Have you seen the Netflix series “Indian Matchmaking“? It is one of the most talked about shows in recent memory. And that talk is widely varied.
For some, “Indian Matchmaking” is simply just another addictive dating show, like “Love Is Blind” or “The Bachelor.”
But others are aghast that the matchmaker, Sima Taparia, openly uses social class, skin color and beauty as criteria for selecting a mate. She also considers personality, educational background and profession because her goal is to optimize compatibility and make sure families fully support the marriage.
As someone of Indian background, I want to consider how this very different model of marriage might provide some insight into what is necessary for any marriage to work.
My Parents’ Story — and Mine
My parents never even saw each other before getting married. They were both in their early 20s when their families arranged their marriage in India. When my father told the story of their wedding day, he would always note that my mother’s face was veiled, so he was not even sure whom he was marrying! Yet their marriage lasted over 50 years until my father died.
Like most of you, it’s hard for me to imagine agreeing to an arranged marriage myself. However, as someone who has been married for over 20 years now, I am better able to understand some of the factors that make both types of marriages work. After all, no matter how your marriage began, we are all challenged to make the relationship one that works for us.
Where Does Romance Come In?
My guess is that some of the interest in “Indian Matchmaking” from U.S. audiences comes from disenchantment with marriage or the process of finding a mate here.
As I’ve written before, our current cultural norms around marriage set couples up for disappointment. We have come to think of marriage as the end all, be all of life relationships. Not only do expect our partner to be a nice person who’s compatible with us. We also seek a soul mate who will unceasingly shower us with passion and romance.
But, as you know, a marriage is about a lot more than romance and passion.It’s often about raising children together. It’s about maintaining a roof over your heads. It’s about getting along with each other’s parents and possibly even caring for them when they grow old and infirm. It’s about the laundry, paying the bills and making big life decisions together in a way that makes both of you feel reasonably happy and heard.
Sometimes a “fairy tale” romance evolves into a solid partnership for navigating real life. But sometimes it doesn’t. If that’s where you find yourself, it may be intriguing to watch relationships that have the opposite trajectory. Arranged marriages have their roots in family and practicality. From there, the assumption is that couples can grow romantic love.
What Do YOU Think of ‘Indian Matchmaking’?
You don’t have to be in an arranged marriage like my father to think, “Who is this person I’m married to?” Sometimes it feels like the man you fell in love with has changed into a stranger.
But I firmly believe that if the two of you have a respectful partnership — that is, you can manage your household together and treat each other with kindness and friendship — then rekindling romance is actually the easier part. As you are there for each other through thick and thin, the bond grows deeper, and you can find yourself falling in love with your husband all over again.
No matter how your marriage begins, you will always have to work on it. That’s one of the things I take away from “Indian Matchmaking.” How about you? I’d love to hear your take on this intriguing, and polarizing, show.