Thursday, August 28, 2008

Love and Marriage

I'm not sure why I like this shot, I just do. It was taken outside a church in Canada following a wedding.

While on the subject of marriages and weddings (It's been on my mind since I just had my 5th anniversary), I was considering the practice of arranged marriages. Some time ago I had the opportunity to question two reasonably educated and articulate Pakistani women about the topic that vexes so many westerners. I expected the women to give me only a lukewarm endorsement of arranged marriages, sticking to the Muslim party line, but instead both women were wholeheartedly supportive of the practice, and believed it superior in all ways to western traditional "love marriages", as they called them. Here's their argument:

In an arranged marriage all of the marital decisions are made, not by the young newlyweds, but by the the couple's parents. This alleviates the often divisive issues that young couples have to grapple with, i.e., money, children, living arrangements, jobs, etc... In the eyes of the two Pakistani women these issues are what cause so many "love marriages" to fail resulting in high divorce rates and single parent homes that are more prevalent in the west.

I then proceeded to ask some pointed questions; "You're going to college now, but after you get married will you work?" "If my husband allows it, yes, I would like to work". I got the same answer when I asked about travel as well. It appeared to me that women lead a progressive life, to an extent, right up until the point where they get married, and than it's all dependent on the wishes and whims of the husband. In other words, a woman can travel the world, and get a college education, but after she gets married she may in all likelihood sit home and raise children if that's the desire of the husband. Of course the husband is working and traveling as he sees fit.

Finally, I inquired about what is the most that they could hope for out of their arranged marriages. The answer was that their greatest wish is that their parents chose someone that was kind and gentle and that over time they would become close friends with their husbands. I choked a bit on that one.

So for me I found these two women's argument logically thought out and possibly making sense within the confines of their own religious culture. It was obvious that their viewpoint on "love marriages" and the west had been skewed a bit by their Muslim education and by what they may have seen on TV or at the movies. I felt that they didn't truly have a grasp on the western practice, and that the divisive issues that they felt tore families apart also served to bring them closer together, it all depending on the couple.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the Indian (hindu type) arranged marriages. When they don't work out they just immolate their wives. Stops that allimony racket in it's tracks. You know, allimony;where two people make a mistake and one has to pay for it.
Oh, and you can't forget the sacred arranged marriage of the Latter Day Saints (Moromons). Honey, put down your doll and coloring books. Your going to get married this afternoon...
In regard the Pakistani women, the problem is that they do not see that their submissive (pathetically so) state is due to the brainwashing from their paternalistic religion that holds women responsible for "original sin" and the rest of the scriptural misogyny that follows.
The brainwashing begins in the crib. The mind does world class mental gymnastics to justify the absurdity of it all when one is a victim of it...