But if there is so much of hesitation in spending time to know a person… aren’t the marriage hopefuls playing with fire?

Sharing an email from ‘a “not so young” (by marriageable age standards in my community), below average looking, well-educated male with a well-paying job in a metro city.’ 

“But if there is so much of hesitation in spending time to know a person and so little focus on understanding and exploring compatibility, attitudes, values and character, aren’t the marriage hopefuls playing with fire?”

Dear IHM,

I stumbled upon your blog while surfing online in the context of a particular unhappy incident in my life. And since then, I have been hooked – going through posts after posts, and reading all comments therein. It has actually been shocking. I never imagined that even women in the upper echelons of the society – educated, upper middle class, career women were also victims of patriarchy in marriages. And in not even a subtle manner – from being dictated on what not to wear, to restricting their interaction with their families, to controlling their careers and their earnings, to occasional beatings – it was all blatant harassment happening to seemingly modern, educated women (writing emails to IHM in impeccable English itself was an indicator that these weren’t oppressed females from, small towns/villages). Perhaps, it is because I am surrounded by mostly happy marriages (or seemingly happy – who knows what’s the reality?) and hence this blog has been a revelation. And am glad I came across it now – I am not yet married but when (and if) I do, I would now be very conscious about any of my and my family’s behavior which may tantamount to abuse towards the wife.

Reading of all the stories here, I feel sad for the women who are suffering in the marriage system. It must feel pathetic when one realises that such a major decision in life has turned out to be a dud. But my personal experience of trying to get married through the “arranged” route over the last one year has made me feel that a lot of people are approaching marriages in such a manner that disasters may be inevitable.

As a background, I am a “not so young” (by marriageable age standards in my community), below average looking, well-educated male with a well-paying job in a metro city. To me, marriage is perhaps the single biggest decision which will tremendously impact the course my life takes from here on. The way I see it – I do love my parents but they are my past and will most likely not be around for too long now. I would love my kids but in a couple of decades they will grow independent, find their mates and fly away. The spouse is the one person who would be my closest companion, and with whom I will share all small and big things of life, till one of us meets the Creator. It will be the most important relationship of my life. And so, when I started my search, I was looking for compatibility, mutual attraction as well as somewhat of a similarity in interests and a broad agreement on long term goals and expectations from life. I had no other checkbox to be ticked, other than a certain minimum level of education. There was no magic wand to figure these things out and so I thought communication and instincts would be the key. But some of my experiences, with well educated women, have left me flabbergasted. I have summarized a few of them below:

– Prospect 1 (Dental surgeon)
After a day of brief WhatsApping on where we work, who else is in the family, what do we prefer to read, hobbies, general chit chat etc., on the second day I get asked “What car do you drive”. My response “XYZ” (a small car). Lady “But you said in your profile you earn “ABC” lakhs. Why do you drive a small car? You can certainly afford a better car”. I didn’t hear back from her thereafter.

– Prospect 2 (Entrepreneur)
After speaking on phone once and whatsapping for a few days, we meet for a coffee. After a few general conversations about each other’s work, Lady: “Do you drink?”. Me: “Yes. Occasionally”. Lady: “Oops. I wanted a teetotaler as no one in my home drinks but I wanted someone who was non-vegetarian so that I could continue with my non-veg diet. So I don’t think we can take this forward”. (FYI – my community is generally vegetarian and teetotaler. I am a vegetarian but an occasional drinker. She was from my community too. And no, I have no dietary expectations for my future wife – her life, she chooses what to eat.)

– Prospect 3 (Chartered Accountant)
Father: “We came across your profile. Only interesting thing therein was your salary. So is it the correct salary?” Me: “Your daughter is in a similar industry as me. She should know”. Needless to say I wasn’t interested thereafter.

– Prospect 4 (Journalist educated abroad)
Lady: “I am an independent woman. I have led life on my own terms so far. But I will marry the guy my parents choose for me. I owe it to them for all that they have done for me.”

– Prospect 5 (pursuing PhD)
Lady: “My parents don’t want to take this discussion ahead. We visited your place and there was no dining table. And our astrologer tells us that you will have such a high level of “conjugal” needs that it will affect my health adversely.”

Further, invariably, every call from a parent of a girl would, after the initial pleasantries, ask for the time, date and place of birth. I was amused at the deep belief even the educated generation has in the unproven, archaic concept of horoscope.

To be fair, there were a few women who were focused on interaction, communication, knowing long term plans for life and would meet for a coffee, talk and would make a genuine attempt to figure out mutual compatibility. But the majority weren’t like that.

I must note that all of these prospects either contacted me or I contacted them through the matrimony portals. There was no common family/friend reference. And of course, my experiences are from a man’s perspective but I have no reason to doubt that a woman in my position is likely to have similar experiences from guys she may be meeting in such a context.

After a year of such and a few more incidents, it seems to me that to a large section of the population, especially those who are on these online matrimonial portals, marriage is approached as a transaction. There is very little focus on the person and a huge interest in the outwardly parameters – horoscope, salary, car, size of the house, looks, brands worn on the meeting day etc. When a certain set of criteria are met, the deal is sealed. Seeing this coming from highly educated women and their families has been even more disturbing. I do understand the difficulties in evaluating a total stranger as a potential spouse and hence people relying on some “indicators” and that people are generally wary of fakes/liars/impostors when they have come across the person through an online source. But if there is so much of hesitation in spending time to know a person and so little focus on understanding and exploring compatibility, attitudes, values and character, aren’t the marriage hopefuls playing with fire? If at least the educated generation is less reliant on parents to find a match for them, and is more open to an “exploratory” approach rather than a “transactional” approach to marriages, could it be that we would have fewer unhealthy marriages? Could we then have fewer women becoming victims of chauvinism and patriarchy in their husband’s family? Could we then have more equal man-woman relationships? Could we then have fewer young people with regrets?

I, for one, have now chosen to withdraw from this matrimony process and would rather look for love through dating someone interesting. I would rather stay single than marry someone with a hope that love, connect and compatibility would develop later on. This transactional approach to the most important decision of my life isn’t meant for me. I am looking for companionship and a shared life, not a coexistence for the sake of family, kids and society.

Perhaps, this email is out of context for your blog. But I still felt like writing in because if what I experienced is actually a broader trend – if a considerable number of marriages are actually being decided largely on the basis of focus areas such as those I was scrutinized for, then I believe there is a cause for worry.

Thank you.

Anon

Related Posts:

An email: I am 18 year old male from a traditional (read:backward) Indian family.

 Why are Sons treated unfairly and like ATM machines? – Indusladies.com

An email from an Indian Husband… and a Good Indian Son.

An email from a 30 year old Indian man, “Marrying a divorcee and an older woman.”

Physical Disability and Arranged Marriages – an email.

Are these the eight reasons you would give in support of Arranged Marriages?

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

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Pretty brides who respect elders and identify themselves with their husband’s families.

What better deal can any girl look for!

A guest post by Mr GV.

IHM,

A couple of months ago, you were good enough to accept a guest posting on Lallies and Venkies from me, in which I had reproduced a community member’s posting on our community forum, without naming him.

I remember what a storm that post created. The original writer has read all the outraged responses but has not chosen to reply.

He was back on the scene recently with another provocative post on our forum, titled “Cow Run on the marriage bourse is over” and he has once again given vent to his feelings about Lallies in our community.

I have once again taken his permission to share it with you on your blog and also reminded him about the possible reactions.

Regards
GV
(To refresh your memory : Lalli and Venki are typical nick names of an unmarried girl and boy in our community)

COW RUN ON THE MARRIAGE BOURSE IS OVER !

Lalliies beware – the Shalakhas and Sonalis are replacing you !

The nineties of the last century saw a resurgent Lalli population. Thanks to the booming IT industry, and the mushrooming engineering colleges, a vast number of  qualified, empowered, assertive Lallies emerged. The resources hungry corporate sector employed them and provided the best of salaries and lofty “paper” designations leading to their hitherto unheard of economic clout and purchasing power.

The electronic media beamed day and night on so called “modern life style” casting a tremendous impact on the Lallies who got “modernized” in their lifestyles. Saris and salwar suits were discarded in favour of jeans and tops, visits to expensive beauty parlours became a sine qua non of their modernity and Lallies in general were riding on cloud nine.

This led to change on their attitudes towards marriage. Was the average, simple, shy and relatively inarticulate  Venky good enough for them? May be not. Their sights were set high. Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, et al  were their idea of the male personality. Poor Venkies were left out.

A lot of Lallis asserted their independence and broke tradition. Quite a number of them married outside the community even outside the religion. The poor Venkies were left twiddling their thumbs. And Lallis in general rejected Venki after Venki who came to woo them. And not all of them could find their ideal Venkie.

So today, a huge number of Lallies remain unmarried, Lallies who will never be thirty again, waiting for the right Venki to come along.

But nature abhors vacuum. How long can any situation exist?

Increased intercity mobility saw a lot of Venkies moving to and settling in various parts of the country. Always known for their brains, their honesty, diligence and discipline, Venkies make their presence felt at the work place. And it is not just Lallies who are present at these work places. There are the Shalakhas and Sonalis of the north who are only too used to the boorish, pseudo macho attitude of their males. Their society is male dominated and is a victim of undesirable social evils like dowry, the dominance of the mother in law, etc.,

Close interaction brought them face to face with the  gentle  soft-spoken Venkies, their culture and traditions and their quiet way of life. Above all, the Venkies impressed them with their quiet dignity, honesty and sincerity. And, all said and done, unlike what the Lallies think, our Venkies are not that  bad looking after all. Thus, Venkies for the Sonalis and Shalakhas were ideal husband material. Men who would respect them, men whose mothers would be kind and cultured, whose traditions and culture  were rich and dignified and whose people were generally gentle, educated and refined.

What better deal can any girl look for! Soon, the Sonalis and Shalakahs took to Venkies like fish taking to water. And more and more Venkies are sporting pretty brides, brides without attitude, brides with respect for traditions and culture, brides who respect elders and identify themselves with their husband’s families.

And poor Lallies are kept waiting, looking for the “ideal” husband. Lallies,  the cow run on the bourse is over. Move over. The Shalakhas and Sonalis are taking over.

Related Posts:

‘Daughters growing older, their egos becoming bigger, their attitudes and behavior becoming more boorish..’

A detailed check list of conditions from modern young women of marriageable age.

Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills.

Eleven questions the family elders ask women in unhappy marriages.

“When there are guests I don’t get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time …even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent.”

Sharing an email. 

Hi
I am a housewife (I don’t like to use this word for myself) and a regular reader of your blog.
 
I don’t know if you would be able to help me in any way but if you would just read my entire mail with patience and also respond, it would just give me a feeling that there is someone who at least understands me.
 
I was born and brought up in Delhi/NCR and have decent educational background. My parents never had enough to spend on any kind of luxury not even eating out and during one phase we even struggled to manage two meals a day. But they have been the best parents because they kept us so bonded and taken care of during all ups and downs of life. Me, my siblings and my parents….we all were a so closely attached and knit up that we shared everything with each other. Even in our worst day we could laugh loudly with each other.
 
My mother has been the pillar of the family. She is traditional and yet open minded. Traditional with culture and family values and open minded about learning new things, adopting modern ways of living and doing things.
 
I have been a jolly and happy person with very strong positive attitude in life. I have faced some social evils personally that I am not discussing here because I want to forget them (I know it not possible….but I pretend to as long as it not haunting me). I believe in forgiving and forgetting because I feel that keeping things in heart obstructs your way to happiness and all I want in life is happiness. And my happiness is associated with just little things in everyday life that an average girl dream of.
 
I always believed that only good things happen to good people and so I tried to remain good and I believe that I succeeded in my efforts.
I have never intentionally hurt anyone, if I dont like someone I just keep a good distance from them and never pray bad or bitch about them.
 
I never had any boyfriend or even a thought of having one because I knew and believed that I will get true love from marriage and that had to be an arranged one as per my family tradition.
 
So i religiously preserved all my love for my future husband and waited for him to come in my life when it was destined.
 
As I was in a close knit family I always wanted to have all the relations in my in-laws. (ie. parents-in-law, sister-in law etc.)
 
Now I am in such a family for last seven years where there are all the relations that I  wanted but I don’t feel connected to anyone.
I love my husband and he loves me too….but it seems there is something lacking.
 
Our likes and dislikes are different, our tastes are different, our perspectives are different.
My in laws are too traditional and follow the rules too rigidly and sometimes stupidly. It seems they are doing something because it has to be done and not necessarily needed to be done.
 
They do Pooja (worship) like maniacs, when there are guest I dont get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time.
I cant wear what I want…even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent by them. I cant have a friend circle of my own…I cant go out alone…at least not for my personal indulgence.
 
I dont get to watch TV as my FIL keeps the remote all the time and all he watches in news.
 
I don’t know if I am making any sense or not but the fact is that the family and nature of people I grew up with and the family and people that I am with now are so different that I am not being able to be at peace in my own home.
 
My husband is the only male child of his parents and thus it becomes my compulsion to take care of them. They are not independent enough in attitude that they could live on their own. And when I think of leaving them alone and live separately with my husband it give me a guilt felling as I feel it would be the worst thing to do to your parents.
 
But staying with them, following their style of living, taking care of their likes and dislike, accepting the restrictions on my freedom to do things my way is now driving me crazy. I have lost my confidence completely…I am ruining my physical appearance as I have no interest in taking care of myself and looking good.
 
 I sometimes feel that I am falling into depression as I am loosing interest in everything that I liked…I have no friends…I avoid inviting people at home.
 
My husband hears me and agrees with the unjust behavior and expectations of his parents but I doubt if he actually understands my dilemma. I don’t want to hurt them and cant even please them. Don’t want to leave them alone and cant even live with them. Its like either they can have a life they want or I can have the life I want….both cant happen together.
 
My husband says that I should not bother too much about the likes and dislikes of my in-laws and should follow my aspirations. But I feel caught as all the household responsibilities from kitchen to market, from to kid to guests and everything small or big related to the house is done by me with occasional and minimal help from others.
 
I feel completely caught up and tangled..with no hope and no true happiness.
 
Sorry for all this blabbering but I still had so much to say.

– An Indian Bahu

 
 
Related Posts:
 
 
 

‘His family seems a bit traditional type.I googled “how to behave with in laws after marriage in India.’

“I seem to have a lot of similarities with the villainous daughters in law of India’s favourite serials.”

From an Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.

“I had written an email about being a DIL in the joint family, I am happy to share my current state …”

“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”

“This would help people realize that happy Indian families like this also exist.”

I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…

“I have to seek permission for visiting parents. My phone bill has to be reasonable. My expenses nominal. And my desires non-existent.”

An email: The last straw was her expecting me to practise 4 day period sit-out thingy.

Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills.

An email from a Newly Wed Wife. “Now they don’t like me.”

A detailed check list of conditions from modern young women of marriageable age.

Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover…?

Eleven questions the family elders ask women in unhappy marriages.

The Modern Sari: Some Facts and a Question.

Can’t end marriage over sari 😉

The way a woman dresses…

It is easy to walk out and wish for a nucleated system, for petty squabbles like this.

No Jeans For Indian Daughters in Law.

Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

To an Anonymous DIL

“In my own company in a cosmopolitan city, I know women who were horrified on the First Night.”

Do take a look at this email with a link – shared by Sharmila.

Tradition, custom and culture can make parents of Indian daughters not just tolerate but enforce all this, and worse, on their daughters. Can you imagine this sort of crimes being tolerated if it wasn’t for tradition? 

Hi IHM

We all know how arranged marriages happen in our country and how marital rapes are condoned. The below is the link to a letter i found in quora.com, written by an anonymous girl who was forcefully married off to her uncle(mom’s younger bro).

http://www.quora.com/Arranged-Marriages/How-does-it-feel-to-have-sex-with-a-stranger-on-your-wedding-night/answers/2400693

I was forced to break off all contact with my boyfriend (mobile, internet snatched away, I don’t think I could even have sent a letter, it was so bad) and forced to dive head-first into the wedding arrangements.

The day of the wedding came, and after a really embarrassing lecture from my mother, about my ‘marital duties’ since I was the eldest daughter and no friends had been allowed to my wedding (my parents believed they would whisk me away from the wedding if they came to know), I got ready for the ‘wedding night’. I was already feeling completely shitty about the whole thing, having been cut off from every person that I wanted to be with, being married to my ‘mama‘ in secrecy, and not even knowing whether to think of him as a husband or my mama, and  just wanted to sleep hoping a new day would bring a new start. I waited for my husband to come and when he entered, we exchanged a few awkward sentences about the whole day being tiresome. I then told him “I’m feeling very tired, I will change and go to sleep now” but I was not prepared for what happened next. He suddenly kissed me, and I was a little taken aback, but I just pulled away slowly, and told him that I was not in the mood, and reiterated that I was very tired. He ignored me completely, and kissed me again, this time with more force, and when I tried to push him away, he slapped me.
This was followed by the most horrible experience of my life, the details of which shake me to this day, and I somehow escaped by locking myself in the bathroom. [link]

Please take out time to read this. Do let me know if the link is not working.
You should share it on your blog so that more young women and men read it. Considering that our law makers are not for now going to make marital rape a crime, the least we can do is make the young men aware that in arranged marriages, how women feel regarding sex(rather forced sex). Somehow arranged marriages are glorified in our country. No one seems to understand that women too have desires which include sexual ones. Why is it that people assume that sex is something women need to give and men only the pleasure? I felt so sad reading this. Atleast she had the courage to run away.

In the same link i sent, if you scroll down, you will notice many more comments about arranged marriage. The thing is, many Indian women don’t know what is sex. Men argue, when women get married they are prepared to have sex with them. But no, they dont. In my own company (which is a big corporate) in a cosmopolitan city, I know women who were horrified on the “First Night”. One female colleague told me seeing movies, she thought it was only kissing, hugging, fondling. She was horrified that someone will touch her down there. Seems she cried so much during the wedding night and her husband was nice enough to be patient. Three months into marriage, she realized that her husband won’t wait any longer and let herself be raped. She came and sobbed to us the next day. I did not know what to even say to her.

When will this situation improve?

Regards
Sharmi

Related Posts:

Why did they surrender themselves repeatedly and offer sex to their husbands when…

Denying sex to spouse on first night ground for marriage annulment: Delhi high court

Who will benefit from criminalising sexual assaults within marriages?

“why not marry them first and then have sex ? What prevents you from doing it ? Deep within YOU WANT JUST SEX and nothing more”

Where Consensual Sex is Rape, and Forced Sex a legal right.

Live in Relationships: The man gets a temporary disposable wife?

An email: Salary of the prospective groom must be 3-6 times more than the salary of the prospective bride.

How do women (and men, and the society) benefit from women marrying men who earn more than they do and are older and more educated than they are? 

“Most of the bride’s parents have a predetermined level of education and salary range that they expect the groom to fit into.”

Sharing an email from a prospective groom. 

Hi IHM,

I’ve been a reader of your blog, and think I have a topic you could consider worthy of a debate. Answers to this would really help me sort out my confusion:
Can I request that my name be blocked out because I’d much rather not have my family/extended family know I’m asking such questions? 🙂 These kind of questions aren’t exactly encouraged in my family.
I’ve been living abroad for many years now, and have lost touch with a lot of the Indian customs and traditions. After years of not being able to find a partner, my parents decided to start the task of bride searching. Some proposals came in on a popular website, and most of the bride’s parents have a predetermined level of education and salary range that they expect the groom to fit into. I’ve seen them ask that the groom earn as much as 3-6 times the girl’s salary (in Indian rupees), or earn above a certain salary range in US dollars that would only fit graduates from top-league Universities having crème-de-la-crème jobs (better paying than an equivalent job at any of the largest software corporations in the US).
I live in this utopian world where the guy and girl earn a salary that is sufficient for a good living, the salary breakup would be irrelevant if the couple found each other, but in an arranged marriage, one would only tolerate a certain amount of disparity (not a 3x-6x disparity) as the expectation is that each partner be equally responsible in all departments.
I find this line of thinking from the girl’s parents quite confusing.
Does this mean that they consider ‘lesser successful’ boys unappealing? Or an alternate but scary line of thought is that the girl’s salary is considered unimportant (meaning she has no financial responsibility towards the family). One more possibility is that I have my bearings wrong, and I’d like to be corrected 🙂
Thanks!
Related Posts:

Response from Conflicted Banker and when Arranged Marriages are not really ‘arranged’.

What do you think of Arranged Marriages where there is no direct or indirect coercion, caste-matching, horoscope-matching or dowry negotiations; and where the parents do no more than introduce the Prospective Bride and the Prospective Bride Groom?

And when would you judge (or blame) a man or a woman for breaking an engagement in such ‘arranged marriages’?

IHM,

Thanks for publishing my E-Mail. I’ve read the comments over the weekend, and I am grateful to you and all of your readers for providing your viewpoints on the issue.
Almost everybody has expressed sentiments which are very much in line with my own thoughts. As I stated, I don’t have any intention of marrying someone who does not want to be married to me (or anyone else), and most readers have agreed that it is the right stance. This has given me much more confidence in my decision.
I am personally in no hurry to get married, and although I think we would have made a great couple under other circumstances, I’m prepared to accept that nothing can possibly come out of a relationship forged under pressure. I must look elsewhere to find a life-partner. It does hurt a bit, of course, but that is to be expected. I can get over it.
Some people have suggested that friendship without romantic expectations would be difficult. I agree with them, and rest assured, I have considered this. However, I feel that it would only be fair to offer some assistance if she needs it and asks for it. My future course of action will essentially be to go back to life without her, while staying available if she needs any material or moral help. I don’t plan to meet her or see her again on a regular basis under any circumstances, because this would probably just result in me holding unfair romantic expectations from her.
I would also specifically like to respond to Atul’s comment. While I agree that I must accept some of the blame, it is not in the same manner that he suggests. I did write ‘I finally gave in’, but this is a bit of a misrepresentation of what really happened. A better way to say it would be that I finally accepted the idea that it might be time to look for someone to get married to. During my time in the US, I have dated women quite independently; however, back then, I was just starting out and did not want anything long-term, so those relationships were intentionally short-lived (and both sides knew it). I’ve only recently felt the need for something much more serious, but since I arrived in India only a couple of years ago, I found it quite daunting to find and enter the local dating scene, specially because I spend a huge amount of my time at work and have very little opportunity to attend social occasions. Moreover, I did not want a much younger woman than myself, and it seems that most women in my circle, who are around my age, are already married or at least committed. Since my parents already had a few supposedly suitable women in mind, I decided to go with that, on the condition that they would not interfere too much beyond setting up the date (and they kept their promise). I don’t see anything wrong with this myself. The problem, of course, was that I was expecting my ‘date’ to have come by her own free will too. This was not the case here.
Thanks once again.
I am glad that I took all of these second opinions. 🙂

An email: “I have absolutely decided that I will not marry her, but I am wondering if I made the right choice.”

Sharing an email.
Hello, IHM.
Most of the people who write to you seem to be women, but I hope you will be able to offer some advice to me as well! (I’m male)
Okay, before I begin my story, some background. I am a 29 year old Delhiite, and an investment banker by profession. My family is a large one, and is fairly traditional, but I have spent several years abroad, and for good or worse, do consider myself a bit more liberal than the average Indian. I’ve done reasonably well in my career so far and currently hold what people would call a ‘plush’ job in the NCR.
As you may imagine, as I crossed 25, my family started hankering me (with increasing intensity) to think about marriage. I resisted all attempts for about three years. Last year, though, I finally gave in, and agreed to have a look at some of the eligible ‘matches’ my family had received.
After a couple of unsuccessful ‘dates’ (I’m not sure what I would call them, really), I hit the jackpot. This woman – I’ll call her Tara – was a fellow banker who also lived and worked in the NCR. We spent about five months getting to know each other. I was skeptical at first, but I was eventually bowled over not just by the fact that she was great looking, but also because she was the sort of confident, vivacious, smart and yet kind individual that I always wanted as a life partner. We shared many of the same goals, we shared similar values and we also had similar thoughts on things like religion and parenting. In short, I thought Tara was more or less my best shot at finding ‘the one’, and to the extent that anyone can do so in five months, I think I genuinely fell in love with her. Our parents were quite happy, and we arranged to have a June engagement.
That was the good part. Now comes the dilemma.They say love blinds you to many things. I was blinded too, but as time passed, it became more and more obvious to me that all was not well on her side. It manifested as small things which I initially chalked to the initial awkwardness (but which were more than that in actuality). She would seem extremely stressed, and even resentful at times. Her moods would change suddenly. One moment, we would be talking quite normally, the next, she would simply explode over some triviality (e.g me tipping the waiter too much).

On my first – and only – attempt at any kind of physical contact (just physical, not even sexual), she completely froze, and her body tensed up like a wound spring.

Of course, I immediately let go, and to my surprise, she began crying and left without a word. I did not talk about it later, thinking that it was obviously a sensitive subject, and hoping that she would come round to it when she felt comfortable. She never did.

She completely broke down on several occasions, for no apparent reason whatsoever and did not respond when I asked her what was wrong.
These things started happening with increasing regularity, and before long, I began suspecting that something was very wrong.
It was only in the last couple of weeks that — after much prodding and cajoling — she shared the truth with me. Her story was involved and complicated, but the long and short of it was that she was basically being emotionally blackmailed into this relationship by her own parents, in many ways. For example, her mother suffers from multiple health issues, and the ‘stress’ that Tara caused by not getting married according to her parents’ wishes was supposedly aggravating these issues. She also has a younger brother, who evidently cannot get married until she does. The parents have expressed a wish to see their grandkids before they die, and her father threatened to consume rat poison on at least one occasion.
The pressure was obviously incredible.
Many heart-to-heart discussions followed, but the bottom line which came out was that while she honestly did not want to get married at this point, she did like me, and would thus marry me as a sort of ‘best-compromise-available’ solution, if I was willing (basically a known devil v. the devil unknown scenario).
Faced with this situation, I unequivocally refused. I told her she needed to get out of the trap she was in, live her own life, and find her own speed. I reasoned that I couldn’t marry someone who didn’t want to be married at all, as doing so would make both our lives miserable. I made this argument in many ways, at many times, and told her we could be friends etc.She did not accept this, and told me that I wasn’t doing her any favors but in fact only making things worse, because she’d now have to marry some other guy that her parents chose for her, who might not be very suitable. She told me that I should take some time to think about it.

As you may have guessed, I am now double-guessing myself. I have absolutely decided that I will not marry her, but I am wondering if I made the right choice. Would we have been better off if I had chosen otherwise? Is she right in saying that I am actually leaving her worse off than before? I have been feeling a little guilty for having been part of this whole blackmail, and not seeing the signs earlier on. There is also a sense of betrayal — this was a woman I loved (I think) and I thought we had something great going on, but in the end, it all turned out to be a charade.
I am conflicted and confused.
Your perspective on this issue would be greatly appreciated. At the very least, it would help me clear my mind on the subject. Hopefully, I will also learn some valuable lessons for the future.
Awaiting your reply.

Conflicted Banker

Where is the opportunity for Indian men to learn the most natural thing in the world – finding a mate??

A Guest Post by priya.

Finding a Life Partner  – do we need a book on dating written for Indians?

My company has a branch in India and we sometimes get people from India to come and train in the US.  These are mostly young men and women in their twenties, almost all of them single.  Sometimes I take the ‘India team’ out for lunch or coffee, and invariably the conversation goes from work to more personal stuff.

There is this young man ‘Ravi’ (name changed) in the group.  His parents are ‘looking for matches’ for him.  He recently went to India to ‘see a girl’.  So everyone asked him how it went.  He shared that he was shocked that the girl confessed to him that she had dated another guy and it hadn’t worked out. (This was done in private, without parents around.)  So he asked her why she is agreeing to an arranged marriage. The girl said she is doing it to keep things smooth with her parents, but intends to eventually meet someone and marry by her own choice.

So ‘Ravi’ just told his parents he didn’t like the girl and to keep looking.  When he shared this with the group, everyone ( 5 women, 2 men) burst out laughing.  Apparently, everyone in the group already had a steady bf/gf or were getting engaged to someone they had been dating.  Everyone told ‘Ravi’ to ‘stop being ridiculous’, to ‘come out of the Middle Ages’, to ‘be an adult and go find a life partner on his own.’

Ever since, I’ve seen ‘Ravi’ talking more to the women colleagues.  He is extremely awkward (like the guy in your recent post).  He doesn’t know how to strike up a conversation with a woman – for example he could discuss her work and be interested in role in the project.  Instead he talks about her looks or something she’s wearing – with someone he barely knows.  The women sometimes joke about him behind his back.  The interesting thing is that these women are perfectly comfortable striking up conversations, making friends, asking people out, etc.  Some of them complain that ‘liberated men’ are in minority.  ‘My bf wants to get a flat in Bangalore and live with his parents!’ complained one of the women.  It seems to me as if out of the pool of educated/middle class/professional/worldly/sophisticated group of Indians, the women are changing, but the men are clinging to the past?  I do know a few progressive men and don’t want to over-generalize here – this is not meant to stereotype men – but I was just wondering, is this true of the majority??.

I feel like men like ‘Ravi’ will go back to having an arranged marriage because they haven’t been raised to become adults.  They are like children all their life – their parents will make decisions for them, and in a way that must be comforting because it takes away the responsibility of having to make your own mistakes, facing the consequences, learning, and making your relationship work.  On the other hand, it must be so frustrating when things don’t work out in your marriage.  You never had a say in it, in the first place.  Then you ‘have to make it work’ even if you hate to.

Isn’t this a problem for many young Indian urban professional men?  Even when they want to find a life partner of their own choice, they don’t know where to begin.  How do you talk to a girl in a away that is not condescending, not creepy, not patronizing?  How can these young men learn how to do this?  There are no role models in their family (can’t talk to dad!).  Friendship between boys and girls is discouraged in schools.  The movies have such a creepy version of boy meets girl (except for some of the newer ones).  So where is the opportunity to learn the most natural thing in the world – finding a mate??

Related Posts:

Indian culture today is against young people choosing their own partners. Dowry, segregation, traditions, family values, Indian values, horoscope, caste, community, gotra etc are used to control their choices:

Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

“Why didn’t these women find life partners by dating?”

“In unison, everyone agreed that asking her out was outraging her modesty…”

Boys and Girls Holding Hands …

Some young Indian men seek not love but a good daughter in law for their parents:

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

Some young (and old) Indian men believe girls who have boyfriends are not ‘good Indian girls’:

“why not marry them first and then have sex ? What prevents you from doing it ? Deep within YOU WANT JUST SEX and nothing more”

The kind of videos young Indians need to watch.

Teaching school children that getting married without ‘a bad name’ is a dream of every young girl.

Many Indians understand rape as ‘sex outside marriage’ (consensual or not); interactions between ‘opposite sexes’ are seen as women ‘asking to be raped’. This also serves to prevent ‘choice marriages’.

Where Consensual Sex is Rape, and Forced Sex a legal right.

Who benefits from criminalizing consensual teenage sex?

“Ninety percent rape victims go willingly, but later they meet criminal minded people…”

What Khaps need is a strictly implemented law against Forced Marriages.

Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills.

An email: “My in laws want me to stay here with them while my husband works in another city.”

Sharing an email.

Hello

I have been a lurker at your blog and find the discussions useful. I hope you will also put my case on your blog.
Background
I had an arranged marriage around 4 years ago. Within a year after that I had a daughter. Both myself and my husband are doctors. My husband used to live with his parents. After 3 – 4 months my husband had to move to another place for his super specialization. As a result I had to stay with his parents for this duration of three years as I was also working temporarily in a government university. My father in law dominates his family and his sons are unable to stand against him.
Even though my parents are living in the same town at a distance of 4 km away from my husband’s  house I am unable to meet them. I come to meet my parents in daytime taking time out of work. So its been more than six months that my parents have not seen their grand daughter.
What I find the most frustrating  and painful is that at my work place I  make decisions that could result in the life or death of a patient but in my personal life  has little control over my own self and hence little autonomy of my own. I am psychologically under pressure
My husband is otherwise ok to me but does not respect my family. So far the past 3 years there has been zero interaction between my in laws and my family.
All decisions affecting me and my child are taken by my father in law. My family has not been invited to be the part of any celebration – like my child’s birthday or my husband’s completion of super specialization. My in laws do not want me to go and live with my husband. They want me to stay here with them while my husband works in another city.
Should I continue to compromise hoping things get better in the future or go for some other mode of action? I fear they will take my child away from me if i go for some legal action. His family is financially much more powerful and has political connections also.
Regards
Related Posts:

An email: “indian daughter in-law is servant?”

Sharing an email from an Indian daughter in law’s young sister, who is worried that this is the future that awaits her too.

indian daughter in-law is servant?

My elder sister done love marriage. Both family are not very happy, but my parents support my didi because they believe in freedom. My parents are not happy because they  know groom’s family, his mother is so orthodox and my parents  know she never understand didi.
She is doctor and open minded girl, we both are grow-up like boy our parents never treat us as we are girls so no ‘don’t do that and don’t do this‘. I don’t have any brother.
Starting from their engagement her in-law have created problem. After marriage it is very difficult to handle her mother-in-law. We think that this marriage will not work and at that time her in-law want baby, we are not ready because still didi can’t adjust with her in-law. (didi – older sister)
In this year I think I have to face all this in my future. If you are well educated, equally like  the groom, then why after marriage you have to follow your in-law you have to give first priority to groom’s mother, relatives, and then your parents?
Why the life is so difficult for a girl?
In first year of her marriage her mother-in-law told she will do didi’s delivery at her home but now she told we do nothing you have to arrange all. She always wants to be grandmother but don’t want to take any responsibility. (IHM: I think this means bearing the cost of the medical expenses and functions and gifts after the grand child’s birth)
I don’t understand in india after marriage girl is servant who do job, has to handle home, to be mother, take responsibility. But being father a boy just do earning nothing else.
Her mother-in-law can invite her family members many time but not think for daughter-in-law. Just being DIL you have to take care of every people but not for you and your parents.
I always hear “a boy’s parents take care of boy that way you get groom so DIL have to take care for them”. So girl’s parents do  nothing for their daughter? They don’t take care to make her daughter doctor? (girl is not doctor from her birth) and a girl leave her parents her family it is nothing like new. It is rivaz (custom).
And after marriage a boy leave family then DIL responsible for it.  She is consider to be a bad DIL and so on. I can’t understand this difference same girl has to leave her family then she is good but if his husband leave his family then girl is not good?