Arranged marriages have always had a bad reputation. Perhaps because it seems a little scary to hand over one of the most significant decisions of your life to your parents. But, what we tend to forget is that at the end of the day, what matters is love and how we maintain our relationship; not how we find our partners. Sometimes, our parents guide us to a person we didn’t even know we wanted or needed. And that’s what makes arranged marriage actually pretty special.
In this article, we’ll be talking about arranged marriages, not forced marriages. Forced marriages are those where neither the bride nor the groom gets a say, while an arranged marriage is when your parents introduce you to your prospective partner, but ultimately you take the final decision. From what makes arranged marriages work to questions to ask at a Rishta meeting, to how to get comfortable with your fiance, we’ll be covering a lot of topics in this article to help you navigate the landscape of an arranged marriage.
Imagine you found a guy on a dating app, except this time your parents are the dating app, and they have set you up with somebody. It’s important that you have choices, and that you have a say in the matter. Here are other reasons why an arranged marriage can be a perfectly good option.
In an arranged marriage, families usually look for other families with a similar social background. So when your parents are searching for a partner for you, they are more likely to find one from a family with which you’ll have fewer adjustment troubles. They’ll consider a set up that won’t call for a drastic change from you.
In an arranged marriage, you are just as much the family’s choice as you are your partner’s. This makes the adjustment a little easier. Not only will your partner’s family be more willing to accept and adjust, but you’ll also have a better time fitting in, too.
Funny as it may sound, if you’re somebody who has difficulty chatting up people, or if you’ve had bad luck when it comes to love and relationships, arranged marriage may be a reliable alternative. Not only will you end up meeting new people, but it’ll also be in a setting you are comfortable with so that you don’t have to feel weird or out of place.
We all have a picture of what we want in our lives and that is definitely true when we are choosing a partner as well. In fact, it can be perhaps easier to find what we want in an arranged marriage. Love may throw curveballs at us but since you’re in charge of choosing what you want, arranged marriages will, in all probability, give you what you want. There is a chance that what you see is not really the case, but that doesn’t happen so often.
When you are dating someone, you are unsure of where it’s all heading and whether the two of you will marry; will your parents accept your partner, will you be accepted by his parents, everything is uncertain. But that’s not so in arranged marriages, when you meet someone for this purpose, you know that both of you aren’t generally fooling around and have a serious agenda in your mind. You know that this is going somewhere so both of you treat it seriously.
It’s an accepted truth that Gen X and Gen Z look down upon arranged marriages, preferring to find love on their own. Even if someone has an arranged marriage in our friend circle, we tend to look down on the person and consider them stupid for giving up on the idea of love. But were they actually giving up on love or where they opening themselves to love?
According to a study in 2012, even though 55% of the world’s marriages are arranged, only about 4% end up in divorce. So why do these marriages work? We can speculate about two major reasons for it and let’s find out what these are!
In an arranged marriage, you are patient and open to learning more about your partner, because it’s new for both people, you walk into the situation without prior notions about the other person. So even though you’re married to them, there are still aspects of their personality you’re in the process of discovering. And as they say, when you don’t have preconceived notions or rigid expectations, you can be pleasantly surprised.
Often, people in love marriages complain that their partner has changed over time. That’s a complaint that doesn’t find its way into the arranged marriage scenario. You were both clear from the start about who you are and what you want and that’s why the two of you end up accepting the other person for who they are, instead of who you expect them to be!
Are you only doing this because your parents are forcing you, or there is social pressure, or do you actually want to get married and this is an avenue you want to explore? Don’t let ANYONE pressure you into doing something you aren’t comfortable with.
Know what it is you’re looking for in a partner and the family, and what you value the most. Without this clear in your mind, you won’t be able to judge the person on the criteria important to you.
More than what you want, it is important to know what you don’t. Decide your hard limits ahead of time so that it is easier to find the most suitable guy. But at the same time, decide things you’re willing have a conversation about and perhaps make a compromise on.
If you like the guy and say a ‘yes’, but later find something unsettling about the relationship, his family or him, is there still an out for you? Of course, you always have an out, because it’s better for everyone involved to end things rather than get into something that is miserable, abusive or dysfunctional. Prepare an exit strategy for yourself and have a conversation with your parents, if at any point you don’t want to go ahead with the marriage.
There is a huge possibility that your first meeting will set a precedent for the rest of the meetings, so it is important to ask some questions that will give you some clarity. After all, if you’re marrying someone, you want to find things you can bond on. Here are some questions you can ask on the first meeting to help you decide if it’s worth taking forward or not.
1. ‘What do you enjoy doing in your free time and what are your hobbies?’
2. ‘Do you like your current line of work/job?’
3. ‘What are your views on drinking and smoking?’
4. ‘What do you look for in a potential life partner?’
5. ‘Do you have some essential haves or have-nots when it comes to your partner?’
6. ‘Why are you getting married?’
7. ‘Are you a non-vegetarian? What’s your favorite cuisine?’
8. ‘Tell me about your family. What are their expectations from their daughter-in-law?’
9. ‘What are your plans for the future?’
10. ‘Do you like to travel and where?’
11.‘Tell me about your friends'
12. ‘Have you ever lived on your own?’
13. ‘What kind of music do you like to listen to?’
14. ‘Are you religious? Do you follow all rituals or are you flexible with your beliefs?’
15. ‘Do you contribute or help around the house?’
In all honesty, you’ll be judging each other in the first meeting, so you might as well know which are the red flags you should be aware of:
If the person you’re meeting questions you about your past or can’t stop talking about his, that’s a sign that he is maybe much obsessed about the past, and that he may find it difficult to either let go of his own or yours. If he’s just trying to be honest with you, let him. A good gauge of whether it’s a healthy discussion or an unhealthy one is if how early on in the conversation he brings it up. And how long he continues to talk about it. If he brings it up in the first couple of minutes of your meeting, or more than 50% of all your conversation is about this, be sure that this is something that is a big deal for him, and something he may not easily let go of.
A lot of times, men end up saying things like ‘My parents expect their bahu to wear only Kurtis or suits’. What you wear is your decision alone and if he’s comfortable commenting on it in the first meeting itself, that’s a huge no-no.
One of the most commonly asked questions, this is definitely not a great sign. If he’s asking in a way that he only wants a housewife, then he’s marrying you for the food you can cook, not the person you are. Ask him why he thinks continuing to work will be a problem? If he makes statements like “we don’t allow women in our family to work” or “why do you need to work”, then it’s likely that he will have other chauvinistic views as well.
Just because somebody is respectful to you doesn’t mean he’s a decent person. Be careful of how he treats other people, especially those who work for him. That’s a huge sign of his character. One of the easiest tell-tales is how he calls the staff at a restaurant, and how he talks to them. If you’re meeting him in his home, see how his family and he treat the help.
Even though it’s illegal, a lot of people still feel comfortable asking for dowry as ‘gifts’. This is a huge no-no and should be a deal breaker for you. Your worth can’t be decided by jewelry or the size of a car your parents can gift him.
Your future family may be present the first time you all meet. From personal experience, I can tell you that it can be super awkward and uncomfortable. But there are a few ways you can actually make it a more pleasurable experience for both families involved.
1. Be polite and respectful. First impressions actually matter a lot.
2. Don’t pretend to be somebody you aren’t just because you think they’d like to see that.
3. Talk, ask questions and read between the lines. You need to know what they’re expecting and if you can live with that.
4. Even if it is a no and you aren’t feeling like there is a future, don’t be rude and impolite. Your parents can always turn down the rishta once you’ve all gone to your respective places.
5. Try and have a one-on-one chat with your prospective mother-in-law. She will be a significant person in your life, so spend some time getting to know her.
While arranged marriage is an expedited process, have you taken enough time to get to know your partner and his family? You need to spend enough time with them in different social settings - with your friends, with your family, with all of your families together - so that you can know what he’s like around people he respects and around people you love.
Financial compatibility does not mean he earns more than you or you earn more than him. It just means both of you have independent sources of income. Also, you should have similar ideas about money and investments so that later it isn’t a bone of contention between you two. However, if you aren’t financially independent, make sure he doesn’t think you have less say in your lives or deserve less respect because you aren’t the main breadwinner.
Marriage is a bond that is supposed to last a lifetime, or so we hope. So you need to build it on a foundation of honesty and love. But if you’re hiding your true self or a very big aspect of who you are, including your past, for the fear that they won’t accept you, then maybe you should think again about your choice of partner.
Opposites attract is a thing of fairy tales but how well does it really work in real life? If you two don’t have a common ground, values, and principles to build your life together on, you’ll be falling apart sooner than you thought.
He needs to accept you for who you are instead of trying to change you. He needs to love you for who you are instead of who he thinks you to be.
The true test of a man’s character is how he acts in a time of despair and disappointment. A man who handles difficulties patiently and with dignity is the one you should be with instead of an immature, man-child who’ll blame everyone and take no responsibility of his actions.
Your gut always tells you whether you are right or wrong. If your gut is telling you something is wrong or if you have a nagging feeling you can’t seem to get rid of, find out what is wrong and then follow your heart.
This has to be a great way to bond. Call her up and tell her you want to spend a day out with her. Buy her something cute when you’re out and she’ll love the gesture!
Invite your fiance’s family and your family out for lunch. Not only will you get closer to your man, your parents will get to know each other better too!
Whenever you and your girls are hitting a club or even having a simple dinner, invite your sister-in-law too! After all, she’s one of your girls too now!
You and your fiance can go out brunching with your respective siblings. This way your brother/sister will get a chance to get closer to their jeeju and so you will his siblings to their bhabhi!
Call up your in-laws at least once a week to catch up with them and ask them how they are doing. A general catch up call will make them feel like you’re already a part of their family!
People love to be surprised on their birthdays, so it’s a great way to bond. Say it’s your sister-in-law’s birthday, if you think they’re the sort who will be cool with such a surprise, you can plan to land up at midnight to wish her!
The period leading up to the wedding can be a difficult time to maneuver. With wedding preparations being a stressful task, it can sometimes bring out a side of people you’d rather not experience. Here are some things you need to be careful of:
Like we’ve mentioned before, stressful times are when your partner’s real side comes out. So in your courtship period, when there is a likelihood of disagreements between you and him, notice how he’s treating you. You’d rather have a partner that’s respectful of your differences than somebody who will get into a screaming match.
The financial aspect of Indian weddings is a huge issue. Therefore, it is important for the two families to meet in the middle and reach a compromise. You know something is off when one side is expected to bear the brunt of all the expenses, or if there are direct or indirect demands for dowry.
It is very important to be mindful of how the families treat each other. If the boy’s family is treating yours unfairly because you are the ladkiwalas, it’s time to think again.
It is difficult to judge somebody in a short span of time, but as you spend more time together, you get to know them better. So are you comfortable with everything that is happening? If you’re not and something seems off, don’t be afraid to back out. Social pressure is not a reason to spend your life in misery. People can deal with your decision in their own time and space. You just need to be fair to yourself.
When you’re engaged to be married, both of you will have this heady feeling -- or as cynics call it -- the honeymoon period. It’s a great time actually to get to know each other better and form bonds. You can do small things that’ll bring you and your partner closer.
Try out new places you’ve been meaning to visit since ages or end up at the latest club and dance your heart out. The goal is to create as many memories together as possible. Even a long drive when the weather is all romantic sounds awesome!
Your friends make up a huge part of your life so you two can make sure you hang out with each other’s friends. In fact, that’s a great way to get to know each other as well. After all, a man is known by the company he keeps.
Plan little surprises for each other. Send him a tiny gift when he’s at work or drop in a message to let him know you’re thinking of him. It’s the little things that can be impactful gestures.
When you’re in the flow, you tell a lot about yourself. So talk, talk, talk. Also, call rather than a message. That’s always better since text messages can often be misconstrued.
Even though it’ll feel really tough and you’ll feel vulnerable doing so, start sharing some of your secrets, your fears, your ambitions. That’ll bring you closer.
If you let him know you appreciate the little things he does for you, he’ll tend to do them more. It’s like positive reinforcement. Plus, it’s always important to be acknowledged. So if he went out of his way to get you the cake you love, give him a big generous hug or a kiss. Or, return the gesture by doing little things that delight him.
If possible, find a common hobby and join classes for it together. Whether it’s dancing, fitness or some art class, it’ll bring you two closer.
Sit together, share jokes, pull each other’s leg - just laugh. It is really underrated but laughing can actually forge a bond of understanding and love between two people.
Since it is an arranged marriage, there will be an initial awkwardness between you two and you might hesitate to act on your desires. But it’s important to break the ice and make a move. Here are a few ways to do that.
In your courtship period, people will tell you to maintain a distance, but if you’re comfortable with each other, break that rule. Touch him, hug him and if you feel like, go ahead and kiss him.
You don’t have to play the coy and shy fiance or wife all the time. You can make the move. You never know, he may be a little shy or he may be worried he’ll come across inappropriate if he touches you too early on. Let him know you’re ready to raise the intimacy levels by small gestures like reaching for his hand or touching him on his cheek.
Talking about a fantasy, or a position you want to try and sex bucket list can always be helpful.
Sexy lingerie can actually be a very good starting point for an amazing time in bed. Imagine stepping out of the bathroom wearing a very hot babydoll, looking like the sex goddess you are. Not only will he lose his mind, but your confidence will also be through the roof.
Send him a sexy message telling him what’ll be waiting for him at home when he gets back home. Trust us, he’ll be dying to get back home to you.
… a lot. You can never underestimate the power of human touch.
Watching something sexy together may be just the ice-breaker you need to get things going, so why not try it?
We actually went ahead and found a Quora thread about people talking about their arranged marriage experiences. Here are a few of them:
In this girl’s love story, it was her father and father-in-law who actually ended up playing Cupid.
“25th March 2018 was the day they arrived in our home. After lunch, we all decided to go to a mall nearby and have a conversation. While roaming around the mall, we spoke about everything but marriage. On the other side, our dear parents were expecting our answers. I was expecting him to say his decision. Dad took me in the corner and asked my answer, telling that his answer is already yes and he told this to his father before coming here. I just followed my gut feeling and said yes. On the very same day we had a small function of roka and from that day, there is no looking back. Gradually, after long chats and communication, we fell in love with each other and he confessed the same while traveling in a sleeper bus to Chennai!!!”
This girl was set up by her parents at a karaoke and she didn’t even know!
“I immediately felt at an ease when I was with him. We laughed, we cracked jokes, and thank god, our actual first meeting wasn’t awkward at all. When we came back for lunch, my dad and mom were talking to his parents. My mom said that I can take my time to think about my answer, but then I said, “ I do not need time, It’s a yes from my side.” I looked at him. His mom said, we do not even need his consent, because he had already fallen for me at the party. We got engaged 3 months later, and our courtship period was 2 years. I got married to him when I was 29. The evening I said yes, I received an another YES from the first prospect. He pleaded for my consent and I felt sad but I had to break it to him that I am getting married to the singing guy from the karaoke.”
This girl has a crush on a guy and nine years later, got a rishta from his family! Like they say, serendipity!
‘When all these things were running through my mind I heard my niece screaming, ’there are here, there are here’!!!! don’t know why! I was so scared and couldn’t stop tears pouring down... After a few minutes, I composed and was ready to kick my first proposal. I had prepared a list of things I would tell the guy before ditching him. I pondered all points again and went to the living area when I heard him speak… a voice I could never ever forget., those eyes which still had the capacity to send chills down my spine. I almost froze for a moment. it was him… it was Darshan, my childhood crush..’
This woman’s fears about marriage disappeared when she found the perfect husband.
‘Since then it has been he who has been making all the efforts to keep me comfortable & happy. Contrary to all my fears, I am living my life as before, even I got him as a new friend, who listens to me patiently, cares for me just like a mother, respects my work & my opinion, loves me with a pure heart. We have an equal partnership in all our household responsibilities & we enjoy working together. When many of my married friends crib about managing home alone, I secretly proud of my hubby.’
We found a similar thread on Whisper too.
Arranged marriages are far more common than you’d think. In fact, there are Bollywood celebs who had arranged marriages as well. Well, if Shahid Kapoor can find his soulmate through his parents, so can you!
Shahid & Mira are one of the biggest examples of successful arranged marriages. Now the parents of two adorable kids, they met through their parents, who knew each other from a religious group, Radha Soami Satsang Beas. After meeting for three to four times, they decided to tie the knot in July 2015. And then they lived happily ever after!
Image: Shahid Kapoor On Instagram
Surprisingly, Karan Patel and Ankita’s father, Abhay Bhargava worked on the same show where Abhay played Karan’s on-screen father-in-law. This reel rishta was made real rishta when a co-star, Aly Goni, introduced the two, who then proceeded to tell their respective parents to talk to each other.
The dhak-dhak had flown to the USA to meet her brother when she met her dil ka doctor at a dinner organized by her brother.
The Chennai Express actor met his future wife, Kratika Sengar through his father, Pankaj Dheer. When Pankaj met Kratika for a short film, he said he’d love to have her as his daughter-in-law and as luck would have it, Nikitin and Kratika got married on September 3, 2014.
Neil surprised the world when he got married on February 9, 2017. Before the wedding, they had a secret roka ceremony in 2016.
Image: Neil Nitin Mukesh On Instagram
After a spectacularly failed relationship with Aishwarya Rai, Vivek Oberoi went on record and said he would happily get married to a girl his parents chose. And that’s exactly how he met his future life partner, through his parents.
This has to be an age old question that every person has asked themselves and the people around them at least once - what’s better, love marriage or arranged marriage?
The answer is as complicated as the question is easy. As long as you end up with the right person and find yourself happy, it doesn’t matter how you found them. The more important thing to remember is that something like marriage requires a lot of hard work, even if it is love. Every couple has their own struggles but if you’re committed to each other and want to see it through the end, nothing and no one can stop you.
While love marriage may give you the privilege of knowing your partner very well beforehand, arranged marriage gives you the chance to explore marital bliss and each other in a new and exciting way. Also, there is a possibility of higher parental approval for arranged marriages than for the love ones.
So, there is no one right answer. In the end, it’s all about the choices you make and how happy you are with them.
Images: Whisper, Giphy
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This story is updated in January 2019.