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Deranged ‘Arranged’ Love

Deranged ‘Arranged’ Love

7pm, Delhi, India. Conversation between Mother of ‘Marriageable’ Son and Father of ‘Marriageable’ Daughter: “So… your daughter is beautiful?” “Errr….yes, she is beautiful.” “How beautiful?” “Errr….what??” “I mean, beautiful or very beautiful?” “Errr…I haven’t thought about that really, she is pretty beautiful.” “Oh but is she very beautiful? You see, our son is very handsome!”

Father of ‘Marriageable’ Daughter muttering to self: “Why couldn’t she just fall in love and marry against our wishes!”

Meanwhile, two houses away, father of another marriageable daughter is asking mother of another marriageable son exactly what his current salary is and exactly what his future financial prospects are!

The world of Arranged Marriage

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the world of arranged love. If you are looking for a soul mate, go no further, we have one…in fact thousands for you! Just sign up to the arranged marriage mart and get your parents crackin’ (yes you heard it right, parents please; who do you think will negotiate beauty and financial prospects?)

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The age old tradition of arranged marriage has been followed since 200 BC in India (yeah that old!). Families decide a suitable match, boy and girl meet briefly and the ‘happily ever after’ is fixed.  As times have changed people have modernized in all aspects of life, but, this system remains very much relevant. Of course people can and do find their own partners, but they are a minority. Even today, 7 out of 10 Indian marriages are arranged. Just log onto any matrimonial website (designed specifically for arranged marriages) and you will see multiple descriptions of the ‘perfect partner’

“Beautiful and slim, ambitious yet homely, modern yet traditional, fitness freak yet foodie, loves to travel, loves to cook, loves to dance, loves to read and of course a great sense of humor. Employed in a job which is high paying but not too high paying, with hours that are not too long but not too short and enough travel that makes her well travelled but not too well travelled. Hails from a cultured family with liberal values but traditional outlook.”

While the description might conjure the image of a 10 headed, 50 armed wonder woman, this is just a regular custom made ‘Marriage Material Indian Girl’ for the Confused Indian Boy. He wants a wife who can drink beer with his friends while also making regular religious trips to the temple with his mother. A wife who can have an intelligent intellectual conversation with him but go demurely quiet in front of his family’s elders.

No no no, this is not another male bashing session on women’s emancipation. For every girl trying to figure out what the hell is ‘liberal values but traditional outlook’, there is a boy dealing with the Confused Indian Girl who is independent and seeks equal partnership (A.K.A I ain’t doing your laundry buddy!), but just the same wants a man who pays for dinner, drives her home and never ever needs her money (A.K.A you better be paying for the maid doing our laundry buddy!)

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Arranged Marriages are changing

Gone are the days where needs were simple. Pretty girl who does household chores + Decent boy who earns well + One Meeting = ‘Happy Arranged Marriage’ to you. (Well, thank god those days are gone or I would be compelled to commit suicide!)

At the same time we have not exactly entered the era of ‘society who that’ where marriage itself is optional and sometimes an obsolete concept.

Caught in the midst of an evolving society are a hoard of ‘Marriageables’. We have flown out of our nests and experienced a global way of life, at the same time the conditioning of early years and family bonds stay strong. This results in a happy array of choices in certain aspects of life – chicken curry one day, fillet mignon the next. Religious pilgrimage with family, Thailand with friends. A rainbow life indeed!

But what do you do when it comes to arranged marriage? Years are spent looking for love, but a few break ups and many tears later if you are still single, BOOM, it hits you right between your eyes – time is up!

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The realization dawns either with the help of a nagging mother or by friends’ wedding pictures splashed across Facebook (which ideally should be illegal, just saying!). The decreasing supply of single friends and the increasing blood pressure of parents ultimately leads you down the alien path of ‘arranged marriage’ which sticks out like a sore thumb in our no compromise rainbow lives.

It doesn’t have to be perfect

It goes against all our evolved belief systems – people who pride themselves on making independent career choices have to now enter a parent dependent process, there is no ‘falling in love’, no heartfelt romance, only practical calculations.

The idea of making a choice itself is difficult because we want everything – we want our chicken curry and we want our fillet mignon, we want a partner we can connect with and we want a partner our parents can connect with. We want independence and space but also want the security of boundaries. We are caught in rationalizing everything. If he doesn’t drink he is boring, if he drinks too much he is unstable. If she doesn’t work she is not an intellectual match, if she works too much she will never have time for family. The magic balance eludes us, not to mention this is the most life defining choice you will ever make, no pressure!

As I grapple with the conundrum, I can’t help but feel that we need to stop looking for ‘Mr./Ms. Right’ who fits accurately into our carefully planned lives. There is no ‘all-in-one’ someone that will appear one day like a super saver all flavor combo pack of biscuits. There is no one soulmate made for you who will guarantee a happily ever after. It’s about finding a person who ‘feels somewhat right’ and building a life together. No guarantees, brace up!

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So of course a lot of your plans will go to hell, of course she will fight with your mom, of course he will need your financial support and of course you will attempt to pull out your hair every once in a while (or every day).

The beauty is in telling yourself ‘That’s OK’. It’s OK if your partner is not your perfect fit  ‘soul mate’ on your wedding day, you will get there one day and the ride would have been worth it!

Featured photo credit: Eudaimonia Recovery Homes Blog via google.co.in

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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