Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Love Marriage vs. Arranged Marriage

Sony is getting ready to release a new series called "Love Marriage ya Arranged Marriage" in India. Upon hearing about this show and reading a little about it I wanted to weigh in. Obviously I'm no expert on Indian arranged marriages but I did learn a few valuable lessons while living in Amritsar and from my own experience being married and working with the family to arrange a marriage.

First off, all marriages are contracts. If they weren't, you wouldn't need a piece of paper to validate it and no one would make vows. While it may not look like the business contract you're used to seeing, it is a contract. Let me explain further.

Whether you're a feminist or not, there are things you expect from a marriage. This includes westerners and that list could include any of the following:
  • Divided household chores - it takes two people to efficiently run a household. Maybe you expect your spouse to work and provide the income to pay for lawn care, a maid, etc. No matter how it's worked out, you either have expectations or you agree on how these chores are managed and what level of involvement each of you have. 
  • Honor - even if you don't speak of it or discuss it with your partner, you expect them to honor you. No one anticipates or plans for their spouse to run around talking trash about them behind their backs. 
  • Respect - This is a hard one because sometimes you don't understand each other but you have to respect each other's decisions. You would never expect your spouse to be rude to your mother just because they didn't get along right? And if your spouse disrespected your mother, what would it do to your relationship? It could easily be a contract/marriage breaker. 
  • Trust - you both expect the marriage/contract to only be between the people involved in the marriage. In the west that is typically the two spouses but in the east it could involve your whole family. So you trust your spouse not to upset that balance or go outside the confines of the marriage. 
  • Roles - these may or may not be traditional. You could agree the woman does all the household work and the man mows the lawn and fixes the car. Usually these roles are different in every marriage though. You agree to do what you are strong at. Just like with any other contract, you are expected to perform tasks you are good at. When was the last time you took your car to a grocery store for maintenance (Wal-Mart excluded since they often do both)? Would you expect a good job to be done to it? No. Exactly my point. So if one spouse loves cooking, the other spouse is rarely expected to cook. These roles are well defined before the marriage takes place whether it's a love marriage or arranged marriage. 
What are the benefits of an arranged style marriage - and by that I mean a marriage that is chosen by the partners and not the family. Most westerners just rely on love but that is not enough to make a successful marriage. Some majorly important factors that must be present for the marriage to work (in addition to those listed above) are:
  • Financial stability - do you really want a partner who's broke, refuses to work or can't pay the bills and is always adding stress to you by asking for money? If you do then I've also got some oceanfront property in Arizona I'm looking to sell. (For those of you not American - that means you're a fool with your money....there is NO ocean near Arizona.)
  • Family stability - this one may be waived where there is no family or there's been no family contact for an extensive period of time (say 5 years or more). When you get married you adopt your spouses issues. At the very least you have to hear about them. Can you imagine talking about the latest family feud every night before bed? Or maybe there's no feud but mom calls 20+ times a day and still checks to make sure her baby wipes twice after each trip to the potty. 
  • Acceptance - no matter what the financial condition or family condition of your potential spouse, you have to be willing to accept it and be ready to face whatever challenges it creates. Know your partner well. Don't enter into a contract like marriage without knowing everything you can. Even in the west we're it's believed that we don't respect the institution of marriage, most people hesitate to get out of a bad marriage and it's a real hassle to end one. So don't get into one in the first place until you're sure you know what you're facing and are willing and ready to deal with it. 
There's a long list of things I could mention including children, driving, working, saving, living arrangements, etc.  What do you think is important before engaging in any type of marriage contract -whether arranged or love?

To sum up my point, two people enter into a marriage with expectations of what the other will bring to the relationship. Just like a contract between any other individuals.

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