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If you are old enough to marry, you’re old enough to have some clarity about what you want. In an arranged marriage, here are some things we need to be mindful about.
Marriages in India are entirely a matter of chance for women: you’re lucky if you’re married well, if not, we call it destiny.
In a country where 90% of marriages are arranged by families to strangers whom the women have never met, seen or spoken in their lives, it’s not unlikely that we put ourselves to the mercy of our fates.
Most women have no clue of what’s in store for us as we’re busy equipping ourselves with marital skills ranging from cooking, sewing, embroidery, sari draping, and observing customs and rituals with the hope that if we’re good, a better destiny awaits us.
Meanwhile, we forget what women want from marriage, whether it’s love, respect or security.
‘Girls’ aren’t allowed to talk, discuss or ask questions to ‘boys’ at a ‘bride viewing’ ceremony and the whole process is wrapped up within minutes as the parents have made up their minds. What holds back these women from asking some of the most important questions is the fear of being called rude, bold, brazen, or shamed by people, or losing further alliances.
So, women are struck with “safe topics” when they are “allowed to talk to a man” before marriage such as… do you watch Netflix, prefer movies, music, reading, are you vegetarian or meat eater, if Alia or Sara looks cuter. All of which have no real bearing on the marriage.
So what constitutes the 5 BASIC questions the Indian woman must ask before she agrees to a marriage which may make or break her life in many ways? (Especially given that in the Indian context she is expected to take another name, and live with the sindoor, mangalsutra and gotra.)
The hardest and rarely discussed issue by women, as marriages are fixed by parents/elders where dowry is an integral part of the marriage.
Dowry goes under the guise of traditional gifts or customary practices, but remember that
~ NO God ever said that you ought to give a man a furnished apartment, car, wads of cash, or share in property in exchange for marriage
~ NO religious book prescribed a gift of 100 sovereigns of gold jewellery and branded gifts for in-laws…
~ NO civilized society must be allowed to trade under the pretext of tradition. It’s human greed and avarice that makes people lose moral values and ethics.
Women must be aware if the marriage involves demands and expectations of dowry, because it’s never a one time thing, so stay firm and decline.
In many cases, ‘boys’ and their families conceal their real intention to seize a ‘prized catch’ and the truth is revealed post marriage which can take a sordid turn. But, unless women brace up courage and take the man and his family to the cleaners, the change will never happen in the system.
Not many women are comfortable asking straight questions about a man’s income, savings, loans/ burdens or career prospects or discussing their own without the fear of looking mercenary, but there are no two ways of asking some difficult questions.
It’s always wise to check the financial information on both sides before marriage, as stability and security are the bedrock of any marriage. You can’t blindly trust people or families you meet on marriage portals, matrimonial columns, and even social circles. So, stay safe and make sure, even if it means letting go of a few alliances, because a good man is never embarrassed to face straight questions.
It’s important to discuss and discover common goals, ideas and priorities- whether it’s
~ to keep your job or to give up,
~ any plans of migrating abroad anytime,
~ have/not have babies and any professional clause binders to the effect,
~ family responsibilities if any,
~ whether to stay with in-laws or independently.
These are some very important decisions that can rock your boat at some time in future. Like for example, most Indian men prefer to stay with parents, so it’s important to come clear to avoid conflicts later on, as most men have this vague understanding that women can be talked into giving up careers post marriage or child birth.
It’s necessary to know if the man shares your ideals and opinion on gender discrimination, misogyny, sexism that occur in society. It’s wishful thinking that if he doesn’t, you can change him post marriage, because it’s an uphill task to undo a man who’s been raised in a particular way and not many men are willing to ‘change for a woman’.
It’s important to know if he’s willing to share the load of running homes as most men are fixated on gender roles, and expect women to run homes and careers efficiently and yet will fit in with their family traditions.
Indian society is patriarchal in nature, where women are expected to owe allegiance towards marital families while giving up responsibility/ obligations towards their own parents.
Women find themselves at crossroads when they are unable to care for their own parents or share responsibilities. So it’s best to make your priorities clear at the onset to avoid unpleasantness in future, because only a woman will know what it takes to give up blood ties for another one acquired, that will never be the same.
Marriage is not a social institution meant for procreation or establishing social order, but a relationship meant for holistic growth and fulfillment that promises enduring partnership.
Image source: a still from the film Dum Laga Ke Haisha
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