Marriage – Guaranteed to work! – Two real life stories and some poetry

Standing on a threshold

I ask myself what should it be

Arranged says the voice of reason

love says  ‘me’

i do
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Silly girl says reason

love is  a short dream

what you call love today

tomorrow may  a nightmare seem

No says my heart

love brings two people close

Companionship and understanding

love nurtures  hope

Just married
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Practicalities of life

soon swallow the ‘love’ boat

thrashing and drowning

you need  essentials to float

without love to comfort

even silk does not soothe

shackles made of gold

are just shackles too

Arranged does not mean

its void of love

commitment comes first

 followed by love

And what say me

if love never comes

trapped in conventions

won’t life be burdensome

Croaking together
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love based on pretenses

is even more cruel

By the time you wake up

you’ve already lost the duel

But if the love is honest

if it is true

the magic lasts forever

everyday  a ‘present’  new

Just like war
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Silly Bollywood garbage

happy ever-after doesn’t exist

marriage requires effort

it needs one to persist

Arranged or love

is just the choice of entrance

Once you’re  in the marriage walk

golden  key is communication and acceptance

Whats the best kind of marriage? Love or arranged?

If you’d asked me this question a few years back. I would have said ‘love’ for sure. It seems like the sensible answer. Two people know each other, understand each other and make a commitment to stand by each other for better or worse. Seems the right way to go. In contrast ‘arranged’ seems almost like a ‘game of cards’. You have no say over what you play with. All a matter of chance!

But as one goes through life one begins to appreciate the ‘in betweens’! The grays! I was having a chat with someone recently and it came up that “Growing up or maturing as some call it, is basically learning to appreciate the grays. Discovering that there is always a flip side to the coin. Nothing in life is purely black or white. Everything a complex shade of Gray”

A case in point –  This is a real story of a friend, P who studied with me in college. She knew this guy T, since class 6th. They were made for each other. They spent hours on the phone. Every moment of every holiday with each other. People swore by their love. The guy was older by a few years and had picked up a very decent job.  Just before completing her graduation she got married to him in a romantic fairytale wedding. Everything was perfect. When she came back to the college after a month to take her final degree exams. She was inundated with requests for stories about married life. (what do you expect? This was a girls hostel of an all girls college!) Blushing and smiling, she duly obliged. Satisfied the girls left to sleep. I had been watching P all evening. Though she said all the right things. I had the vague feeling that something was missing. I couldn’t quite put a finger to it. But the doubt wouldn’t leave. After everyone left, I went up to her bed. Running my hands through her hair I asked “Is everything alright?’. It was like a dam burst open. It seems, T had thrown her out of the room, on their first night together. She had spent her wedding night getting chilled in the cold February winds! “Why?” “Where had he hidden this side of him for the last 10years?  There are no answers. Seventeen years hence, she has a teenaged daughter. She is still in the abusive relationship and its still as bad.

marrying for love
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Another case – I met N only recently, at one of my children’s classes. She and her husband have just moved into town. The first time I saw them, they were sitting on the bench while their child played. Side by side, every once in a while one of them leaning in to say something to the other that would bring in a smile.  (You see kids classes are mostly mommy spaces. You’ll find an occasional dad coming in to drop or pick a child when mom’s out of action. But by and large its mom’s domain. ) So this was strange for us ‘mommies’ to watch. But over the next few weeks, we got used to it. Overtime we began to include N in our chatter. Her husband though always sat next to her, kept his eyes respectfully averted. Though sometimes a smile played on his lips when one of us said something particularly funny.  N and me began a tentative friendship. The kind that comes with having children the same age. Sometimes we arranged play-dates, exchanged party invitations.  The more I got to know her, the more it became obvious that she and her husband shared a special bond. The kind of “happily ever after” that all of us aspire to.

Married with wings
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A few days back I caught her sitting all by herself at the tennis class bench. Her husband was out of town on work she said. Unable to reign in my curiosity any longer, I asked her.  “What kind of marriage had they had?” “Arranged” she said. We had never even seen each other till the day of our engagement. Almost apologetically she added.  ” I know it sounds very backward in this day and age. But the proposal had come from his sister’s mother in law. Our horoscopes were matched. We spoke over the phone and he said yes. Our families met and right there we were engaged. “What has it been like?” I wanted to know. “It’s been lovely” she says unable to hide her happiness. ” In 7 years this is the first time he has been away for 7 day. He called me up almost 20 times yesterday. His day doesn’t begin without a cup of tea from my hands. We do everything together. He quit his job because that would require living away from us. We have instead started our own business, that we work on together. When I got married, I was 24 and he 29. He had been living away from home for many years and was used to his space. But now I am a part of it. I am confident about us. I think it was destined.”  Just then her son rushes in. Breathless after the running. “Who’s coming back tomorrow?” N asks, Joyfully? “Papa” he replies. The exuberance says it all.

I don’t propose to imply that considering the above two cases ‘Arranged marriages” may be considered better than love marriages. Not at all! For every happy arranged marriage , there must be a 100 unhappy ones. But similarly for very happy love marriage there may be 100 that didn’t quite turn out the way the entrants had imagined. The failure may not be as obvious or as drastic as P’s case. But minor disappointments of unmet expectations, unfulfilled promises, changed personalities, hidden traits that surface and take away the sheen.

My point being. Whether a marriage is by love or traditionally arranged does not really matter. What’s important is the two people entering it. If they enter it with complete honesty, transparency and a willingness to make it work, the chances are it will. And then again, there is always a tiny part or an important one! Depending on what you believe in? That’s played by  luck/ providence/ destiny/stars (Whatever you like to call it!). And an equally important hand of circumstances.

My take on this. What I said to my “marriageable ” cousin recently. If you think he is right , take the plunge. Be honest and dedicated towards making it work, if everything else is in your favor it will. But if it doesn’t don’t be afraid to walk out. No one and nothing can guarantee the success of a relationship. Least of all how you enter it!

guaranteed to work
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PS: I don’t often participate in contests. But this one was an epic debate. And I can’t seem to pass up “epic debates”! This post has been written for


20 Comments Add yours

  1. Simply too good…….i have the same opinion as yours do visit my blog as well if you have time

    1. thanks for stopping by! will surely check out the link. All the best for the contest 🙂

  2. amira says:

    love or arranged, a marriage takes effort for it to work.
    effort from both sides. The ups and down of the lifes journey is not enough with just love.
    the romantic bollywood love is very fragile 🙂
    There needs to be mutual respect and lot of patience and perseverance …
    you put the argument very nicely.

    1. you too amira. Are you a part of indiblogger? why don’t you also write for this?

  3. I love seeing this from both sides. Thanks for sharing a perspective too many in my country can’t even imagine. I can’t imagine an arranged marriage myself, but it’s been done that way for millenia is many parts of the world.

    1. That’s true kathryn. There is so much about India that’s so different from most parts of the world. Where else would you find grown up sons and their families living with their parents? or girls leaving their homes, cities and careers and settling in with their husbands parents? For Good or bad , there is so much about us that’s different from rest of the world!

  4. Having had a miserable “love” marriage once before I can honestly say there might truly be something to the idea of arranged marriages or at least the consideration. Many of my friends have them and they have worked well, if not perfectly not imperfectly either. As you say, no marriage works without both partners willingness to actually work.

    1. I am intrigued by the question – what makes a marriage work? Though there are some universal dos and dont’s , there seem to be a lot of very individualistic stuff that no one can put a finger to or prescribe as a mantra! I had a love marriage and its worked well. But the journey has been no easier than that of my friends, who are into arranged marriages. Thanks Valentine for sharing your thoughts here. I’ve started to look forward to your comments each time I write something 🙂

  5. Nice portrayal of both scenarios, Sapna. You do this poetic prose so well. You are so right; after a while, love or arranged doesn’t matter. It’s all about *communication* and *acceptance*. After 14 years of expecting from a love marriage, I am (still) learning to accept.

    P.S. – My email was swamped – five posts in a week! However do you manage, I am amazed !

    1. Hi! Hubby has been away. So loads of time after the kids sleep for writining these days. I just nominated you for the sunshine award. Check out this link

    2. Hi! Hubby has been away. So loads of time after the kids sleep for writing these days. I just nominated you for the sunshine award. Check out this link

  6. Beautiful thoughts on love and marriage. If we got married for love and fought for that love through highs and lows, then that love is bound to last forever till our last breath. I’ve seen it with my elders, parents and I hope and pray, I will follow in their footsteps.

  7. ZinalBhadra says:

    Your poems are the best of all i read 🙂
    And your post is bang on. Very balanced

    1. thank you Zinal! (
      if only you were the judge (lol) 😉

  8. passey says:

    You opted for the ‘case study’ approach for this ‘epic’ opportunity! Nicely done… and the fact that there were the case studies and a lot of prose following the 4-line stanzas at the start was a refreshing change! 🙂

    Arvind Passey

    1. It was a long post and you seem to have read it carefully! Thank you Arvind!

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