Most Americans have sex on the third date. I married my husband after meeting him for the third time. I'm Indian, and having an arranged marriage is something that my ancient culture still thinks is a great idea.
Since the day I was born, my parents had been planning this occasion. When I was 20, they presented me with my first proposal. I found him overbearing, and I desperately hoped there would be more suitors. There were. But I passed on every Raj, Arun, and Sanjay — too fat, too boring, too short.
By age 26, after attending more than 150 weddings, I was fast approaching my "expiration date." So my parents put pressure on our community — not to mention my relatives — to find The One. They urged me to be more flexible, and I had no reason to argue. Being a spinster in Indian society is considered an embarrassment, a burden on the family. I was raised to think a smiling groom, approved and blessed by my parents, was the ultimate achievement. While Western teenagers spent summers working the cash register at the mall, I spent mine learning to sew and cook so that I could someday be a successful wife.
. . .
That's when I started to realize that I just might have the best of both worlds. I marinated my Indian marriage in the flavors of Manhattan. I kept the sari and bought the Jimmy Choos. I made fabulous curries, seasoned with spices from Dean & Deluca. And after months of enjoying decidedly non-Indian experiences of seders, Saks, and sake, I felt confident enough to direct Indian guests to a hotel, occasionally throwing in a MetroCard.
As Indian women gain financial independence, it is inevitable that we will see fewer arranged marriages — and maybe that's too bad. I firmly believe that our marriage works because it is blessed and supported by our families. The strength we get from their advice (solicited and unsolicited) helps us overcome difficult times. Had I found my own mate, I'm sure my parents would have come around, but I'd have to live knowing that they wouldn't be truly emotionally invested in the success of the marriage.
I've come to believe it's not so much how you get hitched but what you do with your relationship that matters. Although my husband doesn't always agree with his opinionated and selectively liberated wife, he openly expresses his love. Back home, couples don't even hold hands on the street. Here, well, couples do a lot more than that. India may have found me a husband, but America showed me how much fun it is to be his wife. Power to my parents for arranging this union.
Full story (i.e. the stuff in between): MSN's Lifestyle