Arranged Marriages: A new approach to an old tradition

Marriage is hard! It takes a lot of work and a lot of communication.

Matrimony. One of the oldest traditions in the world. A means to bring people together to unite in holy matrimony. (It's just that there are some holes in some of these matrimonies!) Arranged marriage has had such a negative connotation in my mind and it actually makes me a little upset whenever I hear about it. Why you ask? Because generally speaking, in my opinion, in the past it has been a bit forceful and constrictive. And I don't think it truly matched people on pertinent criteria. Please allow me to explain. . . . .

Back in the day, parents would arrange their children's marriage and those children practically had no choice on whom they were marrying and often times they wouldn't even see their spouse until the wedding day! On top of it, they got married so young that they didn't even have themselves figured out let alone a life partner. And maybe this worked back in the day at a time and place when no one questioned anything and when the roles of women were very, very different to what they are today.

But let's now focus on today, because today is the present. The diaspora around the world questions everything. EVERYTHING. And that's a good thing. Nowadays, luckily, parents don't force their kids to get married to a certain person. They make suggestions and they try to set them up and it's a little more healthy because the bride and groom actually have a choice now. Or do they. . . . . . .?

What still sucks is this: Parents don't force their kids to marry a certain person, but they do force them to marry a certain idea of a person. And those ideas include: status, reputation, occupation, education and wealth. Basically they look for two things: Caste and Money.  Oh, I've even seen a lot of Indian parents place way too much emphasis on appearances such as height, weight, and skin color. Yeah. . . . skin color!!! I know! I thought it was 2019 too! I'm speaking in general terms. I know there are exceptions and honestly, I hope and pray that there are exceptions, because the world needs more exceptions! But growing up in my community this is what I have always seen. Our prior generation (and even our current generation inside and outside of India) places way too much emphasis on caste and money.

I'll even give you a very personal example. When I was in high school, my paternal grandmother told me that if I marry someone of her choice (and by her choice, I mean: same caste and very wealthy) that she would reward me with diamonds and family wealth on my wedding. But in my opinion, that's not a reward, that's a bribe. And frankly speaking, I'm not about that life. I chose my own life and I chose my own partner.

Nowadays, a huge shift has taken place. The new generation is arranging their own marriages and I couldn't be more proud of us. I'm not saying disregard your parents completely. But, YOU are the one who is getting married, not them! Since it is 2019, we are using online dating and marriage websites and apps and it's working and there is nothing wrong with that. We are now more technologically advanced then ever before, so why not take advantage of it? There is a whole world of potential suitors out there. Why stay limited to just a referral made by an Aunty at your local Gurudwara?

We are taking matters into our own hands. We are finding our own life partners. We now just need to make sure that those potentials suitors are right for us. Once we find them, it is so important to do some extra work and make sure that this person will help us to sustain a long lasting relationship. Because who wants to get divorced, right? As a child of divorced parents, I can say, it's not fun. Divorce turns into a nightmare for the husband and wife and it completely shakes the foundation of the child/children involved.  (Sorry, I didn't mean to bring you down with that, I just want you to understand how important this all is!) Too many people nowadays invest so much into their wedding day (or days for Indians lol) but they don't invest into their actual marriages.

Okay, so here goes! Things to keep in mind when arranging your own marriage!!!

1. Shared values and beliefs.
Values, Values, Values!!! This one is big. You can get along with someone. You can be attracted to someone. But, if you and that person don't have the same values in life, conflict is bound to arise. Major conflict. And when personal values for each person are so strong, it is hard to compromise and find "middle ground."

A prime example of values and beliefs is religion. For some, religion is the strongest core foundation of all of their morals and principles. For others, religion may not play a significant role in their life at all. Be honest with yourself about this and be honest with your potential partner. Know yourself and know where you stand on certain things. Most importantly, don't pretend or change for your partner. Instead of changing for them, grow with them.

Another core value is family. Are you super close to your family or do you like to keep them at arm's length? Are you still attached to your mother's umbilical cord or have you not spoken to them in a few decades? Do you want to live in the same house with them, in the house next door to them, or on a completely different planet as them? These are family values that must be discussed and agreed upon!!!

Another value is money.  Some say that the root of all evil is money. It's not. It's the greed of money. In my personal opinion. (Editor's Note: The actual quote from the bible is: "The love of money is the root of all evil.) it's not about how much money a person makes. It's about how well they manage with what they make. Some people make tons of money but they spend it all and save nothing and when an emergency comes up they are in a bind. Some people don't make that much but they save what they have and they are then prepared for the worst of situations.

I'm barely scratching the surface here, but these are all super important. I highly recommend, whether you are a Sikh or not to check out this list at the link below. This page has really great questions to ask your future partner and it can create a beautiful understanding between you two. Not everything has to match up exactly but it's good to know and understand, and most importantly, accept what you are getting into!
https://www.sikhmatrimonials.com/s/SeriousQuestions

2. Personality
This is the part in which I feel like our parents have ignored completely. And look, it's not entirely their fault. Most of our parents and grandparents come from a generation of just trying to survive. They moved to these western countries and spent their whole lives trying to make a good living. They don't want their kids to suffer as they did so they want to make sure that their kids are financially okay. And I get that. But our new generation is doing pretty well I think and we can now focus on more things besides just surviving.

So what do I mean by personality? You've got to make sure that your partner matches your personality. The first and most important step and aspect of this is to know yourself. And I know that we hear that a lot and it becomes kind of generic after a while. But really, know yourself. What are your likes and dislikes? Are you an extrovert or an introvert? How much alone time do you need per day or per week? Once you truly know who you are, you can then assess who compliments you.

Have you heard of the Myers briggs personality test? No? Omg, you have to take it! Click here: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

This test is so much fun and it is soooooo interesting. When my husband and I were engaged, we both took this test just for fun. And it turned out that the traits and personalities we both needed in a life partner matched exactly. We always knew that we were different. In fact we are complete opposites. We always knew that we complimented each other. But this test reaffirmed it, solidified it and put it into nicely organized paragraphs. And today I can honestly say that our differences balance each other out and work to our advantage.

Also, a big piece that deeply affects your personality is age. Not just your physical age though. Emotional age. I actually heard about this on a Jay Shetty podcast. What is your emotional age and what is your partner's emotional age and are they compatible with each other? How many life experiences have you both gone through? How much traveling have you both done? Have either one of you ever lived on your own? These things affect our outlook on life, our maturity, our emotional age, and our personality which all affects our partner and how we interact with our partner.

3. Conflict Managment
This is the most important aspect of getting married and STAYING married. How do you and the other person manage and resolve conflict? Because no matter what, even if all of your values and beliefs align, even if your personalities match, even if everything is a go, there will still be obstacles that life throws at you and your partner. How do you deal with them? How does the other person deal with them?

These questions are also asked in this link:https://www.sikhmatrimonials.com/s/SeriousQuestions, but I had to separate it and address it again because it's just that important! Again, as a child of divorced parents, I grew up in a household full of fighting and it wasn't healthy for anyone, especially me. No one deserves to live or grow up in a household like that.

In my opinion, if a couple can have a misunderstanding or a disagreement and can have a discussion about it afterwards which will then build more understanding and in turn more respect for each other, it's a win. But if there is an argument that hasn't been left with a resolution and if it leaves one or both partners feeling unresolved and with some sort of resentment, it's a loose end which will only resurface and become more destructive in the future.

Marriage is hard! It takes a lot of work, a lot of compromise and a lot of communication. Honest communication. Whether you arrange it yourself, or have your parents arrange it for you, or your friends, or even a website, it can be a beautiful and meaningful companionship that would hopefully last to the end of your days. And as a Sikh, marriage with that special someone will hopefully bring you closer to God.

The last line of the chaar lavaan says:
ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੇ ਚਉਥੀ ਲਾਵੈ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਵਿਨਾਸੀ ॥੪॥੨॥
Jan Nānak bole cẖa▫uthī lāvai har pā▫i▫ā parabẖ avināsī. ||4||2||
Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the fourth round of the marriage ceremony, we have found the Eternal Lord God. ||4||2||

#Goals ;)

Bhull Chuuk Maaf
Christine Kaur

Christine Kaur

Christine Kaur started blogging as an outlet to express the trials of relationships of second generation western born Sikhs like herself.

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