her through.
        They may consider it as emotional blackmail but they may at least understand what she’s going through…

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  8. been there and is still there… except that i never felt suicidal and that my elder sisters are happily married.
    It seems like im a virus that make people ill. I dont know what to tell you. But I do know that you need to get professional help if you are considering taking your life. Cutting off ties with parents (even for the time being) may work. It seemed to have worked for Fem. If you think you can do it, please go ahead. They are trying to break you so that in a moment of weakness you will agree to everything they say. Please dont fall for that.

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  9. 1. My mother said I betrayed her by choosing my own partner. I replied that I never promised to marry her that now I am betraying her by marrying someone else. The point being – emotional blackmail is stupid and lacks logic. The only way to deal with it is not letting yourself go on a guilt trip and call out its stupidity.

    2. Suicidal tendency is not be taken lightly. Coercion of marriage by emotional blackmail, silent treatment or the other tactics your parents are adopting is a form of bullying. Don’t let anybody bully you. I feel you must meet up with a good counsellor. I live in London and I don’t have a number ready, but if you need, I can get access to it. Trust me, this battle is better fought with help.

    3. There is no harm in confiding in a friend especially if you happen to make a trip to India and you fear being coerced into marriage because that friend can notify UK authorities to order you to return to the country (Forced Marriage Protection Order). Please go through this link – http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/forcedmarriage/crime_1.shtml

    In short, what your parents are doing is unacceptable, this problem has a solution, you are not the only one going through this – so you don’t have to do this alone. Limit contact with them, stand your ground and get all the help you need over here to bring back your lost hopes and courage.

    Living by yourself for 11 years speaks volumes about your strong personality – don’t let this episode weaken you.

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  10. Phew:(
    DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER, EVEN THINK OF TAKING YOUR OWN LIFE.
    Ignore the barrage of emotional blackmail they’ve subjected you to- it is all nonsense.
    Lead your own life and be happy.Once they realise they cannot blackmail you, you may reach a new level of understanding and communication with your parents.
    All the best.

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  11. Ahem. 31? Darling, the best phase of life has just begun. You are independent, have your own flat (wow, very few women I know own their own property by that age) and are socially active with friends.
    I was in a similar situation vis-a-vis marriage between 26-30. I was in the US then. By 29, I had called off one marriage (to an Indian), and was going to get out of another (with a caucasian). Not a great track record you might think. My parents went crazy with the insecurity of not knowing what would become of me. My weekly phone calls turned into a litany of emotional and sentimental nonsense. I didn’t stop speaking to my parents, but I followed two rules: 1) I only took or made calls when I wanted to, not when I was expected to; 2) I calmly and immediately terminated the conversation with a terse, “mum/dad, this is not the best time to talk to you” when I sensed that the onslaught was starting. There were times I used to sit at the traffic light and hope that somehow I could get into a horrific accident resulting in immediate death.
    What helped? Absolutely and definitively, not feeling guilty for their happiness. I was and am not responsible for making their lives happy on their terms. Making peace with the barbs: what they say hurts because we believe it to be true. I wrote stuff down and then decided, this isn’t rational. Articulate your fears: if you take an action, what consequence do you really fear? Are you really scared that your parents will die unhappy and your sisters will not get married because of you? (FYI I am the older sis and my sister got married before me; nothing catastrophic happened). You have to catch your mind from churning things they say over and over. Just give your mind 15minutes to seethe and then stop it.
    I’m sorry but I don’t think it’s their fault that things didn’t work out between you and Mr Asian Guy. You just didn’t have the balls to take a decision independent of their opinion and allowed them the luxury of living in your head 24/7 even though they physically live miles away. When you are happy and confident, you will meet the right person, with the right frame of mind – I can even vouch for that from experience!🙂 Gather yourself, get counseling/ therapy (yes, it’s a western concept, but it helps) and live out how you want to. Giving up is the boring and easy option.

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  12. As for your younger sisters not being married, I have a case study. Three sisters and a mother whose husband abandoned her when they were all very small. He simply disappeared, no maintenance, no divorce, no alimony. She brought up her kids herself even though you could see she herself was starving. Daughters grow up, and mother has learned nothing from life. Starts forcing eldest daughter to get married for the sake of the sisters. After fighting pressure for five years, she capitulates and marries and breeds a daughter of her own. Fights, abuse, neglect by her husband, and she returns home and her mother cries everyday. Two younger sisters have made up their mind to never marry. Eldest daughter, jobless, child with major issues because of the husband wife conflict, helpless. Story, end of.

    Moral of story: Your getting married or not is not going to influence anyone else’s marriage. If it does, they shouldn’t be getting married anyway.

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    • What amuses me is that, one might have heard a 100 such stories and yet keep doing the same old thing. “Get married” ….I can’t decipher what goes on in their minds that they think marriage is an absolute necessity.I think it is a sheep mentality. Also seen in many other cases ‘get good marks’ , ‘graduate from good college’.

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  13. While going through your post, I wasn’t clear on one thing? Do you wish to get married at this point of time? You said you don’t believe in arranged marriages. But are you ready for marriage your way?

    It seems you and your family never had a frank discussion about what sort of guy you want or what they want.please do both of you a favor. Please tell them exactly what you want and what you don’t want. Tell them this is not changing. And if you can still trust them, write out your own matrimonial ad for the newspaper . Then perhaps you can look into responses from there.

    Recently they still insisted that I speak with another guy. I spoke with him reluctantly on the phone. As expected he was not my type, so I refused to see him.

    Tell your parents clearly why he wasn’t your type. This is very necessary for your parents.

    And if you are closed to the idea itself, you can get a new phone number and not let them know

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  14. I have lost count of how many of my friends have been through this blackmail .

    I asked a question yesterday to my team , ” How will your parents react if you refuse to marry till you think you are ready or you have met the right person ” . There was silence and unanimous answer ” there has to be reason or after a certain age ( 27-28 ) they will pressurize” . Young , educated , well traveled people working in MNC think its absolutely justified for parents to pressurize kids to marry if they are unable to find a partner (to marry ) by a certain age . I feel defeated whenever I speak about marriage trends in office .

    To letter writer , its your life and it has to be your decisions. Marriage and staying with someone can be a wonderful experience and so is staying single .Indian culture is as vast and varied as our languages and food and no you alone will not get blame of spoiling it in history ..So relax. Every relationship should be on trust and mutual love . parents , friends , siblings should learn to be happy when you are happy . Cut all ties and refuse to engage in any conversation till they respect you as an adult human being .
    Wish you luck for future … enjoy your life in UK and do not think of coming back to get married unless this is what you want to do . Follow your heart , take your decisions and ready to bear consequences of your actions .

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  15. Dear letter writer,

    I can only encourage you to step back and take a deep breath. In other words, take a break from your parents’ toxic influence and sort out what you really want. I don’t think you seriously want to kill yourself. From what you wrote, you were very happy with your life until your parents started their terror. That alone is a sign that the trouble doesn’t lie with you but with them – you were happy as long as you managed your own life and became depressed once they interfered. What you want is a solution for your troubles, and since your parents managed to undermine your self-confidence, killing yourself seems to be a solution. But it is not the only one.

    Before you think about destroying yourself, you should think about destroying what makes you unhappy. Meaning, radically cut contact with your parents short. I know it is not easy, but I have done so too for a different reason. I kept my father out of my life for eight years, and while it was painful at times, I knew it was the lesser evil. It gave me the space I needed to find my own way, and he had time to think as well. Obeying your parents is out of the question, so you really don’t need to listen to their abuse anymore. You have to live your own life. If they want to be part of it, they better behave. All the best!

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  16. Nothing new to add except:

    1) I am 65, and in fine fettle now, in spite of being twice in the ICU during the last four years. I am confident of carrying on for at least 10 more years! So don’t worry about your Dad just because he is already 65. 65 is not a figure to be used for emotional blackmail. In fact no figure is. Modern medicine and hospitals in a Metro city will take care of him. Help him financially if he needs it.

    2)Stay in touch and talk sweetly to your family on all subjects except your marriage, unless you have found someone and wish to give them the good news. When the subject of your arranged marriage comes up, tell them quietly, sweetly, firmly and decisively, and with finality that you are not interested in discussing it and change the topic or else excuse yourself and discontinue the conversation.

    3)Drop all thoughts of suicide. You don’t qualify! (In fact nobody qualifies) Many girls in India would be willing to forgo a lot to be in your position and even with your family’s nagging.

    4)Tell your family that you are giving your sisters the green signal for marriage if they want to get married. . They need not wait for you. Assure them that there are plenty of precedents for elder girls getting married later or not at all.

    5)Discard all feelings of guilt. It is your family that should be feeling guilty, not you.

    6)Don’t be angry with your family. Tolerate them, forgive them, without yielding. They are merely concerned folks who have not moved with the times. They are still living the the first half of the 20th century. They will eventually reconcile.

    All the best.
    Regards
    GV

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    • “They are merely concerned folks who have not moved with the times”
      Seems to me that they are concerned only about themselves – their standing in society. One does not need to be liberal or modern to develop basic respect for the wishes of another human being, especially their own child.

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      • It is just that what is right for the daughter doesn’t seem right for the parents and vice versa . It is the same thinking as that of the parents that the daughter is being selfish.It will take a while for them to understand that the daughter is grown up and she must be free to choose her own partner.

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        • I’m sorry, but what is “right” for the parents in this case – expecting their child to get married THEIR way, so that THEY look good is completely selfish . After all, whose life is it in the end?
          Of course as you say, there is definitely a possibility that they will come to understand and accept her position as time goes by – all human beings are capable of change.
          But right now, they are putting “what will people /society think about US?” above “what does my daughter really want?”.

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  17. My dear, My only question to you is – why are you letting it bother you? Why are you even thinking of complying with any of their preposterous demands or allowing yourself to feel bad about yourself? I know that we are brought up with a strong sense of duty but this is going a little too far. You are a successful, confident, loving dutiful daughter – you don’t ask them for money, on the contrary, you send them money – so believe in yourself. Additionally, save your younger sisters from a similar fate. Encourage them to become financially independent and aware that there is much more to life than getting married. Marriage is not the be all and end all of life. Courage my dear. Don’t allow anyone to dictate the terms of your life to you. They may not talk to you for a while but in all likelihood they will come around and if they don’t, you can deal with that too.

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  18. I agree – get help . the Samaritans is a very good option methinks.
    And its really sad when we realise that the parents who are supposed to take care of us don’t care about anything except themselves. Its a tough call, but it needs to be taken.
    three, you haven’t mentioned what you really feel about marriage. What do u feel? do u want to get married to anyone at all? I think it will help to sort out your own emotions in the matter..

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  19. been there and still there. please get the suicidal thing out of your mind right now. people have giving great suggestions. My two cents, stick to your own, do not give income what may. Whatever it takes, set the boundary now.

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  20. To the letter writer – you have a choice in your life and how you want your future to play out. Do not give in to them due to blackmail. They will be just fine whether you marry a guy of your choice or never marry at all. Your parents are not going to be around forever and when they are gone do you really want to be stuck in a marriage that you didn’t really want?

    I’m an American woman engaged to a British Asian Brahmin guy. We are the first non-arranged marriage in his family. His parents protested, mother cried, and both of them said it would never work. They are 73 years old and I assure you their health was just fine through the whole ordeal. Fast forward all that and they now say they couldn’t be happier, don’t care what anyone else thinks and treat me like a daughter.

    Your parents are just putting pressure on you to get their own way. Don’t give in. Stay strong and they will see you are serious about your desire to live your life your way. You have already proven that you are a strong, independent woman who can support herself. You should be proud of all you have accomplished. If you are ever in London send me a message. I know lots of women who can relate to crazy Indian parents🙂

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  21. Dear letter writer,

    as someone else who has been there and done that, I heartily advise you the same thing Fem said: cut your horrible parents out of your life. They don’t get to have you in their lives unless they respect you and treat you well. You would not put up with this crap from a boyfriend… so why on earth would you put up with it from your parents? Stop taking their calls, stop answering emails, don’t even give them any explanation if that’s what you prefer. Shake them off like a nightmare.

    Don’t feel guilty about spoiling the marriage chances of your sisters. Do you really want to see them get married to someone who cares about this shit?? If a guy refuses to marry your sister because of you, isn’t she better off not marrying him? You’re doing your sisters a huge favor by being just the way you are. You’re automatically culling their marriage prospects to families who don’t think your choices “taint” your sisters. AWESOME.

    I also heartily agree with Fem that YOU SHOULD NOT BE SILENT ABOUT YOUR STORY. Tell the whole world about all the ridiculous things that go on in your life. I think you’ll find that it’s hilarious when you talk about it out loud, which will make for some very entertaining facebook posts and party stories. It will also help you process and deal with the demons your parents have put in your head. Don’t hide this. You have nothing to be ashamed about and everything to be proud of. You’re a survivor! Shout it from the rooftops!

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  22. there is no point making anyone understand ur point and there is no hell coming in ur way have been through ur situation , just enjoy ur life get rid of ur guilt feeling

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  23. Hi… Giving in to emotional blackmail will only make things worse and no decision taken under the influence of such negative emotions can ever work out in your scheme of things. So like most people here have advised:

    A) Cut that emotional blackmail out from your life! Easier said than done – but you have the advantage of living in a separate country. Should be easy from a proximity aspect.

    B) Distract yourself!!! Surround yourself with friends – confide in the close ones. No need to feel ashamed. People in UK are also people and have their own set of issues. They will understand the cultural context and provide you advice which is closer to your real situation (I.e living independently in UK)

    C) look at the wonderful life you have (minus this situation).

    One thing is good that you are clear you will not agree to their demands and get married for the heck of it! So why are you giving in on a larger part – LIFE itself!!!??? Switch off completely from this situation please. Get it out of your mind – work, meditate , party and chill.

    Don’t feel guilty. The solution they want is not doable. The solution you are thinking of is NOT aN OPTIION!!

    Stay happy. That’s all that matters. Please take care.

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  24. IHM,
    I was wondering if it is possible for you to publish a follow up post. I am assuming at least a few of the LWs write back to you. It would be interesting to know how they are faring and if they have taken any of the advice your readers have given.

    Like

  25. Dear How do u think u r betraying ur country and its culture by not going for arranged marriage?. u r 31 years old and should be mature enough to take ur life decisions independently. Never think of committing suicide for this silly matter. life is precicious, preserve it for some noble cause. u will meet ur man friday soon and settle down and laugh it out about the past.

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  26. Firstly, you are not betraying your country, parents, anyone on this earth for denying to marry on your parents’ terms.This is such a speck of an issue compared to all the problems in the world.(I am in no way belittling this issue but this helps lighten the burden that one feels during a problem). Please don’t do any harm to yourself.It is great that you are independent and living own your own, don’t let your parents’ blackmail or their taunts win your confidence. Don’t be guilty, it is no sin not to marry in custom nor to stay without marriage.I know of many traditional families who have been married into different religions and countries.Convince your parents your idea of marriage and tell them what kind of a person you are looking for.I am sure your sisters too are independent and liberal in their thinking.Encourage them to be that way and tell them that they are not obligated to stay unmarried until you get married.Perhaps all of you together can convince your parents better than you being your one woman army🙂. Be firm in your decision, tell them you love them but you cannot marry someone who is not your type just because you have to…. Stay brave, let go of your guilt.Win them over!🙂

    Like

    • A question that comes in my mind when I see this situation is,- the talks of getting a child married happens in their early adult life as I have known.(especially with so many nosy families around & all gossiping about ne another’s life)…
      Will the choice of choosing a bride/groom change if the son/daughter has been telling the parents early on that the choice of their life partner and when they will get married will be their own? Will the parents assume arranged marriage to be acceptable by their children if the children have been quiet about this? Of course the children see it coming… They would have seen it happen to others in their family. Telling ‘no’ early on, they will at least know their parents’ stand on their children choosing their own partners.Knowing that, will also help the children be prepared to handle things or be prepared to stay independent if they are in a forced situation ,and not break in when emotionally blackmailed.

      Like

      • Maybe if the LW had said a firm no early on, she would never have got to UK or got to study further or even allowed to leave home. Not a good idea to play your cards so early in the control game. Let’s face it, it’s a fight to control a person and parents who do this, don’t generally lose a chance to ensure that the reins would remain in their hands.

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        • This is so true. If parents raise you to “consent” to an arranged marriage, I think it’s fair to let them assume that they have you under control. Just play along and then make your escape. That’s what I did. Treat them as you would a cult leader or a prison guard (remember Shawshank Redemption and the careful, secretive digging of the hole behind the poster?). These people deserve no better and they certainly don’t deserve the truth.

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  27. It’s your life. You’re not betraying anyone or anything by making your own decisions about who you want to share it with. You’re financially independent and live your life independently, this means you’ve got the freedom to do what you want.

    You should insist on this. Explain to your parents that you love them and care about them, but that you do not want suggestions for guys to marry from them — and if they are unable or unwilling to show you the basic respect of allowing you to make your own choices, you’ll be forced to live your life without them.

    Then actually follow trough. If they mention the matter in an email, don’t respond. Delete it. If they mention the matter in a phone call say: “I said I do not wish to discuss that” then hang up the phone. If they nag you when you visit them, say the same thing, get up and leave the room. If they are unwilling or unable to cut it out, even after you draw a clear line in the sand like this, you’ll have no choice but to reduce or eliminate contact with them entirely.

    That’s sad, but not the end of the world.

    But I doubt it’ll come to that. Most parents are able to learn. Good luck !

    Like

  28. I wonder what would happen if you tell your parents that because of their incessant torment you are feeling suicidal and contemplating taking your own life. That that will ease he way for your family…….
    It’s blackmail but no different than what they are subjecting you too. Maybe they need a few sleepless nights to realize they Ned to get off your back.
    It might work, I have 2 kids not adults and sometimes I insist on doing things my way🙂 till I’m reminded by them or my spouse that they are kids but individuals and I need to back off. But when I thought about this, if either of them told me they wanted to off themselves because of me I’d be horrified and never ever interfere.

    It’s not a great way to handle things , you should listen to the others on this blog but if it was me I would do it and see what happens.
    However you should let out with friends and a therapist if possible to get those ideas out of your head first.
    No one can make you happy, only you can.

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  31. Do what makes you happy, And trust me on this, your parents will come around. Now or later, but they will. And life is too short and too precious to be living someone else’s. Good luck!

    Like

  32. A lot of people have given great advice here. I don’t have much advice to give but want to tell you that you should be proud of yourself for managing your life so independently. Your parents should be glad about this and for whatever financial support you’ve given them.

    Like

  33. Dear Letter writer,

    I can relate with you on so many levels. I am a first generation immigrant (i.e. my parents moved away from India, and we have been living in our current location for the past 17 years, and majority of my life was spend out of India), who is 29 and is getting the exact same pressure as you are. “Think of your younger sister!” (who is only 23), “We are getting older”, “We are so stressed we can’t sleep because we need to get you married”. They have been trying to set me up with people since I was 21…that’s 8 years. Despite doing a PhD, living away from home and making decisions for myself, my parents do not trust my judgement when it comes to choosing a life partner. I had a beautiful genuine loving relationship for 9 months last year, one that I wanted to let grow, one that was on my own terms. Unfortunately, trying to be a good obedient daughter, I told them before I knew everything about him. My parents disapproved of his family and his family background, and started setting me up with someone new. One minute I’m almost engaged to this guy, and the next, my family backs out and is setting me up with someone else. So trust me, I understand how you feel. I have been at such a low that I did think taking my life would be easier. But here are some things to think about (and somethings that are helping me cope):
    (1) If you did end up taking your own life, how do you think this will affect your parents and your sisters? Especially your sisters.
    (2) Your sisters look up to you. You are their role model. What you do is going to determine how they make decisions in life as well. If you succumb to pressure, the odds are, your parents are going to do the same to them. Do you want them to go through it? Would you wish the same pressure onto anyone else? I think not. As an older sister, I will never wish this upon my sister, and I know that I need to stand up to my parents for her sake as well.
    (3) Talk to your sisters, in private, about how your parents are putting all this pressure on you. Sometimes, parents are concerned about whether or not we will be happy in life, they don’t see the misery we are going through right now. You all have the same parents, and no one else here knows how to deal with your parents better than your siblings. Everyone can tell you to cut them off, and stop talking to them. It is very very difficult. I do not call home as often as I did, and my conversations are very superficial. Matters of the heart are not something that are easy to overcome, and not something that is understood or well conversed/discussed in a traditional household. But it can make you feel even more alone and isolated than you already feel. Open up to your siblings; you can’t always be the older sibling, sometimes they have to help you.
    (4) Also understand, this is years and years of brainwashing that we have gone through. What and how an obedient daughter should be; you are an Indian, and this is the list of what a proper Indian girl should be…and on and on. But, when you become independent and not stay as a docile Indian girl, there will be clashes. You need to deal the with the clashes, and the only way to do them is talk it out. Talk to a good friend, get your anger out. If you do not want to talk to a friend (matters of the family should only stay within the family), then do seek counseling. It is confidential and that way you are not betraying anyone.

    I wish there was an easy answer to all this. And I also know that staying firm against your parents is probably the hardest thing you will EVER go through. They love you, and want your happiness. That is just as true today as it was when you were a child. They love you so much that for the last 11 years they have let you be your own person. Yes they are being a little selfish right now, but it is also because of the upbringing they had, and the society they live in. My parents have been out of it for over 30 years and I’m still going through the same stuff. You can’t blame them entirely for not understanding. Respecting parents is not wrong, but demanding respect back is not wrong either. You are an adult, and they don’t view you as one yet (not until you are married), that fact is true. The question comes, are you willing to fight to show them that you are? You are also fighting for your children’s future. Are you going to keep up with the Indian mentality of emotional blackmail, or have an open relationship with your children? There is no overnight fix, and be patient with yourself. You will have highs and you will have lows….very bad lows. You will feel anger, guilt, resentment…but allow yourself to feel them. And then talk them out! The longer you keep it bottled up, the longer they will consume you and you will make a hasty decision. Marriage is never the answer to any problem (as much as Indian parents think it is…and then the next step is to start a family which you very well know you will get pressured about too).

    My advice, take it one day at a time. Be kind, gentle, and patient with yourself. You owe yourself that much.

    Good luck!

    A fellow brainwashed Indian girl trying to dig out.

    Like

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  37. Hi,
    I have just joined this group to have some emotional support. And I guess, you all must be expecting the cliched situation (reading the title), where I am being asked to choose between my parents and the guy I love. But the twist here is that, neither of them are wrong. Then how do I choose who is right?

    P.S – I am so sorry to be writing my post here, but am not able to figure out the way to write down my post separately, plus am depressed, plus am in a somewhat similar situation as urs. I have no intention of sidelining your story. Apologizing for the abrupt post here..

    The situation: I met a guy in college (same engg batch), and have been with him since then (approx 2.5 yrs). He immediately made me meet his fun-loving family, who adored me and loved me madly! His parents are not educated, but are very loving, open-minded and modern. Over the time, I came to know their lifestyle. I was made aware that a long time back, uncle’s eatery business suffered, due to which they had to sell their house to support the finances and their children, but are recovering now. They already live a very good lifestyle.
    My parents are educated and Himachali brahmins by caste. So naturally, when i told my mom about my guy, she was apprehensive and shocked (majorly due to caste difference as he is Punjabi, and scared of my father’s and extended family’s reaction). However, surprisingly, 3 months back, my parents met him, and liked him!🙂 I even told my parents about the financial problem his family faced, and that they are living in a rented house at the moment, and will soon buy their new house by middle of this year. They did not have any problem, and decided to slowly and gently inform my extended family whenever the time was right. All seemed to be going fine then!

    Now, 2 months back, my eldest mamuji (mother’s eldest bro) came to visit us. While I was in office in evening, my mom decided to inform her brother about us, and after listening to her, my mamuji decided to visit my guy’s parents the next morning. They went there, met his parents and came back. I and my guy were waiting with bated breaths about the decision. But, we were just not prepared for what was to follow!😦

    My mom and mamuji did not like his household at all! I’ll list down their opinions in short summaries –
    1) They did not like the rented house his parents are currently staying in. Even though they know that they’ll shift into their own house mid-year, but still, their first impression was not good.
    2) Due to the cultural and educational difference, my mother felt that the household and people are entirely different than what we are. She feels that she and my dad can never talk to them due to communication gap and different mentality level.
    3) His mom, maybe in some nervousness or what (i don’t know), gave vague answers (maybe she did not want to share it before actually moving in there). Like when my mom asked about the family’s plans to shift to their own house, she said that they are still deciding on the place, and will shift mid year. My mom assumed, that the family has lied, and has no plans of shifting at all (infact at this point of time, they have already payed the downpayment of their new house). In another instance, while being asked about household financial status, his parents replied in a way to show that now they have done all that they can, and now have passed the baton to their three sons. My mom interpreted it to be that the parents have no money at all, and are dependent on children (which is not wrong, i would love my parents to be dependent on me as well). She feels that the family is under some financial trouble, despite my best attempts to expel and negate that thought!
    4) His bhabhi (sister in law) created the max problem. She is very very VERY reserved, and even though coming from a extremely rich household and possessing a MDS degree, does not talk or smile much. They say its her nature, and that she was like this even at her own house. But i think she should have the brains to know what when there are guests at home, she ought to smile and greet them warmly, which she didn’t! She just kept quiet! My folks interpreted it that she is NOT happy about me coming in that household. My guy and his family are ready to apologize for her behaviour, but my parents dont want that now.
    5) Last but not the least, I thought our horoscopes match (we already matched them on various authentic sites). We score 19/36. But now, my mamuji says that he has a very low mangal dosha, and that some ohter traits dont match! I dont believe in horoscopes. But he put the doubt in my family’s mind.

    My guy and his family basically live as a joint family with other family members as well, who are in general very very rich. Its just that his parents wanted that my family know them first, before going on to meet the rest. Now the current status is that my parents are having second thoughts about my guy. They have asked me to take 6 months, and decide if indeed this is the family for me! At one point of time, my mom would tease me using my guy’s name, today she doesn’t like hearing his name! and then they say, that they dont have any problem with the guy, but dont like his family! His family is on the verge of giving the down-payment of their new house, and shift there in the next 2 months, but my mom is not having any of it!
    I cannot dream of living without my guy, ‘cos he’s everything that any girl could ask for! And the fact that my parents liked him too, before having a biased opinion now, is not helping me either! I am not those sorts to run away with him, or hang a sword on my parents’ neck, ordering me to get married to him and no one else! But at the same time, my parents should understand that it is ME who’s going to stay with the family, and that I love the family! I understand their concerns, but they cannot ask me to leave the guy just ‘cos they think they cannot have a proper communication with his parents due to educational difference and mentality (both can speak awesome Punjabi though)! I love my parents, and cannot see them unhappy, but I love him too, and will have an extreeeeeemely miserable life if its not with him!
    Please help! I am having a depression+nervous breakdown cos of this! Is it worth it to stand for my love, and argue this down with my parents? Will they ever forgive me? Will this decision of mine make them bow their heads down in front of society? (that’s what they tell me)! Or should I listen to my parents thinking that whatever they do will be for my benefit!?? Please please help me!

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  40. at age 32 I am going through the same thing. my parents keep on blaming me for their sorrows, keep on cursing me, keep on telling me how ashamed they are because I am not getting married and because of me they can’t face the world, why can’t I be like my elder brother who is married and has two kids, that I am abnormal because I am not getting married.

    sometimes they would say you’re an eunuch because you can’t even take care of a woman, you are a total failure, you can never return the debt of ours for giving you life, you’ll die alone and nobody will be with you, you’re ungrateful, self-centered, selfish.

    they would call up the relatives and their friends to tell me the same things in a milder manner.

    m on the verge of commiting suicide. can’t take it anymore.
    they decided everything from my school to my college, to the subjects I would graduate in to the degree I would have. I became a doctor because of them just to please them, no matter how much depression and hard work I had to go through. I never had any relations or friends because of them because they never wanted me to have any friends.

    Indian parents are perfect at making slaves out of their kids.

    Like

    • Hello there,

      I wrote this letter to IHM.

      I would urge you to read all the responses above. A couple of things that may help you:

      1. Are you living with them? If yes, then please move out. It makes it easier (from personal experience) to see the “wood from the trees”.

      2. You need to understand and be happy and content with your decision of marrying, marrying whoever you like and whenever you like. It took me a while to get to this place and sometimes I do still feel “oh if I marry a non- indian my parents will get to hear so much crap from “others” etc etc ” but then I think that in my 32 years these “others” have done nothing for me except complain and moan to “put my parents down”. I cannot live to please them. Of course my parents think otherwise i.e. “We must follow what “others” do and we must not stand out at any cost.” You need to make your own society. I have started meeting men I like now rather than screening them with the thoughts “will my family be ok with him?”. It’s a liberating feeling.

      3. After all the drama of clearly stating my opinion, not speaking to them etc, my mum has started talking to me again. With my dad, things are still “iffy”. He has tried but I am finding it very hard to get over all the hurtful things he has said to me. My parents have not suggested any “prospective suitors” since then.

      5 Have you spoken with your brother? My siblings have been very supportive in my decision. They have also clearly told my parents now about their support to me. Mentally this has been so good for me.

      6. I can understand your feelings of ending it all. Hang in there. I decided to stay here too. It all felt like a huge big burden but then the cloud is slowly lifting. There is hope.

      7. Talk to someone, specialist or not. I have and will continue to do so. It has helped a lot.

      Look after yourself, happiness is around the corner waiting for you to grab it. It is ours. We need to have faith.

      LW

      Like

  41. Hi I just turned 26 last week . I worked for three years in an IT company . I have my GMAT scheduled in a week . I m being pestured for marriage at my home . the whole day I hear my mother cribbing about me to relatives . they have got this whole squad behind my ass . my only aim right now is to get admitted to a reputed college in us for MBA . its got so ugly at home that there is no emotional support for my career. That’s fine I never needed that but there is so much of negativity at this time. I have postponed my exam twice already . this time I know I m going to give it n apply soon . but I m scared that I would be forced to marry n by force I mean it I have no clue how far the emotional blackmail would go it has already crossed most of its limits. They keep saying stuff that they paid for my education brought me up etc etc but if I had known that the cost would be living my whole life their way even if u don’t like it I would have never grown up lol. Times like this …I really feel like giving up . but I had so many dreams n I try so hard to fill myself with positivity . I try too hard . I can’t find words to pen down that would explain how troubled n lonely I feel right now . I don’t even believe in arranged marriage .

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  42. Pingback: How can forced marriages be prevented when the person being married off is dependent on the people forcing them to be married off? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  43. Hi,
    I can relate so much to it. I am 29 and youngest one. My two elder sisters are happily married.one had arranged and one had out of the religion marriage.
    I left for Australia 2 years back along with my south indian boy friend. Today its almost 6 years to our relationship. We both were happy together unless i declared my parents that I want to marry this guy. As soon as i told my parents started emotional blackmail that we give free services in gurudwara ,whole city knows us. Our reputation will be ruined. I felt guilty over this and decided to move on. My boyfriend is not willing to leave me. I felt so guilty that I and my bf had immense fights and also many financial losses. My current situation is either parents or bf. When I was teenage an uncle who was nasty politician use to exploit me sexually and to get rid of him we had to go long procedures of court and lawyers and police stations. My parents also remind me of that we already gone through a lot in past.

    I do not what to suggest you as I myself is sailing in the same boat. I want to go to my boyfriend but i feel i am cheating parents if i do so. My parents already told me if i go to him they ll never talk to me ever. My mom is too adamant on this.

    Like

  44. Hi…
    I am going through what you are saying. Not exactly the same situation but yes i completely understand what you are going through. See there is only one way..you choose what you want to make happy. Yourself or you parents? if you are a strong girl who can live by herself and is not scared of it..then go ahead. Your parents wont change. They are old and their beliefs are strong. Its not easy to change their mind and make them understand. Let them do whatever they want. You know you are not doing wrong. You dn have to worry about anything else…whether your family comlains, blackmails of illess, suicide or whatever. Their understanding of love is to make them do what they think is right for you not what you feel. They are scared of what the society will think about you and them. i will say just listen to yourself. Tell them clearly and your sisters too that you have no plans n that you dn want them to wait for you. once you have made it clear.vyoudn have to carry any baggage.you doing nothing wrong. Be strong. And live the life you want. Love yourself.
    Hope it helps.

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  46. Hii all,

    Plz help me out..my parents are against the guy i love..and they have strictly said no, although he is well settled. I spoke to my parents about him last year and they also know him..but my parents are not ready to accept the truth that i love someone..and all the emotional blackmailing and society crap started..
    They want me to get married to the guy of their choice, but now me and my guy are already married..Last week only we went for court marriage..
    And i want to tell my parents that now i am married and please stop looking for the guys..
    I cannot ask for the help from my relatives also as they are not so cooperative..
    Can anybody give suggestions about it…m worried and depressed

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  47. Indu try to draw strength from your love. Thats the only bond that wil help you take a stronger step. Someone has to break these bonds and grow up. I myself am caught up in same situation. I visited home normally went back and then told them the truth on Skype. Being physically close to them can lead to a huge pressure and stress as they have their support and you will be alone. Stay in a place where people support you and do the right thing. Its your life live it your way. Its just the fear that keeps killing you from inside and as far as being true Indian is concerned saying the Truth is something you should stick to forever in your life. Make yourself comfortable with what is at expense i.e your parents not talking to you for rest of your life. I made myself comfortable with that. If their love depends on your sex life I was not ready for that kinda love and thus took the right step and decision.

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  48. I had a successful career in US, but left that because my family wanted me to come back and settle in India. I came back and was blackmailed by family to marry this desi brahmin Indian guy with whom I had nothing in common and went back to US with him on dependent visa.

    He had no interest in married life. In 4 years. he never allowed me to restart my career. We couldn’t start a family. And eventually I found out about his sex addiction-he called escorts at our home when I was visiting India. Now at age 35, I have no career, no kids, and I have filed for divorce.

    Not getting married is not the end of the world. But, getting married to the wrong person can turn your life upside down. And only you have to suffer the direct consequences of it. The family can only feel bad for you or feel ashamed of you when / if the marriage does not work.

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