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By: Sasha Dhesi

“Arranged marriage.” The phrase probably causes a shudder down the spine of anyone from a culture who practices it but grew up in the West. I’ve seen countless Indian-American comedians joke that they wouldn’t even let their mothers pick their clothes, let alone their spouse, and it’s a sentiment I share. The cultural difference between my mother and I means we’re always at odds about things as trivial as how I should do my eyebrows to the more serious career decisions. But you’re speaking to a girl who has seen a dozen romantic comedies a year and can’t bring herself to make a Tinder account because it just feels too much like I’m giving up on romance. An arranged marriage just doesn’t make sense for me, but after watching my parents grow and change through their relationship, I’ve learned that an arranged marriage may have an undeserved reputation.

My parents don’t have a romantic story. There was no meet-cute, no elaborate story to satisfy my inquisitive ears growing up. No, my parents had a boring arranged marriage. My parents met a few weeks’ prior to their wedding and have been married now for about 22 years. With all that said and done, I couldn’t tell the difference between my parents’ marriage and those of my friends whose parents had “love marriages.” It became increasingly clear that what made their marriage work wasn’t some grand romantic love that carried them through every fight but rather a willingness to adapt.


Now it should be noted that many people stay in arranged marriages for the wrong reasons. In most South Asian cultures divorce is heavily stigmatized, so people often stay in unhealthy or abusive relationships out of cultural pressure. I personally know of many toxic couples that are only together to avoid the community backlash. These issues aren’t due to the arranged marriage though. I doubt anyone decides to abuse someone because they didn’t specifically choose their spouse. Arranged marriages don’t magically solve the issues that may arise, but it’s not necessarily the part of the equation that’s causing issues.

The main reason why my parents seem to do so well together isn’t because they’re made for each other or that they’re soulmates. Rather, they’re happy because they’re willing to listen to each other and adapt to each other. Because they had an arranged marriage, they had very little expectations about what the other would be like, and didn’t have these idealized images in their heads of what the other should be like. Instead, they went into their marriage willing to compromise.

We often go into relationships with this concept of the ‘perfect’ person, who accepts you for everything you are. But you’re never going to find that because you yourself are not perfect. It’s ultimately unfair to assume that someone should bear the weight of your flaws. This also ignores that you’re never going to find a person who doesn’t have some sort of tick that bothers you. Any sort of long-term relationship is a commitment to that person, warts and all, but we get so wrapped up in this ideal “the One” who’s going to take care of all of your faults without having any of their own. What you want isn’t a lifelong partner, rather someone who’ll let you stagnate completely. But those in arranged marriages usually don’t have this mindset. Dating usually requires a level of idealization to work, but an arranged marriage takes it out of the equation completely. Instead, you’re left with a person who you have to listen to in order to learn how to be with them.

While I don’t have some wonderful story to share about how my parents met, I do get to come home to them sharing a loveseat together while they watch the news, and listen to one lament about how they miss the other when traveling. While I am not going to have an arranged marriage, I don’t think we should bash them altogether. Whether it’s arranged or not, the only way to sustain a relationship is to willingly adapt to your partner and grow with them. For those who are comfortable with it, arranged marriages are definitely an option that can lead to an incredibly fulfilling life.

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Cassandra Jeffery 

Assistant InsideOut Editor


University is the time period in which individuality is fostered. We make our way through the hallways of life discovering an infinite self-depth as we cultivate our fundamental values, dreams, goals, and ambitions. The burden of responsibility has caused us both countless sleep-less nights and a strong sense of independence. We are educated, privileged individuals with the world at our fingertips yet it seems that no amount of education has prepared us for the bitter sweet challenges of love, relationships, and compromise.

Relationships have the potential to be exciting and self-benefiting, however on the contrary, relationships (when you’re finally out of the honey-moon phase) can be challenging, difficult, and potentially heartbreaking. We allow ourselves to love fully aware that one day, love could turn its back on us. Optimistic as we are, the search continues for the right candidate. The perfect lover that will understand, accept, and enhance our unique characteristics.

However, finding the perfect love does not come without compromise. True relationships require compromise, but should we compromise the individuals we’ve become in order to salvage a relationship?

Commitment to a relationship produces an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. The compulsion to divulge your most embarrassing character traits and flaws seems an innate quality of being human.  Whether both characters mesh perfectly in sync depends on the overall affect the relationship has on both parties.

“A healthy relationship should affirm who each partner is and allow each person to meet his or her needs together with the other,” says Mark D. White, author for the journal, Psychology Today. 

In contrast, if one individual begins to compromise too much, the relationship can encourage resentment and hostility rather than love and affection. For example, asking your partner to compromise a fundamental value such as religion or education can severely damage the prospects of a healthy, communicative relationship. On the other hand, we are forced to compromise throughout life in general, which means remembering to tidy up after yourself is a rather mundane compromise.

When in a relationship, one must always remember to differentiate from the good versus the bad compromises. A relationship is the unification of two people, however it is crucial that each person maintains their individuality. At our young, impressionable age we are easily influenced by our partners, often re-arranging our thoughts to match those of our lovers. This becomes a dangerous, gray area in a relationship because most often, individuals feel they are sacrificing what they believe or what they are passionate about in order to enrich their relationship.

Hypothetically, you have the opportunity to travel abroad or you’ve been accepted into a Master’s program on the other side of the country. Would you compromise your education or dreams for another individual? Is there a certain point in a relationship when it becomes okay to compromise aspects of your individuality in order to benefit your partner?

Essentially, the type of person determines the capacity of compromise one is willing to put forth. For some, traveling is a dream you could never compromise, despite the amount of love you may feel for your partner. True to our unique qualities as humans, we all have diverse opinions on what exactly constitutes a good relationship and level of compromise.

“The right relationship does not force demanding compromises,” says Natalie Pozniak, a third-year Communication Studies and Multimedia student.

On the other hand, Master’s Student Simon Erker suggests, “in a good relationship, compromise is always possible.”

The realm of compromise in a relationship is a tricky subject because one can argue that giving up the love of your life for a job is a significant compromise. The saying, ‘you want what you can’t have’ certainly applies in such situations. Battling with the infamous ‘pro versus con’ list is sometimes a catch-22; you want both the relationship and the dream but unfortunately, love doesn’t always conquer all.

What remains most important here is the idea that you find something to love outside of a relationship. Fixating yourself solely on a person will force you to lose sight on what makes you authentic. Despite what Hollywood portrays, relationships are difficult and they demand effort and compromise. The challenging part is not in deciding on what defines a bad compromise versus a good compromise, rather the challenge becomes prevalent when attempting to figure out what is most important to you as an individual. Thus, complicating our lives further we have the good, the bad, and the compromise.

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