Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We Admit It: We Have Arranged Marriages

We Jews turn purple trying to explain to the outside world that we don't have arranged marriages, it's more like blind dates, see? I always thought "arranged marriage" means a single female and a single male who have never laid eyes on the other meet at a certain place and time to exchange rings. 

But, "arranged marriages," according to the rest of humanity, is what we do, which is (1) dating is for the purposes of marriage only and (2) two people are introduced by a middle-person. 

If the two hit it off, mazel tov. If they don't, moving on

Fine, we fess up: We practice arranged marriage. 

Ji Hyun Lee wrote an article on the matter (and us observant Jews scored a couple of paragraphs, between the Indians and the Koreans). 

While frummies may grumble that the dating scene would be a lot better if mixing and mingling were more accepted, the fact that arranged marriages tend to be more successful is based, according to researchers, on parental input. 

Parents, it would seem, can look upon potential children-in-law with both eyes open, screening them for qualities that could cause problems later on.

Additionally, there's that whole "building up" of emotions as opposed to "falling out." 
Arranged marriages can work “because they remove so much of the anxiety about ‘is this the right person?’ ” said Brian J. Willoughby . . .“Arranged marriages start cold and heat up and boil over time as the couple grows. Nonarranged marriages are expected to start out boiling hot but many eventually find that this heat dissipates and we’re left with a relationship that’s cold.”
He also credited supportive parents.
“Whether it be financial support for weddings, schooling or housing, or emotional support for either partner, parents provide valuable resources for couples as they navigate the marital transition,” Dr. Willoughby said.
Hmmmm, sounds familiar what these arranged marriage parents provide for? 

However, while divorces amongst the arranged are rarer than those marriages that were "love matches," the divorce rate is rising amongst the arranged. I have noticed the same in our own community. 

Now, here's the part where we get mentioned: 
Orthodox Jews in the United States are known for arranging marriages, with some parents using professional matchmakers.
“In the secular world, a lot of the times a couple will fall in love with each other and then at that point they lose objectivity,” said Rabbi Steven Weil, the executive vice president at the Orthodox Union in New York. In arranged marriages, however, “there is a lot of homework, a lot of energy spent, before a young man and woman fall in love with each other. For that reason, the parents are involved. But obviously it’s the decision of the young man and woman, but a parent knows a child.” 
The contemporary observant Jew is in a bit of a bind; according to our laws, parents must be respected (although one is permitted to select their own spouse over their parents' objections), yet American culture finds the previous generation "out of touch" and obsolete
Dr. Epstein admitted that the tradition of arranged marriages had no hope of gaining wide acceptance in this country.
“We celebrate rugged individualism that is antithetical to the arranged marriage culture,” he said. He argues instead for deeper parental involvement. “When you realize what it is that the families are doing, it makes excellent sense,” he said.
Arranged marriages tend to take place in communities where the shared culture and beliefs are the main priority, not individual pursuit of "bliss." We Jews believe ourselves to be yet another link on a chain that crosses thousands of years, so we already know what our familial values will be.

So give the parents a chance. The data is in their favor. 


Rachelli Dreyfuss said...

You're right :(
Then again, it's the best way! That quote about cold to hot, hot to cold, really sums up the whole idea... who wants to burn up and burn out so quickly? Chana Levitan writes about this a lot in her book...

Princess Lea said...

Have you read "I Only Want to Get Married Once"? Would you recommend it?

The Beckster said...

Thoughtful post. And yes, I've read that book by Chana Levitan. I definitely recommend it!

Princess Lea said...

Then I should totally get my hands on the new edition coming out in June. Thanks!