The Art of Life|Oct 13, 2003 6:39 AM| by:

The Secret of a Successful Marriage

My grandmother got married at the age of four. My mum and dad never met until the day of their wedding. My cousin was married and sent to another country with a man she met for one day. That was in the year 1998. Now, 2003, my sister has become the new victim of the trap called arranged marriage. She is fighting from falling into it.

The first thing Indian people say to her when they meet her at a wedding. “So, how old are you? Time to get married? I’ll find you a suitable boy.” She is only one of millions that face the same questions.

Thankfully, my parents have not been influenced by the people they encounter every day in their lives.  They find it easier to let my sister and I make our own decisions. But they are a rarity in the complicated world of Indian culture.

Arranged marriage has always been an absurd idea in my mind. Spending your whole life with someone you don’t have the liberty to choose, let alone love. Having known that I would never be forced to comply with such a tradition, I have rejected its credibility. But I know that it doesn’t lack it. I have only recently come to understand and accept that arranged marriages aren’t wrong. It may sound funny as I say it but they make complete sense.

When parents look for “suitable” partners for their children, they look at family background, education, profession, and status. They seem like silly things, after all, love is all that matters, right? But what do people in love fight about? Things they don’t have in common, different outlooks on life, different beliefs, and lack of understanding. Studies have shown that the top reasons for divorce are poor communication, lack of commitment, failed expectations, and change in priorities.  Of course there are exceptions, but most of the time, people get so deeply involved with the idea of “love” that they fail to understand what it really means.

I know numerous couples that are unhappy because of their arranged marriage. I also know many that are unhappy because of their love marriage. But what makes me give arranged marriages credit is that they work. I have seen them work, from my parents to my aunt and uncles to my cousins and even my friends. When talking to them about it, they tell me that because their marriages were arranged, they were more willing to compromise. Knowing that they needed to establish a strong relationship, they were more willing to sacrifice, and so one discovered things about one’s partners that at first couldn’t be understood. When I asked one of them about love, she said to me, “I have learned to love. Most people just fall into it. And then fall out so easily. But I don’t think I can ever leave my marriage.”

Whether you see it as a social contract or a compromise on life, arranged marriages are okay. If the two people involved comply, then there’s nothing wrong about it. The number of arranged marriages in Indian families is not decreasing. In fact, more and more people are becoming open to a tradition that they have seen be successful, not just in India, but all around the world.

The whole concept of love and arranged marriages is more complex than I have explained, and marriage itself has a deeper meaning beyond the description I have given.

It is for two reasons that I cannot elaborate completely on that meaning. Firstly, I am not married and so cannot fully comprehend the circumstances of a marriage. And secondly, as with all things, the Truth behind marriage lies in the spiritual plane, of which I have as yet much to learn.

Regardless of what society deems necessary in a marriage, I have always felt that something more is required. Whenever I attend a marriage, and I see the delighted bride and groom, overwhelmed by the colours, music, flowers, and most of all, their own happiness, I cannot help but doubt. I always question whether they have what it takes to keep their marriage together.

It is true: the two must have some mutual interests, must understand each other’s thoughts and emotions, and must have a power that holds then together; whatever it may be. But there is still more.

To be able to share the journey that is life, two souls have to be going in the same direction. What they ultimately aspire to be, not in the material sense, must be the same.

If the Divine is to keep them together, then both must have inside them the faith. If they are always true then their marriage will not be injured by falsehood. And if they love sincerely, they will have within them the Divine Love.

That is my simple understanding. But it is not enough. It is in the sweet words of The Mother, that I have found the secret. “In the depths, at the summit of the being, there is a Supreme Truth of being, an Eternal Light, independent of all the circumstances of birth, country, environment, education. That is the origin, cause and master of our spiritual development… To be one in aspiration and ascension, to move forward at the same pace on the same spiritual path, that is the secret of a lasting union.”

Uttama Patel

(Uttama Patel is a young student of 18 years studying Journalism in USA.)