Arranged Marriage First Meetingby Anwesha Bhattacharje, 16th April 2016
The importance of an arranged marriage first meeting cannot be overstated. Our future and whether we are happy, miserable, rich or poor depends on our ability to select the right life partner.
Whilst a person's bio-data may tell you their age, caste and profession, it gives very little insight into their personality. Such details can only be learned by meeting the prospective partner in person.
In this article we will explain how to prepare for and get the most out of your first arranged marriage meeting.
Preparing For The Meeting
Before meeting someone for an arranged marriage you should study their profile or bio-data as if you were going to take an exam on it. Make note of anything that appears out of place and requires an explanation.
You should also read over your own profile again and look for anything that may raise questions. For example, if you have been divorced then you should know prior to attending the meeting what you will say on this matter.
Don't dress for a job interview but do dress smartly. If the family and the person you are meeting are very traditional then you should dress traditionally. If they are more modern you may consider wearing modern or western style clothing.
Ensure all aspects of your grooming are taken care of. The outcome of your first meeting will predominately be based on appearances and attitudes.
Selecting A Meeting Location
People's behavior can vary depending on the environment. This makes the location of your first meeting extremely important. Ideally it should be in a neutral area such as a coffee shop.
It is okay to travel to the meeting with a friend or relative but they should not be present during the time you spend with your match. The presence of another person whether it be their relation or yours will alter the environment and therefor their behavior.
What we are aiming for is to see what the person is really like without any outside influences.
A coffee shop is a good location for a first meeting.
First Meeting Questions
The start of your first meeting should rather casual and laid back. Order a coffee together and engage in regular conversation. Let the both of you become settled and less nervous before having serious discussions. Consider giving the other a compliment whether it be on their clothing, hair or something else. If you are having trouble with anxiety, remind yourself that they are just as nervous as you are.
Once you are relaxed, steer the conversation towards the topic of marriage and what you want to do in life. Below are areas that you should discuss in your first meeting:
• Working after marriage
• Living arrangements - alone or with in-laws
• Religious and eating requirements
• Previous divorces - what happened?
• Medical conditions
• Anything else you consider a deal breaker
There are many other topics to discuss but there is only so much time to talk in your first meeting so use your time wisely and only discuss the most important things.
When discussing living arrangements, if you are asked to live with your in-laws, you need to ask what expectations they have of you. Communication is of utmost important during this period. You do not want to move in with your in-laws for example, and then be surprised to find out his or her parents are old and that you are required to stop work and care for them. On the other side of the coin, do not assume that the other person is prepared, capable or willing to look after your parents if this is what you had in mind.
Ask only the most important questions during the first meeting.
Most people would like to have children and a family of their own one day but once again, never assume. Discuss how many children you would like to have and at what stage of your life will you be prepared or willing to have them. This is especially important for the woman as it is likely that she will need to give up or at-least put her career on hold. If you are the man, do not take these sacrifices a woman must make for granted. A compromise that is acceptable to both people must be found here.
Religion has a high importance in India and therefor should be discussed early on. Different people have different views on how their faith and life should be approached. If you have strong religious views or there are requirements that your partner must adhere to then you should discuss them now. This is especially important if you plan to live with family or in-laws.
If you or your match have been divorced then this should be discussed. As divorce is still considered to be taboo in India, a person will be very curious or even worried about what happened. It is acceptable for you to inquire about the divorce but you should be polite and show empathy. Do not make the person feel bad or that they have to lie.
Should you be the one that has been divorced, it will be beneficial to bring the topic up yourself and explain what happened. People's imaginations can run wild and parents often think the worst. Stop this happening and knock those negative thoughts on the head as soon as possible.
Don't assume the other wants children.
Ideally you will have several meetings with your match prior to making a final decision on marriage. Lesser important topics can be discussed later.
Pay close attention to the other person's body language during the meeting. Are they calm when you ask questions or do they become agitated or uncomfortable.
Remember, you have only a short amount of time to get to know somebody before making a decision to spend the rest of your life with them. The last thing you would want to do is marry someone who cannot control their anger and end up another statistic of domestic violence.
Not only are you looking for signs of anger but body language may help you determine if somebody is telling the truth.
Follow Up Meeting
At the end of your first meeting, thank the person for coming and let them know you will talk again soon. Do not arrange a follow up meeting yet. Take some time out to let the events and conversations of the first meeting sink in.
If you feel good about the first meeting, make contact and arrange a follow up. This time the location should be their home or yours. If in the first meeting you agreed to move in with their parents, then you should arrange for the second meeting to be at their residence.
Watch and learn. Are they passive or aggressive?
During the follow up meeting, you can ask all the questions that were not a priority when you first met. For example, you may wish to discuss your goals in life, such as wanting to travel. Share your interests and hobbies and look for anything you may have in common.
With the meeting environment changed, take notice of any changes in their body language or attitude. If their parents are present, try discussing a topic that you previously discussed in your first meeting. Check if their answer is consistent.
If you are moving in with their parents, you should also pay attention to their body language as you talk with their son or daughter. Do they appear relaxed, nervous or agitated? Until you eventually live alone together, your relationship with their parents is just as, if not more important than the relationship with your partner.
Remember, you will be in the very early stages of your marriage and major bonds with your partner will not exist yet. Their parents will rule the household and have the final say in almost everything so your relationship with them is of utmost importance. If you cannot get along with your in-laws during this time then your marriage will be full of conflict.