Last week Rabindra and I had a very funny conversation.
It went something like this:
R: “You know, I was thinking…. it’s really hard in Australia.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
R: “Well you have to find your own boyfriend or girlfriend..YOURSELF.”
Me: “Oh God. You’re only realising that now”
R: “I know but in Nepal, if we don’t find anyone ourselves then it’s no problem cause our parents will find us someone”.
Me: “Yes well in most parts of the world you have to find your own partner.”
R:“Yeh I realise that now. What if you don’t drink/go to the bar or don’t do many social things? You’ll always be single. You can’t find anyone”
Me (laughing): “Hmmmm I can’t believe I am having this conversation..”
Anyway you get the point…
In addition, I’ve noticed a major difference amongst the attitudes of my Aussie and Nepali single friends.
My Nepali friends aren’t worried that their nearly 30 and still single. They know their parents will find them someone when they want it. They’re not particularly worried about whether or not they will be happy in the future with that person. They just assume they will be because it’s an arranged marriage and most are successful.
My Aussie friends who are single are generally positive but they still worry about whether or not they will meet someone let alone find that person they want to marry and spend the rest of their life with.
My girl friends are more worried because they have the babies thing at the back of their mind and don’t want to miss out from having children because they are too old.
I’ve become quite fascinated with this topic as arranged marriages are not something I really thought about until I met Rabindra.
In Nepalese culture, arranged marriages make up the majority of marriages.
Marrying within the caste to a man or woman the family (normally father) chooses is the most common path.
If Rabindra was single, his family would mostly like choose a girl they think would be a good daughter in law, show him the photo and then if the parents and children agree, the marriage is fixed a few weeks later.
I’d say that most westerners think arranged marriage is a very controlling, patriarchal tradition that should be stopped.
In some ways, I agree. To me, it’s absolutely absurd.
What about ‘chemistry’? Do they want the same things as you in the future? Are you alike or opposites? What if they have extremely annoying habits you can’t handle? …………The list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong, if the children are 100% happy with the decision as well as the parents, then arranged marriages can be great.
But what I don’t like is that it causes a lot of stress, heartache and pain for young people who fall in love and have to hide their relationship for years from their family.
I know of many Nepalese people who have done love marriages and not told their family. At some point, their parents will try to marry them off and they have a huge fight on their hands to get approval of their relationship. If a person loves their family too much, they will agree to the marriage and let their love go.
Rejection by the family is common- people want to fight members of the family- and in the worst situations, parents or children suicide.
I guess what makes me angry is that the family’s image and reputation is more important than the child’s future happiness.
I know traditional people from these cultures will disagree with me and say that the family reputation is more important. But I simply disagree.
A few days ago I met an Indian woman and we got talking and I told her my partner was Nepalese.
She asked me if it was a “love” relationship and I said yes (of course).
She then told me out all of the people she knew, no love marriages ever lasted. Only arranged marriages.
It got me thinking:
Why are arranged marriages seen as likely to be more successful than love marriages? What are the reasons behind this?
What are the pros and cons of arranged marriages?
Why do parents so vigorously oppose love marriages?
For those in love relationships, did you worry your partner’s parents would force them to have an arranged marriage? What did you do about it?
I hope my readers can shed some light on this topic.