I am a 29 year old South Indian, been living abroad for sometime now, born into a conservative family that's religious and is society influenced/fearing in that what the society thinks matters a great deal, to my parents specifically and certain things have to be done at a certain time because it is "right" and on certain matters, what they say goes or has to. While they are entitled to their beliefs and opinions which I try not to get involved with as there are things that I don't agree with, I am not comfortable doing what they want me to do because they think it is necessary and that's the right way to do. Given my age, this problem has reached its peak where now they want me to get married. Arranged marriage of course. While I personally have a lot of issues with many Indian conventions and traditions, I do not have a problem others following it as long as they don't force it upon me to do it. In my family, like in most families similar to mine, 26 to 28 years is about the "right time" to get a man married and soon after, upto maybe 3 to 5 years later, they expect that person to have kids. I am simply against the idea of arranged marriage or having to marry when one does not want to or to have kids. I feel these are the choices of an individual. But in families like mine, this becomes a family affair where the family pretty much ends up dictating the terms through different types of pressures most important being guilt tripping. Parents, they will have a certain idea of how their child's life should be. I understand that, but I feel by doing only what they want me to, I don't know where I am in my own life. I do not wish to change their mind, while it may help me a lot. Because they are free to have their own thinking but at the same time but I wish they did not try to change mine. Here are certain things that I thought are worth mentioning:
- My older brother got married at the "rightful" age of 28 a few years ago, arranged marriage and is planning to have a kid soon. So he is the "good" kid. Which means, I have the added pressure of someone already doing it as expected in my family and that I have already crossed that age.
- About a year ago, I tried telling them that I do not want to marry but it usually ended up being a Q&A session where I am asked for reasons and I present them some which are shot down with no regard and they give reasons why marriage is necessary. Although, my main reason is that I simply don't feel like it.
- In India, weddings are a big deal with requires months of preparation, hundreds of guests etc. This kind of celebration is not for me. If at all I want to get married, I would prefer that it is just the girl, myself, her blood related family members and those of mine. This I did not expect it to go down well and it didn't. I am thought of to be silly or simply gone nuts for thinking so. I have my reasons which are apparently impractical to them.
- I am not planning to have kids. At worst, if my partner and I, really feel we need to, I wish to adopt. This again is seen as idiotic. And the question of "If you have the capacity to have your kid, why adopt?".
- Matches are found by families via their friends, acquaintances etc. The next thing is to share horoscopes between the two families and check for compatibility. When both families find them matching, they think that's sufficient for a marriage and once the families inform each other of their results, the families go visit each other to confirm and go ahead. In these visits, the potential bride & groom get about 5 mins or maybe 30 mins to speak to each other to decide if the other person is the right better half for them. And the emotional obligation is that we would usually come out with a "Yes" after the brief talk. This I find extremely difficult to take in as I do not believe it is possible to understand a person in such a short time. I told my parents that I needed more time maybe months before deciding and they did not agree to it. And I do not want to visit the girl's family before I decide she's the one. Because people around talk, and visiting and later rejecting is usually exaggerated by useless folk. While I do not care about what is talked about me, I care that such things may affect the girl very badly and future prospects for her may become more difficult. And considering the amount of problems women go through in India, I believe strongly that the girl should know what she is getting herself into and how many of us reveal the kind of person we are in the first 5 to 30 minutes of meeting another one?
- Families think it is their responsibility to marry off their son/daughter. This mindset is very hard to change.
Guilt tripping usually includes and is not limited to:
a. Saying that I am selfish to think the way I do.
b. That I do not respect my parents.
c. Some grandparent wants to see me married before their time comes.
d. People are continuously questioning the parents as to why the son/daughter isn't married yet.
e. Fear that the society or people around would end up talking nonsense and create their own reasons for why the person isn't married.
f. Parents have a certain dignity and respect which I shouldn't tarnish (this includes the idea of my having a girlfriend, which I do not but it is my preferred option for a marriage) or dishonor the family.
g. I have a younger brother too. So I need to be done with so that his life should not be affected. More precisely, parents should not have trouble finding him a bride because of me.
h. That I am not maintaining the culture of the family that I was brought up in and living abroad has somehow changed me. The fact is, I have been living abroad only for couple of years now while my beliefs and idea have been this way for far more than that. Which the family does not want accept no matter how hard I try telling them.
What I want to know is how to be more assertive when I tell my family that my views are just as important to me in deciding how my life should be hereon instead of being forced to live a life envisioned by them.
I did tell my parents that I might compromise on the grand wedding because it is everybody else's dreams while clearly stating that I am not happy about it. When I agreed to do this, they said, I should not tell the girl that I am unhappy about the grand wedding.
I told them clearly that the kids option is something that I will not compromise with.
But I also told them, it is the decision of the girl who might be willing to marry. And I wanted to be honest with her and told them that I need to speak to girl upfront and be straight about my views so that she can decide if I am a good fit for her. Because the things that I am asking for myself and for the girl are quite extreme compared to our traditions. But the girl has to decide for herself. But given that it is an arranged marriage and the girl would primarily be of my parents choosing, I know this would be a traditional girl who would be hurt with what I have to say but I need to say it anyways so she is informed.
But talking to a girl about this or for the time I might need before anything is even decided also seemed like a pretty radical thought to them and they said no. The initial offer was that I could talk to her for 5 or 10 mins when we visit the girl's family. When I said that is not enough time to understand a person, they said, "Ok, 30 mins".
I am hurting them. I am aware of this, I am not the kind of son they want me to be. Given the disparity in our thoughts, I may never be. But I want to remain true to what I believe in. There are things that I keep to myself despite wanting to be honest with them because, while they say "be open and honest, we want to hear you out", when I start speaking, it is usually attacked with ways on how my thoughts are wrong and it is ok for me to be wrong, everyone makes mistakes and finally they try to convince me of something that I know I will not be convinced about. One of the things I haven't told them still is that I have been an atheist for more than 10 years. Religion, caste etc are things that I do not like associating myself with. I cannot tell them this, because I know they will try to convince my otherwise and additionally now, they would still think I changed after moving out of India. My mother is someone I think I can convince. While I believe she has her reservations, I think she may come around. Because she wants me to get married, that is her wish. When I do it or who or how is not something she insists on, at least not to me. My dad on the other hand is very vocal about his views and thinks that I have strayed away from my path.