When I married my husband I will make no excuses for the fear and trepidation I felt. Marrying a man I did not know is nothing to scoff at. I had always known I would have an arranged marriage and not what we call a ‘love marriage’. I had little choice because my upbringing had given me no other options. I was never told anything different.
We are talking 20 years ago, I know hat some of you who read my posts have possibly been married much longer than I have.
Marriage was more about ‘starting life’, or about ‘upholding family pride’ rather than ‘love’ or building a ‘relationship’; all these would follow. The most common rationale for the matrimonial companionship is that youngsters are too immature and impulsive to make wise choices which would fit the needs of the wider family, but the more experienced elders are likely to do much better.
When matrimony’s are arranged by family or designated elders, what exactly are they basing their selection: occupation, caste, religion, family background, or finance. All of these are apparent in many cultures around the world, not just on the South Asian Continent. In modern western cultures one chooses a partner to fulfil oneself, while when I got married it was more, primary my responsibility was to my parents, ancestors and everyone who had contributed to make my current life possible therefore I was obligated to them.
I think sometimes we are emotionally blackmailed into the arranged marriage, not intentionally, but through a constant reminder of our responsibilities to everyone surrounding us. As British-born Indians we are living in a conundrum throughout our childhood; faced by the western ideals of love before marriage and the cultural conflict of our heritage reminding us that love is secondary to any matrimony. The message is that love grows overtime through the marriage therefor it doesn’t matter who you marry. Our parents use all these as a tool to ensure we remain loyal and true to their desire to allow our tradition’s and values to remain intact forever. Emotionally we are tied to this too hence the easily manipulated emotional unintentional blackmail.
My parents did not ‘force’ me to marry my husband, instead there was a very formal introduction, firstly via a photograph, then a meeting of the two families and a face- to – face meeting with a chaperone, in our case the family member who was introducing us. The match came about because I was a ‘good Indian girl who was brought up in traditional induna values’ and that ‘I was educated, my height was right for my husband’, and lets not forget that ‘ we both came from good families’ (ancestors back in India), oh and that ‘I was of marriage age’ before I was deemed too old (after 22 you were old for marriage).
At the face to face introduction , we talked for an hour or so , afterwards I was asked if he was ‘suitable’ I said ‘ok’ and so did he. That was it.
I never saw him again until the morning of our wedding in the Gurdwara just before we walked in to sit in front of the Guru Granth Sahib to marry.
More to follow….