When Hardik Pandya shared news about his engagement to Natasa Stankovic on social media, his father was as surprised as his followers. Couples and experts tell us how to break this news to the family
If you thought you were the only one to be blindsided when news of Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya's recent engagement to Natasa Stankovic broke the Internet, think again. Pandya's father, Himanshu, said that their family had no idea that he was planning to get engaged. Interestingly, a friend of Pandya's mentioned that he had been invited to the engagement a week in advance but couldn't make it because of a prior commitment. Observers were quick to note the stark contrast in their reactions, with many calling Pandya out for not doing the 'decent thing' by letting his family know first. And then there were those who supported this move, claiming that his was a purely personal decision and quite in sync with modern relationship norms. We spoke to readers about their own experiences with sharing news about their relationships with parents and well-wishers.
Does it matter if they know?
Priyanka Bajaria and Nahid Dave
Psychologist Priyanka Bajaria explains, "A proposal/engagement is symbolic of inviting your partner into your life. Since we live in a collectivistic culture, we are conditioned to share both the joys and challenges associated with our important milestones with our families and friends." At the same time, Dr Nahid Dave, a psychiatrist at Insight Clinic, points out that most urban adults are used to taking independent decisions, in terms of their finances, travel and where to stay. The decision about who to marry is also increasingly perceived as an independent decision. There exists a gap of more than one generation between modern parents and their children — the rate of evolution is not liner but rather exponential, especially because of social media and the Internet. While parents no longer expect to be asked about whom to marry, there certainly is an expectation that they will be informed first when the time comes," she explains.
Bajaria lists three things you should consider before your engagement:
- Factor in the quality and proximity of the relationship with your parents. If you share a close relationship with them, their blessings will only enhance your special moment.
- Is your family structure more individualistic or collectivistic?
- Will informing your parents after the proposal be a surprise or cause friction?
Dr Dave adds, "In most cases, parents don't approve of a match either because they believe that the match isn't good enough, or because of societal pressures that have little to do with the man/woman in question. In case of the latter, they place themselves before their child's happiness and this can lead to emotional blackmail. Understand why your parents are disapproving of your partner — in the first scenario, give your parents time to know your spouse.
If your parents are too bound by convention or societal norms, it's best to go ahead with what you think will work for you. Trying too hard can also result in fights between partners, as the stress begins to mount. Understand that even if you do take a wrong decision, it is your decision and you are accountable for the repercussions."
Your conviction matters the most
Debolina Mukhopadhyay and Mayank Dixit
Mayank and I met in 2017 at a salsa class. We connected first as friends and then fell in love. I remember him being my rock of support during some of the toughest phases of my life, including when my mother was suffering from kidney disease and multiple hypoglycaemic shock episodes. In June last year, we decided to formalise our relationship. Mayank had been receiving and rejecting many arranged matches by then. On my side, my father was quick to consent as he had met Mayank during my mother's illness. However, his family lived in a different city and was conservative. They had many initial reservations about me as I was not their choice and came from a different community. My fiancé took on the responsibility to speak patiently to his extended family about me, explaining why he thought I was the right choice. It has taken nearly a year for his parents to come around and accept that we have chosen to marry each other.
Lesson learned: If you are convinced that your relationship will work in the long run, don't be reluctant to let your families know. Understand why you have decided to be with your partner and try to get your family to understand your point of view. If the approval of your parents matters to either or both of you, have the patience to wait for them to come around.
Don't try to please everyone
Imtiaz and Rabia Patel
My husband's family was quite rigid about his marriage — they would have preferred him marrying within the caste. When we began dating each other, he had two daughters from a former marriage. He didn't want to challenge convention again and invite the ire of the society and his family. In 1996, we got married without anyone's knowledge and began living together. The night of our wedding, I called my father and informed him over the phone. He was disappointed at not being included in my decision but understood our fear of rejection. Seven months later, my mother-in-law stopped by our house and became very agitated when she saw me there. It took many years before she saw eye-to-eye with us. A few months after we married, my husband introduced his children to me — they were three and five years of age at the time and took an immediate liking to me. Our decision to marry was a practical one that had been arrived at after much deliberation.
Lesson learned: We were confident in our decision and didn't want others to intervene with their own judgments and prejudices. I've found that waiting for everyone's approval can often result in more trouble than good.
Be the first to tell them
Sonal and Ankur Somani
My husband Ankur and I met at our workplace. We dated for six years before we decided to get married. His family lives in Indore, while mine is in Mumbai. When we were dating, his parents did not approve of me at first — they were worried about whether I would be able to adjust to their ways. My family was the first to know when we decided to get married — they were already supportive of the match and were overjoyed. We celebrated before taking on the more arduous task of broaching the topic with his parents. We decided to let them know over a telephone call. While it wasn't ideal, it gave us some distance from the mayhem we knew would follow. It took us two long years to bring his family onboard. During this time, I would speak to them regularly and visited them a few times. I wanted them to understand me better. It helped that my husband stood firm on his decision to the extent that if they refused to see reason, we would proceed with the marriage in any case. Eventually, his parents did come to accept and love me for the person I am.
Lesson learned: Letting your parents know that you've decided to marry someone they don't approve of can be very difficult. What matters the most is unconditional support from both partners. It also helps if you are the first to break the news to your family as you can then give them enough time to come to terms with your decision, before you share the news with the world.
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