Since arriving at Andover several people have asked me the question, “So, how did your parents meet?” This question plagues me no matter where I go at Andover. Back at home in New Jersey, nobody asked, because everyone knew, and it was the same for many of the families around me. Instead, here at Andover, I have to awkwardly explain that my parents had an arranged marriage.
I can’t help but get upset when people ask me intrusive questions about my family. Were you abused? Are your parents okay? Does your dad respect your mom? Most people would not ask these questions of students whose parents married after an encounter in college or a blind date.
The words “arranged marriage” do not necessarily imply an unhappy marriage, or the abuse of children or tension between spouses. Arranged marriages are prevalent in Indian culture as well as in other countries such as Indonesia, and marriage by love is a notion that is simply not ingrained in the Indian mindset. That isn’t to say that love doesn’t exist in these marriages. My parents, for example, have maintained a healthy relationship for several years even though they met via an arranged marriage.
Couples united by arranged marriages in India may not have met in a way that resembles what most Americans consider typical of couples in the United States, but these relationships should be valued at Andover regardless. In fact, as a community that encourages and fosters healthy relationships and claims to embrace diversity, Andover should actively strive to teach its students to understand and respect these supposedly unorthodox cultures.
I commend Andover for having hosted discussions about topics such as race and healthy relationships throughout the course of this year. Our community, however, has never really strived to partake in discussions about arranged marriages. Relationships exist in several different forms, and we should be looking to learn about all types.