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'I accepted a marriage proposal from a man I never met. Now I'm crazily happy married.'

It still can sound a little weird to people that in my part of the world, marriages get arranged.

You may wonder, ‘marriages, of all things!?’ But that is how it is in India.

An arranged marriage is exactly how it sounds: it refers to a marriage where the first meeting between the prospective couple has been organised either by parents, by a third matchmaker or by a matchmaking website. Usually, it means parents, and their approval, have a pivotal role as they play Cupid for their children.

I am in an arranged marriage. Many people ask whether such a situation works out well for the two individuals. Let me tell you that in most cases it does. I am living proof. I am crazily happily married.

In my childhood I was opposed to this traditional Indian set-up. Perhaps because I had watched too many movies and read too many romantic novels, my young heart craved for a knight in shining armour of my choosing. Or perhaps because I knew I would someday have to have an arranged marriage since everyone in my family has had it, so the rebel in me wanted to defy the rules.

Surabhi and her husband. Image: Supplied.

Whatever it is, the bottom line is that I grew up imagining a particular, great love story blossoming in my life. My father, a liberal and educated man, gave me the freedom to pursue my desires but told me, ‘If you study well, I will let you decide your life partner. No studies means no say in the marriage.’

That was enough to satiate and calm my impulsive heart. I worked hard and was able to secure a position in a reputable organisation. Now arrived the time to find my 'one'.

I left home for the new job and moved thousand of kilometres away from my parents. I worked with a multinational corporation and met men who were charming, smart and witty. Many of them impressed me but as is often the way, good girls do not always fall for good men.

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I had two relationships and both of them failed miserably. Mostly because my choice of men was not in accordance with my priorities in life. While one ex was too controlling in nature, the other wasn’t ready to commit.

These two men consumed three crucial years of my life and back home my parents pressed me to settle down. ‘Who should I settle down with?’ was the constant question on their lips.

Image: Supplied.

While I tried my best to find a partner on my own, my father didn’t give up and continued hunting for a prospective husband for me.

In those five years, I interacted with at least 20 potential flames but none of them seemed to ignite the spark.

I wanted a man who could stir my heart like Shahrukh Khan does in all his movies, or like Ethan Hawke does in Before Sunset. Someone who could make me fall in love with him before I say, ‘Yes, I do.’

Thankfully, in my case I had the liberty to interact with each man before formally agreeing to anything. My father always allowed me to speak over phone or internet, and even allowed me to meet them.

By the end of 2008, papa was exhausted. I had rejected almost all of his options, while very few had said no to me. My relationship with my father was also stressed. Then, he told me about one man, and  hespoke exceptionally highly of him.

At first, I wasn’t willing to try this one out because I was tired. Tired of talking to men and finding out that they were not of my type. Tired of calling them with the expectation that they might be different from the previous ones but eventually realising that they were just all the same breed of bland - educated, decent and nice.

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I wanted somebody who was more than decent and nice. I had decent and nice men all around me in my workplace. For a life companion, I needed somebody who could understand me and someone with whom I share a basic set of important virtues.

Only because of my dad’s pressure, I finally agreed to talk to this last man he had in mind.

One day the guy called me and we talked for few minutes. Next time the call extended to half an hour and slowly our calls grew longer and longer.

Image: Supplied.

I hadn’t seen him but I was hooked on him. He felt like my real blind date. Thankfully, in this case my parents had done the background check and I could be assured of his moral character.

Within a few months, he professed his love to me and proposed. I said yes - without even having seen his picture.

A few days later, we met and I liked him even more. Within four months of our first conversation, we exchanged vows in a traditional and simple wedding.

Of course I needed to adjust after marriage. Loving somebody and living with him under one roof are two very different things but since we had made the commitment, we understood the importance of making it work.

Seven years later, I am only thankful to papa for insisting I talk to him. If it wasn't for his pressure, I might not have considered him for he seemed too simple and straight forward at first.

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After our wedding, my love grew more profound.

In an arranged marriage, co-habitation leads to companionship that gives way to being familiar to each other, thus transforming the friendship into love.

Image: Supplied.

Sadly, in rural and conservative families, things can go awry when parents thrust their choices upon their children. While many times children manage to adjust and turn their parents’ decision into a happy, successful marriage, in some cases they suffer for the rest of their lives because divorce is not an option.

In many parts of India, divorce is still considered a taboo and a matter of family dishonour. This needs to change. Parents should let their children have a say while deciding their life partners.

If anything, they should just arrange a pool of prospects for their children and then leave them to choose.

I am lucky to have found the right man. I think I had the best of both the worlds - the freedom to choose who to marry and the assurance of a sound moral character from my parents.

The modern arranged marriage system works on the above principle and I believe it gives us a perfect way to prepare our future generations for wedded life.

Love is forever evolving. And no matter whether it is arranged or found on your own, the two partners have to work in tandem with each other to keep the love brimming.

Surabhi Surendra is an MBA and chronicles her journey on her blog Womanatics. She lives with her husband and daughter in New Delhi and loves meeting new people. She can be easily connected on Facebook or Twitter.

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