An arranged love marriage
A “perfect “marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other
My name is Gigee Skariah, residing in Pune, closing in on 38 years, a homemaker by choice and a mother to two beautiful girls.
My idea about marriage was mostly centered on the movies that I watched growing up (not sure how many of you have had this experience!). These were mostly family dramas that invariably had an arranged marriage scene, the quintessential ‘first night’ scene followed by a married life scene that mostly showed a duty- bound wife trying hard to keep everyone happy. That was mostly how I pictured married life! So at 24 something, I was all geared up to serve tea to a guy my parents arranged, but fate had something else in store for me!
Though my parents were on the lookout for my suitor, they were open to the idea of me finding my own life partner. The only condition was that he should be from the same background and faith that we belong to, which was not much of a problem for me. Being the church-going kind and growing up in a mini-Kerala (read UAE in the 1980’s); I couldn’t think of myself being married to a non-Malayali Christian.
So as destined, I selected a life partner whom my parents could not refuse. In short, I arranged my own marriage.
I met Sunil back in 2002. It wasn’t love at first sight (a concept that I still can’t get my head around) but I clearly remember the first time I saw him (err!! His back to be precise)
I was taking the stairs to my first-ever job interview and ahead of me were a pair of legs with a helmet dangling by their side. I looked up to see very broad shoulders and a macho walk. That’s the first memory of my future husband!
Who knew then that those pair of legs would walk me out the aisle one day!!!
So as events folded out, the same helmet was on a desk at the place I interviewed at. I was eventually selected for the job and Sunil and I became colleagues.
He liked to talk a lot (brag rather!) and I liked to listen! That’s how it started off…as a friendship that grew into a relationship. I found him very endearing. A simple guy with a clean heart and lofty talks!
However, the “talker” was not the first one who proposed! I tried to make him propose (even going to the extent of asking him to find details of another proposal that came to me, so he would get the cue that I may be married off somewhere else) but he seemed clueless or was acting pricey (we still argue on this). Several failed attempts later; I wrote him a long e-mail asking him whether he would be interested in marrying me. He said he would and after 2 years of courtship, we got married in 2005. It’s been 12 years and I can still lean on those broad shoulders for comfort and trust those strong legs to walk with me for life.
Needless to say, I have been lucky in love.
Like most girls who read fairy tales, I also believed in “happily ever afters” but what I did not realise was “happily ever after” is a lot of hard work!
I don’t mean to discourage but like every venture in life, marriage also comes with its many challenges. I, for one, wasn’t prepared for some of them even though I thought I was!
To begin with, there is this process of adapting to new surroundings and new roles – that of a wife, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law – I had one more – a grand-daughter-in-law.
My husband had always lived with his maternal grandparents. Both of us had a clear understanding before marriage that this will not change post marriage. In spite of being mentally prepared for the same, I soon realised that I needed help trying to ‘fit in’. This help came from Sunil. He understood my predicament well and his support helped me tide over situations where I felt I didn’t belong.
No one was to blame except the huge generation gap between my grand-in-laws and me. My challenge was to bridge this gap!
The fact that my grand mother-in-law was an expert cook made matters tougher. I realised early on that my main role was to cook along with her, basically help her in the kitchen! I knew very few dishes which my working mother used to cook often, and so obviously, I did not match up to her expectations. Prudence took over where skills failed! To make a long story short, I am a capable cook today all because of Ammachi (that’s what we called her). Her recipe, the traditional Christmas rum cake is a big hit even today.
So here’s my learning –
To the newly married ladies out there; don’t sweat it out on the small stuff. There will be complaints and taunts over your short comings but before you retaliate, think about whether it’s worth fighting for! If it’s at the cost of losing your ego, then so be it. Ego is worth losing after all! Always remember that if you love your husband for who he is today, then you owe it in some way to your in-laws, who brought him up to be the man you love.
And to all the newly married men, remember that your wife leaves her comfort zone to enter your world by choice. Honour her choice. Nothing much changes for you but everything is new for her. It is your shared responsibility to help her adapt to her new family (that is “your” family).
Now back to my story-
A year and half into our marriage, I was pregnant with our first child. Our older daughter was born in 2007 and I had another new role to play. To say that I was unprepared for motherhood would be an understatement. No doubt, being a mother is a wonderful feeling but as all mothers would agree it is a big sacrifice – a sacrifice you must be prepared to take. I learned this along the way.
After struggling to juggle my job, my daughter and other household responsibilities for 2 years, I decided to take a career break and joined my husband who was employed in Singapore at the time. A year later, my second daughter was born and this time I was prepared.
My advice to couples today is that you must definitely have children. Parenting is a true test of how strong your marriage is! It can change the complete equation between a ‘husband’ and a ‘wife’.
Children are demanding and whilst caring for their needs, you tend to start believing that your relationship exists only for your children while the opposite is actually true – your relationship came first and the children only later.
As long as you remember this; you can overcome the challenge of striking a balance between being a couple and being parents at the same time.
As for us, we have moved back to India and now our life revolves around our daughters. It’s not a perfect life of peace and bliss but a colourful one of ups and downs!
We have had our quarrels (mainly over sharing never-ending household responsibilities) but we often than not realise, that we haven’t found a solution to the problem, that started the fight in the first place! Well, quarrels have now been replaced with open discussions about any disagreements that we have and this has definitely helped our bond grow stronger. Several discussions and disagreements later, we both have our roles jotted out for now. Like the cliché goes, it’s all a give and take.
We both realise that we need to find time to spend with each other; to fall in love many times again. Till then, we refuse to give up on each other!