Via Jason Corey / Flickr
Arranged marriages – The debate continues!
Arranged marriages seem to be in a state of siege in India. At least that’s the impression you will get when you talk to the young generation of urban Indians. Young Indians equate arranged marriages to something that happened to their parents or something that will never happen to them.
The rise of dating apps, the glorification of marriage for love or romance as defined by Bollywood movies, and the general tendency to ape western culture, will make a casual observer think that arranged marriages are on their way to becoming history very soon.
But wait, there is another side to this story!
While there aren’t many credible studies on arranged marriages, surveys such as those conducted by NDTV IPSOS in 2012 and the Taj Wedding Barometer in 2013 concluded that about 75% of those surveyed still preferred arranged marriages.
That’s not all, sites that facilitate arranged marriages continue to thrive. Other studies, such as the one conducted by the University of Maryland, have concluded that even though people now have a greater say in partner choice, arranged marriages continue to thrive in India.
While India moves to a phase where we will continue to see arranged marriages co-existing with marriages for love / casual dating, it would be interesting to look at arranged marriages from a western perspective.
The story of an orthodox Jewish woman in Europe
Via Krista Guenin / Flickr
Western societies prefer love marriages and look at arranged marriages as a social evil. But, there are exceptions.
Rebecca Beck (pen name) is an orthodox Jewish woman who lives in Belgium. She runs a popular blog where she shares her thoughts on parenting and religion in the context of her orthodox Jewish background.
You may be surprised to learn that orthodox Jews believe in arranged marriages and Rebecca got married when she was just 19 years old!
She married someone that her parents found her and, just like her ancestors, she is happy she went down this path.
If you would like to learn more about how Rebecca’s arranged marriage was fixed, you should read her personal story.
You can also check out the BBC documentary that provides a ringside view of how the Hasidic Jews go about arranging marriages.
So why should you care about Rebecca’s arranged marriage story? We have all seen arranged marriages (in India). What can a westerner offer us?
First of all, Rebecca’s arranged marriage story debunks the myth that arranged marriages are “primitive” or that all arranged marriages are “forced marriages”.
Secondly, Indians also have a tendency to downplay the wisdom we have as an ancient culture. Hearing about the virtues of arranged marriages from someone far removed from our traditions and biases helps us appreciate the practice (if done properly).
Jodi Logik interviewed Rebecca and she shared with us some interesting life lessons from her arranged marriage.
Life lessons learned through arranged marriages
We have lined up three key insights Rebecca shared with us based on her personal journey. If your parents consider you to be ready for marriage and you are still wondering how you can say yes to a stranger, you will find Rebecca’s experiences relevant.
#1 – Personal chemistry meets logic
Via Krista Guenin / Flickr
One of the issues with marriages based on love (referred to as “love marriages” in India) is the fact that people rely on fate to meet their soulmate.
Most single men and women have false hopes when it comes to falling in love. A chance meeting at a grocery store or at a friend’s place, a stroke of luck that puts you in front of your future partner and getting swept off your feet are just some of the expectations.
Pick any random Bollywood movie or song and you will not find a single instance where the story or song depicts an arranged marriage!
If you are among the lucky few head over heels in love, you may believe you will effortlessly transition into a happily married life.
The reality is far from this expectation and that’s why divorce rates have been increasing in western countries where arranged marriages are almost non-existent.
In arranged marriages, there is a collective decision-making process where logic and chemistry are taken into consideration.
When Rebecca met her husband for the first time (such arranged marriage first meetings are called the b’show), her goal was to find out if she liked the man who might be her future husband.
We just had a casual chit-chat. We talked about his Yeshivah, I was telling him about my time in the Seminary and we talked about his family and mine. We met to see if we clicked and did not expect to forge a deep connection. So the conversation was light and about nothing in particular.
Rebecca let her parents deal with all the other considerations that go into shortlisting matches. This is very similar to the process we are familiar with in India. The idea behind this approach is that while personal connection or chemistry matters, practical considerations are equally important. In love marriages, practical considerations may go out of the window!
According to Rebecca,
Some parents look for status or money, some for good looks or ancestry. As far as my parents were concerned, the boy had to be compatible with the girl in character and background. The girl will usually have some ideas about what kind of man she wants to marry. My focus was on marrying a kind person.
Arranged marriages are arguably a better option if you believe in the idea of planning your love life. While we have no qualms about planning our careers or education, there seems to be a reluctance in planning who we end up spending our lives with. As long as nobody is forcing you to marry a random guy or girl, arranged marriages can yield better outcomes for all parties.
Click here to read about the 17 advantages of arranged marriages for modern Indians.
#2 – Dealing with the ups and downs in marriages
Via Krista Guenin / Flickr
Marriages are tough. The initial euphoria of passionate love dissipates quickly. Facing life’s challenges on a day to day basis is a real test of your character and that of your spouse.
When couples marry against their family’s wishes, things can go south and you may not have anyone to lean on or seek help from. Since arranged marriages happen because the bride and groom decide collectively with their families, there is a defacto “insurance” that the couple can cash-in when the going gets tough.
Rebecca had to deal with many personal heart breaks after marriage.
First, she had to battle infertility. After a long and emotionally draining treatment, she was blessed with twin boys. Unfortunately, one of her sons died two months after birth. That’s not all. The other child was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder. Luckily for Rebecca, her husband stood by her and these traumatic events brought them together.
The journey from being “strangers” to becoming soulmates was tough, but eventually, it worked out well for Rebecca and her husband.
My husband is a truly kind person and would give up everything for me. We complement each other very well. I’m laid back whereas he is uptight. I am a happy-go-lucky character while he is more serious.
The transition (to becoming soulmates) happened slowly. My husband had this feeling early in the marriage while It took me more time to feel the love and connection. Going through infertility definitely helped strengthen our bond.
It’s not self-evident for tragedy to bring a couple closer because many times it has also torn couples apart. I’m so thankful that, for us, tragedies and challenges have only helped us get closer.
In Rebecca’s case, her in-laws and her parents always offered support when required. In Jewish arranged marriages, the families agree to support the couple for a few years after marriage. Some of them gift apartments to their children or offer money to help them start a life as a married couple.
Rebecca’s parents and in-laws pitched in with monetary help when she lived in Israel after marriage. When Rebecca and her husband bought a house in Belgium, her grandmother helped her with the down payment. Even after 19 years of marriage, her mother-in-law doesn’t shy away from offering token cash gifts at every chance she gets!
Wondering how to stay in love for a lifetime? Click here to read what experts have to say!
#3 – Trusting your parents and relying on your personal judgment
Via Krista Guenin / Flickr
Robert Epstein, a Senior Research Psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, has studied arranged marriages among orthodox Jewish couples. Surprisingly, his findings support the case for arranged marriages as a better alternative to love marriages! According to Dr. Epstein, arranged marriages are not perfect, but better than love marriages in some aspects.
In the orthodox Jewish community, parents carefully vet the prospective match for compatibility, character, family background, and reputation in the community. This practice may not be very different from dating sites where some form of compatibility (ranging from superficial to elaborate) becomes the starting point for every relationship.
Rebecca believes that there has to be a balance between trusting your parents (to line up the right people for you) and your personal judgment when choosing someone for marriage.
The benefit of arranged marriages is that the boy or the girl can leave the task of finding the first set of prospective matches to the parents and not worry about “finding” someone on their own. You should trust your parents, provided your aspirations for a partner are known to your parents.
Also, don’t be afraid to say no. Sometimes the pressure to get engaged is intense. You should always be sure before saying yes.
When chemistry comes together with compatibility, marriages tend to withstand the test of time. Just like any other married couple, Rebecca has occasional tiffs with her husband. They banter about getting a divorce but it is never said with serious intent even in an argument. She accepts him the way he is and he accepts her as well.
Featured image via Agence Tophos on Flickr.
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Posted in Arranged Marriage
Tagged with: Arranged Marriages, Jews
Arranged marriage background check explained
To do or not to do an arranged marriage background check? That’s the question we have answered in this post!
There seems to be a growing awareness of the need to conduct a background check before arranged marriages. Just as arranged marriages is an integral part of the Indian culture, background checks before marriage has its roots in the yesteryears!
In the earlier times, before an arranged marriage was finalized, the background check of brides and grooms was done secretly via relatives and neighbors discreetly. There wasn’t much hype over this issue and it was considered a usual part of the marriage proceedings.
Today, there are several modern methods available for conducting an arranged marriage background check and we will explore how you can make sure you are not marrying a con artist!
A background check is a thorough verification of a person’s credentials. Usually, background checks are done before important events like hiring a new employee, issuing a visa or getting married. The purpose of the background check is to verify the authenticity of the claims made by an individual and to establish the genuineness of character and identity.
In case you are about to get married or engaged and it is all arranged by the elders in your family, then you might want to conduct a background check on your future partner. There are several ways to conduct an arranged marriage background check and several reasons as to why you should conduct such checks.
Why should you do background checks before arranged marriage?
Do you really know who you are marrying?
Marriage is a lifelong bond of trust and commitment. Before entering into this bond, both partners should be completely sure about each others characters, credentials, and personal details. An arranged marriage background check is the best way to make sure your plans for a happy married life doesn’t turn into a nightmare. Marrying someone with a lot of baggage is no fun and a background check can make sure you are reasonably sure about your decision. Here are four reasons why you should do background checks before arranged marriage.
1. Debt Traps and dowry
Some men run up huge debts and then try getting married in order to get financial help for debt resolution! In desperate attempts to get respite from their vicious cycle of debts, these people can stoop to the level of torturing the bride physically and violently for dowry. An arranged marriage background check can easily unearth crucial financial information pertaining to the prospective bride/groom.
2. Abusive behavior
People with a history of sexual abuse, violence, and pedophilia often get married to put up a respectable front in the society. But their reality is totally different and perhaps nightmarish. No one would want to be a victim of such subhuman violence post marriage. Thus, it is extremely important to ascertain whether your partner has a shady background. An arranged marriage background check, in this case, could turn out to be a life saver.
3. Criminal record
Running your would-be partner’s name through police files to ascertain whether he/she has a criminal record might sound far fetched but it is actually much needed. It is not unusual for a person to gain respectability through marriage despite a criminal record.
4. Previous marriages and divorces
If you have reason to suspect that your partner was married and/or divorced in the past and your partner has not come clean, you might want to know the truth before marriage. Marriage and divorce records are public documents which can be easily accessed. You need to be sure of your partner’s single status to ascertain that bigamy is not being committed!
Real life stories of heartbreak and betrayal!
Here are some real life stories that drive home the importance of conduction an arranged marriage background check.
Almost married an ‘already married’!
Siddhi was prepared to get hitched to the ‘ideal partner’ whom she knew for the last three years. However, a background check revealed that the guy in question was already married but was still continuing the relationship with Siddhi!
Soaring NRI dream comes crashing down!
Satwant Kaur was brimming with hope and delight when she got married. She had managed to hook an NRI husband who worked in Italy and she desperately wanted to leave her native Punjab. A few days after the wedding she got to know that Sarwan Singh (her husband) had no intention of taking her to Italy. Kaur’s in-laws started making exorbitant dowry demands and threats. Kaur fled back to her parents within 4 years (by that time she already had a 3-year-old daughter). This is a typical example of an NRI scam which could have been avoided by running a background check.
Investigation unearths hush-hush ‘abortion’ realities!
Raghuram says that his brother had received a marriage proposal and was told that the girl in question was recovering from a minor operation. However, Raghuram and family grew suspicious as the girl’s family was unwilling to share details. They then decided to hire a detective. Investigations revealed that the girl actually had an abortion and the doctor had been tipped to keep the matter hush. In this case, the detective saved his brother from a bad marriage decision.
DIY arranged marriage background check
Conducting an arranged marriage background check is not a rocket science! Anyone can do it with simple DIY hacks. You will be surprised with the amount of information you can unearth about your prospective match. We have lined up simple and practical ways to snoop around 🙂
Online background checks
The Internet is a great resource when it comes to verifying background information and conducting checks. Here are a few simple ways to find out you are marrying someone genuine.
1. Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps verification
Type in the name of your prospective partner in Google and browse through the social media profiles. Look for wild pictures, provocative poses or suspicious posts and tweets. You can also look through friends lists to check the kind of company he/she keeps.
You can use Google Maps for visual verification of address. Simply ask for the local address of your prospective partner and do a Google search using Google maps. The satellite view should show you the apartment or a house. If you see a vacant ground then the address is probably incorrect.
Please be aware that Google is not always accurate with addresses in India.
2. LinkedIn verification
Use LinkedIn to find out if your prospective match actually works for a genuine company. A professional should, at least, have more than 50 LinkedIn connections and some good recommendations as well. Not having 50 connections is not a red flag, but the credibility of the person goes up if they have an active LinkedIn profile.
A majority of arranged marriages in India are done via a middleman who is essentially the mediator. In fact, this has been a practice since time immemorial. In some cases, the mediator is a relative who has enough information about both parties. If the marriage proposal has come via the mediator then the arranged marriage background check should start off with the mediator.
If the marriage proposal has come through some marriage bureau then it is best to assimilate all details and appoint a family member/ trusted friend to verify the details. Here is a list of all that you should look into.
1. The check on the school / college records can give you a hint of the kind of person you planning to marry and make sure their educational background checks out. You will be surprised at what you can find by just dropping into the school!
2. Neighborhood grocery shops will tell you about the general reputation, sociability, and friendliness of the family and if they have a lot of pending dues!
3. The local police station is a good place to approach to glean information about any criminal records or misdemeanors.
4. An incognito visit to your fiance’s office will let you know about the authenticity of work details, reputation at work, and career prospects.
5. Informal family to family interactions should be treated as opportunities to understand the prospective in-laws’ culture, expectations and values. Look out for red flags during the course of your interaction with your prospective spouse and in-laws.
Hiring professional detective agency
If you have decided on hiring a professional detective agency for conducting the background check on your spouse then there are some things you should keep in mind. While professionals have better tools and techniques to unearth accurate facts, the number of detective agencies in India is sharply increasing every year and it is difficult for you to choose the right agency. Here is an interesting video on India’s Love detectives!
Here are some pointers that can help you hire the right detective agency for performing background checks before marriage.
1. Look for credible private investigators
In case you are hiring a private detective who is working solo then do choose a detective who has a credible rating or is allied to a professional circle like APDI (association of private detectives and investigators).
2. Opt for a reputed agency
In case, you are approaching an agency then you should go for the one that has a good reputation in the market. You could also approach an agency after getting positive recommendations about that agency from your circle of trusted friends and colleagues. Look for news articles on detective agencies to unearth names of leading agencies in your city.
3. Do a thorough research on the agency
Check the website of the agency you are about to hire and read online reviews. You can also call them up to get a better idea of how they operate. However, no professional detective agency will share the names of ex-clients!
4. Find out the hiring costs
Not all agencies will fit in your budget. Just make sure you know what you are signing up for. It is better to communicate your budget to the agency and understand whether they would be able to meet your requirements within your budget. Typically, detective agencies charge somewhere between Rs 25,000-Rs 40,000 for pre-marriage background checks.
Perspectives on background checks before marriage
Though the idea of running an arranged marriage background check is now becoming increasingly common, most prospective brides and grooms seem to have a mixed view about the idea. While almost everybody is okay with asking around friends and relatives about prospective partner and doing a little virtual investigation on their own but when it comes to hiring a PI (Private investigator) for the same, many express reservations.
Rasike Uberai says “Social networking sites are the best sources of verifying background information and one can also seek the help of friends and relatives. However, one should also have a clean record while making these investigations as it is very likely that the other party is also making its own investigations.”
Jayesh Lalwani says “If the matchmaker isn’t able to provide sufficient information about the suitability of prospective partner and family then there is something seriously wrong.”
Here is what a prospective bride’s parent had to say – “Nobody can be trusted nowadays. I verified the background of the prospective groom for my daughter as I wanted to be completely sure about his character. However, it’s quite embarrassing to follow somebody as there are chances of getting caught. Hiring an expert is a much better option!”
Do you have interesting stories to share about background checks before marriage or have a comment? Use the comment feature below to share your thoughts.
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Posted in Arranged Marriage
Tagged with: Arranged Marriages, Background Check, Detective Agency