“It’s like falling in love each day with him.”
Sandhya is 29-years-old and her husband, Ankur, is 31. Before they got married, she lived in India, he lived in America, and they met when Sandhya’s parents placed a newspaper ad (in the “matrimonial column”) looking for potential husbands for her.
So your parents placed the ad?
Sandhya: Yes. My dad, every Sunday, he would send in and screen these ads and whichever he thought could be the potential matches he would mark them and tell me, “Whoever you are interested in just send them an email.” I remember being a little girl and like, “No, I’m not going to go through that. I am definitely not going to go through that,” but then you do it because you have to. You know you can’t reason with your parents.
Ankur: But I think it’s a good thing because we met.
What was it about him that you liked? Do you remember?
Sandhya: He’s very understated. He doesn’t try too hard. There are a lot of things that I like about him; it’s hard to put into words. When you live with someone, you just learn to like that life and go with it. With him, whenever I spoke it felt like I have known him forever. It never felt like he was someone new.
Ankur: Same thing with me. I was looking through emails for about two years or so. I had called and chatted with several girls in the past, but it never really worked out for me. With her, I saw her email, we met once, and then we talked once, and it just felt right. It just felt so right.
Was it strange to start a relationship that’s like,”OK, this is going to be serious. We’re going to get married”?
Sandhya: I think we had a lot of conditioning from our parents about it. That’s how my parents married. You see that happening around you. Your cousins are married that way. There are a lot of love marriages as well and different things happening, but growing up I saw that going on and someday I knew that this was going to happen to me, as well.
Ankur: It makes it easy. There’s no pressure on you that you have to date. In fact, it’s the opposite. There’s no worry that I’m going to end up alone! So for me I was open that if somebody right comes along that I am attracted to and that I like for a long term relationship, then I would go ahead with it. But it just didn’t happen until Sandhya.
So how long did you guys talk before you met in person?
Sandhya: I think a couple of hours. He liked me and he told his parents that he was interested, so his parents called my parents. Then my parents went to his place and met his parents and they liked everything, so he flew from the U.S. with his parents to meet me. It’s a whole family thing. We sat for like 15 minutes face to face. It’s kind of embarrassing because it is so…
Ankur: Because our entire families are there, so you are not really talking too much.
Sandhya: He was like all shy and I was talking, and then he just went home and the next day his parents called and said that he wants to get married to me and my parents were like, “Is it OK with you?” and I said, “OK!” and then we got married!
Now it’s like falling in love each day with him. It is like you’re still dating. We still don’t feel like we’ve gotten married. It’s like he’s my boyfriend.
Ankur: It’s a gamble. Both ways it’s a gamble. That’s like life in general and I always think that more than 50 percent of marriages end up nowhere, even though most of them are after long term dating. So it’s a gamble either way.
How long was your engagement?
Sandhya: We got married after a month and a half.
Once you were engaged you could hang out more right? You guys spent some time together?
Ankur: We could not. We did not because I was back in the U.S. and she was in India. I coordinated my vacation such that I went to India like a week before my marriage and stayed there for like five to 10 days after.
Sandhya: Indian weddings are like 10 days and it’s not about the bride and the groom. They are just supposed to be ganged up and get to some place where everyone can see them.
Ankur: I enjoyed it.
How many people are at the largest event of the wedding?
Sandhya: A thousand.
Ankur: Yeah I would say between 500 to 1,000. We knew maybe 50 or 100 of them, our close friends and immediate relatives. Everyone wants to take a picture with you and then you have to keep smiling for like several hours. Big smiles.
Sandhya: Your face starts shaking because you have to keep smiling.
Which day of the 10 day party did you really get to spend the night together?
Sandhya: Oh this happens after the wedding. After the reception.
Ankur: Yeah. When the party is over.
Sandhya: That was the most weird. Because, I don’t even really know him, but obviously it’s like a bit uncomfortable and embarrassing because you are with them all by yourself in the room.
Ankur: I was pretty relaxed because after a long feasting and party then you enjoy the process but then you want it to be over with after a certain time and that’s really the first time. It’s like oh finally!
Sandhya: The girl goes with the guy to his place. So now his house is my house.
Ankur: I think it went fine. It’s also about exploring the other person’s excitement of it. Who she is, what she is like. Talking about each other, talking about your stories from the past. So it is also kinda of the excitement of knowing the other person.
Sandhya: It is all butterflies in your stomach. It’s like “OH MYGOD! WHAT AM I DOING!?”
Does it feel like it’s too fast because you guys hadn’t spent that much time together?
Sandhya: I don’t know. If you think about it then there are all these crazy thoughts that come, and you have to stop thinking and go with the way you feel. Then it’s not that complicated anymore. I think we make it complicated when we over think things. So I just stopped using my brain and started using my heart.
Ankur: Yeah, it wasn’t complicated to me at all.
How has your sex life changed since you’ve been married?
Sandhya: I think it just keeps getting better.
Ankur: That’s the fun of being in an arranged marriage because you are getting to know the person as if you dated for the first two years.
Sandhya: And then the best part is that you can make your mistakes as well and you know that the other person is not going anywhere.
Ankur: Yeah that’s the best part of arranged marriages. There’s no fear. It’s not like dating. You’re not constantly judging the other person: Is he the right one? Is he not the right one? Is he faithful, not faithful? Will he go away if I say this, if I say that? Here that part is gone.
Sandhya: It’s about making this relationship perfect. Obviously we both are imperfect and we have our own flaws, but as a partner, how can I bring out the best in him and how can he do the same and how can we support each other?
What’s been your biggest fight since you got married?
Sandhya: We fight over the silliest things possible and then after we’ve screamed we think that it was so silly.
Ankur: And then we laugh about it.
Has anything surprised you about marriage?
Sandhya: I guess I thought it would be more difficult, but it’s not. Like I expected it to be like reallydifficult. Back home the girl has to keep quiet and let her husband dictate everything. That’s what they teach the girls — to be submissive — and I am not like that. But it’s been fun! We have an equal partnership.
Are there things you wish you would have had an opportunity to hash out before you got married?
Sandhya: I don’t think so.
Ankur: I think the big things we’re similar about.
Sandhya: It’s weird we’re on the same page about these big decisions without even discussing them.
Ankur: Yeah that was just very fortunate.
Sandhya: It’s folklore back home when you get married you walk around fire seven times, seven rotations, and it’s said you’re going to be married for seven lifetimes. So probably I have known him from my previous life or something.
Ankur: She thinks this is our seventh.
Oh because its been so smooth! What are you guys most looking forward to in your marriage?
Sandhya: Just having fun every day. That’s about it. I don’t think we have a certain image we have set our lives to.
Ankur: All we want to do currently at this state of life is have fun, and travel around before we have kids as much as possible. We would love to travel, advance our careers, support each other, and still discover each other every day.
Do you have any advice?
Ankur: I think marriage is a partnership — an equal partnership. And there is no one perfect out there for you, because no one is perfect. If you think, “This is not working out and I will find someone else because they will be better and more perfect,” that’s not likely, especially if you are just fighting over small issues because that is everyone.
Sandhya: First of all, we have to stop judging others. Marriage is for keeps. This is forever. It’s not like buying a dress, not like if it doesn’t fit I’ll throw this and get a new one. It’s not going to be like that. It’s loving an imperfect person perfectly. To keep it together you have to grow with the other person, make mistakes, because I am going to make mistakes; he is going to forgive me, and he’s going to make mistakes and I will have to forgive him. That’s how it’s going to work.
Ankur: The compromises in marriage, they become effortless because… they don’t feel compromised.
Sandhya: Because you don’t have to think about it.
Ankur: You’re growing as a person with them, rather than compromising yourself.
Sandhya: We will be more mature with each day and we will be awiser person with each day, but that’s going to happen with age. You cannot mature yourself in a day.
Do you and your spouse want to tell your story? Or do you know a great couple who should tell theirs?
Really Like to Have an Arranged Marriage