Oh no! Not another post about the difficulties of getting married for a South Asian woman! Not another post about arranged marriages and how foolish and unrealistic they seem!
I know, I know! I’m sorry. I really do apologize. But unfortunately (truly very unfortunate as it is), this is a part of my life, so I must comment on it. Ahh arranged marriages, or as we call it, the rishtha process.
Growing up in a Muslim family, it was known from the beginning that dating was a no-no. But, unlike my cousins’ situations, my parents were okay if I were to fall in love with someone (and them with me hopefully hehe), and then eventually get married to them. It was actually encouraged! But, clearly, that never happened. If it did, this post would be completely different I assure you.
The thing about growing up somewhat conservative is that certain things that are normal for any woman to do, aren’t really normal for yourself. For example: going up to a guy and talking to them freely = hello panic attack! Looking at them from afar, walking past them hoping they would take notice (but if they did, they would have to make the first move), and somehow figuring out their name and using that information to find them on a number of social media outlets – that was my kind of normal. Initiating conversation? Flirting? Asking for their number? Touching their arm? What?!? What are these things you speak of…?
Anywho, my point is, it’s kind of hard to fall in love with someone if you never actually talk to them. No wait, scratch that. It’s not hard for you to fall in love with them, but it definitely is hard for that person to fall in love with you…And the older you get, the more pressure is put on you to find a suitable lifelong partner.
Arranged marriages attempt to take away the stress of finding someone on your own. Key word attempt. It’s honestly like applying for a job, or applying for University. You have to make sure you’re the best of the best in order to get people interested in you. Your looks should be Instagram model status, you should have a BA/BSc + MA/MSc + PhD + MD + 10 years relevant experience but be max 24 years old. And that’s just for the women. As the years have passed by, the qualifications have definitely increased and I think it’s because, well, there’s a whole lotta fish in the sea.
Aside from the ridiculousness of the amount of qualifications you need (am I marrying a person I’m going to want to spend the rest of my life with or a business partner/trophy wife?), I just don’t like how the whole process works. Pictures of the alleged bachelor/bachelorette are sent to families who are looking for a spouse for their child. Once you receive said photo, along with some sort of biodata (the person’s age, their degree qualification, where they work, where they live, their background, and sometimes their height), you must decide on whether or not you want to get to know this mystery person.
It sounds pretty simple, right? And for the most part it is. But it’s just so draining. What if you invest all of your time into a potential person because they look decent, and they’re some successful business person, but once you start talking to them, you realize you just don’t share the same morals and end goals as them?
I personally can’t decide on whether or not a person is a “potential partner” just based on their looks (in a picture I might add – filters, good lighting and positioning do wonders nowadays…) and work qualifications. And I don’t want to start talking to a person I’m not even sure about and lead them on, only to be like “oh yeah sorry, no, I’m not feeling this…”
One step in trying to fix this might be to just revise the whole biodata area of arranged marriages. Sure, include the person’s work and education, BUT, add in what they’re looking for in a partner maybe? Add how they would like their family to be, how they hope to interact and communicate with their spouse and raise their children. Yes, it sounds like a personal info section for an online dating profile, but I believe that these areas are important to highlight when looking for someone you want to spend the rest of your life with.
Another step might be to try and bring the Muslim community in your area closer together. Hold more events, be more inviting. I know in my vicinity there are a lot of Muslim families, but not all communicate with one another. I barely know the other Muslims living in my neighbourhood – and yes, they do exist. Things like this make me sad. We are united as brothers and sisters in Islam, we are one Ummah, but we definitely do not act like it. Unfortunately, different cultures, different skin tones, different backgrounds, different sects, all of these divide the Muslim community. And unless you work with someone who is different from you or go to school with them, you won’t see them in your social circle.
I know arranged marriages have worked for a number of people (family and friends I personally know), and I don’t mean to make them out as something that should be completely done away with. I guess what I’m trying to say is that for someone who is more interested in a person’s personality and characteristics rather than their resume – are they someone who loves to make jokes, do they make helping others one of their goals, are they a family-oriented person, etc., etc. – the rishtha process isn’t very helpful (and a little narrow-minded might I add).
If I was the only person in the world who felt this way, than I would probably save this entry for my own personal diary, but I know others feel the same. I know many people (mainly women) who are excited to start a new chapter of their lives and finally get married and settle down, but they just can’t seem to find anyone. Maybe it’s them; maybe they’re picky and think very highly of themselves. Or maybe, just maybe, this issue goes a little deeper and there’s a problem within the arranged marriage system (or an issue that runs deep within the Muslim community). Or maybe I’m completely wrong and I’m just bitter knowing the fact that I’ll end up forever alone with a bunch of cats ;). WE’LL NEVER KNOW.
Okay, I think I’ve ranted enough about a topic that’s been talked about a bajillion amount of times. Pls forgive mehh.
Until next time my fellow readers, bloggers, and internet trolls alike, I bid you farewell, and wish you the best for today, tomorrow, and for all your days ahead.