the science of getting married.

9 Jun

kittens, i’ve specifically chosen to avoid being all preachy and political on this blog. i guess i figured that cracking inappropriate jokes and using the f-word a lot would be more fun. (i was right, by the way.)

but i had a conversation last week that was slightly more on the preachy/political side that i have to share with you.

my office has a cute little balcony where my 4th floor cubicle is and sometimes my colleagues and i (miss j and mrs s) take breaks out there to watch the afternoon storm clouds roll in.

miss j is sweet – she’s my age, is pretty western-ized, speaks perfect english, lives at home and is unmarried.  frankly her life is a bit like mine was at 14: her actions are mostly informed by the will of her parents.

as we watched the clouds become increasingly ominous, my wedding came up – as it often does.  after answering a few questions about my family, i had the nerve to ask miss j if, when the time came, she would have to take an arranged marriage.

she said, smiling coyly: “i don’t know. i guess we’ll have to see. maybe in a year i’ll ask my parents.”

a little shocked, i said: “well, do you want an arranged marriage?”

miss j answered: “i’d prefer to find someone on my own, but where would i find them? my parents still have to approve so why would i waste my time on someone who they might not like?”

mrs s piped up at this point. while also very sweet, she’s shy about her english so we communicate mostly in a series of smiles and wild hand gestures.

she said: “either way, in the end you still have to do what your husband says.”

miss j, nodding seemingly in agreement said: “this is why girls go to work or study in america – so they can have the freedom to date who they want and live how they want.”

while stunned, i nodded in agreement and proceeded to get lost in my thoughts.

listen, generally i try not to have overly defined views because i truly believe that life is fluid and can’t be understood through static opinions. but in regards to this arranged marriage stuff, it does blow my mind that miss j – a 27 year old woman with an mba and a promising career in finance  – is leaving her future happiness in the hands of her parents.

at the same time, i guess i can’t blame her either.

arranged marriage has likely worked for her parents and their parents before that.  and though not everyone forces their kids into this type of union (mr. s for example won’t need to take one), it is a socially acceptable way to roll here.

culture takes a long time to shift. and while things are undeniably changing in india, we can’t fault people for upholding their traditions in the meantime.

(i should point out here before you go all nuts on me, that this post is in no way meant to  condone or address marriage or women’s issues in india that hinge on human rights violations.)

that being said, miss j proves that some people remain perpetually un-excited by the concept. does she want to choose her own mate? hell yes. but if her parents decide that arranged marriage is her path, she will have to oblige.

and until she has that parental tete-a-tete on the science of marriage, the delightful miss j remains in romantic limbo.

this morning she proudly tapped me on the shoulder and said: “allison! have you ever been to brazil? no? well i’m going there on my honeymoon!”

i replied: “hey, at least that’s one thing sorted.”

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5 Responses to “the science of getting married.”

  1. A.A.B. (auntie angie baby) June 9, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    Everyone knows I am not Indian. Does everyone also know that I think arranged marriages aren’t all that wrong? Afterall, I am not doing too bad so far with my kittens. Last year the oldest kidlet married the son of a friend (they were setup) and in a few weeks the middle kidlet is marrying the niece of a friend (a form of setup). I have has some success with the youngest kidlet so time will tell on that score. Who knows, maybe I will be 3 for 3. Now bring me some curry so I can chew it up and spit it out, have a pee on the street, and sweat off those extra 15 pounds I’m wearing!

  2. Hannah June 9, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    Hot button issue and you decided to blog about it first. After tempting me on skype with it for a few days, first.

    You’re a minx, Langille.

    Arranged marriages aren’t wrong in a society where men and women are inherently unequal and the personal pursuit of happiness is not accepted over the greater goods (even if no one is physically in harm or danger). I do not want to live in that society and I will not condone it. While arranged marriages work, quite well in some cases, they also happen to be acceptable in places with the highest prevalence of female rape, abuse and murder. I don’t have the stats to prove causation but the correlation is enough to make me disgusted by the practice on a whole.

    There is a very big difference between socializing your child in circles with other like-minded children from common backgrounds and an arranged marriage.

  3. DaddyO June 10, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    Clearly you are learning and considering what you are experiencing.

    We all have our opinions on just about every tiopic but it does not mean we are always right.!

    We are quick to judge the culture of places like India but we also need to look at ourselves (North America )as welll. Look at our track record failed marriages. Should we be so quick to judge? Perhaps these failed marriages would have benefited from the parental wisdom when choosing a mate? After all, I am sure there are more Auntie Ange’s out there to help out.

    Now who are we going to marry off next??????
    DaddyO

  4. A.A.B. (auntie angie baby) June 10, 2011 at 2:11 am #

    I was actually mocking the concept of arranged marriages – of course my kids married people we knew, but then here in Western society people go to great lengths to intoduce or setup their friends – this is not really like what happens in true arranged marriages when children’s lives are dictated for them. My grandparents were first cousins – rumour has it, they were an arranged marriage – probably something to do with money. Aren’t we happy we weren’t born Indian or any other caste system that barely recognize women as more valuable than the family cow.

  5. Jennifer June 10, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    If I had listened to the wise council of my parents before I got married, I would certainly would not be divorced now from that “oh but he is so perfect” guy that I insisted on hitching myself to. Haven’t we all had a friend whose taste in a girlfriend / boyfriend has had you thinking “good grief what does she see in him (or her)?” Love is blind. Having long passed the impetuous stage of young adulthood, and having the maturity to realize that people often cast a glaze of perfection over obvious character flaws in the one they love, I think arranged marriages have merit. Not that I believe in marriage anymore (whole other subject), nor do I believe that a woman must succumb to her husband’s wishes, but I think in the long run, a partnership of like minded people has a better track record.

    Just to qualify however, I would not change a thing because I did have 4 fantastic, fabulous, amazing, awesome, inspiring children from that marriage, and that alone has made the personal anguish worth the lousy marriage.

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