LOVE AND MARRIAGE Have we fallen out of the idea of love?

Falling in love is not just possible, but easy too. Just close your eyes and believe!
Rose-tinted happily-ever-after images in fairytales and romantic fiction spoil us for the real thing. Pre-conceived notions and expectations ensure disappointment even with the best. So sharply focused are we on expectations that we sometimes fail to objectively evaluate or appreciate reality. So, if you have been brought up on the raging passions and sky-rocketing Big Os of Mills & Boon, or on stories of a Prince Charming who carries girls away on white steeds, your real life romance has fizzled out even before it got a chance to sizzle.
However, don’t lose heart. This is not to say that love cannot happen. It can and does but only to those of us who believe in it and make the effort to build it for ourselves. Note, not find love, but to build or create it for yourself. Most make the mistake of looking for that ‘one’ man, or that ‘one’ woman, who is perfect for them. There is no such thing as the perfect soulmate — there could be any number of them and so long as they fulfil your basic criteria, all is good. The critical part is recognising one of them who crosses your path and then to fall, or rise, in love. Research has shown that it takes between 90 seconds and four minutes to decide if you are attracted to a person. Fifty-five per cent of your decision is influenced by body language, 38 per cent through tone and style of speaking, and just seven per cent is dependent on what is said. Rest is all a matter of intent and application.
The one thing to remember is that most of the time you need to close your eyes to build your world of romance. Romance is certainly not going to happen with eyes wide open! Romantic love can happen only when you close your eyes to everything, including sometimes, the object of your affection! For, love and romance is more about convincing yourself than anything else. You can fall in love with someone and choose to remain in love for as long as you like. And so long as the object of your affection doesn’t do something unpalatable to break the illusion, nothing would go wrong till you decide to get bored or move on.
Start off with the belief that there can be no one person who is perfect in all respects. We all have good and bad facets, and one person’s evaluation of you could differ dramatically from another’s, depending on body chemistry and shared experiences. We all know people who are fond of us and others who aren’t. If we choose to focus on someone’s not-so-nice side we are bound to build up negative feelings against the person; however, if we choose to ignore the negative for the positive, we will appreciate the same person. The power of imagination is helpful for lovers. Use your imagination to believe you are totally in love with your beloved or spouse. Whip up the passion, feel it, let the rose-tinted glasses fall in place and then turn the love-laden gaze towards your partner. Even if it doesn’t always kick start your heart into overdrive, it will definitely keep the love going strong.
A friend and mother of two has this habit of looking adoringly at her husband, shooting indulgent smiles and stroking his cheek. Believe it or not, the man is in a state of constant adoration for his wife! I refuse to believe that in their decade-long marriage, they haven’t had problems, or haven’t seen the worst of each other. But they have chosen to focus on what they love and express it openly rather than trying to improve what they don’t like. And it works fabulously for them. Most marriages that last are those where the couple has chosen to reaffirm their love by building up spaces and activities where they can share togetherness. Leading researcher on love psychology, Ellen Berscheid, talks of how new lovers magnify each other’s virtues and explain away flaws. It doesn’t need rocket science to explain that continuing to do so would ensure lasting love; indeed, love needs to be blind! And to prove that falling in love is quite easy, New York-based psychologist Prof Arthur Arun asked subjects to find a complete stranger, share intimate details for half an hour and then stare deeply into each other’s eyes for four minutes. This resulted in most of his subjects feeling a deep attraction for each other. Reportedly, two of the couples even got married!
The Muslim marriage puzzle, it seems, is something everyone is trying to figure out.

Could it be that American Muslims fallen out of love with the idea of love?
Abdullah Antepli, a Muslim Chaplain at Duke University thinks so. He says college-aged students have a long checklist of things to accomplish and looking for love is not one of the “things to do.” They do not believe they can have it all – love, a family, a marriage, a profession, so they delay getting married. And if and when they are ready to start thinking about marrying, many an obstacle arises.
Young Muslims must balance cultural and religious values while in an American-Muslim identity, and they are only beginning to figure out how marriage fits in, Antepli said. American-Muslims are tiptoeing around how to meet and interact someone of the opposite sex and same faith without crossing religious edict but they are also dealing with familial and cultural expectations of what qualities they should find in a “special someone.”

“There’s a group of us who basically move out of everything traditional and establish the institution of marriage within an American framework,” Antepli said. “Or there’s a group of us, who unfortunately have developed a nostalgic utopia that’s neither Islamic nor real nor rational that basically looks for those ideals and reflects where you want to be, not where you are.”
Antepli says American-Muslims must “create a space so that relationships will form in an American-Muslim way to fall in love with each other.”So what is an American and Muslim way of finding a better-half? Sure, there are speed-meeting events and online matrimonial web sites for Muslims. There are also traditional matchmaking options available, but these matchmakers are usually focused only on their respective ethnic communities.

In the South Asian diaspora, matchmakers are called “aunties,” women who have the best intentions at heart to fix-up couples. Aunties will act as a go-between for families trying to find a match for their son or daughter. A woman’s weight, skin color, height, profession, educational status, connection to culture and religion, domestic skills are all scrutinized before boy meets girl.

For many South Asian American-Muslim women, finding a soul mate is like being on dizzying episodes of “Survivor” and “The Bachelor” combined into one. Instead of men and women asking each other what they want out of a spouse, it is almost like the auntie is standing in the middle of the room with a rose in hand but she will kick you off the island if you do not meet the criteria.
A college-educated woman who can cook a mean biryani, fry a samosa, blend a mango lassi and start whipping up a halwa all in 60 minutes and who also volunteers at a health clinic, may be just the domestic goddess someone’s looking for— or not. Some aunties think being the American version of famous Pakistani TV chef Shireen Anwar is not enough, she has to speak Urdu too — therefore, she must pack her knives and go.Since many of the matchmakers use photos to determine attractiveness, even woman who can speak three languages including Urdu, has a Masters degree, is well-versed in everything from Islamic text to Jane Austen and who makes sandwiches for the local homeless shelter on the weekends might be out of luck simply because she is not fair-skinned — the South Asian standard of beauty. The fact that a woman has lived away from her parents immediately sends the signal she is a wild child who parties every night. When it is more likely, the young woman in question barely has time for socializing between studying and work and sits home still wondering when Ted will meet his kids’ mother, alreadyrwadmore.readmore


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