| August 28th, 2006

Arranged Marriages: Then and Now

[Note: This article has nothing against arranged marriage nor did I suggested a love marriage as a solution. I merely pointed out the fact that when finding a life partner, qualities of a human being should be given its due importance over the popular attributes (family status, look, job, degree). That is what I meant when I said know the person first.

Almost 70 years ago when my grandmother’s family received a matrimonial proposal from my grandfather’s family, her father invited the would be groom to stay in his (extended) house for a week or so to get acquainted with this young man before giving any consent. Though the bride’s father knew the groom’s family pretty well, he still wanted to have a closer look when he was going to decide on something so important, i.e. his daughter’s marriage.

photo © nafisa ferdous @ adhunikaTen years ago when we just finished undergrad, one day I got a call from my friend; she called me to invite me to her wedding. Curious me asked her, what factors helped her decide on this (neither her nor her family knew this guy before). She replied, “He works in a good company in the US, I spoke with him for an hour or so, I found him very honest …”. I was kind of puzzled, how could she decide on marrying someone knowing so little about the person! Two years after this, she came back to her parent’s house as she couldn’t live with her husband anymore.

Over time there has been so much changes in the way the marriages are arranged! In older days parents used to choose a boy (as a groom) or girls(as a bride) from the families they knew for years, therefore even though the boy or the girl apparently had no say in that, the degree of randomness was much less than in today’s arranged marriages. These days it has become merely a bio-data exchange (between complete strangers) and an evaluation on the basis of bride’s and groom’s parents’ social status and their (bride and groom’s) tangible characteristics (education qualifications, looks, job etc). In the most liberal cases the the would be bride and the groom “talk” once or twice in phone or face to face before giving their consent.

Even when we buy a house or any big item we do lots of research on its aspect but such a life changing event like marriages are performed (“arranged marriage”) on mostly guess work. People on average are amicable and have some skills for adjusting with situation. Perhaps that is one of the reason we are seeing most arranged marriages work pretty well. If we look around, we will find so many couples in a perfectly functional marriage. But that fact alone is not enough to justify the gambling part of the marriage process.

To determine the suitability of a potential bride or groom, we depend on the education qualifications, family status, money, job, look etc. No one really has any good understanding of the true personality of the girl or the boy; they just assume the person will be a good one. On what basis is the assumption made? The only fact that so-called matchmakers are concerned about is if the girl or boy had any prior relationship. The best compliment one can hope to get is “Never heard of anything bad about him”.

Think about our good friends. What is in them we like so much? How long did it take us to find all the nice/not-so-nice things about them? Would you want to make friend with someone when the only feedback you get is, “never heard anything bad about him”?

When we employ someone, we always give weight when someone from the team say I know him very well from his work, he will be a great addition to the team. But before we hire that new person, we want to make sure the person will be able to do the job required by that position, at the same time we want to see if the person will be a team fit, that is if he/she has the right attitude, if he/she is a team player, if he/she posses honesty and integrity, all such attributes has to be tested before a hiring decision is made.

A person can be a good doctor, good engineer, his/her father can be a respected person, but how do you know that the person you are going to spend rest of your life is a nice person and you two share same core values? How would someone know that these two individuals have personalities that complement each other?

Now-a-days, a boy comes from abroad, spends three weeks for ‘bride’ searching and couple of days before leaving he decides on one and gets married. The girl goes to a foreign country with a complete stranger and we call it a marriage what we expect to be a happy living together for next 30-50 years. What a “horridly frightening step” for this young woman to take, without the support of her loved ones, to be expected to leave her familiar surroundings, take a blind leap and live with a stranger. If not equal it is somewhat similar nerve wrecking situation for the newly wed young man as well to start a married life like this.

Is there any way we can think of to make it a better experience for both of them?


About this blog

Adhunika blog is launched with a mission to share knowledge among women from every walk of life. Sometime it would be in the form of sharing experience to find a feasible solution of a problem; sometime it would be in the form of professional consultation, which Adhunika group will arrange for its bloggers. Nevertheless, the intent of this blog always remains the same - to help and empower women through a common web-based platform....read more



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