Struggling to find an arranged marriage as a diabetic

minute read
June 10, 2024
A single type 1 diabetic Indian woman.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story. Photo credit: Shree Shivam

Indian marriages are a grand affair, popular across the world. One of the most infamous reasons Indian marriages are so widely known is that parents often choose partners for their kids.

Yes, the concept of arranged marriage still exists in India. Put simply, it follows the idea that when a man or a woman is of age, if they have not yet found a partner for themselves, their parents will look for a suitable partner for them (considering factors like age, income, compatibility, religion, etc.)

This isn’t as outdated as it sounds. In fact, many people in my life (including perhaps myself) are okay with the idea of parents helping us out in this area. I remember talking to my parents and telling them what I wanted in a future husband so they could filter their search. I also told them I would want a long-ish courtship period so I could get to know him, and the final say would be mine.

Of course, it’s a common notion (and a fair one) that if something or someone has been ‘arranged’ specifically for you, it should be perfect.

As a 28-year-old woman with diabetes, this is my personal story of the challenges I’m currently facing regarding marriage.

To be clear, I’m in no way trying to generalise this experience. Others may have it far worse or better than me. But here are some common thoughts I have when I think or speak to anyone about arranged marriages.

Thought #1 – Biodata

Should I include my diabetes in my biodata?

Essentially, arranged marriages work through biodata. They’re like a resume for your marriage and contain all the important details you’d like your potential partners to know. Your biodata is given to marriage bureaus, relatives, matchmakers, etc., and is passed on to suitable families.

Along with all my other important information, I decided to include in my biodata the fact that I have type 1 diabetes.

There’s no right or wrong answer here, and people can choose not to add it.

For me, however, it was important to include it so I’d have complete transparency with the people it would be shared with. It also becomes a good filter, as families/men who are not comfortable with the fact I have a potentially life-long disease will not approach me in the first place – This saves me from dealing with ‘rejection’ once they learn I have this condition.

Thought #2 – Instant rejection

Think about it – If you’re looking for a marriage partner, how willing would you be to choose someone who deals with a challenging disease every single day? A disease that could also affect the future?

And how unwilling would you become, when you know you have the option of exploring people who don’t have diabetes!

But I understand where the rejection comes from. In fact, in my head, it’s completely justifiable. As a psychologist, I often put myself in other people’s shoes. And if the situation were reversed, I’d probably ask for someone without a life-threatening, genetically transmissible disease as well.

Instant rejection is generally a problem only in arranged marriages. I know many people with type 1 diabetes who have found love for themselves. I believe in those situations their partners have had the option and opportunity to look beyond diabetes and see the person for who they are.

This, unfortunately, does not always play out when you see a glaring ‘type 1 diabetes’ tag in someone’s biodata.

Thought #3 – Anxiety and hurt

While I empathise with why I’m sometimes not even considered, it doesn’t mitigate the hurt that comes along with it. No matter how much I’m prepared for it, the rejection and silence still hurt.

It often becomes a cycle of hurt, sadness, hopelessness and anxiety. And I’ve spoken of it often to my closest friends.

“If I don’t have the opportunity to advocate for myself and show people I’m more than ‘just a diabetic’, how is this supposed to work out?”

My friends are protective of me and have my best interests at heart. They’ve told me that I don’t deserve such men and their families anyway!

I agree, and I understand. But that doesn’t always help the anxiety, and the thoughts sometimes return.

“Will I ever be able to find anyone?”

Thought #4 - Difficult conversations

There was one time when there was the potential for things to move forward with a particular man.

Being an overthinker, I started preparing a list of things I would want to know and that I would want to say.

My grandfather felt the same and was keen that the family I would be going into should know and understand the daily struggles of type 1 diabetes – From taking injections to treating low sugar, handling high-sugar fatigue, and managing dietary restrictions.

I had some other points I wanted to discuss as well, like not wanting to bear any children (I’m open to adopting).

Unfortunately, things didn’t reach the stage where I could communicate these matters (for unrelated reasons). Even so, I remember feeling super anxious and anticipating rejection because these things may not be something a potential family would want to hear.

These conversations are difficult for me to have with my own family, who know and understand me. I can’t even imagine explaining this to people who don’t know me!

How can I expect them to fight for or even stand by me when I’m bringing them these kinds of ‘problems’?

Final thoughts

When I feel worried, my psychologist’s brain tells me I’m not being irrational – My concerns are real and well-founded.

But I’m also aware that these same concerns are not set in stone. There might be men who are open and accepting – I just haven’t met them yet.

One consequence I’m now facing though, is that I’ve become indifferent towards marriage. This may not be a bad or wrong thing – It’s a personal choice whether to get married or not.

But in the country I live in, marriage is kind of a rite of passage. It’s part of growing up.

Thankfully, times are changing and my family will support any decision I make.

For now, I think that marriage, and arranged marriage in particular, may not be easy for a type 1 diabetic.

But it’s on us to try, isn’t it?

Graphic of a female profile picture.
Simantika Chanchani
Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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