Are Indians Marrying The Right Person?
Most people seem to think they’ve found their soulmates.
Do you believe in soulmates? It’s the cliched question that crops up in rom-coms, on matrimonial websites, and even on first dates. If our survey on the state of modern Indian marriage is anything to go by, there is indeed a right person out there for almost everyone.
In an overwhelming majority, 92 of our 131 survey respondents said they had definitely married the right person. An additional two said “yes and no,” they had and they hadn’t married the right person. Two more said they sometimes felt they’d married the wrong person, 12 didn’t know, and 23 said no, they’d married the wrong person.
Of the women who thought they’d married the right one (respondents were 93% female), a few expressed the idea that they wouldn’t be able to find someone else who would want to be with them. “He is able to deal with my stress in ways I don’t think anyone else can,” wrote a woman who’d been married for eight years. “He’s very patient with me – I am a very moody person and not many people will tolerate it,” wrote another, who’d been married for four.
“I love him (often confirmed by how I feel were I to imagine a life without him),” said one respondent. “Also, he’s a great person, and just living with him, helps me keep my [conscience] in check, and also aspire to be a better person. We both learn a lot from each other – healthy dialogue, discussion and debate.”
Values lining up — especially feminist values — often gave an indication of whether or not a woman felt that her husband was ‘The One.’ “Definitely,” wrote one woman. “He is a true feminist and very understanding.”
“Sometimes yes and sometimes no,” said a woman who got married two years ago. “Yes when he tolerates my stupidities and mistakes… no when he pressurises [sic] me to change my ideologies, act superficial and do things which I don’t like — e.g. Doing rituals I don’t believe in… when he and his family [don’t] seem to appreciate concept of individuality, manners, freedom and healthy space.”
“Yes,” said one woman. “Sufficiently modern outlook, gives me space, handles in-laws effectively.”
One woman conceded that it was hard to tell when you have little to compare it with. She was in an arranged marriage of 35 years and said she’d married the right person, but added, “don’t know any different” with a winky face. Others had a more nonchalant attitude: “Yes because no one is perfect and this is the best probably,” one respondent said.
“It’s not like you get to try various options before getting married,” said one woman who didn’t know if she was married to the right person. “You can’t really know a person unless you live with them 24×7 and then you don’t have anything to compare it with. So I think given the circumstances I made the most optimum decision in marrying him.”
A woman who’d had an arranged marriage four years ago found that her husband didn’t live up to her hopes. “I thought marriage would change him as a husband and I will find my best friend in him with the same craziness and fun loving nature as mine,” she said. “But, alas!”
Though her arranged marriage had led to disappointment, people in arranged marriages were almost as likely to believe they were married to the right partner. They were, however, slightly more likely to definitely feel like they’d married the wrong person — 13 out of the 60 respondents in arranged marriages felt confident they had not found ‘The One.’
“He is not marriage material,” said one woman in an arranged marriage of 16 years. Her husband, she wrote, only likes to be by himself or with his friends.
Two women knew they weren’t with the right person specifically because they were cheated on. One of these woman wrote that her husband was a “big cheater.” Their marriage had been arranged, and they’d been together for 13 years. “He cheated on me.. [sic]” wrote the other. She’d been married 12 years, but it was a love marriage. The topic they most often fought about was infidelity.
Seven out of the nine male respondents said they felt they’d married ‘The One.’ “I strongly believe that God guides you to your soulmate and we need to learn how to strike a balance in the marriage,” wrote a man in a 14 year old marriage. “We amplify each other’s strengths and protect each other from our weaknesses,” said another. One simply wrote, “I think we complement each other perfectly.”
Some respondents did reject the idea of a ‘right person,’ or a soulmate. But they remained optimistic about growing together with their partners. “There’s no right person. Because people change. We have a very deep friendship and trust in each other that trumps all else,” one woman wrote. “Sexual chemistry has always been something we relied on and as we get older, it is still evolving so that’s interesting in terms of a life journey. We married young, we had kids without really thinking about it and we struggle with a lot of things. But we both believe the other is a good person and on our team when it comes down to it. So that’s the ‘as right as possible’ option I think.”
“I don’t really believe in ‘soulmates,’” said another. “I think marriage takes work no matter who it is with, and that it’s possible to make a life work with someone other than whom you married. I think it’s easier to say when someone’s married the ‘wrong’ person, rather than when someone’s married the ‘right’ person. BUT, that being said, if you’re lucky enough to come across one person in this world that you’re willing to work for, I would consider yourself super lucky. To cut to the chase, I am incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to meet, grow up with, and marry my husband. And I’m willing to work on us forever!”
Urvija Banerji is the Features Editor at The Swaddle, and has previously written for Rolling Stone India and Atlas Obscura. When she's not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, painting, cooking, picking fights online, and consuming large amounts of coffee (often concurrently).