The pressures of an arranged marriage are nothing to be taken lightly.
I think for the most it is intrinsically placed at the heart of a traditional South Asian girls (and boys) upbringing in fact I could argue that it is the only way we are taught about love.
I know when I was younger nothing was ever more central to my childhood then later my teen years. Everything I was exposed to was a journey to marriage. At a young age I would hear the aunties and Bibi’s (term given to those resembling our grandmothers) ’what will your mother in law think?’, ‘how will your husband react?’ or ‘when you get married your in laws will give you everything, just wait’. But is this really the way to ensure your daughters are prepared for the big wide world? In my case I had little choice, this was ‘just how it was’ and you ‘just accepted it’. You knew nothing different, except for the occasional Bollywood film, where the hero (Shahrukh Khan) would fall in love with the one person he couldn’t (usually from a different cast) or the heroine would runaway to feel the effects of the entire family’s backlash. This would usually result in dishonour and disowning of the daughter after an attempted rape. Eventually though, things came back on an even keel and everyone lived happily ever after not without the generic fight scene, a few deaths and the emotional crying scene. Are these really the images we wanted our next generation to feel is OK?
It is likely that this was the first exposure for young men and women in many South Asian cultures of what relationships, marriage and love have been for my generation – 80’s. How did these shape our own perceptions of what it was to marry? I have always felt that for me it was you are marrying the family not the man. That in some cases your husband comes secondary to the mother in law (and the rest of the ‘laws’) and that if you do not get them on side then you are pretty much crucifying yourself before the marriage has even started. In my case this was true.
Surely, putting yourself first, cannot be a negative in South Asian / British culture? What do you think?