Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Fascinating Arrangement

Yesterday Oprah's show featured various styles of marriage across the world.  The mail-order bride from Ukraine was interesting, but the couple from India fascinated.  Did you know that 90% of marriages in India are arranged?  They believe in bringing a couple together based on compatibility as opposed to love.  (Although certainly love is something they hope for.)  Here in America we marry for lurve.  We love him, we want to marry him, we want to have his babies.  Sigh...  And then four years later his snoring drives us nuts and he's sleeping around with the younger, cuter neighbor, and it's D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

But back to the arranged marriage.  Did you know that worldwide over 60% of marriages are arranged?  That means over half the marriages in the world are put together in a means different than what we Americans consider traditional.  It's astounding.  And yet we are the ones with the highest divorce rate.  Hmm...

The idea of such a union is something I love to ponder.  I enjoy reading arranged marriage romances.  In fact my April release, HER VAMPIRE HUSBAND is an arranged marriage between a werewolf and a vampire.  (Hey! Werewolves and vampires are people, too.  Erm...mostly.)  It's a weird fantasy of mine, actually.  I often wonder what it would have been like to have lived a few centuries earlier and to be delivered to my future husband's arms and married without even knowing him.  Of course, he'd have to be tall, dark and brooding.  I'd discover the tragedy he hides deep inside, and heal him with my newly-learned love for him.  Sigh...

Er, sorry.  Well, it must be a popular fantasy because those arranged marriage romances sell like hotcakes.  And obviously it works in India.  I like the idea of being matched to my intellectual and emotional equal.  And the way they do it, the potential pair meets once (with much family around), and then if they wish, are allowed to go on a date.  And usually within one or two meetings the blushing young couple decide if they wish to procede with a marriage.  It seems rushed, but the relatives make darn sure the two are compatible before they shower them with marigolds and dance for three days.

But really?  Do you think it does work?  If you'd lived a different life, or even in a different time, do you think you'd be open to an arranged marriage?  Is love so important?  Because really, it isn't always lurve but rather infatuation.  Anyone know someone in an arranged marriage?  How's it workin' for them?


Betina Krahn said...

I don't know anyone in an arranged marriage, but I do know one guy from India who worked with the DH and who was very conflicted about marrying here in America. He wanted an Indian bride, but was infected with just enough of the American "marry for love" bug that it was hard for him to ask his folks to send him a bride. Talk about a conundrum!

I have to say, if my kids would have allowed me to pick a bride, I'd have been happier. Not sure about them. Not that I don't love the DIL's but it's sort of like an arranged marriage for me. . . I had to learn to love. Hmmmm could it be that we just have it b ackwards in Amerka?

Terry Odell said...

Fascinating topic. Back when I got married, marriages weren't arranged, but boy, was there pressure on a woman to get married. My grandmother had stopped asking if I was seeing a "nice Jewish boy" and merely asked if he was a "nice boy."

Sometimes I wonder if I ended up with the 'right' choice, but since we've been married 40 years, I guess I did.

Helen Brenna said...

It's not one of my fantasies, but it is interesting. My dh used to work with an Indian man who was in an arranged marriage. He and his wife seemed very happy, and they apparently plan on setting up marriages for their 2 daughters who grew up here in the US. I wonder if that will actually come to pass.

I've been told, though, that extramarital affairs are very commonplace in Indian culture, for both men and women. I think that brings the entire arranged marriage thing into quite a different light.

KylieBrant said...

That sounds like a rosy description of arranged marriages to me, LOL. Mostly you read about the daughter being bartered away as a way to join families, businesses, pay off a debt...but maybe I'm just a cynic.

I know for a fact that if my parents had arranged my marriage I wouldn't be married to my husband! And it's lasted 32 years so I think I made a pretty good choice.

Of course, there were years of *training* but he's come along pretty well, LOL.

Michele Hauf said...

With the rapidity that some people do rush to marriage nowadays, it is something to think about. Maybe letting mom pick the man would be more appealing? I wager a lot of those arranged marriages are very happy.

My daughter got engaged after knowing the guy six months (Same with her mom.) But a year later, and after living together, she decided he just wasn't the guy she wanted to spend the rest of her life with (not same as her mom). I was very proud of her for coming to that decision. Because I think a lot of young ladies today fall in love more with the idea of marriage, the dress, the food, the flowers, the ceremony, and forget about the commitment.

Which has nothing to do with an arranged marriage, the then again, maybe doing the charts and asking all the right questions beforehand and having the family approve is the way to go.


Kathleen O said...

I know of one arrange marriage. A girl I work with. And I will tell you it is causing a lot of problems for her in her work life and home life. Her family wants her to be a more traditinal wife and she wants to enjoy a career too..
I think most marriages arranged are not really on a compatablility, but the wealth that one partner bring to the marriage. It's all about the money..
Just my opinion..

lois greiman said...

Love this topic. Our daughter asked us to arrange her marriage. :) I think she was kidding. I also think she was confident we'd pick the guy she's in love with. But honestly, I think most loving, caring parents could do a pretty good job of choosing partners for their progeny.
But it sounds like a huge amount of pressure.

Debra Dixon said...

With the right people involved as the "arrangers" and with the right motives and clear desire for this kind of path to marriage, I think it's brilliant.

Force arranged marriage is another issue entirely.

I married for loooove and very young. It worked out. Mostly because we both wanted to be married as a lifestyle and we were willing to figure out how to be compatible.

Well, he was. We all know I'm shallow. (g)

Playground Monitor said...

If I ever marry again (gotta get out of this one first though) it'll be arranged because I'll arrange to have him thoroughly investigated, I'll arrange the prenuptial agreement, I'll arrange for him to deposit a large chunk of money in an account in my name only to compensate me for the alimony I'll be giving up.

I can hear y'all laughing, but I'm serious. I will never marry again without a lot of safeguards in place. Call my a cynic, but once burned, twice shy.

We have a huge Indian population here but I've never known anyone in an arranged marriage. Perhaps I just didn't know their marriage was arranged.

Deb wrote she wanted to be married as a lifestyle. I like that. It's what I wanted too. But sometimes things change.

Interesting discussion, Michele.


P.S. Verification word is medshota. It sounds like some sort of ritual -- maybe to do with an arranged marriage? LOL

Michele Hauf said...

Lois, I think I know who you'd pick for your daughter, and they would make a lovely couple.

I like Deb's idea of marriage as a lifestyle. It does definitely work better for some than others.

And Marilyn, I don't think there's anything wrong with your idea of what needs to be in place should you marry again.

We're all so different, and that's why it surprises me that we all do seem to make matches and stick to them pretty well. (Mostly.) :-)

Laura Breck said...

When I lived in Vegas, I worked with an Indian-American who had a strange arranged marriage story. Her parents brought over a man - a Sikh, long hair, turban and all, to "stay with them for a while." Then they talked her into marrying him. Eeek! They married and had two sons - and he talked her into letting his mother raise them - in India! Double-eek!

She missed them terribly, and only got to see them a few times a year. She was working two jobs to save enough money to afford to bring them back to America.

It always makes me sad to think about her.

susan said...

I know I would not like this but in some ways my own was encouraged by Gary's relatives. Maybe there is something to arranged marriages as I never thought of divorce. We have 46 years together now. ha ha I think maybe it wouldn't do any harm in many cases as the marriage fails just the same. ha ha susan L.

MsHellion said...

I can see the "romance" of it. And considering I have to date in this century, and how horrible dating IS in this century, I have to say, I've had one or two fantasies about arranged marriages. But he'd have to look more like Jason Stratham than Jason Alexander.

However, I have a feeling if my parents could have picked someone for me to marry, it would have been to someone a lot like Jason Alexander...or if he looked like Jason Stratham, he'd be Amish. At no point are your parents going to pick the roguish guy as your mate, no matter how much money he has. They're going to pick the boring, dependable looking nag every time, no matter how close to death that nag looks.

As for DIVORCE and America, I think there are two reason for less divorce in arranged marriage countries: 1) Lack of opportunity and 2) More contentment with their lot. It's part and parcel of the American culture to not be content with what you have, but to achieve bigger and better things. Being happy has everything to do with having the best that money can buy and nothing for being grateful for what you do have. Unless of course, you're in the middle of a recession and we're all suddenly reminded of what does matter.

But even if other countries can be more content with "less", I think a lot of the time if you gave them the option, they'd leave. Don't think they wouldn't. *LOL*

Helen Brenna said...

I think the fantasy is that someone else takes the decision out of your hands and lo and behold they manage to pick the love of your life. Who wouldn't love that?

GunDiva said...

I've "lost" two students to arranged marriages. Both students were Indian who have family here and in India. The first student was very pleased about the arrangement and willingly gave up school, despite meeting her husband THREE DAYS before their marriage.

The second had a hard time with the arrangement; she was a little more integrated into our culture and told me she was "embarrased" to tell me because the thought she was too young to be getting married, but bowed down to her traditional parents.

I cried. Here is an intelligent, beautiful, hardworking woman who busted her butt in school to finish up her degree and she was forced to get married. Broke my heart.