A continuation of the conversation between Aamani and Nisha, the friends with the contradictory viewpoints regarding marriage. They work for the same company in Jaipur and are both of Indian descent. Aamani grew up in rural South India while Nisha was raised in urban North India. Aamani supports arranged marriage while Nisha is against it. During their lunch break, the two share their views on the subject.
Aamani: Do you disagree with arranged marriages for any other reasons?
Nisha: The man I love came into my life by chance. From the moment we met, it was like magic. We were friends for a while before he asked me to be his girlfriend. I can't imagine marrying a person who I do not love or know very well.
Aamani: In India we base matrimony on commitment rather than feelings. This is the foundation of the relationship. If you are open-minded, you can learn to love your spouse. As the marriage progresses, the feelings of love will develop. You have a lifetime to learn to love each other.
Nisha: I see your point, but I believe that marriage should be an act of pure love and devotion, not a long-term business transaction between two families.
Aamani: You know in the West, people base their decision to marry on feelings, but what happens when the feelings wane? What do you have to keep the marriage together? I've heard that dating leads to broken relationships. Have you experienced this?
Nisha: Yes, I've had a few relationships before meeting my boyfriend. They had their ups and downs. I've been hurt, but the experiences made me wiser and stronger, more prepared for marriage.
Aamani: You seem to be very westernized. Is this a result of your growing up in New Delhi and spending much time visiting family in the U.S.?
Nisha: I think so. I love Indian culture, but I've always been attracted to Western culture as well. In Western society, people have the freedom to choose, but that freedom comes with great accountability.
Aamani: Why do Westerners insist on knowing a person inside and out before considering marrying them?
Nisha: It's wise for people, especially women, to know what they are getting themselves into to avoid unfair, abusive situations.
Aamani: Try viewing the situation this way. A relationship not bound by marriage is more easily shattered by miniscule problems in life. But after marriage you tend to accept what you have, rather than look for a better spouse as people often do while courting or dating. Divorce rates in India are extremely low, compared to the U.S. I think India has a divorce rate of two percent and the U.S. has a divorce rate of around fifty percent.
Nisha: Yes but I have met women in India who are in abusive, unhappy marriages and want to get out, but are afraid to leave. A divorce is more difficult in India, and a divorced woman with children will be viewed negatively, even if she had good reason to leave the husband.
Aamani: There is marital abuse everywhere but I think Indian women are encouraged to tolerate it more for the sake of keeping the family together. In my case, I'm sure my parents will choose an excellent man for me. My family, especially my father, would never tolerate any kind of mistreatment or exploitation of me.
Nisha: My family is the same way. I'm so glad that my sweetheart is accepted by my family and I am accepted by his.
Aamani: Do you disagree with arranged marriages in any other way?
Nisha: I believe the pressure on young adults from their parents and families to marry can be detrimental to a marriage. My parents don't put any pressure on me to marry. They know they have raised me well and trust my judgment. It's wonderful and empowering to have this kind of respect from your parents. It truly makes you feel like an adult.
Aamani: I don't see anything wrong with a little pressure. Our parents, who are older and much more experienced, naturally know the best age to marry. As young adults, we may think that we know what is best, but often make mistakes. Some people may wait too long to marry and become less desirable.
Nisha: My issue with pressuring marriage is that some people may not be mentally or emotionally prepared. This can cause the couple to experience resentment and emotional setbacks. Also, it can make a person dislike the idea of being married altogether.
Aamani: Are you aware that arranged marriages today are different than in the past? They involve much more input from the bride and groom.
Nisha: Yes I've heard that families in urban areas now arrange for their son or daughter to meet multiple marriage candidates and the children have the right to accept or refuse.
Aamani: That's true. This trend is growing in rural areas as well. There are also self-arranged marriages. This is when a couple that has met independently and is involved romantically, goes through the process of an arranged marriage. This allows a meshing and unification of the families. I know young people in India who have successfully married this way, and they say that it is similar to a love marriage.
Nisha: Oh, I guess I wasn't aware of this. It's good that young adults have some amount of autonomy in this matter. I see the advantages of thesecontemporary self-arranged marriages but still believe that as a whole, arranged marriage is an outdated practice that goes against my perception of human equality.
Aamani: I understand. We can agree to disagree. You'll still attend my wedding won't you?
Nisha: Don't be silly. Of course I will. I'm still waiting for my official invitation miss.
Accountability - Required to be responsible for something.
Miniscule - Very small.
Exploitation - To make use of meanly or unfairly for one's own advantage.
Detrimental - Obviously harmful: damaging.
Meshing - Fitting or working together successfully.
Unification - To be joined or brought together.
Autonomy - Self-directing freedom and especially moral independence.
Contemporary - Happening or beginning now or in recent times.
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