An Arranged Love Marriage

Ruth Davidar Paul   |   September 8, 2014 

Arranged Love Marriage

Have you ever been asked this question, “Did you have a love marriage or an arranged marriage?” When I was asked this the first time, it stumped me for a bit because I couldn't classify my marriage under either!

When I was twenty-four my parents and I moved to Chennai. This was the first time I had lived in the land of my origins. Having spoken only English and Hindi all my life, hearing Tamil all around me was a bit of a shocker. To add to all the confusion, since I was at the “ideal marriageable age” my parents started getting questioned by relatives and friends, “So when are you getting your daughter married?” or “Twenty-four? That's old. You should do something soon otherwise she won't find anyone,” or “What criteria are you looking for? Nadar?” That was when I realised that being from a particular community and caste meant a lot, even to Christians. The most provoking question, though, had to be, “How much gold are you planning on giving?”

For my parents and I, the thought of caste and dowry had never even crossed our minds while thinking of marriage. So when these questions were posed to them, my parents would just politely, but firmly say, “We are not giving any dowry and the guy can belong to any community.” My only criteria was that he should have a real faith in Jesus Christ and that I should know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was God's will for me.

Slowly word got around regarding our views on marriage and the proposals began to slow down. Not that I had ever been inundated with them to begin with, but it was demoralising. A year went by and I found myself growing colder and harder inside. I wondered if I had missed hearing God's voice. I worried that I was being too picky. I grew cynical of others who were finding their mates. And I grew angry with God. I couldn't understand why He was taking so long to bring along the right guy.  Each time I would pray, the only word I received was – wait. Not at all what I wanted to hear!

The few proposals that did come felt weird. I remember one where the guy read my blog and said I was too spiritual. Another family asked my parents if they were willing to help “set up” my house after marriage. That wasn’t as crude as asking how many kilos of gold, but effectively the same. Some commented on my choice to wear jeans and said I would have to dress more traditionally after marriage.

I was shocked, horrified and humiliated in turns.

My dad finally stepped in and said to me one day, “There is this nice boy in Coimbatore.” I snorted derisively, “What good ever came out of Coimbatore?” (God has a sense of humour, believe me!) I was tired and angry and had no patience left. Yet my dad persisted. This was the first time he had recommended a guy to me. Until then, all the proposals had been brought by relatives or friends. So the next time he brought up the subject of the guy in Coimbatore, I listened.

My dad reminded me that we had met in Coonoor a few years back. I'd completely forgotten and all I could remember of Abhishek was a tall guy with long hair doing coolie duty! (He was putting our suitcases in the taxi.) His parents and mine were good friends, but I'd never met him apart from that one occasion. It all seemed a bit far-fetched so I just ignored my dad.

However, a few weeks later I met various people who were completely unrelated to each other and who had no idea of all this back-story. They urged me to attend a youth camp and talk to a person called Abhishek who was helping organise it. The first time I heard it, I thought it was just coincidence and brushed it aside. I was too old to be attending youth camps anyway, right?

But by the fourth time I was told the same thing by a different person, I couldn't ignore a message that was being blasted a little too loudly and clearly. Reluctantly I knelt and laid it before God, “Lord, my motives here are clear.  If I go to this camp, it’s only to meet this guy.” So I went to the camp and met Abhishek, who seemed very nice and down-to-earth. But that was it. Nothing happened. I kicked myself mentally. After all, what had I expected – that he'd drop everything and propose to me on one knee?!

While I was mentally berating myself, I attended a session done by Arun Andrews, a pastor from Bangalore, where he shared about his own marriage and how God had asked him to pray for the lady he would later marry. Not court her, but pray for her. That thought stayed with me and when I went home after the camp, I felt led to pray for Abhishek. Not talk to him and get to know him, but just pray for him. I did not know whether he was God's will for me, but I should still pray. Not pray that I should marry him, but pray for him – his life and his choices and finding God's will for his life.

I have the feeling I'm coming across as this far-out, overly spiritual person who's slightly ga-ga! But believe me, as skeptical as you might be right now reading this, I was even more so. This was completely foreign territory for me in my faith. I had never put myself in such a vulnerable position before. I was open to ridicule on all fronts and all for a guy who only knew my name! I was assailed by so many doubts I almost gave up before I even began.

I decided to ask a few of my closest friends and family to look at the situation objectively and tell me the truth even if it hurt my feelings. At the back of my mind I was sure at least one of them, if not all, would shoot down the idea of putting my life on hold and praying for some random guy. To my everlasting surprise, all of them said I ought to go ahead and pray, though we didn't know what the answer would be.

So I prayed for three months, during which time I never made an attempt to contact Abhishek. For all intents and purposes we were still strangers. I felt foolish, but I still prayed. Every time I came close to giving up, God would give me a clear command to stick to my job. Those months of waiting in prayer taught me more about trust, faith and hope than I had ever learnt before. They were no longer just words, but my only lifeline in a dark, uncharted sea.

And then one day, out of the blue, Abhishek called. I was so shocked when he introduced himself that I nearly dropped the phone! Once I stopped stammering, we started talking and didn't stop for two hours. When I finally put the phone down, I couldn't wipe the silly grin off my face.

Later, when I went to God, He gave me a blessing and a seal of approval. He showed me beyond a shadow of a doubt that Abhishek was His will for me. We were married a few months later in Coonoor, because that was where it all began, in a manner of speaking.

Waiting wasn’t easy. Letting go of all control and trusting God, while the future was unclear, tested my faith and all that I said I believed. Yet it taught me that God has a plan and His ways are always the best. I also have a sneaky feeling that He loves playing matchmaker! Now when someone asks me if I had a love marriage or an arranged marriage, I say, “It was a love marriage arranged by my Heavenly Father.”

How did you meet your spouse? Or if you haven't yet, do you favour an arranged marriage or love marriage?

 

Photo Credit karina y via Flickr cc

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Ruth Davidar Paul is a freelance copy editor and content developer, who loves rummaging through used books stores and collecting old books. Apart from filling her home with overflowing bookcases, she enjoys deep conversations, jigsaw puzzles, painting, and daydreaming. She currently lives in Chennai with her husband Abhishek and their children Abigail, Jordan, and Amy.

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33 comments on “An Arranged Love Marriage”

  1. haven't yet..There is enough time for me..i favour an arranged marriage only..we have to love our neighbours as ourselves..but we shuldnt have stupid love...As we are children of God we should not do like that..It was not a blessing to us and for our children...In my opinion God has a plan for us..he will help..we shouldnt feel hasty..A marriage life is not a silly thing we have to stay our rest of the life with our partner..

    1. I think it's great that God can work in a myriad of ways and there's not just a one-size-fits-all approach to finding a life partner. Obviously as someone from the US we don't have the option or notion of an arranged marriage, so our story looked quite different. It was a "love marriage," yet similarly, we felt it was God's desire for Jon and I to be together. The how is probably not as important as the ability to love on another in Christ during all seasons and stages of life.

  2. Thank you Sengchi - yes God's timing is always perfect. He is never late. Thank you Beulah - I love Coimbatore now 🙂 I agree Balla, marriage shouldn't be entered into hastily. It's lovely to see though that God has a beautiful plan for each of us and His ways are so much higher and better than we could ever imagine. As Kim said, marriage is just the starting point of a lifetime of learning to love deeply and unconditionally.

  3. Hi, Ruthie: Read this without knowing it's what you have written. Before I reached the end, and discovering who had written it, I was wondering if I could get to know this writer, who had written so well and with so much humour. Very well said.

    Reason, I never associated it with you is that as far as I remember your blog was called something else.

    Love,
    Your old Kuru Uncle

    1. Such a well written story Ruth..ours is also an arranged marriage and the Lord gave us patience in prayer .Waiting is hard but when God gives the green signal its so reassuring .When I face storms in marriage am reminded God had ordained this relationship .bless you Abhishek and Abigail.

      1. What you've said is so true Aunty Roshini. When we know that it is God who brought us together, that assurance gives us the strength to face anything that comes our way. Thank you!

    2. Thanks Uncle Kuru! You've known me since I was in 3rd class! 🙂 So no introductions necessary! And thank you so much for those encouraging words.

  4. “What good ever came out of Coimbatore?” (insert : Angry face) . 🙂

    And what a wonderful couple you guys make! Bless you three!

  5. Hi Ruth akka,

    It was a blessing to read your article...Im very encouraged akka. God Bless you and your family..

    Prayers,
    Selina

  6. Hey Ruth Akka, that was perfect timing. Just what I needed and I really appreciate what you are doing to encourage and assure women in our country. Continue to be a blessing 🙂 thanks so much ☺️ Deepti

    1. Thanks Deepti! Glad to hear that it was a blessing to you. It's great to be a part of this community of Christian women who are a part of IndiAanya. 🙂

  7. Hey! at last I got to hear your story 🙂 i knew you had one, when you kept checking with me during my single days.. and even in my case, how God led me to Shinu was also out of usual..good to know God's ways are unique and personal to us..and you don't have to worry when He leads you differently.. I have also felt that God loves match making ha ha..

    1. So true Neetha. God's ways are creative and unique. It's beautiful to watch each person's story unfold. So happy for you and Shinu too!! 🙂

  8. What a beautiful story Ruth! God's plan works out so wonderfully, makes us feel foolish for being anxious in the first place. Can relate to almost every thought u've shared. Mine's a similar story.

  9. Hi ...Ruth

    The story uve shared i m still in the queue (waiting on n on n on its been 4 years) , trust me , i felt as if i was reading my own story written by someone else. God etched u to pray and i went thru that similar phase just one month back ..the only difference is that u got the answer the next day and still i havent got the answer ...the next day was i bumped to ur piece of your story ...n i couldnt fathom this is how i felt (oh my god) n now what does it means ...

    1. Hi Soumya, just trust God to show you the way ahead. God has a different story for each of us - there is no set pattern. If He has asked you to pray, do that. In His time He will give you the answer - whether yes or no. Trust Him and wait. He will lead you.

  10. Hi Ruth...great to read through your experience on waiting upon the Lord. Its a trust relationship built on faith no doubt whatever the stage of life we may be in. Great to come across another Davidar....s who are blessed with great writing skills and oodles of humor. God bless.

  11. OMG...just felt like I am reading what I am going through. Being brought up in Delhi and being taught that the basis of marriage is God's will and coming a year back to Chennai and seeing that here marriage is all about caste and how much gold you will give was a big shocker to me. In my weakest hour I used to feel I will never find someone .Your story gives me strength and I thank You for that. I trust that God will work a way for me. Thank God for your blog... Great work 🙂

  12. Dear Ruth
    I really blessed by reading your well written article. wonderfully God's plan work in his time . I will share this article to our church youth and I believe they will definitely encourage
    Blessing
    Babita

  13. Hai, Really a blessed testimony. God bless you abundantly and strengthen to write more about God's voice. My experience and testimony share with you later. Thank you for the opportunity to give me and convey my gratitude to L.G. Barnabas sir.

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