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I Do! Arranged Marriage

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I have always found the tradition of arranged marriage quite intriguing.  I read somewhere that arranged marriages have a higher success rate (i.e., fewer divorces, higher marital satisfaction, etc.).  Even CBS is going to have a reality show called Arranged Marriage right here in the United States.  A cultural tradition that currently takes place in some parts of South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Japan, China and maybe even the United States (!), arranged marriages were, at one time, also prevalent among royalty.  In general, an arranged marriage brings together two people that might not have met otherwise and I can't help but think that this practice is somewhat similar to modern Internet dating and/or matchmaking sites in some ways, but for the family and/or parental involvement.  Having been married for ten years next month, I also wonder who my match could've been had my parents had a say in the matter (laughing at the thought).  I don't think they could've chosen anyone better.  =)
Last year, I asked Brown Girl Deepa Sood to contribute to® by writing a piece about her Indian family and marriage.  Romeo and Juliet (Indian style) is a look at marriage within Deepa's very own Indian-American Brown Girl World.  "I also grow more and more in awe of my parents who bucked tradition and entered into a 'love marriage,' despite the fact that each of their siblings went the 'arranged marriage' route. My parents had to truly fight to be together. It was the stuff of Romeo and Juliet, in the suburbs of Bombay. Believe it or not, my dad even had to literally scale walls in order to spend time with my mom. My sister and I jokingly ask if cheesy background music played as he performed such feats but, secretly, we love the grandiosity of our parents' love story. My mom's family was of a higher caste than my dad's, but that was less important to my grandparents than the fact that my dad was the first-born son. They believed that if he married outside of his community, he would 'ruin' the prospects of his younger sisters. But my dad didn't give up."
In contrast, fictional character Neel Sarath, an Indian-American anesthesiologist in San Francisco, believes he's distanced himself from traditional Indian life with his blonde American girlfriend, his Porsche, and his spotless, Pine-Sol-scented condo in A Good Indian Wife: A Novel.  But after his family tricks him into coming home for an arranged marriage, the newlyweds surprise each other.  Neel discovers that Leila Krishnan, the woman who becomes his wife, is not a meek, traditional girl who can be set aside while life goes on as usual, girlfriend and all.  Author Anne Cherian explores what happens when complicated people get married first, and have to woo each other later.
Meanwhile, in China in the early 1930s, sisters Junan and Yinan are inseparable, even as Junan matures into beauty and Yinan remains awkward and plain in Inheritance: A Novel. Junan enters into an arranged marriage and falls in love with Li Ang, her soldier husband. Separated from him when the Japanese invade China, Junan sends the unmarried Yinan to keep her husband's household. What is intended as an arrangement of convenience turns to betrayal when Li Ang and Yinan have an affair. As China is divided by communism, the family is also rent in two. Junan and her daughters Hong (who is also the narrator) and Hwa end up in the States, while Yinan and Li Ang remain in mainland China with their son and are effectively banished from memory.

How do you feel about arranged marriages?


Unknown on: July 15, 2010 at 11:48 PM said...

I sometimes think to myself that it is better with an arranged marriage. My friend is muslim and he told me that he never met his wife. His parents found his bride and I was in shock when he told me. They have been married for awhile now but it seems to work. I dont know if I could marry someone I never met though.

Anonymous on: July 16, 2010 at 2:20 PM said...

I have many friends with arranged marriages that have been married over 10 years. I think it could be a good idea because your friends and family [are] going to pick someone that they know is best for you. They are using more criteria than he/she is cute. LOL

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Anonymous on: July 16, 2010 at 2:21 PM said...

In the context of which this derived, I believe it's a wonderful way to assure successful marriage, because most cultures that practice arrangemed marriages condition the children to embrace and understand it before they reach matrimonial age. Here in America the uniqueness and integrity of such arrangement may be treated with much less value, being such a "free" society and all. I just think while America has its pluses in that it accepts many cultures and ethnic ways, it also has a way of taking away from cultural significance of the very folk it allows in its gates.

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Anonymous on: August 10, 2010 at 1:00 AM said...

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