'Lucky to have married right man'

'Lucky to have married right man'
MARRIED AT 17: After 14 years, Mr Sanjeev Tiwari and Mrs Rita Tiwari have three children.

Arranged marriages are still part and parcel of the milieu of modern Singapore. One couple share their rosy ever-after, while another woman finds herself down and out after trying to get out of hers.

They met only days before the wedding, but have been happily married for 14 years.

She was a month shy of 18 when she got married.

And she had met her husband for the first time only days before the wedding.

Fast forward 14 years, and the couple are happily married with three children.

Mrs Rita Tiwari, 32, who runs an online business, freely admits that she is "very lucky to have married the right man".

"I used to throw tantrums a lot, so if he was like that, I don't think it would have worked out. He has to be the more mature one in our relationship.

"We are like north and south, maybe that is why we go well together," she says when asked about their personalities.

When Mr Sanjeev Tiwari, 36, a senior industrial regulations officer with NTUC, came out to greet me, it was clear the two share a comfortable relationship, occasionally teasing each other.

Why did he agree to an arranged marriage?

"Because I am a good boy, so I listen to my parents," he says with a boyish grin.

"He always gives me that one-liner," Mrs Tiwari retorts with mock exasperation.

She explains that in her family, the idea of an arranged marriage was an established one.

"It was an ongoing topic around the house that it has to be an arranged marriage, so you basically fix your mind around it. It was nothing out of the ordinary because we knew we had to go through it," she says.

"The only thing we didn't know was at which age it would happen."

Growing up in a conservative household, Mrs Tiwari and her four sisters were not allowed to go out often.

So, she says, the Bollywood movies she grew up watching shaped her views on marriage.

"I was really expecting something similar to a Bollywood movie," she admits with a laugh.

SHOCK

But she was quite surprised when it happened so early. "None of my friends were even thinking of marriage. So it shocked me to give out wedding invitations at the age of 17."

While Mrs Tiwari was mentally prepared, it did not stop her from having some doubts.

"You have to leave someplace you are familiar with. In a love marriage, the girl gets to meet the parents and see the household beforehand," she says.

"In an arranged marriage, you go to a totally new place after you are married."

When asked about her first thoughts on seeing her husband, who was 21 at the time, she says with a shy laugh: "I was quite afraid because he was really tall - he was almost three heads taller than me.

"I knew I couldn't tell my father, but I was thinking, 'This is what you found for me?'" she says in jest.

Mrs Tiwari's father, Mr Shukul Brendra Kumar, 58, tells us: "I found a good boy, why waste time?

"It runs in the family. Since my grandfather's time, we have had arranged marriages and they have worked.

"I don't think arranged marriages should be considered old-fashioned.

He adds: "In an arranged marriage, you get married and love starts to blossom as you take three to four years to get to know one another."

His marriage has lasted 37 years.

Would Mr Kumar want for his granddaughters to have arranged marriages too?

"If you ask me right now, I will say yes. I would love for them to have arranged marriages.

"But you cannot, and should not, force it," he quickly clarifies.

Mrs Tiwari prefers for her two daughters and son to have arranged marriages, but surprisingly, her husband does not.

"He says times have changed and you can't force your decisions on your kids any more.

"I have to be prepared, he told me.

"I have to keep an open mind," she says with a laugh.

heatherh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 1, 2015.
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