Love Marriage and Children

by Tabitha Kidwell

India has this crazy concept called a “Love Marriage.” We have this in America, too, but we just call it “Marriage.” I find it charming that this term even exists, that there is a need to designate a marriage built solely on mutual affection. I knew that arranged marriages were still a common practice in India, but I had the impression that it was restricted to ultra-traditional families and very rural areas. But almost all the teachers at school are married (or in the process of getting married) to someone their family found for them. When I expressed surprise at the number of arranged marriages, they looked at me like I was crazy. When I tried to explain that in America, we have only love marriages – no, none, zero, nul, nada arranged marriages – they realized that it wasn’t me that was crazy. No, all Americans are crazy.

The line between arranged marriage and love marriage does seem to be increasingly fuzzy; it’s really rare that the bride and groom don’t meet until their wedding day, or that someone is forced to marry someone they don’t accept. More often, someone’s parents or aunties will find a nice boy and they’ll invite him over to meet their daughter, or maybe they’ll set the two lovebirds up on a blind date. That doesn’t sound all that arranged to me, and it certainly sounds like a much better plan than going on The Bachelor. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, and sometimes the two end up very much in love. There is none of the confusion of dating, fear of commitment, being at “different places.” When single people decide they are ready to get married, their family will start the “process,” and the wisdom of the aunties often brings people together who will be really happily married.

“You’re still single because you want a love marriage,” one of the teachers at school told me the other day. “Why don’t your aunties find you a husband?” I told her that most American families don’t feel comfortable meddling in their children’s love lives, and that it is important for me to be in love with the person I married. She looked at me disdainfully, like I wasn’t even trying (she should read singlenomorein2010), and asked “Don’t you want to get married? Don’t you want children?”

The truth is, I really, really do want to get married. I’ve wanted to get married since I was 15. Read my journals and you’ll see “Tabitha’s wedding plans” written out in my best school cursive (which wasn’t very good). Those wedding plans, though, are as obsolete as my carefully looped Ls and humped Ms have become. Almost all of my friends are married. I have been to so many weddings that the variations on dress, cake, decorations, colors, etc., no longer charm me. Chicken or beef, red velvet or french vanilla, ivory or eggshell – these are some of the most meaningless choices we will ever make in our lives. While out thrifting for ugly Christmas sweaters this year, I came across a vintage knee-length white dress. I bought it for $8, and may one day wear it to the courthouse.

And I do want children. My ovaries have faithfully been dispatching half of a potential human, month after month for the past 20 years, all to no avail. In the past year, five of my close friends have had babies. If I was caught up in wedding mania in my 20s, I’m caught up in baby mania in my 30s. I’ve done a lot in the past year – ran a marathon, dressed up as a Javanese princess, traveled around Indonesia, Vietnam, and India – but all that doesn’t even remotely compare to my friends who have made human beings from scratch. I don’t even bake cookies from scratch! I’m simultaneously in awe of and annoyed by my friends who have joined this motherhood club and now talk about breast-feeding and sleep schedules. But I’m mostly jealous of them and this tiny human they get to snuggle with. Sometimes I think I want a baby more than I want a husband, and I consider freezing my eggs, adoption, getting knocked up by a stranger, or snatching cute babies from carts at the supermarket. I mean, I don’t seriously consider all those things, but the thoughts have maybe crossed my mind. Compared to all that, arranged marriage sounds like an increasingly good idea. My aunties are going to have to step up their game. If they don’t, now I know some experts I can call in.

3 Comments to “Love Marriage and Children”

  1. I didn’t realize I had responsibilities other than loving, praying, supporting, being proud and thoroughly enjoying you. I’m sorry that I’ve let you down. Will begin my search immediately!

  2. Tabs, as always love reading your words. EVERYTHING you have done and EVERYTHING you are doing and EVERYTHING you will do is just as valid and important and impressive as having a baby. I have a baby, and I am constantly in awe of you and inspired. Keep being you! And i have to agree with your co-workers, American’s are crazy.

  3. I’m thinking you have quite a few aunties that are actively looking for you…being back in the US for the next few years might help! The idea of an $8 wedding dress sounds awesome! Mom

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