When your parents had an arranged marriage, it can be difficult to create a happy and fulfilling relationship.

No one's really having this conversation: there are real challenges with finding and maintaining a meaningful relationship when you grew up with arranged marriage as your primary model, and it doesn’t fit your life today.

In Beyond the Biodata, we’re building a community of people thinking through these questions and sharing potential solutions.

Who we are:

We’re Reva Seth and Anusha Deshpande, two friends who have thrown out the baggage from our parents’ arranged marriages, although it took time, energy and too much therapy. This is the CliffNotes version of what we learned.

From Reva:

I’m Reva Seth and way back in 2008 I released my first book, "First Comes Marriage: Modern Relationship Advice From The Wisdom of Arranged Marriages"  (Simon & Schuster: NYC 2008).   The book got tons of media and was optioned for a reality tv show.

For marketing reasons it was packaged as a dating advice book - but what I didn’t share in the publicity tours and book promotion was that I actually researched and wrote it to solve my own questions.  I knew I didn't want the relationship that parents had, but I also didn't want a long term version of any of the ones that littered my twenties.  

I've been married for 17+ years now.  My partner and I have three kids (15, 11 and 8) - and in something that I never imagined I'd say, as life achievements go, my relationship is one area that I'm both super proud and deeply grateful for. 

And in subsequent years, I've wondered if by packaging it for the marketing moment - I missed the chance to have the more powerful and impactful relationship conversation - to actually share what I learned about overcoming the arranged marriage legacy and building joyful, equal and deep lasting relationships. 

From Anusha:

I’m Anusha Deshpande, and I met Reva almost fifteen years ago when I lived in London for a summer. I’ve been with my husband for almost six years (3 married), and we live just outside NYC.

My parents had an arranged marriage in India before they settled in the US, and it prompted a bunch of questions for me about how I should approach my own love life. They married almost forty years ago, and cultural and generational differences mean the goal of a life-long partnership today has changed. I realized I wanted to approach my love life differently, but I didn’t know where to start. What actually matters in a relationship? How do you learn how to date when your parents never did? And how do you manage your family’s expectations (or disappointment) when you find the person you want to spend your life with?

After many conversations with Reva and writing about these questions on my blog, Purposely Ever After, we realized these were issues we’d both struggled with and knew that there were more of us out there.

How this will work:

Starting in mid-April, we’ll be sending weekly relationship advice on an issue rooted in our parents’ arranged marriage that we’ve struggled with. Here are some topics you can expect us to cover each week:

  • What *actually* matters in a relationship or potential partner?

  • How do you introduce a potential partner to your family, especially if they don’t meet your family’s expectations?

  • What is romance supposed to look like? 

  • How do you handle relationship conflict or fights? 

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Your feedback and questions are always welcome, and we’d love to hear from you about topics you want us to cover! Drop us a line at beyondthebiodata@gmail.com