Marriages are one of the highest trending topics of late. Be it Richa Chadda's controversial take on arranged marriages, Deepika Padukone's My Choice video or Katrina Kaif's "when is the right time to get married" commercial for a wristwatch brand. In fact, many of you must have seen AIB's Honest Indian Weddings video on YouTube and had a giggle. We all have been offended or advised by match-makers, at least once in life. I call them "well-meaning intruders" from the matrimonial planet who are here to fulfill a paramount responsibility of fixing a man and a woman into a lifelong partnership.
I think in a real-life scenario, marriage means a survival of two individuals in extreme conditions such as commitment, addiction, egotism, midlife crisis, children, finances and sex to name a few. The matchmakers, janam-kundlis, solah-singar, wedding vows and bade-buzurgon ka ashirwad do not guarantee a successful relationship. I am not anti matchmakers or well-wishers. My whole purpose is to encourage couples-to-be to think long and hard before tying the knot. So, here's an eight-point rationale before you take the divine yet deadly saat phere.
1. Friendship comes first
You need to establish a friendship with each other from the very beginning. It may take months or years to be cemented, but it will then last forever. Don't listen to people who exhort you to get married just before you are more than 20 years old or because your biological clock is ticking away or because you will need a companion in old age (budhape mein ek dusre ka sahara chahiye.").
"In India, marriages happen at the age of 22 but companionship starts at 62. Marriage is not a project you take up after retirement."
Ignore emotional blackmail such as "get settled so we (parents) can live in peace" or to fulfill grandpa's akhiri khwahish to see you as a dulhan. In India, marriages happen at the age of 22 but companionship starts at 62. Marriage is not a project you take up after retirement. Learn to be best friends with your spouse-to-be; it's too good to tease and stand for each other at the same time.
Get married if you want a best friend, forever.
2. Sync or sink
You have to work hard, be patient and positive to know and connect with your partner. Traditional matchmaking still revolves around horoscopes, MBA degree and bada bank balance. But the coming-of-age matchmaking is like syncing your smartphone with your computer. It is up to you to realise whether your needs, wants and virtues are in sync with each other or not. It is crucial that all your feelings are mutual and transparent. This is something you can analyse over the dating or courtship period and decide. I don't believe in the cliché opposites attract. Similarities do not make you soul mates either. I have known my man for six years (including 2.5 years of our marriage) and I have realised that a relationship is nothing but a balancing act.
Get married if you both are on the same wavelength.
3. Sex matters
This is a game-changing litmus test which can make or break your relationship permanently. How well do you know about your sexual preferences and how openly can you discuss them with your partner? Ask yourself. When you have decided to take up this extreme adventure sport called marriage, you must unmask your desires and play the game of love. Even if you don't have sex, you can be intimate in different ways. If Kama, the god of love, fails to inspire, try Google. Your friends, family and relatives will always remain on standby to impart gyaan on sex. Let them. You never know, you might get some help from grandma's homemade aphrodisiacs.
Get married if you want to enjoy love-making for a lifetime.
4. Food is a fuel
In India, when one family asks for a woman's hand in marriage, they are actually asking for a hand in the kitchen. The hidden message behind "hum aapki ladki ka haath mangne aaye hain" is "hum aapki ladki ke haath ke baney pakwan khana chahte hain, zindagibhar". The fact is that food is an everyday affair, which we like to savour to the fullest. I have personally seen relationships that revolve around food and couples who fight to defend their culinary skills.
" Marriage is a union of two different taste-buds."
Marriage is a union of two different taste-buds. I think restaurants and cafes are the best hang-out places if you really want to tap into your partner's personality through food. Your preferences may not always match, but you have to see if you can be flexible in terms of being vegetarian, eggetarian and non-vegetarian. Food is the most delectable affair which you can have together.
Get married if you want a permanent subject for your cooking experiments.
Nope, it's not about a deodorant brand or that song "Haan main alcoholic hoon." from the film The Shaukeens. It is about making a conscious choice whether to accept a partner with his or her peculiar addiction or to be hopeful that things will be alright one fine morning. A few relatives of mine thought marriage would solve their children's bad habits -- drugs, alcohol, smoking, tobacco, promiscuity. No matchmaker will be able to show you a clear picture of the future when it comes to aadat or latt. So, it is up to you to do a serious reality check.
Get married if you are addicted to being hopeful.
6. Financial facts
Sorting out finances is achier than a migraine, especially when you are part of a couple. The thing is that no matchmaker will give you a tour of your partner's financial world. Worse, the topic inspires great embarrassment. We say things like "rishton ke beech paise nahin aane chahiye (money should not figure in relationships)". Do not be misguided by anyone, not even your own sense of generosity. Be aware of each other's financial standing before taking off for a big fat honeymoon. Financial trouble is one of the major reasons for divorce. You can avert it by being careful and transparent with overall transactions.
Get married if you can manage the nitty-gritty of a joint account.
"Children are a gift from god, they say, but is that a good enough reason to have them?"
7. Small "blessings"
It's the most sensitive and over-hyped topic in dharma, karma and everyday household drama. In mythology, it is what made Lord Shiva a householder from a hermit. Giving an heir to the family made women complete, respectable and powerful then. But aaj ka yug is different. Everyone is complete in their own way. Children are a gift from god, they say, but is that a good enough reason to have them? I am the mother of a 21-month-old daughter and I've realised that raising a human being from scratch is an incredibly huge responsibility. My husband and I chose to become parents, willingly. To procreate or not should be a conscious decision. Marriage is not an entertainment package or a wholesale deal at a supermarket. Do not recite your wedding vows until you are clear of the possibility and responsibility of being parents.
Get married if you can handle the bundle of joy, responsibly.
8. Nothing Lasts Forever:
Nothing lasts forever - not your childhood, not your career, not even your size-zero figure and beer-belly. All I mean is that marriage is a transition one may or may not sail through smoothly. It changes everything. Do not set unrealistic expectations from marriage. Put all your cards on the table -- needs, wants, ideas, ambitions and fantasies and see if you can draw out a future together. Marriage is a long road with speed breakers. No matter how fast and crazily you hit it off in the beginning, you will need to slow down at some point. Think before changing your relationship status on FB and before saying "I do".
Get married if you are ready to embrace the biggest change in life.
Lastly, you are capable of being your own matchmaker. So give it a shot.