Why love marriages fail
Ok, before you get all trolly based on the title, let me clarify that arranged marriages fail too, just as much or less or more (I don’t know), but this post is not about why arranged marriages fail. It’s about why love marriages fail.
About 6-7 years ago, when I got engaged, I remember my parents insisting that I limit my interactions with the fiancé pre-wedding as much as possible because they felt the charm would wear off if we got to know each other too much. They believed that discovering one another was an integral part of every relationship and we must save it for after the wedding. I never really understood this because I believed that only if you invested sufficient capital in a relationship could you possibly minimise the running costs post wedding. In other words, if you didn’t get to know each other well enough, how would you know for sure that you are marrying the right person.
With time and experience, I have come to realise that the key word is “enough” and there is actually an optimal amount of knowledge one needs to have about their partner prior to getting hitched for life – less won’t do, more won’t do either.
Here’s why. My friend Tapas and I were discussing some of our friends’ recently failed marriages. We realised that a majority of them were love marriages (we hardly have any arranged marriages in our social circle, so the same can’t be said about arranged marriage), some of them even 10 year pre-wedding courtships, that ended within a year or two of marriage. That’s when Tapas had an interesting take on why this happens.
She said it’s because people assume they know each other fully before taking the big step of legitimising their relationship without realising that there is so much more to learn about each other once they start living together out of legal obligation. For instance, trivial stuff such as sleeping patterns, early morning routines, dietary habits, etc might be so different between the couple that it can take some getting used to. Larger issues such as social or family obligations become a bigger deal once you are married and complying with them is no easy feat.
So, when there are too many changes even after you think you know them well enough, naturally, you have lower tolerance for change. You begin to question the basis of the relationship, the person you first fell in love with, authenticity of the love and what not. Now, such deep questions usually have deep answers, and hence, dire consequences.
On the contrary, in case of arranged marriages, you embark the journey with the premise that you don’t know each other well enough and you’ll learn over the course of your lifetime. You have a base layer of knowledge of the partner that’s enough to make an educated decision on whether someone’s worth knowing over a lifetime, and every time you learn something new about them, you add and subtract from the base.
This is a continuous process as there’s no way you could possibly fully know someone and most people acknowledge that due to the arranged marriage construct. Of course sometimes, there’s a chance you may get bored, lose patience or even figure out that everything you’ve learnt thus far is not interesting enough to continue the exploration and you could end things or not.