Leap of Faith

Understanding the Indian Matrimonial System

Robert Krulwich’s column on NPR addresses those finding love on this Leap day! HOW TO MARRY THE RIGHT GIRL: A MATHEMATICAL SOLUTION is a brilliant take on Martin Gardner’s mathematical formula to successfully find a spouse (or a secretary or a garage mechanic). The solution is to interview only the first 36.8 percent of the shortlisted candidates.

“Don’t hire (or marry) any of them, but as soon you find someone better than this group, that’s the one you choose!”
The One could show up in that first 36.8 percent and you could possibly be stuck with the second best “but, if you like favorable odds, this is the best way to go”, says Krulwich. Apparently this formula has proved itself over and over in all kinds of situations.
I recently helped my lovely young relative set up her profile on an Indian matrimonial website. Gardner’s mathematical formula might come to the rescue of parents (sometimes even older siblings, aunts and uncles) of prospective brides and grooms who comb shaadicom-222618-1-s-307x512through scores of profiles searching for that perfect one!
Here in the west, the concept of arranging a marriage seems archaic, almost redundant. 10-15 years ago I would have expected the number of marriages being arranged even in India to be devoured by the dating mania- online, speed, blind, even reality TV show dating! But even in today’s day and age it is thriving well among the educated middle class families. Parents find a convenient selection catalog in the myriad of profiles on these matrimonial websites. Partner selection proceeds under parental supervision.
To define in the Bollywood lingo, the process works somewhere in between” Ja simran, Jee le apni zindagi” and” Nahii !! ye shaadi nahi ho Sakti“!!
These matrimonial websites provide the elasticity that is essential to any social institution in need of survival. They allow the concept of arranged marriages to stretch and
contract as needed to mould its way into modernity. Young men and women are rarely forced to marry against their will; their mutual agreement forms the heart of the process. Parents continue to play role of dean of college admissions – only the best candidates are shortlisted. To assure whether or not the candidate will ace the course, is above their
pay grade!
While there is a fool’s army out there consisting of men who blatantly announce they are “looking for someone who will serve my parents”, yet there are a few forward thinking ones who define themselves with adjectives such as “traditional with a modern outlook” looking for a “smart, committed, worthy partner” . It is refreshing to note that a selected few of these young men and women are not looking to marry just to meet a social obligation or because they are at that lonely stage in life rather they expect their marriage to be as alive as the people in it. They look for a partner who comes with a balance of “common sense and grit”, ” passion and opinions”.
Among my friends and family I’ve see them all. Love marriages, marriages arranged by parents and those arranged online. While a love marriage facilitates bringing romantically involved individuals together, it is not inherently equipped to handle them through the decades.
Married couples fall in an out of love more frequently than you may think!
Marriages arranged by parents or online however, have way too many unknown variables and, therefore, no guarantees that it will work either. There is really no mathematical formula to predict the success or failure of either one.
There is, however, a strategy that can help you get an optimal way out of a marital conflict. It’s right out of my mother’s invisible book on codes of conduct. 57 years into her blissful marriage, I don’t think she has ever had a chance to use it or maybe she always has, guess we’ll never know. I like to call it the “weigh in technique”. It doesn’t always guarantee a happy result but the likelihood increases with each use. (Disclaimer: I don’t have the credentials to be a marriage counselor or the experience to be a life coach; this is just one friend talking to another!:-)
Quite often at a breaking point, couples are more aware of all the bulky chunks of distress and disorder that came with the marriage rather than the small pieces of life that it enriched. Use this to your advantage. Think of your marriage as a weighing balance. Place all that marital distress in one pan and your spouse with the few happy moments in the other. Ask yourself “Is growing old with this person worth all the distress that comes along?
While answering – be honest, patient and forgiving.
Who knows, one day in your late 80s you two will look back and say, “Thank God! I didn’t replace a thing! Besides my teeth, of course! Now pass me my denture, will ya’?”
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