The ideal woman

 When I was a kid, one of my uncles was visiting India in search of a wife (yeah... the arranged marriages in those days). He visited quite a few homes and met some girls along with their families. I did not go along with them at any time, of course, but one day when he came back, I heard my mother and he discussing their day. The girl had asked him, "So, what is your idea of the ideal woman?". I don't remember what his answer was at that time, but the question certainly stirred me. When I set out to find the One for me, I needed to know what exactly I wanted in the person I would marry. Would I even want to marry the perfect woman? How do I make a list of things which I want to see in a potential wife? What is the final signal that seals the deal? Lots of questions, I know... but I arrived at some answers which I wish to share here.

The first thing I noticed when I pondered over the question was that I had a much better idea of what I did not want in a spouse rather than what I wanted in her. I did not want a loudmouth. I did not want a control freak I could handle one or two failed relationships from before, but not a series of ex boyfriends. I was also  going to be a utilitarian in terms of choice. Which basically meant that if it came down to two people in the end who are otherwise very similar in terms of education, mental compatibility, chemistry with me, I would prefer someone from a less disparate social background, say a Bengali over a Mallu. Now this by no means is the same as saying I wouldn't marry a Punjabi... I was in fact looking at profiles from all over the place. I believe that ff things click properly with somebody then the minor difference of the cultures would eventually dissolve away. But as it turns out, I am marrying a Bengali.

Now there are two interesting things about finding the perfect woman. First of all, there is no such thing as a globally or universally perfect woman. Or to put it another way, if the definition of a unanimously perfect woman means someone exceedingly brilliant, compassionate, loving, etc. then I did not want to marry her. This is simply because I could not afford her with my own "mate budget". The other thing I believe in is that there are hundreds of girls out there who would make the perfect life partner for you. Let me explain this: if you randomly choose 1000 people of the opposite sex from an equal social upbringing and cultural family values as yours, you will find at least five people who are perfect fits for you. As I have argued before on my blog, that is the precise reason college relationships or boyfriend-in-the-next-building relationships bloom. My idea was to cast a net wide enough, talk to some, mingle with fewer, like one and grow fond of her, and then go with the final gut feeling.

Some of my friends had a few checklists for themselves about what they wanted in a girl. Sample one here (I don't know him personally... just found the blog link once). My objection to a list like that is that it essentially reduces marriage to a job, and the process of courtship to a job interview. I wasn't going to a market to buy vegetables and objectively looking at the color of leaves on the cabbage. I wasn't going to be the supervisor of the person I marry: she'll be my equal. So yes of course the 5/1000 example I gave before was true: I would happily spend my life with any of them. But the chemistry does not happen with all. So the task was to figure out who I click with the best, since I wanted to savour the courtship period as much as the actual marriage.

Finally, what did I want in the person? Simply put: a sharing of fundamental beliefs, of right and wrong, even if the reasons might not be articulable all the time. That assurance of mental compatibility is a key ingredient in building trust. Because then you don't have to watch over the other one or be suspicious. Given what you have seen before, you can reasonably assume that she is doing exactly what you would want her to do in a given situation. Beyond that it doesn't matter so much. I might be a sceptical agnostic and she might be a firm believer in God, but that isn't the fundamental belief. The fundamental principle is that one must respect another's right to his/her own views and so even though we might disagree on whether God exists, she wouldn't go out and taunt me at every opportunity that I'm going to hell for not believing.

So whether it comes to judiciously spending money or prioritizing which family gathering to attend, as long as both of us keep an open mind and have similar inclinations even before we discuss this rationally, it should be good. Finally, you may ask, how do I find all this out? Your experience of the world will tell. You know far more than what you think. We all have interacted with thousands of people all our lives, and easily know who to make friends with and who not to. Extend that a little more, and you will start having an idea of the person who you talk to or meet. Also, this is not an overnight process. Talking to someone and finding out what they are like takes a long time... I definitely had this in mind when I started. And the experiences while doing this were very "educational", to say the least. Next time about those. :)

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