Recently my Psychology of Gender professor gave an extra credit assignment, a simple opinion piece on which we feel is better; Love marriage or Arranged marriage. It feel like I’m at that stage in life where all I hear about is marriage. Friends and family getting marriage. Marriage in the news. People asking when I’m getting married.
It’s awkward. It’s not something I particularly care to think about. I’ll be honest, when I hear of someone getting married, my heart drops a little. Am I going to lose them, the person I know? Are they going to lose themselves? Don’t think I’m not glad for their happiness. I just hope it stays for them.
It’s awkward. I don’t talk about it. Just smile and nod..
Years ago, I worked for an Indian woman who had moved to the United States as an adult. She had daughters around my age, and so she would often talk to me in kind. Always she was asking when I was going to get married, because she was already looking for a husband for her older daughter, a notion that was very strange and instinctively repellent to me. Shopping around for a husband as if he were a car? That wasn’t right. Love couldn’t be forced.
Having grown up in a Western society, I think it would be easy for me to say that Love marriages are better than Arranged marriages, because that is the way things are done here. In this culture, marriage is seen as the ultimate proof of love, and thus, to marry for another purpose is foreign and strange. At the same time, I live in the sort of society that thrives on knowing other people’s business, and can say from personal experience that marriages born in love aren’t necessarily superior. Love is a fickle mistress; it is irrational; it fluctuates over time; and sometimes it’s just not enough. These days, divorce is commonplace, as is adultery and spousal abuse. Having attended two of my mother’s three weddings and still bearing emotional scars from the divorce, I myself have become a bit jaded on the concept of marriage.
As foreign and bizarre as it might initially seem, the more I consider arranged marriages, the more sense they seem to make. It becomes less of an emotional decision and more of a business arrangement; I will give you my daughter in exchange for five cows. In a convenience marriage, you are not expected to love. In such instance, affairs may even be acceptable. Your emotions are free to do whatever they please without being tied down by a ring. Of course, problems still can occur; spousal abuse, or simply a clash of personalities. And then there are complicated issues such as, what if the wife loves the husband who is simply indifferent?
A friend once offered to marry me so that I could move to Australia with him. Possibly he was serious– he’s a bit crazy that way. It was a weird thing at first, but thinking of it, it didn’t seem that bad of a deal. We were friends, we got along fairly well, and yet we were in no way romantic; essentially, we would be roommates, with he and I free to do as we pleased, and I would get a spousal visa out of the deal. I’m not sure what he’d get, exactly, except companionship and help paying the rent. My friend has since moved to Korea and married a girl there, so I suppose I’ve lost my chance.
Instinctively, culturally, it is my inclination to say that, of course, love marriages are superior, because they are pure and true and Disney-like. But if I really stop to think, I know that is not the case. Despite the anti-gay marriage movement’s insistence, there is nothing sacred or pure about marriage. It is just another level of relationship, to succeed or fail as it will. And honestly, I am jaded about relationships, and expect them all to fail sooner or later, so I’d rather not get married and have to go through that whole messiness of divorce.
So are Arranged marriages better? Honestly, I don’t know. It seems that any time you legally bind someone to someone else, you’re setting them up for a world of hurt.
Much as I hate to give such a seemingly indecisive answer, I have to wind up saying neither. Neither marriage is better, because I don’t think marriage is much good to begin with.
I bet Australia would have been nice..