I know people who are married and love someone else, I know people who love each other but are not together
Whether you marry or not, you’ll regret both.”– Soren Kierkegaard
Soren’s statement is diplomatic and debatable. There is no golden rule for successful marriage. It is a gamble. However, loveless marriages have become more toxic in the recent past. Love has become a forbidden subject. The politics of hate is killing what we call ishq. Stalking someone, checking call details, spying, all this is not just problematic but dangerous. You can’t claim to love someone when you intrude in their private space. Someone was divorced by her husband soon after he found out that she had clicked pictures with her cousins on her wedding. The easiest thing in this world is to put blame on or doubt someone. Humiliation, character assassination, and moral policing of lovebirds continue even today. Why is dating or public display of affection a crime? The stereotyping of romance must stop. It is like ragging. Parents deny you the freedom to love because it was not ‘sanskari’ when they were young.
Societies have evolved. Freedom of choice is valued like never before. Some opportunist relative deciding who we should marry is an obsolete concept. We can’t fit into those pigeonholes anymore. Also, gender bias is painfully obvious. Some stranger comes, evaluates the girl, asks her uncomfortable questions about virginity, and puts labels around her. Wuchni Gachun is ridiculous. Awkward glances at her and discussion centered on body-shaming, about being too fat, too thin. We are aware that our physique changes with time. Why bother about it? Decked up like a doll, in front of unknown people, we can’t expect a girl to be natural and say what she really wants to.
Have we ever thought about boys and girls who are rejected for their facial features, skin colour, height, weight, etc? Arranged marriages also promote casteism. We think that the royal blood running in the veins of the same caste does not exist in others. It is small-mindedeness, nothing else. Not agreeing to your parent’s choice while choosing a life-partner doesn’t mean disrespecting them. You love somebody and if you wish to start a new life with her/him, even if that means not living in your parents’ house, it is not being insensitive. Today, people are looking for personal growth. Marriage is primarily about love. True love means that you accept your partner with all his/her flaws. You may fall for someone who may not be pretty as per the standards set by a society of hypocrites.
It is okay to discover all the layers of a person before going for a lifetime commitment. Marriage is a responsibility to walk hand-in-hand with someone. Two unknown people meeting, shy, not really opening up to each other, gives rise to disastrous consequences in the long run. Many are forced to say yes even when they don’t want to. In arranged marriages, our so-called well-wisher elders portray prospective grooms and brides as if they are exceptional. They turn out to be contrary to how they were projected. We see, therefore, a trend of engagements being called off for silly reasons. Why? Because the assessment of our relatives for us doesn’t suit us. It is an archaic concept. Times have changed.
The essence of wedlock is to be liberal. Marriages arranged by others perpetuate religious and caste divisions. Inter-caste marriage promotes diversity. If you meet the right person at the right time, just go for the conjugal knot. Why need the approval of a third person? Autonomy is important. I have seen some families providing rock-solid support but many parents are the reason for divorce of young couples. Of late, many people trapped in abusive relationships have gone public on social media, stirring a new debate about the ills of arranged marriage. Why should we force a 20-year-old aspirational but orphan girl to get married to a 50-year-old trucker? This is unacceptable.
The clash of egos post an arranged marriage ruins the family. Small rifts snowball into major controversies because husband and wife fail to understand the personalities of each other. Calling pseudo-intellectuals or self-styled Mohallah Committees to solve the small disputes of a couple is not healthy at all. And what these “unwise elders” do is fan the flames. They create an issue out of nothing. They are just gossip gangs.
Arranged marriage comes with longer expiry dates due to social conditioning: Log kya kahengay syndrome. It is slavery. A girl is stuck for life when her parents choose the boy’s salary over his intellectual acumen. In arranged marriages, people sell each other and pretend to be good candidates. Looking cool in banal conversations is not impressive at all. We don’t talk about requirements in relationships. We hide the details. In arranged marriages your ambitions, work-goals are not taken care of.
Don’t make a decision based on family pressure; you have to live with the consequences, not them. Don’t get married to some random person out of obligation because you are expected to. Follow your heart. Don’t let others control your lives. There is no point in trying to please your family in the short term and losing your life’s purpose in the long term. You can’t marry someone you don’t know. When you live for the values of others, you waste your time and energy. In arranged marriage, you are only making a mockery of yourself. Love and compatibility between the couple is not even prioritised.
In love marriages, parents feel betrayed that they didn’t get the chance to evaluate their child’s partner, especially ones with cultural or caste differences. That is the reason people in love marriage receive less support and face regular pressure because someone’s bloated ego is punctured. Our elders need to give up this old practice and adopt the western ideology, at least in case of marriages. Divorce is a way out for two unhappy people fighting in a garbage relationship. Divorce is not a taboo. It is completely fine to get rid of a dysfunctional family. Staying in it results in children suffering long-term problems as they don’t receive the love they require for a good upbringing.
Marriage is a duty and lot of commitments. Marriage is an institution. A wedding is just a one-day event. Please understand the difference. Cooking and cleaning is a basic life-skill, not a gender role. Please don’t marry just for the sake of it. Ask your partner why s/he wants to get married. Is it partnership, family pressure, or a rebound after a break-up? We are slaves of our own traditional thinking. Elders make us believe that good children don’t make their own decisions. This is illogical and irrational.
Arranged marriages are not the smoothest and nicest experiences, at all. We don’t allow our kids to talk to strangers but easily bind them with a complete stranger for a lifetime. Brides have narrated harrowing experiences on bed since marital rape is real, more so in Kashmir. In love, you do everything that comforts your partner, and here we are enemies of love. Let’s allow love to bloom and spread its fragrance.
Allah created you in pairs–Quran [78:8]. Allah created you from one soul, and out of it He made its spouse, so that you may live in peace and harmony. [7:189] Fate is sealed. The ink has dried, and the pen has been lifted! Whoever is written for you, will be yours! In Arabic, she is called “Rabbaitul Bait” (Queen of the House). Spouse is Hamsar in Persian. ‘Ham’ means same and ‘Sar’ means head. Let’s vow to stay away from eternally miserable tormenting arranged marriages.
The writer works with Indian Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security Network. [email protected]