Thursday, February 26, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Love or something else?

Before you read on to this one, consider me as just an observer, one who is curious and asks questions to calm his anxiety, one who landed on Earth 24 years ago from an alien world and has observed things for this last 24 yrs, one who has seen something but doesn't understand what it is.

The phenomenon called marriage has always puzzled me more so because it differs a lot when one travels from east to west or vice-versa. More so, the Indian marriage has intrigued me the most. The concept of arrange marriage is predominant here and very few people dare to convert a love affair into love marriage so lets just leave love marriage out of this debate from the Indian context. People in India prefer arrange marriage. Why? Because their parents did it, their parents like it and most importantly majority of dudes are single and those who have girl friends are fed up with them and view arrange marriage as their salvation and their parents as their messiah. The process of arrange marriage is simple and straight. The easiest step is the partner selection. The parents publish their requirements in matrimonials (no wonder matrimonials are a hit in India). The interested party (read parents) contacts and seeks further details like a photograph. The photograph is shown to the boy/girl as per case and his choice is sought. The able party is selected. The boy's parents along with the boy (taking the boy with them is a consolation for the boy. Its like a toy, always calms down a crying baby) pays a visit to the girl's house. The parents from both side have candid chat. The boy meets the girl, they manage few minutes with themselves, thanks a lot to their parents. The couple starts talking and its hardly 4-5 sentences conversation from either side when their parents know its perfect and then they get back to discuss more important matters like how to start the process called "actually marrying them off". The tedious task of marriage is done and Whooa! the couple live happily ever after.

Not counting the minor domestic tussles, in India 90% of the arranged marriages are successful and by success I mean no divorce and no serious domestic violence like physical harassment. How come? Whats behind all this? How come people get their perfect match with a photograph and 10 minutes of conversation?

I was once called for group discussion and interview session for admission into one institute. There was a group comprising of 3 boys and 4 girls and they had the topic "arrange marriage vs love marriage". On account of what information I gathered from one boy of that group whom I knew, all the girls were in for arrange marriage and all the boys were for love marriage. The boys were completely taken by surprise and obviously felt frustrated. Frustrated because they now know none of the girls are up for it. Had there been even one girl for love marriage, I am sure the 4 dudes would have fought and the last man standing would have dared to ask her out sometimes. I think the boys were for love because they would like to know their partner well before deciding into any lifeterm commitment. It may be one reason but I think its more so because all boys want some excitement before their wings are cut off. Everyone wants to spend the weekend with a hot babe, make others jealous, stick the mobiles to their ears day and night and whats wrong if in the meantime they get to know each other well. The small percentage of love marriage is thanks to these guys who among many lovers actually find their perfect one and also have guts to go for it. I came to know why the girls were for arrange marriage. Strangely, thats because its too exciting to get to know a complete stranger, because then they have so much to talk about, everything is new. One doesn't find such luxuries with boy friends because they already know everything and same for you. It was strange to me. As per the girls' reasons it seems that they have already accepted the stranger as their husband and are excited because after marriage they will have so many things to talk about. I don't know what do you call that, submission or optimism.


Coming back to our main point, whats with the high success rate of arrange marriage? Does it not sound strange, after reading the fine nuances about arrange marriage. I mean if you tell an American to marry some one like that, will he/she? I don't see that happening. Why? Well, its illogical, right? You have every right to know the person well before you decide if you can stay with him/her for the rest of your life. You just can't marry a stranger. With 6 billion people in this globe, every person is different in some aspect or the other. Its very tough job to find one whom you can stand. Just seeing the picture and 10 minutes of talk is definitely not the way to go for it. The very high divorce rate in America states how difficult it is to find your spouse.

Now, coming to what I think of it. I have previously stated the high percentage of success rate only when you count the success as absence of extreme domestic violence or divorce. In India, a girl is always told that men are superior, husbands are important than their own life. Right from their teenage years, they are told that husbands are always right, husbands are the owners of their life once they are married and it becomes their duty to follow their husband and abey him always. The divorce is seen as a social stigma, a blot on someone's life esp. if its a women becasue people know that men are always right and if its divorce then definitely its the wife's fault. 

The strangers are married now. In due course of time they know each other. If they find love between them, its great, and very rare. Then you can call them a success as a couple. But in most cases they don't find each other perfect. The men become frustrated, angry. The wife silently suffers it all. She knows its not her life anymore. She has to stick with his husband. Divorce is definitely not an option here because of reasons mentioned above. The wife can't think of taking a divorce and let the society blame her for all this and add to that the legal hassles over custody of kids and property division etc etc. This is not the case in America where divorce is considered just another mistake. So whats wrong if you married a mismatch? Its human to err, right? So just move on in life, find another partner. But no, in India, its not a piece of cake. 

Divorce is not an option for men also because after all its a blot. Its like an exam you failed, which sticks to your resume till the end. Add to it the legal hassles etc. Parents do feel sceptical about marrying their daughter to a divorcee and frightened to marry their son to a divorcee. So, Unless the match is very fatal to your life, couples rarely opt for divorce even though they know they aren't meant for each other. What do people do when they get something which is not actually what they had asked for? In India, people adjust. Yes, Indians are great at adjusting themselves. It takes only a train ride to know I am telling the truth. And I believe the answer to high success rate of marriages in India is nothing else than our ability to adjust. Even though they aren't in love with each other, they live with each other. Inside the house no one knows whats going on and outside, most people show they are cool with their partner. I don't know how the statistic will change if by success of marriage you mean true love and not divorce.

Although I still am an amateur at understanding what love actually is, but I don't feel like its love when I see middle aged married couples. I clearly see adjustments. I feel they are adjusting.

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