Volume 96, Issue 99
Friday, April 4, 2003

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Arranged Marriages

Old world meets the new

Coconut
Niru Somayajula
Photo Editor

Have you ever thought about how easy life would be if you didn't have to date? More time, more money, more sanity – think of how simple life would become. No more avoiding phone calls, no more dinner arrangements at which you can't find anything to talk about. No more pressure to find someone to be the warm body next to you when all your roommates have a significant other.

Could it be possible that a system created many thousands of years ago might rival our system now? Cultures around the world adopted the process of arranged marriages to ensure a child's proper placement in the world. The system was created so that a family had the ultimate decision on who was allowed into the family, and who wasn't. There was no chance in hell of some Joe Schmoe walking in off the road hoping to woo your youngest daughter.

Sure, if he had six generations of clean family record, four degrees and a farm of goats, he might be a possibility. But he would still need to enter the process. And what a process that is.

My skewed perceptions of arranged marriages don't come from an outside view. I am a direct product of an arranged marriage – even better, a happy arranged marriage. My parents met three days before they were married and are now one of the happiest couples I've ever seen. They're so cute, it sometimes makes me sick to my stomach.

But, it definitely does make one think. If I didn't have to put in the time into finding Mr. Right for myself, if I completely trusted my parents to find me a suitable man, how differently would my life turn out? Sure there are plenty of occasions where an arranged marriage doesn't work out. I could list a handful, but there are enough that do work to counter that list

For me personally, having been born and brought up in Canada, I don't think I could trust my parents enough to plan out my future life partner. Our society's values revolve around preparing children as best we can for the big, scary world before we send them out into it. Having created an independent child, my parents lost full control over all parts of my life. Quite frankly, they don't know as much about me as they think they do. It is within this difference between the old system and the new that my problem lies.

In my family, were I to choose my own husband, I would be the first to do so. I highly doubt that I would be cast out of the family or anything else quite as dramatic, but it is something that lingers with you always. Do I continue the family lineage, or do I think of myself?

In one sense, not adhering to an arranged marriage would allow me the freedom to date whom I want and make my own choices. I could adopt a new culture, maybe learn a new language and take comfort in the thought that I chose this life for myself.

On the other hand, if you're going to trust someone, why wouldn't you trust your parents? They did raise you after all; you are, in a sense, a reflection of them and, despite how against that thought you may be, bear it in mind.

What it all comes down to in the end, is that fuzzy line where, on one side you can live with yourself for the decisions you have made, and the other side where you can't. Everything lends itself to the family and its position in the community. Is this where we'd like to see things go back to? Or, is our generation of human variety what will continue on for future generations to come?

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