What’s good about arranged marriages
For me personally they’re beyond my understanding. My parents fell in love and married. My mother is German while my father was Indian. I grew up believing that people got married because they love each other. I paid little, if any, attention to the few arranged marriages I saw around me. There weren’t many – I think a lot of people believed in love in the 60’s.
Now, in 2013 I’ve met more than one young person from the urban elite or urban middle class who want an arranged marriage. After much dating and many girl/boyfriends they ask their parents to find them somebody from the same background. Their reason – “If something goes wrong it’ll be their responsibility.”
They start out their married lives not wanting to take responsibility. Arranged marriages are the best thing for them. They’ve grown up with the idea of marriage as a transaction between two families, not between two individuals. Indoctrinated since birth they see no problem in throwing in their lot with a complete stranger.
When the marriage is arranged you’d think a long engagement might be in order – enabling families and fiancés to get to know each other. This is never the case. Engagements are short – taking place a week or a month before the wedding ceremony. Families don’t trust each other and harbour the suspicion that the other party will opt out suddenly, leaving their daughter/son with a bad reputation. The broken engagement may not be their fault but will definitely leave some stigma attached to them, the least (or greatest) of which may be “Bad karma.” Nobody will agree to marry them after that. Engagements are not a time for getting to know each other.
Couples who opt for an arranged marriage, or who don’t have an option MAKE it work because they are culturally attuned to arranged marriages and against divorce. They find positives where others might be hard put to notice them. They say, living with a stranger is new and exciting. They feel safe with an individual approved of by their family and even more safe in the bosom of their family. They believe that sex sanctioned by the family is the only sex to have and are ok with it and happy.
In arranged marriages everyone’s roles are clearly defined. The wife is subordinate, she’s tolerated in the marital home provided she panders to every whim of her mother in law, husband and anyone else who needs their ego stroked. In exchange she will be given bed and board and the much-needed status of being a married woman. Hindu priests pray over women with the blessing, “Sada suhagan ro” – may you always be married.
If being married is the most important thing in your life, then any marriage, even an arranged one, will do.
On the other hand, one really great outcome of arranged marriages is the ability to bargain, if you’re not a meek woman. If you’re really bold enough to take on your mother in law and all the time-tested traditions you can deal with an arranged marriage. Many of the women of today are developing this strength to be who they want to be. Within the boundaries of what their parents expect them to do they become hard bargainers – unfettered by the chains of romantic love with their eye clearly on the goal of what they are fighting for. No emotional blackmail from a husband works. Because they don’t love him. Any softer emotion they feel for him is secondary to their getting their way. It seems to work for them so that they’re empowered rather than being a slave to love. They’re not suppressed and this works because the waters are not muddied by emotion.
There’s something to be learned there for all those women who are so in love with their spouses they have a hard time getting their needs met, because they’re willing to give it all up and make their needs subservient to his.
Arranged marriage gives you a good head for bargaining.
What do you think?
I guess you can still tell that I haven’t found anything very positive in this patriarchal custom where wives are child bearers, upholders of the families morals and unpaid slaves.