Friday, December 02, 2005

Arranged Marriage -- Part Two

[The previous post has received more attention via the comment box than most of my other recent posts, so here's a follow up of sorts.]

Okay! Enough of the third degree, alright? It begs repeating, so I'll say it again - I'm not going to not marry someone just because my parents introduced me to him/her! [Yes folks, I said "him/her" - go ahead and laugh if you want. I'll continue when you're done laughing.]

In the comments, Renuka says,

"It[']s just that it does become diff[icult] in a country like India for a girl (or guy for that matter) to get married after one age...hence the rush and the "scouring" as u put it!"

I think this is an important point and warrants a bit of a discussion -

Why is it so difficult for someone to get married at an older age?

The average age at which people get married has certainly increased when compared to two or three generations ago. Very few of us can boast of grandparents who were still single at 30. Today, things are quite different. Without even getting into the topic of "live-in" relationships, which I shall leave for another post some other time, I'd just like to say that many people today don't view getting married before certain age as the top priority in their lives. Or even if they do, then that age is considerably more than what it used to be. Sure, most [if not all] people would like to get married - it's just that it isn't a priority any more. And while I am mainly referring to the situation in the Western countries over here, what I have said is true of an increasingly large percentage of the Indian population as well.

Having said all this, the attitude of society [and by that I also mean family] toward unmarried people is still rather shameful. The external world looks upon a single 35-year-old woman with scorn in its eyes, and hence one's family is so desperate to get one married. You know what I'm talking about here - "Oh look, she's 38 and still single? Surely there's something wrong with her!"

My point? If society didn't pressurize you to get married before a certain age in the first place, your parents wouldn't pressurize you either. But society does pressurize, and I'd like the family to stand up to it instead of caving in. If your daughter isn't looking to get married just yet, don't push her into it! Or your son!

It might seem absurd for parents to actually force children into getting married, but let me assure you, it does happen. Often this pressurization may not take the form of direct coercion but a more subtler persuasion. Constant hints and innuendos suggesting one thing - it's time to tie the knot, kiddo! I know of people who have ended up getting married not because they wanted to, but because their parents wanted them to. And isn't the most important responsibility of an 'Indian' child supposed to be to obey one's parents' every wish as long as they are alive?

I'm not saying getting married early is a bad thing either. My cousin, in Illinois, got married about a year ago. He wasn't even 23. The important thing was - the decision to get married was taken by the couple themselves. Their parents had little say in the matter.

In India, marriages tend to unite families more than individuals. It's not the newly-wed couple who are getting married, it's their families. This is another reason why parents like to wield a fair deal of control when it comes to whom their child should marry. The other general trend is for the bride to become, through the act of marriage, a part of the groom's family. In many cases she would then go to live with him and often the two would live along with his parents and other family members. It is almost unheard of for the groom to go and live with his bride at her house after the wedding.

Personally, I would prefer to live separately with my wife after I get married. Which isn't going to be for a while. And don't give me that look, Mom!

4 comments:

MaK-D said...

there too many variables and child hood and adulthood conditioning ...and so amny other conditioning reasons for people to cave ...and parents to pressure. Indian society is like that ...what can you do about it. It is changing though slowly.. Although i do believe to a certain extent that as you get older it can be harder to find somone to marry ...if u want to marry at that time....since i have actually seen this happening with a few people i know.
Simply put the reason parents do what they do is because they have been taugh that and conditioned like that for many many years. Simply put try get a bigot of age 25 years who has been a bigot for 20 years of his life ...to change. I hope that answers your question as to why indian parents think and act the way they do about marriage and age. Also parents do consider themselve to be the ones paying for the entire marriage. So another fear is that if the kids wait too long ...the savings by then for marriage will diminish(and get real money is a very important condition for arranged marriages. How many adds say "Poor will do". I even saw an engagement break because the guys family was like "I spent this much on my daughters wedding and if you cant spend that much in your daughters wedding....") causing problems within itself. So let me see you and others have to say and will post later if i missed something.

But dude seriously ...i guess you shouldnt worry about it you did effectively double your chances of finding someone....with the whole him/her thing ......heheheheheh

Janice said...

Ok..This might seem a little off topic..just a random question here though..i dont have statistics to prove this but i do believe that divorce rates are considerably higher in other cultures than here(though they are on the rise) Why do u think so? They're cultures are open to a lot of experimenting like live-ins, premarital sex etc. which in india is still taboo. There is no parental or societal pressure whatsoever. No dowry, no pressures to live with in-laws, no age constraints. Things should have been perfect then. Then where do you think things go wrong?

Arnold said...

Mak-d,
While it makes sense for parents who are going to be paying for the wedding, to want their child married off as soon as possible, how often are the parents the ones who pay? I'm asking this because I'm not sure of what the percentage of that is like? It's obviously a lot more in India than in the West, but I don't know exactly how much it is. Because the way I see it, if a person gets married later as opposed to sooner, then they can jolly well afford to pay for the wedding themselves.

I know money is an important factor, even though it shouldn't really be. I don't have much to say against that.


Janice,
The reason why the divorce rates are more common in the West is, in as succint a manner as I can put it, because society is more open to it.

You mention that there is no parental or social pressure at all. That's true, but also in the inverse way. *Because* there are no pressures, people can get out of a marriage more easily than here in India. In India, a person who hasn't been married yet and one who has a failed marriage behind him/her are looked at quite differently. In the West, no one cares about your past. There is no stigma associated with getting a divorce.

You also mention live-in's and premarital sex. Now, I'm not saying this with any evidence behind me, but *sometimes* because you've already been living and sleeping with your partner before getting married, you get bored of it. Once you get married it's like - "wait a minute! I was having just as much fun and sex before getting married. What the f*** have I gotten myself into? I WANT OUT!!!"

Even the legal system for handling divorces "back home" [:)] is a helluva lot better than the one here in India. The couple isn't put through as much trouble and the wife can expect a reasonable amount of alimony in most cases.

The bottomline is - things are equally likely to go wrong in all cultures. It's just that once they *do* start to go wrong, it's easier to get out in the West than it is in India.

ruj said...

well ..arnold ..i think one more reason as to why divorce rates are more in d west is bcuz..ppl take marraige very casually..an indian couple will go thru sundry adjustments ..and compromises to keep themselves together ..whereas its comparitively lesser in d west..in in one way i think its gud if ur willing to make adjustments ..cuz ..life is all bout compromises and not mere whims to stay together or part..unless the problem is too huge to be ignored !
moreover i feel ...tht kids comin from broken families are more prone to emotional agony ...IM NOT GENERALISING...however i totally agree wid u tht a divorce is taken wid a healthy approach in d west ..as compared to india wher..thers much speculation regarding it !!