Love Lessons from an Arranged Marriage

I often lost hope that my husband and I would make it. Here’s why we did.

On July 7, 2021, my husband and I celebrated 20 years of marriage. Every year when that date rolls around, I always wake up thinking, How did we ever make it? How did we ever survive?

The thought never lasts more than a few seconds. That’s because, over the past 20 years, we’ve spent most of our anniversaries surrounded by family members. So even if I had wanted to marinate on that thought, celebrating with others has always been the primary focus.

In the past two years, however, thanks to the global pandemic, I’ve had a little more time to reflect on how our marriage managed to survive.

At the ages of 27 and 23, my husband and I were brought together by mutual friends and family into a traditional Indian arranged marriage. Arranged marriages were all we had ever known. Generations of people before us had made it look successful and even easy. And since this existing formula had worked for centuries, I didn’t think it would be difficult for us.

But it was. The culture and community that had formed him and me—and the script that went with it—did not seem to work for us. Or to be more precise, it did not work for me.

Throughout our early years of marriage especially, I struggled, floundered, and wondered if it would be easier to just walk away.

I just didn’t know how to make it work. It was hard and painful, and there seemed to be no reward in sight. Our romantic relationship did not look like it did in Indian movies—where boy meets girl, and they fall in love and run around trees together. And neither did it look like our married peers, who seemed to be getting along so much better than us.

In our Indian Christian community, our social caste, and our generation, …

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