Brides to order

Interesting report about the violence in Nepal at the moment, featuring a report with a British guy who is on his 40th visit. All very good, until you get to the end…

[quote]But he hopes his marriage, planned for April 2007, will still go ahead.

“I hope to return to Kathmandu next spring for my wedding,” he said.

"The Nepalese family I am staying with are going to choose a bride for me.

“It may seem strange to people in the west but that is the way things are done in Nepal.” [/quote]

Maybe that dude doesn’t understand what marriage means!

Any westerner who would agree to such an arrangement, in my opinion, apparently feels that women are fungible goods – they are basically interchangeable and one is pretty much the same as any other. To feel that way one would have to be a pathetic loser who can’t obtain any woman back home (even moreso than those of us in Taiwan), looking for fodder to write a book, or just plain nuts. Most likely he’s nuts.

I think this is a little harsh. There are many good reasons for having an arranged marriage–as some of my Western friends of Indian and African heritage are quick to point out.

First of all, sometimes your friends and family know you better than you know yourself. Good friends know what kind of person you need to help keep you on track emotionally and financially. They can help you find someone suitable when you’re brain–either because of hormones or emotional baggage from previous relationships–isn’t yet capable of recognizing that person as such.

Secondly, as many self-help books are quick to point out these days, LOVE IS A CHOICE. Just because you don’t love a person on your wedding day, does not mean that you won’t grow to love them and be happy. True love is not about lust, it’s about wanting the best for that person. It may be easier to start doing that, if you begin your life together seeing it as an arrangement designed to benefit both parties rather than as a tribute to the greatness of your passion for one another. When marriage is seen as merely a public announcement of your undying love for one another, it becomes easy to see divorce as the logical step when you cease to feel that passionate love/lust that you based your marriage on.

Finally, if factors one and two weren’t enough to provide you with a successful marriage of interests and growing affection, rooted in the conviction that lack of passion for one another is not a good enough reason for divorce, then chances are you wouldn’t have done any better yourself. Most marriages nowadays end in divorce anyway.

Having someone else choose your bride is a matter of personal preference and practicality, like deciding to wait until your 35 and have money saved before you have children. Sure, there are risks either way–and taking the safer route doesn’t mean that it will work out to be easier–but it might.

For you, maybe the odds of it working out aren’t high enough for it to be worth it. But, just because other prefer to grasp for a tiny edge, doesn’t make them losers, neanderthals, or lunatics.

Interesting post, Persephone.

I remember going through a phase once where I had concluded that, since ‘being in love’ was a passing thing for most people, you should choose your partner on more pragmatic criteria than whether you actually had the hots for them. Once the honeymoon is over, most marriages seem to require a lot of work, so why not go into it as you would any other major life decision? I’ve read somewhere that marriage for romantic reasons was rare until comparatvely recently anyway.

I’ve met people whose marriages were conveniences, having as much to do with the practicalities of daily life as they did with emotion. They seemed to work just fine, but I can’t help feeling that such an arrangement isn’t going to last.

I mean, without a real personal commitment what’s to stop either party falling for someone else one day? It seems that a marriage for the sake of convenience is an admission that you’re never going to find that special one, it’s like giving up hope. The guy in the report was 47. Maybe he’s given up? Or is the romantic ideal a fantasy attainable by only a privileged few?

Even if you accept that a business-like marriage is a better idea than a romantic choice, shouldn’t it be between equals? Wouldn’t you want to settle down with someone ‘at your own level’? Finding a girl from Nepal (and I’m assuming she’ll be 20 or 30 years younger than him, and poor) seems more like exploitation. But I guess her perspective on the deal would be different?


First of all, sometimes your friends and family know you better than you know yourself… [/quote]

Emphasis on sometimes. I don’t think you family and friends know you better than you do. Especially the older you get. I have no problem with arranged marriages, ones that are done properly. But alot of them are forced which are more about the degradation of the woman as a oppose to uniting a family.

From you original post, I had the sense that the Westerner involved had just been adopted into Nepalese society after 40 visits.

Having a discussion about arranged marriages is a separate issue from a discussion of unequal status in a marriage. That can happen whether or not the marriage is arranged.

I don’t know enough about that guy’s particular situation to comment on whether or not the bride-to-be is being exploited.

Not sure about culture in Nepal, but I think wat it comes down to for me is…

Does the female have the right to say “no” to the husband who is chosen for her?

Did the female consent (or even ask) to have a husband chosen for her?

I dunno. Of course you can call it a choice to let others decide whom to marry but it doesn’t directly compare to my decision when to have children, i.e. my choice of whom to marry compares, not the choice to let others choose the partner.

Also, the argument that you grow into a relationship doesn’t work for me - if I have no feelings for that person it’s quite a risk to take. What if it doesn’t happen? - both waiste a lot of time, in the end nobody benefits from it and perhaps it makes matters worst (think having young children and going through a divorce). Sure, similar can happen if you marry out of love, but to make such a committment without the emotional attachment to begin with is IMO not a good starting point.
That said I would be interested how many of your friends that give good reasons for arranged marriages are actually in one and are happy with it?