Friday, June 28, 2013

In Praise of Arranged Marriages

You know, maybe having arranged marriages isn't such a bad idea after all. It worked out OK in this movie:

The way this depicts the concept, it's not exactly Tevye and his daughters in Fiddler on the Roof. People of the same faith tradition are given the opportunity for chemistry to happen while meeting each other with the intentional purpose of seeing if marriage is a possibility between them. Gosh, that just seems to cut through so much crap in our culture where "dating" is concerned. There is firmness of purpose about marriage. There is an actual rootedness of marriage in family life, rather than considering commitment and offspring as possible offshoots of romance or random sexual encounter.

Could this system grossly backfire and leave people unhappy? Sure. Does non-arranged marriage grossly backfire and leave people unhappy? I have to answer that?

I suppose the phenomenon of Christian match websites are close to rhyming with this idea, although there isn't the family involvement. Heck, most young adults don't even have any connection with any faith community, let alone having any sense of vibrant traditional connection within their own living family generations. In reality, Christians at least are too far gone for this to be workable in the West, and we are far too independent to imagine this kind of process being "healthy" or workable. This old married woman sorta thinks that's a shame.

I was thinking today about an incident I can laugh at now, 20 years later. When I was in the process of becoming a Catholic and hanging out at Catholic charismatic events in Milwaukee, I learned that a couple people I had thought of as members of my non-denominational fellowship were actually Catholics with one confused foot in both ecclesial communities. I was at a weekend conference once where one such fellow I knew was also attending. He asked me if I would have lunch with him. The ONLY thought I considered in my reply was that I was among a large group of people I didn't know, and I welcomed the chance to not eat by myself, or squished at some table with a group who all knew each other. We sat down, and the first thing he said, in a way-too-animated voice, was, "Wow, that annulment process sure is grueling! I'm so glad to have it behind me."

I think I sorta stared at him for several seconds as it slowly registered in my brain what he was telling me, and why. Other than, Dude, you're 15 years older than me. I doubt that I said anything beyond "Oh," and I'm sure the conversation went downhill from there.

Maybe it is mostly my introversion that makes socializing tiring in the first place, or maybe it is my naivete that figures I can simply have a nice friendship with a man, or maybe it is how comforting I find it for all expectations to be laid out up front, so there don't have to be surprises. All these aspects make the prospect of knowing "we are testing out our marriage potential, and here are all the objective criteria I wish to consider about you" very reassuring.

Since I'm already married, maybe I should become a matchmaker.

1 comment:

Faith said...

I know of two arranged marriages. One was my friend's cousin. Her father was a Pakistani Muslim so her cousin and husband were Muslim. The parents had picked the spouse and the two had met and decided they liked each other. They spent their wedding night reading favorite passages from books they loved to each other. Both were very happy! The arranged marriage I know of was the mother of a playmate of my son in preschool. One day they invited my son over to play. They were from India. Anyway, when I came to pick my son up the mom offered me homemade chai and we sat and talked and somehow she mentioned that she had an arranged marriage and how pleased she was and how she laughed at Americans who couldn't understand it. The older I get the more I think arranged marriages make sense!