A few months ago, S and I met through our families and decided to get married to each other. From the first awkward phone call, to the first date to the first time we kept talking all night long - this is the fourth in a series all about our arranged marriage… Read #ArrangedShaadi: Why I Went A Little 'Bridezilla' With Things... here!
Minutes before walking into the room where S and his family were waiting to meet me for the first time, I had been revising a long list of questions to ask them. These were questions that my friends had brainstormed over, the previous night to help me take the right decision. But, the moment I stepped into the room, I decided to let the questions be and focus on being me, just the way I was – friendly, talkative and opinionated - without worrying about offending anyone or being ‘rejected’. It’s safe to say that my gamble of playing ‘me’ worked that evening, for in a month’s time, S and I are going to get married and I am on my way to building a healthy and honest relationship with my in-laws.
Not every girl is allowed to be herself in a rishta meeting, though. In fact, most Indian girls are asked to dress, speak and act in a way that would appeal to the boys’ side and get them to agree to the marriage – and sadly, that’s exactly where arranged marriage set-ups fail. If well-educated and independent girls like you and I still have to worry about being ‘rejected’ by complete strangers, then there is something quite wrong with the system, don’t you think?
We don’t want to fit into the stereotypes of a good Indian bahu – that stuff’s boring, really. I know how annoyed I got when my mum asked me to dress in a saree, and talk a little less about my job and my work, and a little more about loving my family during that first meeting with S. I didn’t want to hide anything from S and his family, least of all my work – which I feel adds the most to my identity. So, I didn’t. Not in that first meeting, not in the three months since. I’ve been honest with him about everything, and so has he. Being honest won’t always be easy, it won’t help your case at times, it may even sound harsh coming from your partner – but it’s better than pretending otherwise. S and I have been honest not just with each other, but to our in-laws, as well. We want our in-laws to love us and accept us as one of their own, but we won’t pretend to be someone we’re not to win this love.
Imagine one fine day, you decide to spend your life with a bunch of strangers, and in order to get them to like you, you agree to everything they say and do whatever they want. How long do you think this situation will last? How long do you think you will be able to contain who you truly are, without getting frustrated? And most importantly, how do you think the others will feel when they slowly realize that you were faking it, all along? Doesn’t make for a pretty scene, does it?
The same rules apply to your in-laws, as well. Yes, they may not understand why you are doing something this way, instead of that. They may not even like you not agreeing with them. But, with time, they will understand that you are an individual with your own way of doing things – and they will start accepting you for those quirky things. Much the same way they know and love everyone else in the family.
But because it will be slightly difficult initially – don’t you stop being the real you. I am not asking you to act stubborn with your in-laws, all I am asking of you is to open up to little adjustments and changes. Give your new family some time to get to know you. You are beautiful because of your little quirks, please don’t hide them away. Be real, be flawed, be you – it’ll be so much easier for everyone.
I am only getting to know my in-laws too, and on several occasions I’ve stood my ground, while on several others I’ve given in. And take it from me, it’s not easy. But I feel like I am the latest piece of the huge jigsaw puzzle that their family is, and I will take a few misses before I fit into the puzzle. Meanwhile, S is doing a fabulous job of helping me understand his family and building my relationship with my in-laws. And if S already loves and accepts me the way I am, how far behind can his family be? Right? Right.