Intellectual Thoughts by Sanjay Panda: Arranged Marriages

Arranged Marriages

Guys Prospective :

Finished your studies, landed a job, and settled down? Like most other guys, "marrying" will probably be the next thing on your agenda. But, the dynamics of an arranged marriage have changed. Find out what the realities of this age-old tradition are, for a new generation.

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"Nowadays, parents simply suggest the person they feel is suitable for their son or daughter. Only if their child approves (after interacting with him or her), do things move ahead. Also, children are now increasingly taking the initiative to find their own partners. The number of people putting up their profiles at matrimonial sites is a case in point.

What are you looking for?

Who you will marry is one of the most important decisions you will make. Some questions that crop up include: What sort of a girl do I marry? Will she adjust to my family? How can I decide just by meeting her a few times? When should I marry? What if I make the wrong choice?

"Take a pen and paper and list the attributes you are looking for in a girl. For example, educational achievements, profession, appearance (looks, height, weight), etc. You might not find the 'perfect' girl, but you will have a fair idea of what you are looking for.The key to choosing the right partner is to look for a person with a good character too, not simply a good personality. Qualities to look out for include maturity and responsibility, a positive attitude toward life, commitment to the relationship, emotional openness, integrity and high self-esteem.

"Many men go for beauty when looking for a suitable bride. Sure, looks are important, but that should not be the most important criterion. Later on in life, it is her maturity and behaviour that will make all the difference.

In arranged marriages, family support also plays a major role in ensuring a successful marriage. This is where compatibility of social status, family values and caste/religion may come in. "If she is going to live with your parents in a joint family set-up, it would be wise to take a few inputs from family members as well.

Tell your parents

The selection process is tough on every one involved in it. In arranged marriages, the involvement of family and society is pretty high. Clearly define some minimum criteria for selection in terms of education, physical appearance, social status, family values, future career plans, etc., so your parents don't waste their time. "It would be unfair to meet a girl three to four times only to change your mind, as it can have repercussions for her too. You should have your criteria ready. Be clear about what you are looking for, so you meet fewer people.

People often prefer partners from the same profession for better understanding. "For example, doctors sometimes prefer doctors for reasons that include being able to start a clinic together, etc. Also, the partner is better able to understand the working hours and professional difficulties. Thus, if you are looking for a specific match, convey it to your parents.

Background research

It is important for you and/or your parents to check the educational and family background of a prospective partner. This can be done via a reference check, a visit to the workplace (or institute, if she's studying), through relatives, etc. The same process is used when the girl is abroad, but it is definitely more difficult. For one, a personal visit may not be possible and you have to rely on other sources for information. If you have friends/family abroad or living in proximity to the prospective bride, request them to meet her and check things out.

You can also perform an employer verification, check the visa status, request a medical test, etc. Also, communicate regularly through emails, phone, chat, etc. to know her better and get an insight into her lifestyle.

A meeting of minds

As we all know, it is difficult to judge a person based on a few meetings. How, then, do you select a life partner??. "This is where you need to take additional help of other mediums of communication like phone, email, chat, etc.

Whenever you do meet, relax and be yourself. Keep an open mind and don't hesitate to discuss important issues. Wear something that you look good and feel comfortable in. Try meeting away from the usual crowd of relatives, at some neutral place like a coffee shop, so you can interact without being influenced by others. Above all, trust your gut feeling.

Ask away!

Those days are long gone when youngsters getting married hardly knew anything about each other. Now you can ask just about anything and no one is supposed to take offence. "If you have questions that may seem uncomfortable but deal with the reality of today's social situation, or if you have doubts, by all means ask! Because NOT asking a question may ultimately prove to be a bigger mistake than asking.

Here are some aspects that could be looked into once you get on familiar terrain.

General questions

  • Are you ready for marriage?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How do you like to spend your free time?
  • How do you feel about smoking and/or drinking?
  • What are you looking for in a spouse?
  • How much time do you need to decide?
  • What are your preferences, in terms of food?
  • What are your pet peeves?
  • How do you act when you get upset?
  • How do you feel about pets?
  • What is your family like?

Professional queries

  • What career path do you plan on taking?
  • How ambitious are you?
  • How much time do you spend at work?
  • How do you plan to balance work and family life?

Previous relationships

Today, a lot of young people may already have had a previous relationship. "Though having had a relationship is neither uncommon nor something to be ashamed of, people sometimes bring some 'baggage' -- emotional and / or health-related -- from the previous relationship. Of course, this applies to both men and women. Now, a woman should be equally cautious if a guy tells her he has had relationships previously, and should look for signs of any serious issues.

Medical check-up?

"Yes, you and your partner should get one."It's not as if you can't ask the girl to be tested, but there is a degree of reluctance in asking, as it is a very delicate situation and people may feel insulted if not outraged. However, if tactfully handled, most people would respond favourably. "What you can do is tell the girl (and / or her parents) that, like you, they too are probably aware of the increasing incidence of HIV and may be experiencing some apprehension about it. Moreover, a blood test can also check for thalassemia and Rh factor.

It's your call

Do remember, all said and done, it is your marriage and your life that is at stake. After you get married, you and your wife are the ones who will face the music. Don't marry a girl just because your parents or friends asked you to do so. "Once you marry, if things don't work out and you end up saying, 'It's only because of my parents that I married you', then your marriage is destined for disaster.

Girls Prospective :

Many of the things mentioned above remains same few additional ones

Background research

Although researching the boy's background might seem painstaking, it is very important. The difficulty of researching goes up a notch when the boy is abroad, especially if you don't have any friends/relatives to help you out there. Thus, it would be wise to make discreet inquiries outside with the help of relatives and friends, with respect to his job, family background, age, education, habits, financial condition, medical history, lifestyle, etc.

Is he the one?

Finally, there should be mutual consent and understanding from both sides; only then can a marriage can be sustained. "It is important that you like your prospective partner enough to marry him. Good arranged marriages occur when the parents support and help their children find life partners.

compiled from Rediff

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