At the outset, let me thank you for this kind courtesy extended to me and for hosting my post on your blog.
I am deeply gratified at the warmth, enthusiasm, outspokenness, frankness, boldness, and variety in the views that your readers have expressed.
There are just too many questions to answer and it will take another long blog post to answer.
I have already answered some questions and will now attempt answering some more besides putting some more of my thoughts on the subject before the topic becomes cold and everyone shifts their attention to your next blog post.
I am not against love marriages.
While defending arranged marriages, I am not blind to some deficiencies and evil practices in our present system. We should correct them and then retain them as a viable alternative. Not everyone gets opportunities or is able to fall in love and marry. (I recall Sunder’s comment!) Why deny these people a chance for matrimonial happiness?
I vote for a PROPER marriage, whether love or arranged.
By proper arranged marriage I mean a marriage minus the common evils.
No dowries. The boy and girl must not be pressurised for a decision.
Parents/relatives/friends/well wishers may facilitate their meeting and then leave it to them to talk it over and decide.
Even if the elders think the match is great, the couple must have the final say.
By a proper love marriage, I mean a marriage between mature lovers.
Two sixteen or seventeen year old teenagers, falling in love, and wanting to marry, while still students is not a proper love marriage. Bobby was entertaining as a film. Let our teenagers not emulate them in real life.
[IHM: Legal age for marriage is 18 and 21 (should be equal for both but that’s another post) – but often parents push the children to elope by arranging minor daughter’s marriage when they sense she has found someone she might want to marry – or they kill her.
Amongst the educated, most young people are generally willing to wait till they are financially settled and the pressure to marry is, sadly from the family elders. ]
Climbing out of the bedroom window and eloping with your boyfriend , while he holds the ladder , is not my idea of proper love marriage. First be eligible, be in position to show and prove the merits and suitability of your chosen partner, make an attempt to convince your parents/elders, win them over, seek their support and blessings and for this if necessary take some time and be patient. Marrying in a hurry in defiance of their wishes must be a last resort and only when you are convinced that their reasons for opposing your marriage are wrong and totally unacceptable and you have tried your best to convince them.
In my story, after you sift through the spice (deliberately added to make it more readable ) I hope you could get an insight into the minds and attitudes of parents two generations ago. I felt I was modern by the standards prevailing those days. Today I appear very orthodox to many of you. However much you condemn my parents ways, their hurry for getting me married off, their aversion to love marriages, their belief in astrology, temple traditions, etc, I am convinced they were sincere. They genuinely were concerned about me. They also made some concessions to the times. During their time, they never had a chance to say no to the match that their parents fixed. At least I had the opportunity to meet and discuss to my heart’s content, all issues with my future wife. I am sure if either of us were unacceptable to the other, our parents would have called it off, Hanumaanji’s concurrence notwithstanding. They also tolerated our writing letters to each other, which some parents would have found disconcerting. The fear of the letters being used against each other if the match broke off would hover like a cloud over their minds.
Allytude asked what if the monkey had not taken a bite from that apple?
Good question. I wouldn’t have known at all. It would have been another dilemma for my father in law. Luckily he would have found support from my mother as she is even more devout and religious (or superstitious, to some of you). I believe, she would have been terribly disappointed, but something tells me she would have prevailed upon my father in law to make a second attempt! When a court case goes against you, don’t we appeal ? I guess my mother would have taken it upon herself to go there again with bananas this time instead of apples, and tried her luck once again. Now, I really can’t answer, what they would have done if the monkey had declined the bananas too! I and my wife would not have been affected of course. We were not even aware of what was going on.
But I am sure if the monkey had bitten into the banana, there would have been no further appeal or confirmation!
A striking difference between our generation and the present generation is that women are better educated, better accomplished, more confident, less tolerant of patriarchal tyranny and unfairness, economically less dependent on parents and husbands, more outspoken and this has resulted in their being more insistent on their rights, more choosy and less submissive. They have also made getting married that much more difficult. I personally welcome this. However, in some cases I fear this has been carried too far. I also sense some needless militancy in the minds of some very accomplished modern women. It almost appears there is a desire for revenge against gender discrimination rampant in the past.
[IHM: The problem is GV even today the discrimination is very, very rampant – I am sure sometimes it just gets too much to have to ‘fight’ for something that the rest of the world simply takes for granted. Also some women might appear ‘militant’ because women are not supposed to be forthright – just a thought.]
Some modern women/men appear to be opposed to any marriage unless it is a guarantee of permanent happiness and comfort for 24 hours a day and 365 days a year and they expect their spouse to be the provider of this happiness. They don’t for a moment think of their responsibility to reciprocate and provide this same happiness to their partner. Obviously it should be a two way arrangement , and both must reconcile to occasional differences, and disagreements and periods of stress and strain.
Some of us seem to be intolerant of any kind of stress or strain even if these are temporary. We are spoilt for choice these days. and I sometimes get the feeling, may be we would have been better off with less choice than we have now.
[IHM: Would love some examples of being ‘spoiled for choice’ 🙂 How would one be better if there was lesser choice? ]
We had and still have no choice when it came to our parents. What if we could choose them? Would we make a list of specifications and decide who should be our parents? God forbid. How many of us would be cast off by our own children as not meeting their specifications?
[ IHM: For this not to happen, Indian parents really need to start accepting their adult children as individuals. Key words: Mutual respect and Communication without infantalization.]
We have no choice when it comes to our children. A piece of flesh, comes out of a woman’s womb, flailing and wailing and we at once accept it as our son/daughter. Except for being able to choose whether or not we want a child, we have no choice regarding the qualities of our children. So we work to give them the good qualities.
Designer babies are still not reality.
[IHM: GV I feel attempts to create designer babies were always there, for example – everybody in India has always wanted a hundred designer sons exactly like Shravan Kumar and Ram.]
Sadly, we don’t have this attitude when it comes to our spouses. We want a ready made spouse, tailored to our specifications, and most of us do not even think whether we are ourselves tailored to our spouse’s specifications.
I fear greatly, we are all becoming increasingly selfish. At this rate, I foresee even more loneliness and unhappiness after a few more generations.
[IHM: But GV do you feel the older generations were not lonely in unhappy marriages? Men often had their den and seperate social circle, women socialised with women, there wasn’t much interaction with each other. Today couples communicate with each other much more, and I would say the difference is they (even women) are able to complain, and that too openly. ]
It might end up, each person for himself / herself. What is a departure from accepted practice today, might become the norm. 50 years ago, we frowned on love marriages. Today, so many of you are frowning on arranged marriages.
[IHM: GV the problem is with ‘forced-marriages’ where the couple is not allowed to have any say at all. You had more say in your marriage, then many young couples, specially women, have in their marriages even today. Like many have said, yours was not really an Arranged Marriage.]
The next generation might frown on marriage itself as an institution. Live in arrangements, which are socially disapproved today, might be the norm.
What next? Just one night stands? Rampant and random promiscuity? I don’t want to take my imagination any further. Mercifully I wont be around when all this happens.
[ IHM: Do you think committed relationships where both the partners are happy, and where children are cared for, where one partner can’t force the other to stay unless they wish to, where one partner can’t force another to tolerate their abusive families (or even a second wife), might just change some evils in the society, like dowry and big fat weddings, prejudice against widows, and pressure to ‘look’ married amongst Hindu women.
The only thing that might be a matter of concern is the ease with which a partner might leave – but here again, how right is it to force someone to stay against their will? Women are made to feel this works against them, but that is because it is assumed that women benefit from staying in relationships no matter how unhappy they are. ]
I am not anti love marriage.
I am not necessarily always pro arranged marriage.
I am pro a good and mature marriage, whether love or arranged.
Mine was a good arranged marriage and I will not run down this method of getting married. Today we have much better tools. (Matrimonial portals etc.) Today we are better educated, better off economically and most of us are also much more reasonable during marriage negotiations. I think dowry among the educated middle class is almost dead, or at least should be. Which fool of a boy will expect a dowry from his in laws these days when the girl is as accomplished as he is?
IHM: If the wife is not as accomplished, is it okay to ask for dowry?
(I am not talking of the rural scenario where Khap Panchayats rule the roost)
One additional reform I earnestly seek in today’s arranged marriage concerns expense.
I believe the entire expenditure must be shared 50-50. By tradition, the girl’s party has always footed the bill, in all our communities. I think it’s time this custom ended.
Thanks for this opportunity to vent a little and also share my thoughts and feelings.
Thanks once again for this great opportunity to open out to all of you.
I have enjoyed writing this and reading all the comments.
I look forward to my continued participation, subject to time and convenience in future deliberations on this forum.
IHM: Thanks GV 🙂