Arranged marriage still tradition among many Indians

By Jeny Varughese
September 16, 2011

When a 24-year-old Philadelphian’s family felt it was time for her to get married, they found a husband for her.

“It was hard for me to accept having an arranged marriage at first,” She said. “However, I knew that I would have no other option.”

She and her husband, ages 24 and 26, were introduced by her aunt after several e-mail correspondences. She was given approximately one month to get to know him.

“Once I started to talk to him I felt some relief to know that he is not as narrow-minded a person as many of the Indian men I know,” she said.

Her father died when she was young. She was taken care of by her mother and grandmother. As a result, she has always done what her family prefers over her own desires.

“Since I grew up without my father, I always do what my family wants me to because I feel bad going against my mother’s words,” She said.

“Once a girl turns a certain age, as parents and guardians, we have an obligation to fulfill,” her aunt, said. “As her aunt and guardian I felt it was my duty to find her a suitable partner.”

Although her family felt it was time for her to get married, she wasn’t mentally prepared for the journey just yet. She turned to several of her friends for advice since she didn’t know how to approach the situation she was in.

Many traditional Indian families believe in marriage to be a compromise between families. For those people their motto is “love after marriage.”

According to a study of marriage satisfaction and wellness conducted by scholars at The University of North Carolina, Greensboro in 2005, love is not an important factor to marital happiness when families, rather than the individuals themselves, choose the partners.

“Every marriage has its own ups and downs,” Beena Joseph, 29, said.  “I was scared at first to have an arranged marriage, but praying and fasting about it, hoping to find a good and caring husband helped.”

Being away from the husbands for a long time is a huge concern for many Indian women after they marry. For Indian women who carry traditional values, marriage is a sacred bond between two people and their families.

“When you get married, you not only marry the guy, but also his family,” Joseph said.

It is customary for couples to have their cermonies in India even if they are citizens of another country.

“My parents found my husband, Jobin, for me and I had to come back to my life in the U.S.,” Ancy Varughese, 28, said. “It took about a year for my husband to come here and being away from him was really hard for me.”

Joseph, who has been married for six years, is still learning new things about her husband each day. According to Joseph, you get married first then become friends and then you fall in love with your partner.

“I am still learning things about my husband,” Varughese said. “We have a great deal of respect for each other and we have started to build a friendship.”

Although she wishes she had more time with her husband to get to know him, she is awaiting the arrival of her husband so that they can really get to know and understand each other before starting a family.

“After we got married, I only spent a week with my husband before I had to come back due to several of my responsibilities,” she said.

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Jeny Varughese

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