Some might consider Adam and Eve the first “arranged” marriage although, theoretically, neither had any other viable options. The point is that, historically, arranged marriages can be traced to our earliest civilizations. Makes you wonder when “love” entered into the marriage equation so people could choose for themselves to whom they would make love and live with for the rest of their lives.
Today, most of us can’t even fathom having our spouse chosen for us, yet it still happens in India, in traditional African societies, Muslim countries, royal families, the Amish and other groups. In many cases, the couple doesn’t meet until the day of the wedding. It’s like a one-night stand you can never escape. Yikes! Fortunately, times are changing worldwide. Many parents do allow a small courtship period, and if one or both in the arranged couple don’t want the marriage, it’s canceled.
We could argue for days about whether the woman or the man in an arranged marriage gets the worse deal. Both are essentially forced to marry and live with a virtual stranger, which can’t be easy for either one. Of course, women in third-world or developing countries are often not considered equal to men, so they’re going to be affected by culture and customs regardless. But let’s not get into human rights issues. We’re here to talk about arranging your own marriage.
To do that, we need to see what’s good about arranged marriages, and take some pointers in finding a suitable spouse. Here’s where part of the marriage-arranging process has validity and actually makes a lot of sense.
In western society, men and women usually need a spark – some sort of emotional connection between the two before a non-platonic relationship is even explored. In an arranged marriage, neither physical/sexual attraction nor personality is an important factor to the parents. Again, yikes!
So now we’ll assume you’ve met a potential spouse, you’ve dated a few months and you think this could be THE ONE. Now let’s bring arranged-marriage criteria into play. Think of it as Mom and Pop’s “e-harmony” application. They’re simply things that help ensure happiness, productivity and a healthy family life. Now is the time to move past the hot bod and the great sex. At the very least, look for:
– Matching levels of education
– Matching cultures
– Matching religions (or similar codes of ethics and values)
– Parenthood potential (will he make a good father? She, a good mother?)
– Does he/she come from a good family with a good reputation? (They may be millionaires, with Dad in prison for a major white-collar crime)
– How does he/she treat his/her parents?
– Does he/she have good manners? (This sounds minor, but you’d be amazed at its importance.)