You could go down on one knee the moonlit terrace of a five-star hotel. Alternatively, you could just light some candles in the bedroom to create a bit of atmosphere before you pop the question. It all depends on your taste and style.
To know more about what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re proposing, have a look at our Marriage proposals: do’s and don’ts.
You might be proposing a marriage or accepting a proposal, but how do you know that you’ve chosen the right person? When’s the right time to get married? Can you ever be entirely sure? What if it goes wrong? All these might be legitimate concerns, if you’re making up your mind on marriage. And you’re not alone, almost everyone getting married faces these challenges. It’s a big decision after all – are you ready to spend the rest of your life with this person?
Is he s/he the right spouse for me?
In the excitement of being in love it can be hard to think straight and make sensible choices. If you’re having trouble deciding if it’s right to tie the knot, here are some questions for you to think about. They’re just a guide to help you listen to your heart, listen to your head, and feel sure about your decision.
- Are you sure you’re not just infatuated?
When you’re in love, you tend to turn a blind eye to the flaws in your partner’s personality. Make sure you are basing your decision to get married on a deeper understanding of your lover or partner.
- How well do you know you partner?
Have you seen them in their own family, with their own friends? How does s/he behave with your group of pals? Do they mingle and mix well? This will help you suss if your partner is comfortable with people and can make a place for themselves, in keeping with their own personality.
- Are you good friends as well as being lovers?
Are you compatible with each other on different levels – sexually, emotionally and intellectually? Great sex can’t keep your marriage alive forever. Both of you need to share an emotional bond with each other too.
- How well do you communicate with your partner?
Do you think the two of you can solve all problems by talking it through? Do you find it easy to talk to your partner without fear of offending them or being judged? Are you able to talk openly and honestly about tricky issues you might disagree about? Are you able to resolve conflicts peacefully and amicably?
- Do you have a lot of respect for your partner?
Can you say that you love and admire them for the person they are? What qualities do you like in your could-be life partner? Make a list.
- Do you love and admire them as the person they are, not the person you want them to be?
Do you find yourself constantly correcting them, or trying to ‘improve’ them?
- Do you share the same expectations of the wedding?
Do you expect a grand affair and while they’re imagining a simple ceremony? Is there any expectation of dowry or ‘give and take’? Does this square with your politics?
- Are you both comfortable with each other’s career prospects?
Have you discussed your career options and ambitions with each other? Does this fit in with your own plans for yourself? If the two of you are keen on pursuing your own careers, have you discussed household roles and responsibilities?
- Have you and your partner discussed living arrangements after marriage?
Will you be sharing a house with your partner’s family? If so, how does that make you feel? Do you have any objections to that? Do you think this arrangement will help your relationship blossom or could it get stifling? Have you discussed this with your partner?
- Have you discussed whether or not you will have children?
This needs a detailed discussion. If you decide to wait a while before having children, what will happen if you do get pregnant early in your marriage? Would you have the baby? Or would you consider an abortion? Would your partner support that decision?
- Do you both share similar values?
Have you ever had arguments on matters that you feel strongly about? Do your views match on topics like women’s rights, sexual harassment, abortion, adoption, other religious communities, caste, or homosexuality?
- What is your partner’s relationship with money?
Are the two of you totally compatible on this issue? How does your partner behave when it comes to spending? Do you tend to find him or her too tight fisted or too extravagant? Can you discuss money openly? Will you be sharing a bank account or manage and keep finances independent? Are you expected to share in the family’s expenses, and if so, how much? Will one of you be dependent on the other, and are you happy about that?
- Do you see yourself growing old with this person?
Do you feel like you’ll still want to be together when you’re old and grey?
What if you really love your partner and are sure you want to get married to them, but your parents just don’t agree with your decision? It could be because your partner belongs to another race, religion or caste. It could also be, for example, because they don’t approve of your lover’s profession or financial status, or how they behave, or what their family represents.
You don’t want to let your parents down and hurt their feelings. At the same time you want to live your life with someone you love. Here are some tips to help you get through this difficult phase:
- Be honest with your parents.
Let your parents know of why you think you’ve made the right choice. (Your answers to the questions in ‘Is he s/he the right spouse for me?’ will help you explain.)
- Have your families meet each other, if possible.
Dining together is a good idea.
- Listen to what your parents’ objections and worries are.
Be aware that they love you and would want to see you happy. Value their experience about life and relationships. Try to understand their objections.
- Clear your parents’ doubts.
Once you know why they think your partner isn’t fit for you, answer their questions. Convince them of your decision, using examples and anecdotes.
- Don’t threaten or blackmail your parents.
This could only complicate the situation. They won’t feel free to express themselves freely, and they might respond with anger or lecturing. If your parents emotionally blackmail you, let them know that it isn’t constructive. Tell them you’re open to dialogue.
- Be patient.
Prejudices that have piled up over years won’t disappear in a week or two. Give your parents time. Be ready to engage and discuss the issue, for as long as they are asking.
- Find other family members who might support your decision.
Differing opinions from within the family could make your parents think deeper about their views.
- Try family counselling.
Expert help from a counsellor can help resolve even the most complicated of issues.
- Keep your partner in the loop throughout the process.
Find ways to stay together and spend times that aren’t just stressful. Listen to their advice, and observe how they behave during such a difficult time in your life.
Of course this approach won’t always work. We think it’s always best to talk, but sometimes it’s not possible to negotiate with your family, especially in conservative settings. If you need help and advice, don’t shy away from contacting this helpline:
The Vandrevela 24x7 and across 14 states): 022-25706000
The risks of being different
Love marriages could also bring along some practical challenges. If you speak different languages, or belong to different castes, or practise different religions, it might mean adjusting to these cultural differences. Life is not a Hindi filmy scene and getting around these issues can be very difficult.
Sometimes these differences, especially in caste and religion, could be harder to overcome. In many parts of India couples face real threats to their lives if their community thinks they are besmirching their honour by marrying someone from outside of their caste or religion. There have even been murders, so-called ‘honour killings’, because couples have fallen in love and decided to marry each other against their community’s liking. Depending on where you’re from and what your background is, you need to weigh the risks and be sure about marrying someone who doesn’t belong to your caste or religion.
How to elope
Thousands of couples elope every year to get married – that means they go off together and get married in secret. People do it for a lot of different reasons. In the West, more and more couples are eloping to avoid the big drama around weddings. Couples that prefer a quiet ceremony over a big wedding party choose to register their marriage without much hullabaloo. They then break the news to their parents and family.
In some cultures, like in India, couples elope because their parents or families strongly oppose their marriage on grounds of religion or caste. Imagine this: you’re in love with someone and are sure of wanting to marry them, but your parents won’t allow the marriage because your partner is from a different background. You’ve tried negotiating with your family, but it isn’t working out. So you might feel like eloping with your partner and having a secret wedding is the only way out.
The section is titled ‘how to elope’, but before you decide to elope, ask yourself a few serious questions:
- Am I really up for it?
- What are the risks involved?
- Will I be financially secure if my family cuts me off?
- Do I fully trust the person I plan to elope with?
- Am I marrying out of love or something else?
- Am I doing this because I am facing pressure from my partner?
Tread with caution
Understanding the consequences of eloping and the risks involved will help you to make an informed decision. While some couples can do without their family’s support, others can’t.
You should always keep in mind that eloping can have dangerous consequences. Some people have even been murdered while trying to elope. If you think you will be able to win over your family or community once you have tied the knot, that could be true – but it could just be wishful thinking.
Some couples who elope are eventually accepted by their families. But others are disowned and never get to come back into their own or their marital family for years and years – for weddings, births or funerals, or even if the whole family emigrates.
So we’d advise you to always tread with caution. If you’re in India and have questions about how to elope, you can call the following helpline:
To read more about the topic, check out Eloping: top five facts.