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For better or worse

October 23, 2006

Snow White had her prince charming and Cinderella had hers.  Marlin had Dory.  Simba had Nala.  Beauty had her beast and  I have been raised in a culture of “love”.

Earlier this week I ran accross a post over at Kaleidescope that challenged what I had always thought was true of arranged marriages in the past.  Granted it has been a while since I’ve actually done any reading on the topic but it had always been my understanding that these marriages worked.  To be more specific, statistics had in the past shown these cultures to have lower divorce rates, and after just checking wikipedia, supporters of arranged marriage do claim lower divorce rates within these marriages.

Tantalize makes a powerful statement within the last paragraph:

“Don’t many wonder why so many divorces are happening in our little country? Miscommunication, misanthropy, little varied premarital experience, interbreeding, high expectations (with little to show in turn), and closed-mindedness (stating one is ‘open-minded’ does not necessitate it: many Kuwaitis are only ‘slightly stretched-minded’) do not promise a healthy marriage. We have one of the highest divorce rates in the world per capita. So, before talking about equal rights and democracy for our country’s future, think about all of the unequal and undemocratic procedures, for instance, most choose for their marital futures. If you want a democratic country, then you should first choose who you want as a life partner, totally by your own will instead of the will of older generational pressure and abstract religious beliefs. These usually become insufficient when trying to maintain a companionship, instead of just maintaining a framework of a family. When the former is missing, the family, which is often symbolic of government, will start to show cracks and the foundation will irrevocably self-destruct.”


Supporters of arranged marriage have always claimed that the succes of arranged marriages is due to making it a decision of the mind rather than the heart, the incompatibility factor is taken out as parents will stay within the same economic group, religion, class, age group and proffesional field. 

While arranged marriages are not a part of my culture and my husband and I met each other without parental involvement, we dated and to the dislike of one of our parents we became engaged and married, I could understand how arranged marriages could work.  Afterall, you didn’t really just marry the individual, you really did marry the family. 

However, I wouldn’t want to be a part of one, as I proved to myself without a shadow of a doubt at an Islamic convention in which I had recieved 3 marriage proposals in 15 minutes and then vowed that I would not leave the hotel room until it was time to go home. 

So what are we to make of what is going on in Kuwait?  Can we just attribute this astronomical divorce rate to arranged marriages or is it a combination of things?

Is it possible that the western culture through satellite, radio, movies is allready infiltrating Arab culture?  Could it be that Leyla wants her prince charming, but she wants the chance to get to know him as well as Nala got to know Simba, as well as Dory got to know Marlin?  

As I said, I live in a culture of “love”, but what is love?  For some, love is what is left after the butterflies pass.  Love is the two people  supporting each other, respecting each other.  Love is the family they created.  Love is what we make of it.  For others, love is the butterflies.  Love is supposed to maintain itself and when the butterflies left and when it came down to fighting to stay together or fighting to take flight, well, half of those marriages chose flight.  Half of our marriages will end in divorce.

Divorce was once a stigma even in our country and it wasn’t that long ago.  Today divorce is a norm and as long as that is the case, the percentage of failed marriages will rise until we take active measures in reducing it.  As we teach consumer education, auto shop, art, drivers education in our schools, we should be teaching these children respect, commitment, and honor.  Charachter developement courses with emphasis on relationships.

So while I can understand tantalize’s point about first letting one choose one’s spouse before talking about equal rights, I can’t help but wonder if maybe equal rights would bring about that choice.  Maybe democracy is really the first step to bringing about this change, which in the end still may not be an answer. 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. tantalize permalink
    October 23, 2006 9:12 am

    Thank you for referencing my work. I agree with your last line: “Maybe democracy is really the first step to bringing about this change, which in the end still may not be an answer.” Maybe ‘marriage’ is not the answer. Because it like everything else isn’t guaranteed. It’s like trying to live hope when hopelessness usually prevails. Maybe our species are just not made – but superconditioned – to be monogamous for so long and within an unnatural contract! The whole world is changing in this respect. In fact, for the first time in the United State’s history, there are more single people aged 35-64 than married couples.

    Perhaps what many ridicule as unIslamic or the worst form of getting together, temporary marriage or conditional marriage like zawaj orfee or mita’a could be better for many Muslims than mainstream ones!

  2. October 25, 2006 7:19 pm

    Hmmmmmm, I guess, tantalize, that that would depend on what your purpose is for marriage. In the long run, I think that people learning to be realistic in their expectations is more the route to go, but we probably won’t be understanding the affects of being alone for quite a few more generations.

    Also, let’s not forget that children are still better off in a 2 parent household.


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