....I often ask my father what he thinks are the two basic factors that made his marriage a success. He always gives me the same answer: ‘character and abiding love’. With these comes the rest of the package. It helped, of course, that my father flipped for my mother’s looks at first glance. But what about her? Did she have a choice in the matter? He insists she did and that nobody could have forced the spirited seventeen-year-old Shakuntala to marry a man she did not fancy.
What about fights? Differences? Tantrums? Of course their marriage had their fair share of all these. But beyond occasional arguments and sulks, I don’t recall a day of sustained hostility or unpleasantness. If they had problems, they settled them in privacy. It was, in many ways, a great marriage, full of sharing, caring and deep understanding. And more than that, full of communication.
One need not rule out either communication or passion in a modern-day arranged match. Recently, while in America, I met several extremely bright American Desis. I confess I was a little surprised when told that most of the young couples slaving away for their MBAs, were in fact, not the dating couples I imagined, who’d taken campus romance to the altar, but couples who’d met as strangers through family intervention. In this day and age, these kids had taken the crucial seven steps around the holy fire, without so much as holding hands before the wedding night! And here they were, some with young children, others still settling into their new lives as ‘young marrieds’, but nobody could possibly guess that they had opted for a conventional ‘arranged’ marriage out of choice. When I expressed my surprise, they drawled, ‘Aaw—no big deal . . . it has worked out just great!’ And so it seemed!