Seated across the office at the children's school for a small talk on adoption (a whole another post altogether) being a means to build a family, I engaged in conversation with the administrator. It started simply enough with her advising a colleague about dresses on sale at David's Bridal. "You only wear it once!" she called to the retreating back of the other woman. "I wore mine more than once," I said quietly to myself. The woman across heard it and we went on to talk about Indian weddings, arranged marriages and immigration. Much like India is the land of snake-charmers and elephants type of discussion, this meandered with me making minimal attempt to address her stereotypical comments.
Then this morning, I stumble onto this story on NPR about arranged marriages. I read the story and the comments. I felt tired and angry. I started to write a comment and realized I might save myself the trouble. Arranged or not, Indian or otherwise, when two people date and fall in love, if either uses their parents or family as an excuse to break it off, then it was best the union never happened. We could all use less jerks in our lives. I have been hearing so much about Indian parents stalling, breaking off marriages because the other person in the relationship is not someone they approve of. I am not saying that does not happen. It probably does way more than it should. It also means the man or woman is using their parents as an excuse to get out of a relationship they want out from.
I am surrounded by stories of people who literally walk through fire to be with the man or woman they are in love with. If you want a relationship to work, you will put in the effort. Everything else is an excuse.
I look back on my own arranged marriage. I walked in eyes wide open. Even as I joyously participated in shopping for my wedding trousseau, I built a database of friends and family in the US where I was moving to in the event I needed help. I stashed away my credit cards, calling up the call center to make sure it would work outside India. I ensured that I had my resume ready to find work as soon as I could. I was prepared to land on foreign soil and find out the marriage was a scam and I would be on streets penniless.
Voicing my worst fears helped me prepare for them. Thankfully for me, Saathi was quite the gentleman. We married and then we dated. It took me two years of getting to know him to feel married. I walked into the marriage with very little expectations. I had no preconceptions of this is how it should be. After fourteen years, I believe it is not whether a marriage is arranged or not that makes the difference. It is the people in it. It is about the mindset you bring to the union. It is about how much work you are willing to put in it. Like practically every successful relationship in this world.
So debating whether marriages based on love or ones arranged are better is naught.