‘marriage is not about feelings but commitment’
Sonal (27) lives with her husband in Nagpur, Central India. She always used to depend on her parents and followed their advice. Since she started traveling she opened up her mind and found out for herself how to live a happy life.
What does happiness mean to you?
Being surrounded by loved ones. I feel most happy when my husband and my two dogs are around me.
What is your background?
I grew up with my parents and little sister in Shadol, a city in Madya Pradesh in East India. During college, I always depended on my parents and followed their advice. They wanted me to study Architecture and so I did. During my study, I started to travel and followed scholarships in Rajasthan, North and West India. Traveling made me learn a lot about life and taking responsibility. I learned how to manage my finances, met a lot of interesting people and learned about their cultures. In our culture it is normal for the parents to arrange your marriage. Marriage is not about feelings but commitment. Many future spouses have never met one another before they are introduced by their parents. My parents wanted me to marry a decent wealthy man. But I was looking for a man who is open minded and loves to travel like me. I am lucky that I was in the position to share my opinion about my future husband and that my parents cared about what would make me happy as well. Trying to find a like-minded husband, my mom asked help from her brother. He knew someone who used to work for him. Before I was supposed to meet him I checked his Facebook profile and found out that he was exactly what I was looking for. Although we were not supposed to, we went on a date before we officially got introduced. This gave us time to get to know each other. I liked him immediately and two months later we were engaged. We got married last year!
Where do you stand in life?
Since I am married I feel more relaxed. There is no pressure to find a husband anymore. I am lucky I got introduced to a man that matches me because I know It could have turned out differently. It is common in India that woman are forced to get married to a man they barely know. My parents expect me to have children now that we are married, but I am not ready yet to become a mother. My husband supports me and gives me the freedom to do what I want. I am taking my time to focus on myself and my work as a freelance architect.
Are you familiar with the thirty years dilemma?
Yes I am. I have a 32-year-old friend who is very successful in her career and well settled but not married yet. She feels stressed about the fact that she has already past her thirties and doesn’t have kids yet. Especially because she feels the pressure of her parents who expect her to get married. I try to convince her that she should be very proud of herself and that the time will come when she is ready for it. But I know that if I didn’t get married to my husband last year my parents would have forced me. Woman often get blackmailed by their parents if they refuse a marriage. I am happy I found a good husband on time.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Do you have a dream?
I would be a successful architect and have my own office. I want to see more of the world and travel together with my husband abroad to learn more about different cultures.
What wise lesson did your parents teach you?
Although I was not allowed to have a boyfriend, they gave me the freedom to travel and that’s the best school in life there is.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Learn as much as you can. During my childhood I didn’t learn much except making sketches. For example, I never learned to swim. It is important to acknowledge yourself from a young age and learn from the people around you.
When was you last moment of happiness?
When I did the Chandrashila trek with my husband. Although we were not in a good shape we didn’t give up. I felt rewarded when we reached the top looking out over the beautiful mountain range.
Under the same sun is an ongoing travel log which you can follow on our travel and lifestyle blog Meet You at the Bridge. The reports show the similarities and differences on what it means to be happy for women between the ages of 25 and 35 who hail from different cultures.
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