Does it really matter?

To ‘arrange’ a marriage…or ‘fall in love’ – does it really matter?

We fell in love and then our parents arranged the marriage. It was a fun-filled day – we had a Church wedding in the afternoon, a legal registration in the evening followed by the Hindu wedding at night! Of course, at the end of it all, we decided unanimously that we wouldn’t divorce – it would just be too much hassle getting the marriage nullified at each level! 🙂

For the Church wedding we visited St Patrick’s with my dad to inform the priest. We filled in a lengthy form, with all our details because it required the priest  to inform the wider congregation, over Sunday mass just in case someone had a problem with our union.

One question on the form was ‘is this a love marriage or arranged marriage?’ My  would be husband (who has a good sense of humour) politely turned to my dad (who is generally all prim and proper!) and asked, ‘what should I say?’ For once my dad, not be outdone by his son-in-law replied cheekily, ‘arranged.’ It was really funny then but now when I think about it, did it really matter?

There was so much I knew about my husband when we were dating but I came to know a lot more when I married him. Similarly for him, he must have thought he knew me well but was surprised by the new me after the wedding. On numerous occasions while arguing we’ve used the phrase ‘tumi ei rokom chile na’ (literally translated it means ‘you were not like this’). Did we really change after the wedding? Or were we still the same people but the marital circumstances was adding newer dimensions to our reactions?

While dating we did practically everything together – watching a movie for the first time, visiting a new restaurant, meeting friends, going for an outing. We were regularly in touch with each other, spoke for hours on the phone every night before going to bed, texted each other during the day. It was like we had to keep each other informed of our every move the entire day.

What changed after marriage? My in-laws expected me to visit relatives with them even if my husband wasn’t able to make it. Frequently, we met friends separately – he’d go out drinking with his buddies while I’d meet mine for lunch or a coffee. Frequent travels on work meant we visited new places separately. We talked about our day but it now also included issues I was facing as a daughter-in-law. He began to feel pulled apart between my complaints about his family and his parent’s expectations about me. Added to that were his own expectations of me, the relationship and family.

I grew up in a nuclear family and never had extended family to deal with. For me, only my parents’ views and opinions mattered. I couldn’t be bothered about  what others thought about any aspect of my life. His was a nuclear family too but one which was closely connected to relatives from both his parents’ sides. Here, almost everyone knew about what was happening in everyone else’s lives. My life was suddenly an open book.

I’m an introvert while my husband sits comfortably balanced at the cusp of introversion-extroversion. He can switch very easily depending on the situation and people. I’m not a great conversationalist and prefer to listen instead. This, of course meant that I hardly spoke at home or when with extended family. People assumed I was cold and reserved. Some also felt that since I was a Christian I didn’t have much in common with them.

I can speak, read and write Bengali but unfortunately I’m more comfortable with English. Same with my husband  – we thought in English, argued in English, expressed our concerns better in English! But with relatives it was different. I found it easier to converse in English, mostly making a mish-mash of English & Bengali when I spoke. That too perhaps didn’t go down too well with them.

One doesn’t think about such nuances before marriage. They’re the little things which seem inconsequential but do create an impact, however subtle. At times likes these, the debate about a love versus arranged marriage seems quite unnecessary!