Ritesh and Sonia had found a beautiful ‘together’ at their respective desks in an MNC in Gurgaon over coffee breaks and office parties spread over two years. Hailing from a conservative Marwari family, Ritesh coaxed Sonia out of her shell with constant encouragement as they fell headlong in love. Both, however, faced stiff opposition from their families as they sought an ‘inter-caste marriage’. The next two years saw the duo soldier on with negotiations, refusals, a breakup and a patch up and some tenacious campaigning before they could unite and marry with blessings from their families. It did take a lot of effort on their part to convince their family for their inter-caste marriage
Even with an upsurge in inter-caste love marriages in India today, couples opting for an inter-caste marriage face the same uphill battle of convincing parents and combating age-old traditions, relatives, a barrage of questions of caste, community biases, religion, practices, value systems and negative comments among other things.
As the Indian society steps into a more modern form, more and more parents seem to be relenting to an inter-caste marriage as they become convinced of the advantages of love marriages vis-à-vis an arranged marriage. But it’s a fight to finish at times, and there are no shortcuts.
10 Ways to convince your parents for inter-caste marriage
Follow these tips to convince your parents for an inter-caste marriage, and you will come out a winner. We have very methodically charted out a planner for you. You just need to pay attention to it.
1. Build a good start
Slowly explore the idea of ‘love marriage’, and you choose your life partner with your folks. Look for examples of successful inter-caste marriages among your friends and relatives and weave them into conversations at home. Try to convince them that compatible couples and those with similar value systems work better in the modern context rather than being focussed on similar on traditional markers. Highlight the positive aspects of a love marriage that could be inter-caste or inter-faith, through a series of conversations with your parents.
Pro Tip: Broach the subject of inter-caste marriage by telling your folks about a co-worker or high school friend opting for love marriage and how it is working out well for them.
2. Bring in a trusted friend/ally/elderly relative to make a case for you
If there is too much resistance even to the idea of an inter-caste marriage, ask a trusted friend or elderly relative to step in. They can weigh in on the concept and work on your parents. To ensure that this ‘ally’ has the family’s goodwill at heart and knows you and your partner and is convinced of your intentions.
Pro tip: Introduce your partner as a friend along with a group of colleagues to your folks so that they can interact with them without any pre-judgements.
3. Layout a list of parental concerns and discuss how to combat them
Bring up all the issues that are likely to bring conflict once the families are approached about the match. You have to bring the whole subject of an inter-caste marriage to seem like something as normal and to be seen in a positive light. Build a narrative of how love marriage is better than arranged marriage in the long term through examples and rationalisation.
Pro Tip: Jot down and go over each potential conflict area and think of creative ways to solve them together. Take help from trusted and supportive friends in this.
4. Having “the talk” with your parents
Broach the subject of your inter-caste marriage and partner with your parents at a time when they are calm and relaxed and most of all, open to a conversation or viewpoint. Avoid bringing up the topic at a time of family stress or when you have guests over or at a social setting and when parents are preoccupied.
Pro Tip: Approach the more supportive set of parents first. Let them set the ball rolling and talk to the other set of parents for you.
5. Be patient and ride out the initial negative backlash
Understand that it won’t be easy for people to shed years of conditioning in an instant. Prepare yourself to hear a flurry of negative feedback or refusals. Don’t be defensive, dismissive of their fears and listen patiently. Show that you respect their point of view and are willing to wait. Allay their fears calmly by answering their doubts confidently. Avoid creating stress and tension in your house by being defensive or combative. Strive to show you care for their feelings.
Pro Tip: You should chill out and be as normal as possible. Take them out for dinner and talk like nothing has changed.
6. Harp on your partner’s qualities
From professional success to cooking skills to generosity- refer to the good qualities of your partner. Bring out the potential of your partner and how she/he could be the perfect fit for your family.
Tell your parents constantly how this relationship has made you happy and helped you grow.
Pro tip: Take your partner’s help in sorting some minor family issue, so your family understands that he/she in on your side
7. Meet the parents
Introduce each other to your families in a non-confrontational way in a comfortable setting. Ensure the meeting is between your partner and close family members. Avoid relatives or friends who could judge and influence their opinion. If the house is not a good option, then it is best to meet at a restaurant or a café which is non-threatening and a neutral environment for both parties. Take an ally along if it helps things and makes a good impression.
Pro tip: You should try to dissipate any tension that builds up with a bit of humour maybe.
8. Highlight similarities rather than differences
At the meeting and even later, always remind your parents of the similarities in both families so that they can grow comfortable with the idea. Much of the opposition stems from the irrational fear parents have of differences cropping up in case of an inter-caste marriage. So, work actively to reduce those.
Pro tip: Remember not to manipulate an outcome and let one happen organically.
9. Be patient, trust the process and your partner
Many times the waiting process could take a toll on the relationship. Patience is key here. Ensure refusals or backlash doesn’t strain your relationship. At times when a partner is feeling down, remember to instil confidence in conversations and back each other up. This could be an excellent way to test the strength of your commitment to each other.
Pro tip: Stay strong in the face of opposition so both sets of parents know that you are in it for the long haul and would not go for another option.
10. Read books and see films on the caste system
It will help you to convince them better. Tell them how you are reading up on the ingrained nature of the caste system in India. From time immemorial political leaders and social reformers have tried to challenge this system.
Pro tip: Remember, knowledge is power. The more you read and see, the more you will be able to fight your case. You will be able to challenge the common myths about inter-caste marriages.
More and more couples are opting for inter-caste and inter-faith love marriages. Once the initial hurdle of convincing parents is taken care of the rest can be a breeze. Follow these tips to convince your parents for an inter-caste marriage then many of your issues will be straightened.