#02: On Marriage and Search for Partners
Some thoughts about how to look for a partner, and the contradictions in either approaches.
There are a couple of motivations for this post. The immediate inspiration comes from the fact that I have been watching Indian Matchmaking on Netflix during lunch with my mother these last few days. I’m not particularly thrilled about the show, but I wanted something to wean Mum away from the news channels during lunch so that we don’t spend the 30 minutes we have, arguing about something pointless.
The broader context however is that I have reached an age where people around me, and in my family, seem to be convinced that I need to get married even if I don’t want to. To be fair, I’m not against the idea of marrying sometime soon but I don’t think the reason to get married should be that you’ve reached some age or some set criteria which make you an eligible bachelor.
Two Approaches to Search
There are two broad modes of thinking that I have either noticed in me or come across in others:
Finding the right fit for you
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This is the ideal option in more ways than one. No one is perfect and thus it makes sense to find a good person and grow with them. Not everything that you prize as a single person or as a young person will matter later in life in the same amounts. So rather than have some fixed idea of future, once you have some basics satisficed you let seredipity take over and hopefully lead you to better place.
This definitely works with the arrange marriage template, where you find the right person (right being a subjective quality which can be defined in as many ways as there are couples in the world) and then discover the world and yourself with them.
Sounds romantic enough, but I have some reservations with it. First, it makes perfect sense if you find love earlier in life and hence grow and learn with the other person, discovering your taste, your preferences and even yourself.
But if you are not one of those who found someone in your tweens or earlier, then you have already discovered the world and yourself to a certain extend as well as created some ideas for your life.
It’s difficult to abandon everything or somethings for a new person and I’m not sure how people who are married or get into relationships later in life make space for the other person without feeling like they have sacrificed in life. (Feel free to comment on this. I am really interested to know more.)
Next, growing together approach also means that you can’t really take long term decisions before marrying since your choices will affect the other person. Now this is not that big a decision, if you’re already in a relationship with someone, because you can communicate and slowly nudge in a shared direction.
But if you’re in search mode as well as in late twenties like I am, you have a lot of critical decisions ahead of you, that will not only involve the next few years of your life but also have a life altering impact. For example, consider the decision about leaving your job to pursue higher education perhaps in a different country, or continuing to work or switching to a lower paying field that you’re more passionate about.
These decisions are short term and yet have long term impact, so how can you connect with someone who is going to take a call about being with you based on your present; while your present is dynamic in your mind.
Finding the right fit
As the name suggests, the idea is that you have crafted your life and now you want to find the person who fits this mold. Now how perfect a fit you should look for is a subjective criterion. Looking for something too specific might reduce the number of prospective persons and prolong the search.
Intuitively, it might appear that this is more difficult approach and if discussed with people from previous generations might appear stubborn. You might be called out for not being accommodative enough, something that is a core requirement for making something work.
While these accusations do makes sense at some level, I’m not willing to write off this approach that easily. Sure, this is not meant for everybody. Having expectations without bringing anything on the table is egoistic, but most people who look for the right fit are not doing so because they are entitled.
The reason someone is looking for someone specific to fit their world is because they have spent considerable effort and time in creating their world, their career and it makes sense to look for someone who fits into this world, rather than abandoning your world.
One might still do it (more women than men might be forced to do this) but I feel that harbors resentment in life, which will blow up later in life wherein you feel you made too many concessions for the other person.
As you might have noticed, both these approaches make sense on different levels and based upon various criteria you might be leaning towards one of these. I like the idea of growing together with your future partner firstly because it implies a humility in you that you don’t have everything figured out in life and the other person is going to be a partner in your journey rather that “your husband/wife”.
However, at the same time, thinking about someone as a partner means that they have a considerable say in your journey and your life and rightly so. Superficially this might seem like a problem because you are giving up control over your life and not everyone is willing to do that.
But my issue is slightly deeper than that. Because the other person is going to shape your life, it makes sense to look for someone who fits your worldview so that decisions and thought processes align with your goals and aspirations. Thus, they help you in “your” journey, rather than act as an impediment setting you on “a” journey that may or may not be “yours” based on your level of acceptance later in life " .
The bottom-line thus, is that like a lot of important questions in life involving choices, here too the answer is - it depends.
I am not seriously searching for a partner right now, beyond a passive dating app profile maybe, so there isn’t enough incentive for me to think about these questions too deeply, but it is a question that keeps propping up in mind from time to time, so I decided to share it here with you.
Personally speaking, I incline more towards the right fit approach mostly because I think I have grown old enough and have invested enough thoughts in my career that I can’t really start from scratch, and I’d expect the same of most people my age.
At the same time however, having a razor-sharp criterion might not be the best of ideas out there as it means you have too rigid a view about your life and as the last 3 years have taught us, there are no plans set in stone. One pandemic, one war, one regime change, one climate disaster and all your plans are dust, so leave room for serendipity and find you someone who challenges you and motivates you.
I don’t know what the correct answer is, or even if there is “one” right answer but I sure hope we all find it in time.
Thanks for taking time out to read and I hope you benefitted in some way. Have a good day!
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