Thursday, April 12, 2007

Because rejecting arranged marriages is so 1990s.

Oh, Prudence. Good thing I wasn't enjoying a beverage when I read your column this morning, otherwise I would have spit all over my office's expensive iMac.

Dear Prudie,

I am a 30-year-old single woman who has been living in the United States for the past few years. I am considered smart, successful, and attractive and have an interesting and fulfilling life. But my family, who live in India, are worried that I'm still single, and have been trying to arrange my marriage. While I do want to be married, I've had a couple of relationships that didn't work out; I've been very independent and have lived life on my own terms—so I now find it hard to go through the arranged marriage setup. I know my parents will never force me to marry someone I don't like, but the idea of having an arranged marriage seems archaic and almost mortifying. I'd also like to believe that marriages should be based in love and there should be an element of romance involved. My mother thinks that as long as two people have a certain compatibility and mutual respect, love can happen later. What should I do?


Dear Confused,

Now that I have a daughter, I've come to see the wisdom of arranged marriages. What's she going to know about picking a mate? Right now, I have a few candidates I'm keeping my eye on—since my daughter is only 11, I have plenty of time to monitor how these boys turn out. You say you would like to find a husband, but haven't been successful at it. I understand your aversion to the idea of an arranged marriage, but as long as everyone understands you will not be pressured to wed the guy, why not see who your parents come up with? Certainly their knowledge of you, the young man, and the qualities two people need to get along has to be as good as the algorithms of Yes, there is an archaic quality to the notion of being introduced to someone you are supposed to marry, but that's the ultimate, if unstated, goal of most fix-ups. As for romance versus compatibility—you and your mother are both right. If you meet the man in question and you two fall in love, what a story of romantic destiny! And romance without compatibility and mutual respect—no matter how you two got together—is destined to be a relationship that didn't work out.


At first I thought you were being sarcastic with the line about your daughter, but after that you sound downright sincere. Am I missing something? Help!

1 comment:

Paul said...

I don't think you are missing anything, but it's pretty remarkable how carelessly this "Prudie" character moves from talking about arranged marriages - which are so named because they are actual marriages arranged by third parties - to fix-ups and introductions. It's almost like she doesn't get that when people refer to "arranged marriages", they mean that the people getting married aren't the ones doing the arranging.