'Grooming' for a knotty affair

'Grooming' for a knotty affair

Does an NRI marriage always guarantee an ideal lifestyle or are there some red flags that are often overlooked? Sushumna Kannan has some answers

Women marrying a coveted NRI groom has always been quite the phenomenon. It reflects gender disparity — of course men choose employment outside India more than women; Indian families continue to be protective of women but an equally great problem is that of women marrying Non-Resident Indian men, not knowing what to expect. It is assumed that one is going to have a great lifestyle and few to none actually visit in advance the city of their future life. Here is a checklist to think through before saying yes.

The weather

As trivial as that sounds, the weather can be crucially decisive. Many cities where Indian IT workers are typically employed have over six months of rain and unwelcome cold weather.

It takes considerable amounts of time to acclimatise and many young brides find themselves depressed in the
cold weather that curtails outdoor activities.

Loneliness

It is impossible to be truly alone in India. You could bump into the friend of a friend or the relative of a relative any given day and make conversations with strangers you meet anywhere. That is not how it is in many other countries. Neighbours may or may not interact. Friends are not easy to make. Everybody is busy with work. 

Employment

Numerous countries place restrictions on spouses marrying their non-citizen employees. So, check if the groom is a citizen. This is unlikely if the groom has migrated for a job. In the USA, it typically takes a decade or more to acquire citizenship from the time the employer starts the process. The USA is notorious for placing restrictions on jobs for spouses of its immigrant workers. Some of the restrictions were relaxed in 2015 through the Employment Authorisation Document (EAD) but the rules require many spouses to wait for six years before they can apply for this document. Even with the EAD, many non-IT or non-STEM educated are jobless. Bias against immigrant workers remains strong among non-IT employers. In many countries, re-educating oneself is a must.

Real estate

If one’s spouse is in an IT-related job, then there are specific city hubs with a concentration of such firms. Living in one such hub could mean ending up in a two-room apartment. Cramped living spaces is exactly not what women expect when marrying NRIs. In sharp contrast, the suburbs can feel isolating and lonely. A flexible partner who takes their spouse’s preference into consideration or is open to experimenting with either is ideal.

Staying/returning

Many couples do not talk about plans of how long to stay or when to return well in advance. Over time, either partner might want to return. But women will often be pressured by families to succumbing to their husband’s choices out of commitment to marriages and children. Planning for the future but also remaining open-minded is the key here. Occasionally, disagreement on these issues have led to divorces. Plus, many men who plan an early retirement can curtail lifestyle expenses, which means limited financial freedom. Given these challenges, how can women empower themselves?

Find out as much as you can before marriage; information is everything. 

Talk about money and children.

If there is a wait time before you are employable, plan your activities for that duration.

If you feel isolated, consider volunteering and studying.