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Deranged ‘Arranged’ Love

Deranged ‘Arranged’ Love
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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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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)
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It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

  1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
  2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
  3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
  4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
  5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
  6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
  7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
  8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
  9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
  10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
  11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
  12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
  13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
  14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
  15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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