Back from Diwali India Visit 2012 : The Marriage Pressure

I visit India yearly for Diwali celebrations, typically for about 3 weeks and last year I wrote quite a few bunch of blog posts. It is a long enough break away from London and into a different world altogether. It is an intense experience and because I spent the first 15 years of my life under Indian culture (I actually only lived there for 4 years in two 2 year stints) I feel I am still tied to the culture in many ways.

Not that this is a bad thing in itself and there are some amazing things to be learnt by knowing so much about 2 distinct and different cultures. But this visit more than the last few actually reminded me of how I have adapted to life here in the UK and how my value system has changed from what it was imparted to me by my parents. This is most apparent in the all important aspect of marriage and tying myself to the arranged marriage culture/ideal is pointless. I am now way past that now.

My extended family in India (almost all village based) is pretty orthodox and still have expectations of me getting married in India. They were expecting me to get married to an Indian girl in India but that’s not something I can do, so I have been clear to them about this recently. It feels good to be honest about this and as disappointing it might be to them, I really must do this every time I am there, as otherwise it causes me internal conflict.

Another problem is the emotional pressure they put me under, I am the oldest sibling in my family and have now hit my mid 30s. None of my siblings are married, and I am to blame for my other siblings not getting married either, the exact expression is that “You have to get married first in order to clear the line for your siblings”. And so I am the one who is pressured most. And then there is the pressure that my dad is now dead and that at least my mother should witness my marriage during her lifetime. And there is a sense of shame to my family (which my mother is accountable for as a parent) in me not getting married. This makes my trip there to visit family quite unpleasant.

So if I am not getting arranged married in India, then what am I doing? Well, this is another tough one for me. I was always under so much pressure to live up to family expectations and for a number of other reasons (going to a practically all male university for 10 years, being scarred by rejections as a teenager/in my early 20s) that the idea of dating is actually very intimidating to me and there is a lot of fear attached to this process. I never really got this process started off properly. This is hard to admit.

But despite all this, I am 100% committed and driven to helping myself out and have been facing my fears head on in the last year. I got some CBT type therapy and I have made my first steps to jump into the dating scene. Since I have little experience in this, the fear of the unknown is what has been holding me back for so long mostly.

Perhaps I’ll be ready to blog about it soon. But perhaps not.


3 Responses to “Back from Diwali India Visit 2012 : The Marriage Pressure”

  1. 1 Chris Buckley December 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Hey Atul,

    Very interesting post. I can relate. Asian mother here too. I think they’ve come to accept that now, in fact I may never marry at all. I see it as too stifling in most cases though I would for the right woman (how many of them are there these days – ironically, especially in the liberal West).

    My bigger problem is the expectation to get a high paying job and sacrifice all for the family. Screw that. Been there and done it and nearly killed me.

    On the dating front, very brave of you to admit that. You’re never too late dude. Next year, let’s work on this. Get yourself a book called “The Game”, consider it homework. Then me and you will go out places as wingmen and make up for the last decade.

  2. 2 Atul Rana December 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Great to hear from you Chris. My family in India would argue that if I can’t find the right woman here in the UK then it is still far better to get arranged marriage and have the security of being in a good, stable relationship leading to children.

    However, I’d rather get married on my own terms and glad to know it is never too late to get started in dating! Will be in touch with you.

  1. 1 Starting a New Romantic Relationship – August 2014 | Atul Rana Trackback on October 12, 2015 at 10:04 pm

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