“Arrey, but his mother is so sweet! Think about it. Should anything go wrong, parents will take care of it. After all, you don’t marry the boy, you marry the family” So exclaimed a very ‘concerned’ aunt. After all, what the hell was wrong with me? I was in my 30s, independent, presentable, well traveled but single! Gosh, I should be married off right away. What will the people say? May be I needed medical attention, perhaps? Yes, that was politely suggested too. Sigh!
I had heard this advice many times over in last few years. About how we marry the entire family not just the (wo)man in question. Say what?! Lets visualize this literally for a minute- the entire extended family with grinning chachaji, annoying mamiji & the doting father in law – all taking the pheras together with me- now that made me puke in my mouth. That’s totally dysfunctional, no thanks.
Anyhow, I refused the proposal from this well ‘settled’ investment banker. Much to the disappointment of my worried aunt. Needless to say, I was becoming the psychedelic sheep of the family on a fast track. Be as that may, there was something about Mr Investment Banker that made me want to pick up running (away) as a sport each time we met. I swear, I would have done well at Rio.
On introspection, I was able to articulate a few of them. Firstly, he detested India & everything Indian. (Good Luck marrying an Indian then, Mister!). Did I mention he was from Upper London? (Namaste London & all that). Secondly, I saw flashes of impatience & anger when his viewpoint was not immediately accepted. This happened repeatedly. I tried really hard to make myself like him. But, nopes. Didn’t happen.
His family however was all sugar & everything nice. His mom in particular couldn’t stop gushing over how they found the daughter they never had, in me. Errr..how does that work? So, you suddenly find a person & it dawns on you that this is the child you always wanted? Maple leaves, guitar perhaps? No? Ok.
My point however being that we as Indians over emphasize this “so what, at least the family is nice” bit. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. Firstly, parents don’t live forever. Ya, that’s right. We all die. And once they are gone, your spouse is going to return to their true nature. What happens then?
Secondly, a lot of parents are guilty of shielding their own kids. Especially, if it involves a son. Ya, call me names now & lets pretend its not true. But, that doesn’t change facts. Families go through elaborate cover-ups to hide flaws & past of their children including illnesses or even previously failed marriages. They have this questionable belief that a person will be better off once they ‘settle down’. What does that even mean? For example, a violent/ mentally dysfunctional/criminally inclined person needs professional help, not marriage!
You might even decide to relocate to another geography/out of country after marriage. Your in laws may not accompany you & neither would Chachaji (Phew, thank God!). What happens then? It’s you and your spouse alone. Eventually, it will come down to living & sharing your life with that one person alone.
There are horror stories of families who only looked at the other family’s goodwill & behavior before marrying their kids off. Many such cases later involve stories of abuse, abandonment, killing, suicide etc. How could that happen? The family was so nice. Well, the spouse in question clearly wasn’t.
If you are not entirely comfortable with your spouse to be, you need to put your foot down and say no. No matter how nice your potential Mom in law sounds. Remember, you aren’t marrying her. Unless of course, you want to marry her. In that case, you have my best wishes.
All of the above is not to undermine the fact that the family you marry into doesn’t matter. Its just to say that the spouse to be matters more.
I hope you find the person of your dreams & have a happily ever after. Don’t forget to have all your background checks, references in place before you say I do.
Oh, what happened to the Investment Banker you ask? He married a lovely girl from Mumbai. She filed for divorce shortly thereafter, citing domestic violence.
No, Mummyji didn’t stand by the daughter she never had.