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Arranged marriage? One moment please.

Arati Gurung

Ruchi’s husband to be is a doctor; she has hardly spoken to him except for a few telephone calls and a few awkward cups of coffee. With two weeks left to the wedding, he asks her to sleep with her to ‘test her virginity’. Ruchi has never had a boyfriend in her life; she stood shocked at her future husband’s request.

A couple of dates were enough for Shekhar to decide that Samriddhi was a nice girl to marry. His parents were thrilled with the marriage and soon the couple was planning a life abroad. Sambriddhi got her visa and left Shekhar promising to get his documents sorted out once she reached the United States. Three years has passed and the last Shekhar has heard of Sambriddhi is a short email she sent him a year ago.

Priety broke up with her boyfriend of four years because her parents did not agree with an intercaste marriage. Her relatives swarmed with pictures of Green Card holders. Priety gave in to her family’s wishes by marrying a man who appeared ‘gentle’ while chatting online. Priety is now back at home after a year of living with a gay man.

With such cases happening to people we really know, getting married in Nepal has become even more of a problem. When ‘trust’ comes with a veil and marriage ceremonies come with headaches that can last a lifetime, you can get tempted to stay single forever.

But the ironies of life! One might not fall in love and one can’t always be the one watching others holding hands. This is where you feel lucky to be born in a country where your elders help you find a woman or a man, depending on what you are; if you aren’t straight you don’t get that either.

Tip 1: Do not get ‘talked into’ marriage

So you’ve been shown a ‘great’ guy or a girl who your chatterbox aunties can’t stop raving about, they make the person in the photo sound invincible for they are ‘just flawless’! You would be a nut for believing all that. Begin your marriage search only if you are certain you want to get married. Do not be influenced into marriage, arranging a marriage is not child’s play and if not taken seriously, it could end up creating scars that even time could fail to heal. For various reasons relatives get all hyped up about your marriage even if the man in the picture has a tree growing out of his ears. So its wise if you make your own comments and decisions, because should something go wrong later you won’t see anyone of these aunts for they’ll all be jumbled up in one corner talking about how stuck up you are and how you were never a good person in the first place. There is just no pleasing them. Flashback: The man, the boy and the donkey, Class 8, English Reader Book (I think).

Tip 2: Going out more than once does not mean it’s a ‘Yes’

Just because you go out with him on a couple of dates does not mean you’re obligated to say ‘yes’. In today’s context you need more than a few dates to at least ascertain what kind of a person he is. Your first date should not be a one on one date, because this builds up the pressure and the awkwardness barely lets you talk. Its sensible to go out with a couple of friends on the first date, both of you should bring in at least two friends each- that way you can both relax. You can know a lot about a person from how he behaves with his friends and how his friends behave with him, this way even if he is aware of his actions his friends are usually not, so you definitely get a better picture.

Tip 3: Go on dates that take the focus off of the topic

Your dates should not be directed at a conversation, a date that takes the focus away from you or she is the kind of date you should opt for. A concert, a movie, a friend’s party are just a few examples. Do not choose to meet in family gatherings where expectations create a barrier, meet at places and events where both of you can let go of the uneasiness. If you’re thinking ‘that way we won’t get to talk’, then here’s how it goes, to find out what someone is like, observing someone gives you more accurate answers than questioning. Observing doesn’t mean staring though, for that can creep her out. Talk but don’t question too much, explain but don’t get emotional, look at but listen more.

Tip 4: Leave the question answering for the final date

When you finally think that you’re ready to face him alone, don’t hesitate to make the move. This time ask him everything you think you need to know. Be blunt if you have to, you can start by telling him not to judge you for the questions you ask for this is what would determine the rest of your life. Be open to not judge him for the questions he asks. If the conversation proves fulfilling then congratulations, maybe you’ve found your match.

Tip 5: If you are rejected, don’t take it personally

If your partner keeps postponing your meetings or doesn’t look at you while talking and stays aloof, if she talks pessimistically about marriage and if there’s more frowns than smiles then you know the person sitting across you is not interested in you. Its okay if she doesn’t like you enough to marry you even at the end of all your meetings, do not take it personally. If you hadn’t liked her you would’ve done the same thing. Take it positively at least she realized that you two wouldn’t click before any serious damage had been done. This is what arranged marriages are all about; you have the privilege to date in front of your parents and even say ‘no’ if you’re not interested, so make the most of it.

Tip 6: If you reject the relationship, steer away from pointing out his weaknesses

But this is not to imply that arranged marriages allow you to play with someone’s emotions and drop him at the at last minute. There’s an unseen rule in the Universe that makes sure that what goes around comes around. If you don’t feel the emotion at the first two dates then meet him for the final time and tell him you couldn’t relate him with marriage. Make sure you are as polite as possible, emphasizing on the fact that it was not him but the lack of chemistry with him that determined this decision.

In truth, arranged marriages are more complicated than love marriages. It demands more time and emotion which the more you put in, the more you’re risking. But if all goes well, there’s nothing like arranged marriages that give you the red carpet treatment from family and relatives. A final note - before looking into a prospective partner do bear in mind that if  you
can have high expectations, they can too.

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