Monday, March 10, 2008

Arranged Marriage

I am back after a very long time. I am not sure if I would continue to blog. However, in light of some of my recent experiences I have been thinking a little about the concept of arranged marriage and as to why it is so successful.

Disclaimers as usual include,
1) This is not a debate of a love marriage vs. arranged marriage. Both have their own merits and demerits.
2) If after reading this you somehow feel that I have argued in "favor" of the arranged marriage concept then you are wrong. I have only highlighted the positives of arranged marriage.
3) I do not want drab comments that are similar to "you have to experience love so as to appreciate it".
4) There are exceptions to every compromise below. Exceptions do not make examples.
5) If you feel like tearing your hair and saying "no" to any of these compromises below, read point 4 again. Calm down. Drink some water. These are just my points of view. Take it or leave it.


A few days ago I had a chat with a few of my friends on this topic and these are guys/gals who have seen quite a bit in their lives and have had their share of experiences on relationships. As the discussion went on, I began to wonder, what is it, that makes this concept of arranged marriage tick?

Before I go on, for those in the West who do not know anything about arranged marriages, please read this

This is what I could gather at the end of it the many discussions I had,

Before I go on to Arranged marriage, I would make an assumption. The assumption is that to make a marriage work, one has to make compromises. The lesser the number of compromises the easier it is to keep the marriage together. I may be entirely wrong in this assumption (i.e people may exist who keep making compromises to save their marriage, but I do not belong to this category and neither do most of the friends with whom I have talked to). By compromise, I do not mean silly ones like sleeping on the right side of the bed or eating in a restaurant of the other persons choice. I mean compromises which make you go against the way you have lived thus far in your life or are against your value system and make something in your stomach go uvack#@$@#.

That said, Arranged marriages work simply because there are very minimal compromises made in an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage,

1) No compromise is made on the way of life - this includes your daily habits
2) No compromise need be made on food habits - Typically parents look for a match who is a vegetarian if you are a vegetarian and a non vegetarian if you are one
3) No compromise is made in religion/caste/community - whichever you have strong feelings for, pick that one
4) No compromise is made on regional traits - Mother tongue (which is important when you want to have a comfortable conversation with the other party). Try experimenting with some other language everyday and it is going to be one big compromise you make in your life
5) No compromise is made on Age - this is highly arguable, I do agree, but I believe that it is great to have a younger girl and an elder boy as a couple, with a gap of at least a couple or more years. The reasons are two fold. First of all men last longer physically in terms of sexual life than women do. Second reason is that the emotional reach of a woman is higher than a man of same age (arguable, but there are many scientific studies that say this, and I too kind of go with this)
6) No compromise made on physical appearance - You always can say "no" in an arranged marriage if you think the guy/gal is not up to your expectations
7) No compromise made on economic angle - Salaries of the people getting married are looked at, and the basic economic background is looked at. It is rare that you see in an arranged marriage that a pauper is wedded to a millionaire.
8) No compromise made on talent/intellectual capability - Typically men prefer to marry women who are less or at most as educated as they are. I.e, you don't see a bachelor degree holder get married to a masters degree holder that often (in Arranged marriage). I can hear all "non MCPs" shouting at me now. I don't care. However much men scream, they have this ego which would blow up at some point in time. Even women prefer men who are more/at least as educated as they are for precisely the same reason. There are exceptions to this rule. Exceptions do not make examples
9) No compromise made on geography - These days I see a very common trend. In case the boy or girl has decided to stay in a particular city, say Bangalore, they make it very clear before the marriage so that later there are no qualms about the same. Also they make it very clear if they are going to work post marriage and also about what they feel about going and settling abroad. I think it is best these issues get sorted before marriage than after.
10) No compromise is made as far as other habits go - This would hold true for guys/gals who look for partners who do not have habits such as smoking/drinking and are very particular about it. However, this would hold true only if the other person does not lie about his/her drinking/smoking habits. But in case they are truthful about these, then there would hardly be any issues post marriage.

So, there go the 10 major compromises I "DONT" see in an arranged marriage. Once these major compromises are taken care, almost 90% of your life is made easy. All that is left is for you to just understand the other persons basic nature better, and the rest of the things just fall in place.

I do agree that in-spite of all these advantages of arranged marriages, there simply will be pairs which cannot stay together. But think for a moment...are all love marriages successful? In UK, where there is no concept of arranged marriage, 50+% of women over the age of 40 are unmarried (says a bbc survey).

Maybe something to think about.

P.S. : I hate the contribution Indian cinema has done to screw up the arranged marriage system. They have eulogized love marriages to such an extent that, just like you pick a random chinese movie and there is a high chance it is some kung-fu shit, so is the case with an Indian movie, you pick one, and there is a high chance it is some boy-meets-girl bull shit.