1. Is it the right time and the right person?
The right time might be right SO FAR. Or it might seem right, wouldn’t it be wiser to compare? It might be impossible to compare with your own life, but there are other examples from others’ lives. There might have been decisions in the past that later seemed rash and hurried. What were the deciding factors then, and where did it go wrong? You might want to think about the past and reflect for your own good. Take a look at all the marriages around you, how they were decided and how they fared. It should give you a fair idea of what works and what doesn’t, though strictly on the basis of probability.
And unless you have that undying faith in intuition and your inner voice, you will have to find ways to figure out who the right person is. This should say much about how reliable this inner voice is, because it might sometimes cheat you by speaking the words of your desires.
2. Because “marriages are not made between individuals, they are made between families.”
Well, to tell you the truth, things are far more complicated when you encounter it up close. Sample this- for a bride, the “new family” will not only surround her and keep an eye on her all the time, they will also expect her to completely switch her loyalties to them. This means that the “old family” must not be any more than distant relatives whom she can meet occasionally and smile and say hello to. Alarm bells ring when starry eyes open to reality and find that people whom one has known barely for a few months can never replace the love and intimacy with people you have spent around a quarter of a century. It is horrifying to be told that your loyalties must lie with a “new family” (not even your new partner) and that your emotional bonds with your biological parents have to be severed (though it will not be told in those exact words). Where does that leave you? True, all the romantic notions of your own little hearth and home cannot be an illusion, but what if that bit just doesn’t materialize. On top of that, you were to lose all support and emotional succour you would expect from your parents and siblings.
Therefore, lesson to be learnt: your ‘pause’ will bring you to your senses for long enough to decide with your potential partner what these equations will be like. Remember, YOU are the one who will leave your home, family, support system behind. Ensure that you’re not completely marooned later, since you’re the one sacrificing everything, you earn the right to lay down the terms and conditions of your new life.
Capitalize on your would-be partner’s pre-nuptial honeyed devotion and would-be “new family’s” (possible) pretences of adopting you as a “beti” of the family. Remember, the time when things are in the process of being decided, is the safest and most profitable time to lay down your conditions and ensuring that things turn in your favour later.
3. Remember that new families are not just new, they are DIFFERENT.
Right from their meal times and where they keep the cutlery to what motivates their spending habits and how they manage finances as a family, everything will be different from your family. This isn’t reason enough to call off a wedding, but this is reason enough to test the waters beforehand. Check how flexible the would-be family is, and how can they be MADE flexible. Work on them in your very initial conversations, subtly convey that you are from a different kind of family. So that once the wedding revels die out, you carve your own space in the everyday business of the family. You might inevitably change some of your habits, but they also have to meet you halfway. It is not one family with its set ways after all. You will get to start from scratch when you build a new family of your own within that circle. And that family will be entirely yours, and must be run on your terms. So lay the ground for all these things with the would-be partner and his family.
4. Have your parents also thought about it without hurrying?
Indian parents, in all their joy and excitement for the daughter’s wedding, often tend to rush things a bit. The minute they see a potential match happening, their excitement levels go into an overdrive and this makes them push the match towards a wedding at a fast pace, fearing hindrances that might pop up. Convince them to slow down. They might respond with hurt faces and sentimental talks of “don’t snatch this little happiness from me”, but explain to them why you and they should take things one step at a time. Don’t let anything finalize before you’re entirely satisfied, not just ‘think’ that you’re satisfied, because in our society, mere negotiations translate into a ‘rishta pakka’ and a finalised match has to be nothing but final. There’s no going back otherwise the bride-to-be is as good as a bride jilted at the altar. Spare yourself the drama and your parents the blame for this, and make a good decision right from the start.
5. The differnce between compromise and negotiation.
Finally, when you do zero in on a person and have decided to get hitched, for good or for worse, don’t think that you’re done with the negotiations and manoeuvrings. This is just the beginning. No marriages are happy, you have to make it happy for yourself and for your partner, and believe that you’re happy. Happiness is a state of mind after all. Particularly if your temperaments don’t match, you have to negotiate every day. But remember, negotiate doesn’t mean compromise. Negotiate means you’ll be actively working on your relationship every day, learn from errors, argue differences, and enjoy the little moments of peace when you find them. It won’t always be a struggle but you have to keep your eyes and ears open, so that complacency doesn’t breed in your ‘new life’.
6. Let go of fear.
Yes, you have to be cautious, but don’t let that stop you from being tempted to believe in destiny. I do not propagate my kind of fatalism but it is a comforting philosophy. After all, very few privileged people get what they want in life, the rest of us take things as an adventure and find our way through it. Or maybe it happens in turns. Maybe everyone has their lucky days in life, and rest of the days just trick their way through. Tricking life, and at other times ourselves