Personal observations on life

The anachronism of Arranged Marriage

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For those who are not familiar to this concept of ‘arranged marriage’ let me give you an introduction.

In certain parts of the world, there is this custom of parents searching for a spouse for their child once the child is of marriageable age. The parents search for a groom or a bride in various ways. Traditionally, there used to be ‘marriage brokers’ who would bring alliances. If the marriage happens with one of the clients that the ‘broker’ brings, he will get a commission. With the advent of print and and later digital media, the function of the marriage broker was taken over by newspapers and matrimony sites. They advertise all the boys and girls in the market currently looking for a partner. In matrimony sites on the internet, you need to pay a fee to join.

Now, let me tell you why I believe that it is time to do away with arranged marriage.

  1. It is antithetical to nature

Human beings are living organisms with all the characteristics of living things, and reproduction is one of them. Mother nature in her infinite wisdom has deemed it appropriate that all girls and boys are attracted to each other at a certain age, and may go on to copulate, and thus perpetuate the human race. Arranged marriage negates this basic nature of human beings. In a society where arranged marriage is the norm, boys and girls are taught to ignore whatever impulses of love they feel towards the opposite sex, and to suppress it. They are taught that once their parents arrange their marriage, they are free to love! Thus, what happens is that one suppresses one’s natural inclinations, and is asked to feel love for a person he/she hardly knows. Arranged marriage is against nature’s scheme of things.

2. It takes away the individual’s agency

Agency is defined as the capacity of an individual to act independently and to make her own free choices. Arranged marriage negates an individual’s agency. When the individual does not make a decision about who to spend the rest of her life with, and who to have children with, she is in effect giving away her right to her own life. Since the individual is not responsible for the decision, there is no ownership here, and no sense of responsibility. Thus starts a life of emotional dependence on others, especially parents.

3. It becomes a business

If you look at the matrimony columns of popular newspapers in Kerala, you will see very strange descriptions of prospective brides and bridegrooms. Skin colour, religion, caste and the family reputation all come into play in this market place. Look at these advertisements:

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Where is the concept of companionship? This is no better than matching two people with certain characteristics together in the hope that they will live happily ever after. How can a person be reduced to a couple of characteristics?

4. It reinforces divisions in society

If you want to see how many fragments society has divided itself into, just visit one of these matrimony websites that abound. Is it any wonder that communal differences become more and more pronounced in this modern times instead of fading away into oblivion where they rightly belong? Why do we emphasize our differences instead of highlighting our similarities as a race?

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Personal observations on life

Are we leading a double life?

Are you living a double life? - Written Reality

Most of us are ‘normal’ people, with no criminal tendencies and no desire to earn money by dubious means. We are not the kind of people who would lead a double life, unless of course we are spies or undercover agents. Still, even without knowing it, many of us do lead a double life.

What we see

On the one hand, we project the image of a successful, happily married person who loves her partner to bits, and cherish the moments spent with children. This is the image of ourselves that we project to the outside world in real life interaction and on social media. This persona, if a woman, would be modest and demure, walk behind the husband, and smiles a lot, apparently at peace with the whole world. When guests come home, she would greet them with the right degree of cheerfulness, and would ask them what they would like to have. If they decline to have a drink, she would lovingly persuade them, run to the kitchen and reappear with a tray full of drinks and knick-knacks. She always defers to the husband during a conversation, and never initiates conversation. To the whole world, she is the ideal hostess and the perfect wife.

What reality may be

There may be some women who truly fit the description above, but many are putting on an act when they behave in such ways, bowing to the unspoken rules of society about how they should behave. Many times, a woman would like to take decisions, and lead from the front. Many times, she would like to stop smiling stupidly, and say something that is of importance. Many times, she would like just to leave it all behind, take a solo trip around the world, go to a pub and get drunk, and wear revealing, sexy clothes. The woman with the ‘happily married’ image may in reality be suffocating in a loveless marriage, which is agonizingly prolonged just for the sake of the children.

If this is not a double life, what is?

Personal observations on life

Are you being controlled?

One of the most important conditions for a happy and fulfilling life is that one is free. This does not mean that one is free to do anything he/she wants. It just means that within the confines of rules that are necessary for a society to exist, one should be free enough to exist as oneself, without having to forgo one’s personality, interests and inclinations. It is the freedom to be oneself.

Unfortunately, a lot of marriages are devoid of happiness because one of the partners try to control the other. Controlling behaviors in a patriarchal society often occur on the part of the husband. Since male dominance is often accepted without question in society, many women do not even realize that the cause of their misery lies in the controlling behaviour of their husbands.

There are various forms of controlling behaviors.

1. financial control

Withholding money from a wife who does not earn money herself is a very common controlling behaviour. You may not be given money to meet your personal expenses even though you are shouldering all the house hold responsibilities. Even if you are a working woman, you may be asked to hand over your ATM card with the justification that you are not good at handling money. Even when a piece of land or house is bought, it will be under his name. At the end of the day, the woman does not have ownership of anything, even the money that she herself earned.

2.  Isolating you from friends and family

This is a very common controlling behaviour. Your husband may say that you are spending too much time talking to your brother, or that you are spending so much time with your friends that you have no time to spend for the children etc. Slowly, they strip you of your support network so that you will be entirely dependent on him.

3. Chronic criticism

The way you dress, the way you comb your hair- anything and everything may be criticized. Your partner may say that you have to take such criticism in a positive way and use it to improve yourself, but you feel deficient and inadequate due to such criticism. Moreover, the feeling that you don’t measure up will nag you always, and erode your self-esteem.

4. Requiring constant disclosure

Do you have to account to your husband about your whereabouts throughout the day? Or who you were talking to on the phone? Or why you are five minutes late to come back from work? Requiring you to be accountable constantly about your daily life is another controlling behaviour.

Human behaviour

Intimacy Anorexia

Intimacy Anorexia is a relatively new concept to define a very common problem that disrupts and destroys a lot of relationships. What is intimacy anorexia?

It is a term used to refer to the withholding of intimacy- emotional, spiritual and sexual – from a spouse or partner. There are many defining characteristics of intimacy anorexia.

  1. constant ‘busy’ness: The anorexic is constantly ‘busy’ and has little time to spare for his/her spouse. If there is nothing to occupy the anorexic he/she will invent things to do to keep buy.
  2. Blame : An intimacy anorexic never accepts blame for his/her part in a problem or issue, preferring to blame the partner instead.
  3. Withholding love: The intimacy anorexic does not engage in simple words or actions that translates as love. They would not hold hands, or say loving words.
  4. Withholding praise: Intimacy anorexics do not praise or compliment their partner for the positive qualities they possess, or the positive impact they have on the anorexic’s life.
  5. Withholding sex: Intimacy anorexics avoid having sex, or do not connect emotionally during sex even if they have sex.
  6. withholding spiritually: Spirituality is about being connected. Intimacy anorexics do not have this spiritual connectedness with the spouse or partner.
  7. difficulty sharing feelings: Unwillingness or the inability to share feelings is another characteristic that is prevalent among intimacy anorexics.
  8. Criticism: Derogatory put-downs. constant fault-finding and ongoing criticism of the partner is a characteristic of intimacy anorexics’ behaviour.
  9. anger/silence: Some, though not all, intimacy anorexics use anger or silence as a tool to punish, control or push away their partner.
  10. Money issues: Controlling and shaming the spouse about financial issues is another characteristic of intimacy anorexics. They tend to keep the partners in the dark about their financial affairs, make the spouse ask for money and do not allow the spouse to have a credit card or checkbook.
  11. Roommate: The spouse or partner of an intimacy anorexic often feels like he/she is just a roommate, without any relationship to each other.

Intimacy anorexia is caused by a few factors which are typically childhood experiences.

  1. Sexual trauma: If the person has been sexually traumatized in childhood, he/she may develop an aversion to becoming intimate, for fear of being hurt again.
  2. attachment issues with the opposite gender parent: If the opposite gender parent was emotionally unavailable during childhood, or was distant perhaps because of mental health issues, intimacy anorexia may develop.
  3. sexual addition: If a person is addicted to fulfilling his sexual needs outside of marital relationship, he/she might develop intimacy anorexia
  4. role modelling neglect: Not having proper role models in early life may lead a person to less than optimal emotional development, and lack of intimacy.