I have a childhood friend who for years has said she wishes her parents just would arrange a marriage for her because dating and breakups get old fast. She’s joking, but she’s joking in that way that she’s also a little bit serious.
And I get it.
I’m 28 years old, my love life has a history of being less-than-stellar, and some days, the idea of having somebody else pick a decent husband for me does not seem like it would be the most terrible thing in the entire world.
I never have been married, and I claim zero expertise in this category. But I have a lot of married friends, and I have gathered that building a happy marriage takes work and that being married is not all sunshine and roses as those Valentine’s Day jewelry commercials would have you believe.
So here’s my arranged marriage argument: If marriage causes problems for everyone, then does who you marry really matter that much? Maintaining a marriage takes a commitment from both people to try their hardest, be less selfish and just stick it out. Who says you can’t decide to do that with a stranger instead of with a person you have dated for years?
I also know people who have agonized over whether they’re making the best choice when they pick someone to marry and who worry they’re settling. Guess what? Arranged marriage eliminates that concern because it eliminates your choice and all of the anxiety that making that choice brings. You are given something and you have to live with it.
I know—I’m really selling this.
I tried searching online for marriage matchmakers because I told the About editors I was willing to take this to the next level and get a quickie arranged marriage. Apparently it’s not that simple. I found a couple professional matchmakers who market to marriage-minded clients, but the whole process is kind of extensive and expensive, and there’s no guarantee your $1,200 down payment is getting you a spouse.
Maybe that’s because this is America, where only half of us get married and where the unicorn that is true love reigns supreme. A survey from the Pew Research Center asked Americans to complete the sentence: “______ is a very important reason to get married.” Close to 90 percent of respondents picked “love”—that response beat out “making a lifetime commitment” and “companionship.”
I will concede being in love is awesome (until it’s not) and that if you’re making plans to spend the next several decades brushing your teeth next to the same person every morning, it would be nice if it were somebody you were in love with. But if I someday become convinced that I can’t spend the rest of my life living alone while I wait that out (unlikely), I might consider forgoing love and recruiting some people I trust to line up a platonic husband for me.
Maybe it’s because I’m married and I met my husband the typical way, but I couldn’t imagine opting for an arranged marriage.
I consider myself open-minded. I love new experiences. But I can be a bit particular. It’s not uncommon for me to go to a restaurant and consider how I would have made a dish a little differently. Or criticize the decisions made by folks on “House Hunters”/“Chopped”/
“Say Yes to the Dress.” Or think that a sweater I received as a gift would be perfect if it was a slightly different color.
There’s no way I’m letting someone else take the reigns on deciding my life partner. To quote a line from the 1995 cinematic masterpiece “Clueless:” “You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet.”
I love my friends and family dearly, but if they had to pick a spouse for me, I don’t think I’d be thrilled with the outcome. (Sorry, guys!)
My husband, Dave, and I are from disparate backgrounds. I grew up in Alliance, and he’s from the east side of Cleveland. He was raised Jewish, and my parents are Baptist. We went to college in different states. We work in different fields.
In an arranged marriage scenario, there’s no way our families would have paired us up. But he’s my perfect match. I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else.
I know that dating, quite frankly, sucks. Most of us have horror stories. I met Dave before Tinder was a thing, but I’ve seen plenty of evidence that folks on dating apps can be weirdos, if not all-out jerks.
And when you find someone you want to get to know better, you just unlock a whole new list of fears. You worry they won’t like you. You worry you won’t like them. There’s a lingering anxiety that you’re about to sit down for dinner with a serial killer. On my first date with Dave, I texted my best friend where I’d be and who I was with just in case I went missing. I don’t think that’s an uncommon practice.
Then you find someone you have a connection with, and it makes all the nonsense of dating worthwhile.
It wasn’t long into our first date that I realized I wanted to see Dave again. We met at a coffee shop and spent so long engrossed in conversation that we completely forgot to go to dinner.
So we spent more time together. We had a million more long conversations. We took a million long walks hand-in-hand. Eventually, we knew we wanted to spend every day together.
Yes, marriage is work. It’s hard. It’s not all romance. That’s true regardless of how you meet, whether it’s preordained or happens naturally.
I wouldn’t trade the extraordinary, dizzying, soul-expanding journey of falling in love with my spouse for anything. You shouldn’t either.
Call us sentimental, but we’re siding with Mrs. Holbrook on this one.
Both ladies argued their points well—and we will concede that the divorce rate does indicate a veritable crapshoot—but if you’re going to get married, even briefly, you should do it when you’re crazy in love, however fleeting that love may ultimately be.