I read this post by T with a lot of interest. It's about arranged marriages, something I have changed my opinion on over the years. I like T's writing, I don't know her but I like the things she writes, she uses all the correct tools like commas. full stops, and verbs. Nice.
In fact, when she got to the bit about her ideal man I was tempted to send in my application until I saw this
"His popularity isn't as important as how he treats you, and nice hair isn't as important as the presence of hair".
I guess that rules me out then.
I digress though. The post is an interesting one as I used to share very similar opinions on arranged marriages. Being Asian and brought up in England means we see a variety of cultures and I was no exception. As a young adult I'd often see cousins having arranged marriages, some arranged more loosely than others. I observed friends and relatives in England and Sri Lanka having love marriages, arranged marriages and all other sorts. Not that there are any other sorts.
Then, over the years, I've watched these relationships develop and grow, I've seen many crumble too, the diversity has been interesting and unpredictable. I've seen some of the most strictly arranged marriages ever grow into strong and powerful relationships. From a pre marriage situation in which the couple have hardly met to a strong force to be reckoned with as a couple. On the other side I've seen "perfect" couples, seemingly madly in love, get married after living together for years and collapse in a heap of hatred and court battles.
Yet I used to pour scorn on arranged marriages. I used to think that there was no way they were right, that they were fundamentally wrong. As age has mellowed me acceptance of things I don't necessarily agree with has become a big thing in my life and my beliefs. It's the powerful thought that I don't have to either agree with everything or try to persuade everyone that my views are correct. It's ok for me to like Coke and you to like Pepsi, that sort of thing. Even if Pepsi does taste likes crap.
Now I marvel at many arranged marriages. Sure there are some who are unhappy and who are never going to be happy, but there are also many who are very happy, couples who grow into each other and become a couple, even though they weren't one when they actually got married. Where I think arranged marriages are fundamentally wrong is when they are imposed upon kids, against their will. When I hear stories of young girls forced to have marriages and to live a different life to that which they desire I can't see the sense, I can't understand why a parent would do that to a child.
I work just near Southall and have done for the last god knows many years. Many of the people I've worked with and for have been Indian and I've seen plenty of young people have arranged marriages. The modern way (here at least) is a half arranged and half love marriage. Often the couple know each other and have been dating for a while but the marriage is still technically arranged by their parents.
I've also witnessed people who have totally arranged marriages, in which they don't do much in the way of courting (I'm not sure I've ever used that word before!), yet they get to meet and sound each other out before they decide on the viability of a match. Then, if they get on they choose to pursue things a bit, commonly ending in marriage. It's all rather decent and rosy.
I wouldn't want either of my girls to have an arranged marriage though, no way. I still believe in choice and love and all that stuff, but I can accept arranged marriages as a concept that often works. The differences between Eastern and Western attitudes towards marriage intrigue me immensely. People in Asia often think of marriage more seriously than their European buddies do. Many Westerners approach marriage with a far more blase attitude, of "I can get divorced if it fails", whereas for many Easterners it really is a lifelong commitment.
Perhaps this means that the average arranged marriage can last longer than a love marriage. If the couple don't know each other then they'll have to spend a few years getting familiar, learning how to deal with each other's habits. If, as is the case with many westerners, the couple have lived together for some years, then there's less discovering to do after marriage. This can be both good and bad, it's good to know that your partner likes to listen to Slipknot every morning before she gets out of bed, but it's bad if you prefer a touch of Bryan Adams singing "summer of '69" every morning.
I'm far from naive about this whole thing too. There are so many potential pitfalls in arranged marriages, cases of intimidation and victimisation, of young women being forced to do things against their will. But there are also lots of successful and happy arranged marriages, there are lots of happy and blissful love marriages.
What's my conclusion?
Oh, I don't know, each to their own I guess.
If everyone's happy then everyone's happy.