Love marriage or arranged marriage – when you marry, you marry into a family. It’s a package deal! Family can include immediate relations like grandparents, parents, siblings or distant relatives and friends. It’s prudent to remember that one’s equation with these relations will have substantial impact on the marriage.
Growing up, I believed I would fall in love, then marry and live happily ever after. A daily dose of romantic novels strengthened this notion. Upbringing in a nuclear family also ensured, that to me, marriage meant a joining of two people who loved and lived for each other. You only needed to make the necessary compromises and adjustments to accommodate your partner and you would have a happy marriage.
I did interact with my husband’s family before marriage but somehow didn’t bargain for the package deal that I would immediately inherit on marrying him! I don’t think he did either.
Face front, his was a nuclear family too, which included his parents and sibling. But they were equally close to the extended family on both his parents’ side. News regularly travelled within this circuit and advice was freely given and received. Cumulative opinions, views, sentiments shaped one’s outlook and actions. Like minded people’s sensitivity added value while sometimes our upbringing and thinking clashed with the others.
It’s interesting to note here that acceptance into the ‘family’ was never an issue – the only difference was in the level of acceptance. Like every relationship, relatives freely attributed qualities to me as they deemed fit. Depending on their personal views and outlook, they interpreted my behaviour. Simultaneously, I too, formed my own views depending on how much I liked them, agreed with them, accepted their limitations or outright rejected their narrow thinking.
Ideally I could have been happy if I was able to maintain a mental distance from these influences and behave logically. Or like my husband, if I had the unique ability to deal with each person and situation separately then the journey would have been easier. Unfortunately, for me, it was always a package!
I realised this early on in the marriage and it led to relatives developing skewed notions about me. I had no choice except to simply accept it. My husband, on the other hand, evolved to be well liked and loved, not only by his family but mine too!