Would you ever consider an arranged marriage?
You know, a situation in which your parents, close relatives and I, let’s say, reach out to folks we know and see if we can find a suitable partner for you.
He’ll share your values, have the same interests that you do, cook, clean, do the dishes and take care of the kids.
He’ll support you emotionally, share the housework, and baby-sit while you’re at the spa.
Don’t worry; he’s not a player and he plans to stay with you for the long-term.
He is a professional, earns six figures, is sensitive, loves his parents and loves yours more.
What the *#&@)@(*@? Where the &#@*!)%?
How do I get in on this?
“Tell me the time and place and I’ll be there pronto,” you say as you tear through your closet to figure out what you’ll be wearing for this potential arranged marriage introduction.
Sounds intriguing, exciting and like a great way to meet a partner, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, if you’re not Indian, Asian or Middle Eastern, or from another culture that practices arranged marriages, it’s difficult to get “in” on an arranged marriage.
It may sound like the best thing since all-you-can-eat Indian buffets, but unlike Indian buffets, arranged marriages aren’t available to everyone.
If you don’t come from a culture or tradition of arranged marriage, it’s unlikely you’ll find a family that will agree to marry its doctor-son to you.
But don’t fear; there’s hope for all of us here.
My experience with arranged marriage
My first marriage wasn’t arranged.
We met by ourselves thanks to the Internet, through nothing other than email.
A young lawyer and doctor from two entirely different parts of the world – me in California and she in Chennai, India.
Our email exchanges began with talk of philosophy and dreams, but quickly turned to romance and love.
It must have been only three months after we started talking when I got on a flight and flew around the world to visit her.
What happened after our meeting and marriage is a primary subject of this blog.
Our breakup and divorce were anticlimactic when one compares them to the romance and passion we initially shared.
We came from an arranged marriage culture, but our marriage wasn’t “arranged” in the traditional sense.
We were from the same community, or “caste” as people call it in India. We spoke the same language, were from similar social and religious backgrounds, and were a perfect match for each other.
The slight, or MAJOR, difference was that we met on our own, without a single family member involved.
Yes, our match satisfied all the requirements of our eventual marriage, but the fact that we had met on our own made our parents feel left out of the process.
Their whole lives, they had been looking forward to searching for, finding and interrogating the perfect match for each of us. They would have conducted background checks that rivaled Soviet intelligence – scoping out each candidate’s finances, education, health, compatibility and more.
Unfortunately, we deprived them of that excitement and instead created our own excitement by romancing each other!
Ultimately, our parents couldn’t say “no” because we were from the same community and shared the same traditional background.
We both felt like we had hit the lottery – we had cheated the system.
We had found love while satisfying our parents, grandparents, ancestors and all the divine Gods we worshipped.
Yes, it was love and marriage!
It wasn’t the traditional Indian marriage that I spoke of earlier, in which family and friends conduct a search, investigate the candidates’ families, introduce the potential spouses to each other, ensure the astrological signs align and make sure the couple is compatible.
In today’s modern world, cultures that still practice the tradition of arranged marriage will allow their marriage-age children to meet and say “yay” or “nay” to the proposed match. It’s not like it was in the olden days, when you showed up on your wedding day and married the person your family had chosen for you.
How can you apply arranged marriage principles to your own life so that you can attract a life partner?
Now let’s talk about you – a person who lives, dates and meets people in the more difficult world of a non-arranged marriage culture.
Maybe you don’t have the luxury of having a family searching for your king of hearts.
Or more than likely, you think it’s a batty idea to have your parents anywhere near your prospective spouse.
I once wrote a post about the benefits of arranged marriage, but I understand that if you’re not familiar with the tradition, you might not be able to see how it can work for you.
I’ve got you covered. I found a book that contains the many secrets of arranged marriages – secrets you can apply to your dating and love life.
It’s a book by former journalist and author, Reva Seth, aptly titled, First Comes Marriage: Modern Relationship Advice from the Wisdom of Arranged Marriages.
Seth interviewed hundreds of women from arranged marriage cultures who not only shared their experiences, but also their strategies and advice.
In addition to interviewing these women, Seth started applying their lessons, which led her to the man who would become her husband. She became engaged to him after the seventh time she met him in person!
“No, it wasn’t love (or lust) at first sight. It was actually the result of both of us having figured out what we were looking for in a partner, being at the same life stage, recognizing that the other person had the potential to have the qualities we wanted and then, as my husband describes it, exchanging over a hundred thousand words on e-mail” to confirm it, writes Seth.
Here are 5 arranged marriage secrets from the book, First Comes Marriage, that you can apply to meet the love of your life.
Secret # 1: Your man doesn’t have to be your best friend.
“Be realistic about the role of your life partner. Women in arranged marriages view their husbands not as their primary source of happiness or as a means of rescue, but instead, as life partners, friends, and people who will provide them with support, companionship, children, and a family life.”
The idea here is that your future partner and husband doesn’t have to be your everything. There is no “perfect guy” or “the one” who solves all your problems and fulfills your every need.
Seth accurately points out that women tend to have fairy-tale notions of a fantasy man in their lives. These unrealistic expectations make us think that we haven’t found the right person in our lives.
She suggests breaking up with the fantasy man in your life and getting more realistic about what you actually want.
You already have friends, colleagues, family and a support system. Continue letting them be a part of your life.
When you idealize a guy who you think will fulfill all your needs, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment because no one like that exists.
Instead, if you cease this stream of thought, the men you meet won’t continually disappoint you and you’re more likely to find someone who will be an ideal life partner!
Seth suggests thinking of your future life partner as someone who will enrich your life, but she advises against making him the center – the end all and be all of everything.
Secret #2: The “musts” are all that matter.
“These (marriage) musts aren’t something you find ‘out there’ or after lots of random dinners and movies out. They are values and lifestyle choices that you determine from ‘in here’ – that sometimes frightening place found deep within yourself.”
As you would with an arranged marriage, know what you’re looking for ahead of time.
There are certain “musts” that Indian parents look for before they introduce their son or daughter to another family. These “musts” include education, values, financial status, stability and a host of other factors.
Why not be more conscious about what your “musts” are?
As Seth remind us, “the men we date turn into the men we marry.”
So be more conscious about who you’re dating. Have a list, and write down the “musts” that you’re looking for. What must the guy you’re dating have? What are you looking for in terms of his values, role in the relationship, career plans and family background?
Think about your list, craft your list, write down your “musts” and look for men who meet those “musts.”
If you’re more conscious about your dating life, you’ll immediately strike out a bunch of guys who are nowhere close to what you’re looking for.
“Write down your marriage ‘musts’ and stick to them,” advises Seth, because once again, “the men you date become the men you marry.”
Secret #3: Be fully committed.
“Beware ‘one foot out the door’ and ‘something better’ syndromes. This type of thinking may feel practical, but it’s extremely damaging to a relationship. If you keep your options open and keep looking for a better situation, you’re likely to end up alone and empty-handed.”
In arranged marriage cultures, people date as though they’re looking for a partner for life. Not just for a few months or until someone better comes along.
Can you see how if you shift your mentality to full commitment you’ll stop hanging out with the deadbeats and players who pop into your life?
Commitment means assuming the person you’re going to be with is going to be there for the rest of your life. You’re not continually looking for something better to come along.
Like couples in arranged marriages, think of your relationship in the long-term perspective. Change your mindset toward total commitment with your partner and give up on the guys who stay around simply because you don’t want to feel lonely.
Change your mindset, your outlook and the words you use in reference to commitment. You must become commitment-ready (thoughts, mindset and words) to find a commitment-ready man.
Secret #4: Define romance on your own terms.
“Don’t believe the hype. Don’t let Hollywood, the media, or anyone else define what romance means. Romance comes in many forms and each person expresses it differently.”
Are you looking for a man who buys you chocolates and wines, who dines you and fulfills the Hollywood definition of romance?
Not only is this a bad way to find a partner, it’s extremely distracting from the real qualities and characteristics of your partner.
Marketing messages inundate us with stories of what romance is supposed to look like, but romance isn’t dinner dates, cruises, roses and fancy jewelry.
Romance, as described by the women Seth spoke to, can include a husband learning how to cook so that his wife can go back to school in the evenings. Romance can be baby-sitting the kids, or helping one of your siblings in need or doing the dishes every night.
If you judge a man by typical notions of romance, you’ll likely find that what you think matters in a relationship leaves you feeling disappointed or misled.
Don’t let romantic comedies and television serials dictate romance.
Choose to see romance differently – in how your partner cares for you and the sacrifices he makes for you. Value the everyday, small things – the gestures of romance that you easily overlook.
Don’t eliminate potential partners if they don’t fulfill the typical notions of “romance” that you have in your mind.
Secret #5: Family matters.
“A potential partner’s family should be a factor in your consideration of that person as a life partner. Whether we like it or not, all of us are affected by the circumstances and values of our relatives.”
It’s amazing how little people in the West care about their partners’ families.
This is one of the most important tips you can learn about arranged marriages.
See, in arranged marriages it’s all about the family because we believe that your family tells us a lot about you.
Your dynamics and relationship with your family will likely indicate how you show up in your romantic relationships.
Your family likely influenced your values, your beliefs and your view of the world.
Find a guy who shares the same values you do, but check out his relatives to see whether your families are compatible.
As much as you’d like to think you can make life choices independent of anyone else, you’ll soon realize that in a long-term relationship, families matter. You will spend a lot of time with his family and he’ll spend a lot of time with yours.
Doesn’t it make sense to see whether: 1) you’re compatible with his family and 2) he’s compatible and gets along well with his family?
His family and how he interacts with them will be telling in his relationship with you and the family you create together.
Well, you may not be able to get an arranged marriage, but these tips will help you win a man who will stick around for the long-term.
If you’d like to read more secrets from Reva Seth’s book, pick up a copy here.
Speaking of arranged marriages and books, guess what’s coming out next week? Yes, my own experience with love and arranged marriage.
Are you deciding whether you should have an arranged marriage? Or are you simply curious about arranged marriage culture? Either way, you’re going to love this entertaining and insightful read.
My upcoming eBook is titled, Arranged Marriage: Run to the Altar or Run for your Life, and will be free next week (July 13 – 15, 2015). You can pick up your free copy on Amazon next week.
Photo Credit Jitbag