“Can I really marry and live with a guy who is so uncomfortable with the fact that I am open and expressive?”

Sharing an email.

I’m 27 years and a couple of months old and it suddenly seems that everything about my life is turning upside down. i’ve been blogging for over 10 years now… been a reader of your blog and have been in touch with so many of the people who read it..

However, one thing I have been and still am is a confused soul…  I’ve so far had a lot of freedom given to me by parents, some of which was after a lot of hard won arguments and simple rebellion which they then accepted. I have a huge family, full of well meaning aunts and uncles and cousins and grand some thing or the others that very obviously love me but would probably adore me a little more if I were less frank and a little more subtly manipulative about getting what I want…
It’s always been a strange phenomena to me that being publicly (and by that I mean before anyone who doesn’t actually live in the same house as you) sweet, quiet and submissive to some degree lets you get away with doing whatever the heck you want while putting yourself out in the open makes people restrict you even when you haven’t technically or overtly broken any rules that society and family had set for you… I’ve always been very “moonhphat”,  but at the same time I’ve tried to be a “good” daughter.
What is completely freaking me out now is the sudden shift in the rules now that I’ve agreed to see a boy my family’s picked as a “perfect” arranged match. my parents have changed their attitude completely… but that is not what I need advice about… its about the Boy…
He’s from a “good” family, well educated, has his family business that he took over a few years ago because he lost his father at a young age. I’ve spent a total of 9 hours talking alone with him over three separate days, and we managed to talk very openly and frankly about whatever things we wanted to… however, it seems that he is a very very different person from how I am.
The first serious conversation we had, was about  how he had found my blog and spent two whole days reading through the last 10 years of entries on it. How it had made him supremely uncomfortable that such a huge part of my life, my thoughts were online for the world to see, and comment. how i had written about my previous relationship, about my friends, about family, about my ideas and ideals.
He asked me whether I would continue that after marriage. His second serious question was, “What am I supposed to say if an aunt/cousin/assorted family member finds your blog and reads it and says this girl has been in a relationship, this girl is so combative…” Then he told me that his sister had read it and was equally disturbed by it.
I told him that it was nobody’s business but mine what I’d written and why on earth would anyone bother going through over 300 posts spread over 10 years???
Then he tells me that he is a very private person and doesn’t like it if “outsiders” are told about his family life… and he qualified it with a, “but my best friend is a girl and I tell her everything thats going on in my head… I just don’t feel comfortable with the fact that a million strangers can read your blog and know intimate details of your life.”
Anyway… since throwing my drink at his face and storming out wasn’t an option… I chose to simmer down and think about what he had said… my blog is now set to a private invitation only setting, not because he says he is uncomfortable but because of the idea that random strangers would judge me on the fact that i was a wreck after my college relationship failed.
The next time we met, he said that the girl in the blog was “disturbing” because all information that he had got from various family sources said that I would be a “good wife” because I was a “family oriented person” and the “life of every gathering”, whereas my blog has some of the darkest, most depressive and frankly combative things in my head…  I told him its my venting space… when I can’t let out how I feel any other way, I write… and about half of that ends up on my blog… so the blog has my rants about my ex, my ideas about feminism and independence and family, how disappointed I feel sometimes that my family is still following hidebound traditions even while they give my generation the leeway to make our own decisions.
It is not the blog of a “sweet bahu” who will “carry the family together”. Its the blog of a woman who thinks of more than just the menu for the next family get together…
What I am worried about here is the fact that both sets of families are extremely interested in seeing this match go through… but can I really marry and live my life with a guy who is so uncomfortable with the fact that I am open and expressive? That I am NOT exactly a “sunshine and rainbows” person…
The good point about this guy is that he seems to be sensible enough to ask me flat out what I feel.. he seems to accept that i am independent, i have a fairly combative head but at the same time i would do a lot for the sake of my family…
Thankfully both families are giving us time to think, even though every second day someone or the other asks if we are ready to say “yes” yet…
I’ve known of the existence of this boy for a little more than 10 days now.. and apparently that is more than the “arranged” people in my community usually get before they atleast have a roka… the formal engagement and marriage thankfully are months after the ‘roka’.. but i don’t want to agree to anything just yet because i am genuinely worried about how someone as free as me is supposed to deal with somone who is uncomfortable about a blog spread over 10 years…
My best friend pointed out that since the boy has never been in a relationship previously, the fact that I was “in love’ with my ex and am not a virgin is likely to remain an issue and an insecurity for him.. the fact that I have a circle of male friends, and a large circle of friends, may be a problem for someone whose life is not as open outside of his family.
So now I don’t know what to do.. when I discuss this with my parents all they say is that you anyway lose touch with friends after you get married, and that I should not tell the guy about my ex…. I didn’t have the heart to tell my parents that he’s already read my blog and knows most of it…
What do I do??
A confused soul

“Do I read too many books and I am confusing the bookish kind of love with reality?”

What if romance and marriage were seen as options, and self reliance was considered an unavoidable goal – for women too? 

Sharing an email. 

“His mother has been very clear that she wants me to come home soon because she cannot work. I know, I need to do household work, at least not burden them with my responsibility.”

 

The email: 

I need your advice.

I liked someone enough to introduce him to my parents, so I did, our parents met and decided last year that we would get married this year.

In the beginning guy’s parents told me they do not need anything and they would be really happy even if it is a simple marriage and I was more than happy about it. However, as this year came by and our parents met again, they had apparently changed their mind about it, and I was fine with it.

However, they said that they would be bringing 200 people whereas my father had requested them to bring 100 people or so, so that the marriage could be organised in an upscale venue. They remained adamant about it and finally my parents gave in and said it is okay  if baraat is between 100-150.

Before this I had tried in vain to convince my bf about our limitations but he did not seem to consider and thinking it is not a big deal I did not think much into it.

I thought it was all fine now, but the date which was fixed after consulting the pandit needed to be reshuffled again as pandit had made a mistake and said that this date was not suitable. He gave two other dates, we all thought it will be fine, but his parents again became adamant that they did not want those dates and said that the wedding needed to be postponed for next year. And IHM, I had already booked the venue by paying the advance since I wanted to help my parents by bearing the cost of the wedding. Since my salary is not much, I had to save for 5 months to pay the advance.

Again my bf did not say anything I understand that he must have pressure from his parents, but should he not consider my family at one point? I understand they must give a lot of importance to traditions and ceremonies, and I was ready to do it happily too. Is it too much of inconvenience to shift the wedding 7 days back? I understand it could be their limitation, so I asked my father to let it be and give them time and shift it.

But right now, I have serious doubts. Marriage is about supporting each other. On one side I feel that bf is not supporting me, on the other I feel even more scared as to how will I be treated by his parents. His mother has been very clear that she wants me to come home soon because she cannot work. I know, I need to do household work, at least not burden them with my responsibility. I feel caught up between so many things. My heart says, yes he is a nice person, but at the same time I don’t feel loved the way I wish to be. Do I read too many books and I am confusing the bookish kind of love with reality?

I am very confused.

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Indian Shaadi Logic – by Prateek Shah

18 questions for young women (and men) of ‘marriageable age’.

She doesn’t feel any attraction or liking or even friendliness for the guy. No ‘Connection’.

The danger signs and what’s non negotiable.

What would you not change for love?

“I have no other option than to move in with my very orthodox in laws. I need tips to not get hurt.”

My husband gives me the usual ‘you have not just married me, you have married my family..’ sermon

An email: “When I met my husband, the first impression I had was that he was a male-chauvinist”

An email: I was a person who thought Indian husbands will (and can) dominate their wives and there is nothing unnatural in that.

Indian Shaadi Logic – by Prateek Shah

So what does marriage mean to many Indians?

Indian Shaadi Logic by Prateek Shah

1. You are getting old. You should get married.
2. You are going bald/ growing fat/ becoming ugly. You should get married.
3. All your friends are married. You should get married.
4. You are getting bored. You should get married.
5. School done. College done. Job done. What else is to be done? You should get married.
6. Late marriage means late kids. You should get married.
7. But how will younger siblings get married? You should get married. [link]
8. Sharma Uncle, Verma Aunty and all other relatives keep asking all kinds of questions. You should get married.
9. Its our duty and responsibility. You should get married.
10. Its Great Great Grandparents last wish. You should get married.

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An email from An Adult Male of India : “Every single family sitting or phone call will eventually lead to….”

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

18 questions for young women (and men) of ‘marriageable age’.

Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills.

So what does marriage mean to traditional and conservative Indians?

“Only thing I can can think of now is to take a spoon of boiling oil and put on my cheeks. I will see then who marries a girl with a burnt face”

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

She doesn’t feel any attraction or liking or even friendliness for the guy. No ‘Connection’.

Sharing an email.
Dear IHM,

I’m mailing you with a lot of confusion in my mind and i hope to find a way through you,your blog and everyone’s advice based on their experiences with arranged marriage.
To cut a long story short, these are the pointers :
– My sister is 29 yrs old (30 in a few months), she stays with my parents, is well-qualified and has a job of her own. We are 2 sisters and we are proud of our parents the way they have brought us up. There has never been the feeling that there is no boy/son in the family.
– After long yrs of trial and errors finally there is this match. The boy’s family came, saw, and approved and the engagement was done in a day’s time.
– All is fine with the boy’s family and the boy himself is well-qualified and broad-minded.
– The problem is he is not ‘good-looking’ and most importantly my sister doesn’t feel free with him.
That may be understandable in an arranged marriage and so she has given her best efforts like talking to him, getting to know him etc. But even after 2 months now she doesn’t feel any attraction or liking or even friendliness for the guy. No ‘Connection’.
Now everyone in the family (joint family) is happy. Dates have been final and halls booked. Both families happy. The boy happy. But THE GIRL IS NOT HAPPY.
I believe that no one lives your life and in a marriage its important for both of them to feel some common ground and connected in some way. Mine is a love marriage. Though I don’t know how much difference that makes to ‘Marriage’ in itself because love or arranged it is the understanding and trust and friendship that is most vital.
Now my sister has shared her concerns with me. And all I want is her to be happy.
Please tell me what should be done in such a situation when everyone is happy and into the marriage except the girl.
She is not able to cope with his looks or his nature. The boy has a leg-pulling type jovial nature and his every response has a taunting undertone to it.
My sister feels tensed to talk to him. She feels ‘suffocated’ in this match.
She is not able to reach him/communicate to him/ be free with him. The boy on the other hand is very happy to have a beautiful wife but is concerned that he hasn’t seen any change in her wrt closeness or proximity.
He expects a kiss where as my sister can’t even think of spending time with him. That is the situation.
The concerns are :
The family is too much involved now. The boy is attached too.
If my sister backs out now :
– it would hurt the guy ( when she voiced her concerns in a subtle way he asked why did u get engaged then; but actually that was a quick decision bcz the boy had to move out and also every1 thought they would gel up well with time. Everyone did EXCEPT HER.)
– the family’s reputation is at stake. But we are mostly worried for our parents. With younger cousins getting married off and the probability of finding a right partner for my sister seeming less day by day.
– My sister is like she has been trying to give this relationship her best thinking that this is her only option and shaadi karni hi hai to kisise se bhi sahi.
( Lifestyle wise: my sister is veg and the boy non-veg. The boy drinks/smokes and my sister can’t even stand the smell of it)
Inspite of all this she has been trying to gel with the boy/ find a connection but she doesn’t feel anything for him.
I just want to know is this reason enough to call off a marriage ?
What should I advise her ?
Go ahead inspite of ur wishes, and give it some more time ( maybe get divorced after a year if things don’t work out ??? that’s really an option ??? ) for the sake  of the family. (Everyone is happy and satisfied and convinced about the match)
Or forget about everything else and take your stand and be prepared to face your life on your own. (maybe the chances of never getting married at all. I understand marriage doesn’t define someone’s life but there are obviously certain level of happiness and fulfillment that comes along with it and especially when the girl is keen on getting married. She wants to and dreams of having a sweet little happy family of her own like any other girl.)
Honestly, the second option feels right but is easier said than done.
Please help me help her. For me her happiness is most important.
Are such feelings common in arranged marriage and hence should we overlook it thinking that all would be fine after marriage etc etc. or should we respect her feelings and let her enter the uncertain world again where she may have to live her whole life alone.
I’m sure given our society,for a boy it doesn’t even take so much of a thought.
Thanks IHM and everyone who has taken time to read this and help us out. Thanks a lot.
Wishing you all love, light and peace.

The danger signs and what’s non negotiable.

A young friend once visited a colleague, and his mother brought her a glass of water. As she thanked and accepted the glass, the young man asked his mother,“You look ill! Where is my sister? Why are you serving water?”  

He didn’t think he could get the water.

Many young Indian men are raised like this. Some notice the hypocrisy and change, some don’t.

Do you think there is some way Indian women can find out, before they marry him, if the man they are about to marry sees them as someone who must be prepared to give up their freedom and happiness to make the husband’s mom, dad, extended family and their neighbours happy?

What would you consider non negotiable?

For example, would it help to see if the young man is able to have any kind of discussions with his parents or if he sees unquestioning obedience as ‘respect’?

Would you worry if a man expects a prospective bride to wear traditional clothing, when he introduces her to his parents? (Would this make it easier for him to tell his traditional parents that she would be deciding what she wears once they are married?)

Got this email,

“After reading the last published comment on your blog …… Why don’t you bring out a set of questions that a prospective bride should ask a prospective bridegroom before tying the knot?”

What do you think? What kind of questions could help?

Related Posts:

‘All this stuff is written for those of you who harbor hopes of acquiring a beautiful arranged bride.’

Edited to add: I should change the post title to “This is what happens when men and women are not allowed to interact with the ‘opposite sex’.”

Arranged Marriage: The Search For Beauty‘: Gyaan for young Indian, engineers to find ‘wedded bliss’, by marrying beautiful women, was shared on a notice board in the engineering college of the blogger who posted it.  Thanks for the link Anon1.

The only reason given for wanting to get married seems to be, ‘the only chance you have to indulge in wedded bliss, lies in the hallowed institution of the “Arranged Marriage”… ‘. Many Indians would see this as good values and honorable, but does this lead to happier marriages?

How informed do you think is the person who shared this gyaan?  Does he sound like he has had much interaction with women, even before being “out of touch with the general Indian female population for more than four years” in the engineering college.

Do read the post and share your reactions. How much of these views are his own and how much a result of social conditioning? Where and when do you think did he have the opportunity to get this and such information? What do you think of his expectations form his future life with his life partner? Do you think he has really had a chance to find out…? Do also consider how the ad discussed in the last post would affect the possessor of this gyaan.

Here are some of the points he has made. Do you think this information will help a man find ‘wedded bliss’?

1. Your mother will not want you to marry someone too beautiful, your mother knows that a beautiful wife will tilt the scales against her as far as you are concerned.

2. Since women are extremely conscious of their looks and tend to rate themselves accordingly, a beautiful woman has a psychological advantage over a less attractive one in an argument.

3. Rest assured that your looks would be the last thing on a girl’s mind when she rates you as a prospective husband. (I am limiting myself to arranged marriages here). She will be weighing your earning potential, green-card potential etc. Even in this land of feminism, “Cosmopolitan” has articles on “How to hook a rich husband” and “The ten best places to meet successful men”.

4. You have worked hard, and wasted four of the most wonderful years of your life over where you are. You deserve to get something out of it. Do not squander your bargaining position. In other words, do not be ashamed to make your preference for beauty known.

5 .A beautiful woman “will be much easier to forgive after a fight.”

6. … a young man owes it to his “unborn children”, “to them to give them a beautiful mother.” (So that the children are good looking)

7. A beautiful wife enhances social stature.

8. And most importantly, sex will be much better if your wife is good-looking. (Doesn’t consider the chance of the wife finding him unattractive, and hence a lack of chemistry.)

9. A good-looking woman …will twist you around her little finger and make you jump through hoops. A homely woman will usually be so grateful to you for marrying her that she will treat you like a king.

10. Beautiful women are invariably very street-smart.

11. A beautiful woman is unlikely to be particularly virtuous or righteous.

12. A beautiful woman is more likely to “stray” after marriage too. The more lovely a woman is, the more likely is she to be propositioned by her male colleagues or friends. Ergo, she is subject to much more temptation than her homely counterparts. Think about this… how would it be if women kept asking you, a man, to make love to them? How many times would you refuse?

13. Do not ever think, “But I am not so good-looking anyway, what right have I to demand a lovely girl?” Since Man started walking the earth, it has been the man’s wealth that has been traded off for the woman’s beauty.