Friday, July 26, 2013

Arranged Marriage

There's a very formulaic approach to writing a romance novel. Either the main love story focuses on the fact that the two people hate each other in the beginning, only to find themselves falling hopelessly in love; or, the couple has a history where they were soulmates, and then something happens (like misinterpreting a sigh...yes, you read that right: a sigh) after which, they are brought together and realize they were meant for each other after all; OR there is the marriage of convenience. I don't know what it is, but I love marriages of convenience. Two strangers getting married for all sorts of stupid reasons, and then they fall in love with each other and live happily ever after. One of my very favorite movies is called Arranged, it happens to be about two women: An Orthodox Jew and a Muslim, who become friends as they teach together at a school, and as they are both in the middle of having their marriages arranged by their families. There are so many good things about the movie (like, teaching tolerance, and faith, and love, and self-discovery) and I really recommend it, but the thought of an arranged marriage in today's world... So I've been thinking about it a lot. How would I do in an arranged marriage? Can it really work? What if, hypothetically, my Uncle decided he had found the perfect man for me (i.e. the guy is also single...) and we got married for time and eternity, and started our lives together. Getting to know each other after we had aleady made the covenants to be together, knowing that this was no 30- to 90-day trial, money back guaranteed. For a moment, I think I could do it. If all I want is companionship, someone to bounce off ideas and make decisions as partners instead of a single, selfish person. A warm bed with another body in it. Someone who shares my beliefs. If that's all I want, can't that be discovered in a relationship with a person you don't really know? I think it could work. I think there is evidence that it has worked. But is that all I want? Could I give up the surely semi-false idealizations of romance, passion, and common interests? There's a chance those things would be discovered in an arranged marriage, but there's also a chance they would not be there. You might develop a friendship or a companionship, but what if it never transcends to the level that when you're reading a romance, you know it will ultimately reach. Life isn't a romance novel, so there's no guarantee. An arranged marriage would take a lot of work, especially at the first. All relationships take work, but this would be particularly hard. You would have to make sure that you did not come to resent the fact that you had given up your choice, your hope for something better to come along. You would have to work to discover the things that bound you together as a couple that would typically be found while dating. The thought that you had signed on to something so permanent without a way out would take some getting used to, and I don't know if you would get used to it. I've heard the counsel that there is no such thing as a "soul mate" and that any worthy man and any worthy woman that are dedicated to making a marriage work, will have a working marriage. And for the most part, I believe that. I think two truly committed people can stay together and have a relatively happy life together. But is relatively happy enough? Of course, two people who are madly in love don't always make it through. Passion fizzles, selfishness returns, love grows cold. So again: No guarantees. You can't know unless you try...

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