[Image taken from here]
Yesterday, I received a call from one of my oldest friends in school, who broke the happy news to me that she is getting married. I was in for a bigger surprise when she told me that it is an arranged marriage.
I was very happy for my friend, who seemed genuinely happy and excited about beginning a new phase of her life; at the same time, I could not help but wonder about my own feelings towards arranged marriages in general. As a 21st century individual, I still find it hard to accept that girls (or guys for that matter) in today’s age are comfortable with the idea of an arranged marriage, surely, is it not too regressive in today’s time?
Perhaps, it is my own prejudice towards arranged marriages that I have always viewed a girl to be “resigning to fate” when she agrees to an arranged marriage. I don’t advocate that love marriages are “better”, but I feel that we have come a long way from our parents’ generation where it was the family deciding who would be your life partner, and not the girl or the boy alone.
I can never reconcile to the idea that I would be living with someone whom I have barely known and decide to stay with him for the rest of my life. Perhaps, these are also questions which our parents faced when they were getting married, but I think that at that time it was the “done thing”. And times have changed…
A concept which I find linked to arranged marriages is that of marrying young (families which play match-makers often pressurize the girl or the guy to marry young), which troubles me even further, because I think that 20s is the time to really focus on one’s career and where one’s ambitions can really drive you to reach the pinnacle of success. Marrying young, as I view it, greatly inhibits one’s professional independence and choices about one’s career. I believe that people who are single and don’t have family responsibilities to shoulder, have greater independence in exploring themselves personally and professionally, for instance, you can take “impulsive” decisions in life to move abroad or quit a job to start-up on your own. I think that this changes in a marriage when you have a family to think of, and how your decisions would affect them. I also think that it is your career which needs tending to before you decide to get married and not the other way round.
Perhaps, the reason why I find arranged marriages unpalatable is because my parents always left the bigger decisions to me, be it with respect to my career, or my life. They never imposed their ambitions on me, nor did they have my life planned out for me. My parents never made me believe that I need to marry someone to “support me or provide for me”, and that is why I find the notion of an arranged marriage so stifling. While I wish my friend a very happy marriage, I am grateful that my parents gave me the freedom and the space to dream for myself and the confidence that I can live my life independently.