Informed choice in arranged marriages:
The earlier post I wrote was my angry ranting after hearing devastating news of a young friend’s “Arranged” marriage breaking up just 2 months after the wedding.
I am writing this after witnessing and hearing about so many miserable and unhappy arranged marriages which are so damn avoidable!
Here are some pre-marriage suggestions for the brides and grooms going in voluntarily or involuntarily or semi-voluntarily into arranged marriages. I am giving these suggestions after witnessing arranged marriages in several middle-class, urban, educated,Gowda families of Bangalore and Tumkur and some arranged marriages of other castes and even other religions such as Kerala Christians & Mangalore Christians and Muslims and other Hindus of mostly Bangalore area. So the suggestions are based on the problems I have seen arising out of these marriages.
I am not giving any suggestions I picked from other sources such as internet, people, etc. These are my own, based on my personal experiences
I do not know enough to talk about arranged marriages in rural areas either. They have a whole lot of issues not seen in city people’s arranged marriages such as lower literacy level and it’s effects on marriages, the superstitious beliefs prevalent in villages, the younger age of the girls getting married, the ignorance and misconceptions about sex, the life of newly wedded women in drought stricken villages and in poverty, life in the joint family system, etc.
Informed Choice is the one phrase which sums up all I want to advise people about arranged marriages.
In most arranged marriages I have seen, the parents ask their friends, relatives and well-wishers if they know of any suitable bride/groom for their child in their caste/sub-caste. The people look around and pass on information about any suitable person to the parents. The parents would then check out this person and proceed or not proceed with the marriage.
About 60 years ago, the Gowda population was confined to the southern parts of Karnataka and it was easy to find a bride or a groom closer to home. However, the Gowda population (like all other castes) has spread out from their traditional regions i.e. Tumkur, Chitradurga, Mysore, etc and spread over Karnataka and India and even in other parts of the world such as USA.
Today, the increase in and spread of the Gowda population to different parts of India and the world, has made finding the right groom or bride (belonging to the same caste and sub-caste) a much bigger process than before.
Therefore, parents are now trying to find grooms and brides in new ways such as the internet, matrimonial sites, matrimonial agencies, etc. They now have access to some information but not all information about the prospective bride or groom. Yet, they go ahead and agree to get their children to marry these relative strangers.
First of all, youth in India should think about the concept of marriage as early as they can and ask themselves these questions. Do I want to get married? What does marriage mean to me? What do I want out of my marriage and out of my partner and his/her family? What kind of a wife /husband will I be, when I get married? Do I have the qualities a husband/wife should have? Why am I getting married? Is it to make my parents happy or is it for me? Am I flexible enough to adapt if the person is different from what I expect? Am I ready to solve problems arising out of the married relationship, if things do not work out?
Many Indian youth have unrealistic ideas about marriage. Several youth I have interacted with have high expectations from the wife or husband but never ask themselves, what they are bringing to the table. Everyone I know dream of a beautiful girl (or handsome, tall guy), want a “doctor” or “engineer”, who have fantastic qualities. But, they do not think about the other party’s expectations from them! Many men (at least the ones who have approached the women in my family and my relatives) want to marry a rich person and don’t think of becoming rich through their own hard work!
informed choice as “a decision-making process which relies on a full exchange of information in a non-urgent, non-authoritarian, co-operative setting.” The process of informed choice is based on the midwifery philosophy which states that“Midwifery promotes decision-making as a shared responsibility between the woman, her family (as defined by the woman) and her caregivers