Lately I have been reading lots of blogs that have a lot to say about arranged marriage. Some of the views expressed in those blogs are general ideas while some of them wrote their own personal experience with arranged marriage. I agree with a lot of information while there are some with which I disagree. One of the biggest misconceptions about arranged marriage that I want to clear out is that “Arranged marriage is not forced marriage”.
I was born in Nepal where arranged marriage is common even till today. I wanted to write about arranged marriage for a while but then I had a love marriage so I was not sure if I was right in commenting about it. Finally I decided to write about what I have seen and learnt about arranged marriage in Nepal. My ideas and views are of Nepali arranged marriage, specifically in Kathmandu. I do understand that it may be different from other South Asian arranged marriages.
Both my parents and parents in law had arranged marriage. Both couple are happily married for around 3 decades now. I see love between them every time I look at them and there is no negative effect of arranged marriage in their relationship.
With my parents, they met 3 times before they decided to get married. Everything was arranged by the two families and they met to see each other and make up their minds. On their first date, they had company while on the other two they were able to talk to each other by themselves. According to my mum, in those days it was normal to meet your future spouse only a couple of times before getting married.
After marriage, they slowly started to know each other and build their relationship. If you see them now, you will agree with me that they are soul mates who are in love and living their happily ever after.
My dad has 6 siblings and my mum has 3, out of which only 1 of my aunt and 1 uncle had a love marriage and the rest were arranged marriages. All the arranged marriages are going strong. Out of 2 love marriages, one has ended in divorce (not the fault of love marriage of course) and the rest are doing well.
You might say it is an old story but I know people who had arranged marriage just a few months ago and even a few weeks ago. One of them is a good friend while other is my cousin.
With my friend, she is a bit shy so she didn’t want to date anyone even though she had lots of guys after her when we were in college. When the marriage questions were asked by her parents, she told them to find a suitable match. So she was engaged last year and after a year of knowing the guy finally they got married in December.
With my cousin, he lives in US where he is super busy with his work. He never stays in one place for long enough (due to his work) that he gets to meet girls let alone fall in love. So when the family started asking him to get married, he handed down the responsibility to his parents who found a really nice girl and they got married last week in a traditional Newari marriage ceremony. His parents are really happy with this marriage and both bride and groom had 100% say in the decision.
The point I want to make is that just because it is an arranged marriage does not meant that it is a bad thing. It may sound weird to a society where it doesn’t happen but please do have an open mind when you think about it.
Let me put it this way, the modern arrange marriage is like joining rspv.com in the western world. Even I considered having an arranged marriage at one stage (read here for more). So it is not silly or backward thing but just a tradition in most South Asian society.
These days when a girl or guy tells their family that they are OK with arranged marriage, first the family and relatives look for a prospective partner with qualities like
- Similar caste
- Similar family reputation
- Girls/guy’s qualification (study, job)
- Girl/guy’s qualities (look, hobbies, background)
- Cultural and/or religious understanding
It is like RSVP scanning anyone who wanted to join their site. The hard part is done by the family so the girl/guy only meets prospective partners who are suitable.
So as a first step, photos of the prospective partners (already filtered by the family) are shown and they can pick a few they like. Then they will be given either phone numbers or/and email id of the prospective partners so they can talk and chat. These days Skype and Facebook seems to be the way people choose to communicate.
At this stage both guy/girl has time to evaluate the person and if they want, the next step will be dating. They normally meet a few times and stay in touch before they tell their family if they are happy with their prospective partners or not. I found out that at this stage most of the prospective partners fall in love. (I think it is similar in dating world as well anyway.)
If both parties have positive response then the family will get together and have an engagement function. These days I see couples engaged for one or more years before they finally get married. In some cases, marriage happens after only a few weeks after the engagement as well.
So both the boy and girl have full say in who they are going to marry even if it is an arranged marriage. Parents don’t treat their kids like a commodity to negotiate and scrutinize and make them marry just anyone without asking them. Family and society have changed according to time in Nepal so they understand that it is important to get the children involved on making decisions of their life.
Here are some advantages of arrange marriage
- Financial security
You can call me materialistic but money does matter in real life. It is only in fairy tales that people can live happily ever after in a swamp or jungle. No parents wants their kids to suffer so they make sure when they are looking for prospective partners that they are secure and well off financially and is in the same level as their family.
- Caste, cultural and/or religious understanding
Family make sure prospective partner belongs to a similar caste and culture so they can easily adjust into their new life. It is same as RSVP asking what religion or ethnic group you belong to, in their form.
- Family approval and support
As you know, eastern society live in a close-knit environment, it helps a lot when your in laws approve the prospective partner. This way the couple will get help from their parents physically, emotionally and in most cases financially as well. I think it is not a bad thing to have two sets of families in your life.
- Avoidance of (more) pre-marriage relationships/courtship
They say you have to kiss many frogs before you meet your prince charming. We all see and experience that and we have actually gone through a few relationships before we settle with Mr. Right. With arrange marriage, it eliminates the years many waste dating multiple persons, and allow a person to find a good spouse if you choose to follow this path from the beginning. In other cases, you have been there and done that and didn’t not want to go through the heartaches again, this can be a way out to make your life bit easier.
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I’ve been with this guy for a year and half and we have an unconventional relationship which works out pretty well bec of it didn’t a year and half is no joke. But i’ve been recently dumped bec he is forced to get married bec his going way pass the prime age of marriage in Nepal and some family legal issues that leads to forxing to get married. I find your writing informative as well as the other sites i checked about marriage in Nepal. It still hurts me but the more i understand the culture the better i feel. Oh i forgot to mention we are of different race, i’m older than him and i have 2 kids from previous marriage. Its just a waste to throw out a year and a half of happy relationship for an arranged marriage. But what can i do the family rejected me and i must respect tjeir tradition.
Hey just found your blog 🙂
Its nice that you outlined arranged marriage, because there are a lot of misconceptions-
I’m Australian, married to an Indian and we have friends in both love marriage and arranged marriage, and both types of marriages work…..at the end of the day, it’s all pretty much the same thing…;-)
Looking forward to read your posts. Thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂
I understand your point gal , especially in this age and time, falling in love is very natural. “Avoidance of pre-marriage relationships/courtship” is only for the people if they really want to do so as it is an option. I know few friends who never make falling love as an option as they knew that their family won’t be OK and had their mind set to have arranged marriage from the beginning and I know many people who have unsuccessful relationship so decided on arrange marriage and it worked well for them.
I definitely have nothing against (pre-marriage)relationships as I fall in love before I got married myself 🙂
Thanks a lot for bringing this up here. What you wrote is absolutely correct in the perspective of Nepal, this is exactly what happens there and its not forced marriage!! The only thing I slightly disagree is the “Avoidance of pre-marriage relationships/courtship”. Well, someone can still look for arranged marriage after their previous love/arranged relationship won’t work out. This points sounds like it discourages (pre-marriage)relationships.
The primary thing I don’t like about arranged marriage is the focus on caste. People might say that ‘people from the same caste have similar cultural rituals so it makes life easier’ but I say, why not be open to other cultures? I can understand religious people not wanting to marry and raise kids with someone from a different religion, but with caste, I feel that there is no excuse.
The minute people look at your features or find out your last name, they make assumptions that can best be described as awkward jokes, or downright racist insults. I think it’s done Nepali society (in general) far more harm than good. And I’m bloody convinced that all the Kathmandu based baun families are related (if you go back a few generations)–it’s creepy.
I understand about the caste problem you are talking about but I really can see why people marry within a caste in most cases. I have seen being from different cast, people have different rituals, traditions and culture which you need to learn if you marry into different caste. As arrange marriage try to keep easily for both bride and groom, I think they wanted to find someone in the same caste.
I know caste have big value when u are in Nepal but as soon as one leave the county I think caste has less value and being Nepali comes first . At least that is what I experienced.
“And I’m bloody convinced that all the Kathmandu based baun families are related (if you go back a few generations)–it’s creepy.” I am not too sure about this but you made me laugh gal 🙂
I think I come across as being against arranged marriage. I’m not, I do see and support its merits. I think a lot of people end up happy that way. I agree with you that its up to an individual, it just sometimes seems that in a system that isn’t about “just the individual” sometimes the person can be lost in the sea of whats best for everyone or what makes everyone happy.
I have to agree with some frames of Java Beans’ thoughts. I don’t think anyone is forced into an arranged marriage, but would you ever say that people are given a choice they can’t make?
For someone who loves their family with all their heart, how could they make the choice to be with the person they love and want to be with, when the family says “if you choose that path, so be it, but you are choosing to be without your family forever”? They can’t and that sort of coercion is not free choice. Maybe they weren’t told “you have to marry within the caste, or arranged, or any other have tos” but they were told, if you make a choice that isn’t agreed to, you are choosing to leave your whole family. ”
Sometimes this goes further and the potential spouse is told, if you make this choice, you will not only no longer be a member of this family, you will no longer be a member of our caste, and no longer a Nepali, and no longer an Asian!”
Those sorts of threats are made on the behalf of arranged marriage or disagreements with love marriages. I suppose I believe that if parents truly love their children, they will want them to be happy, not just worry about if they will suffer being victims of gossip and slander. I can understand objecting to an unhealthy relationship, but objecting on the basis of race, caste, culture, financial standing alone without even meeting the person you are objecting to? That I can never stand behind.
I think the choice decision comes down to individual person Padmini.
I know a friend (Nepali) who went against his family and married an Indonesian girl. His family was totally against it but he was so much in love, he knew what he wanted. I am sure that he had hurt his family and they were upset with him. But after a year he went to Nepal with his new wife and everyone welcome them with open arm including his parents. Now they have a baby and grandparents are big part of that baby’s life.
I know what you mean by “Sometimes this goes further and the potential spouse is told, if you make this choice, you will not only no longer be a member of this family, you will no longer be a member of our caste, and no longer a Nepali, and no longer an Asian”. Family tries to emotionally black mail son/daughter not to marry the person they didn’t approve but it happens in westerns society as well (may be frequency is less). I have seen families who have threatened their kids off their inheritance if they marry the girl/boy they were going out with.
When you say “suppose I believe that if parents truly love their children, they will want them to be happy, not just worry about if they will suffer being victims of gossip and slander.” I am sure every parents love their kids in this world but the same concept can be used other way around. We can even say if a child truly love and respect ones parents, they will want them to be happy and try to do the right thing by the parents.
Anyway I don’t support discriminating person based on race, caste, culture or financial standing but arrange marriage is not about that in my person opinion and I have seen positive ending of arrange marriage.
Well, I’m glad you have an open view on a very taboo subject, as 2 Rivers Photos (your photos are awesome BTW) has kindly given us his 2 cents.
Ultimately though, whichever path is chosen, it all boils down to 2 loving people wanting to start their life journey in a state of never-ending happiness. How we get to that point of initiation is where we have the freedom to choose, right?
In my own personal view, I cannot think of anything better than living a life where I get the opportunity to mend someone’s broken heart – call me a hopeless romantic, but ‘love’ does really blossom when it’s a 2 way street. I don’t usually do this but try and watch ‘City Lights (1931)’ – it’s the proverbial cinema of why people would ever agree to an ‘arranged marriage’.
Oh, and – I am a serial ‘arranged marriage’ avoiding nepali from Melbourne. I don’t meet a lot of open-minded ‘arranged marriage’ avoiding nepali ketis – if you find them there please send ’em over…!
I respect your choice JavaBeans. It is up to individual person to choose what he/she thinks will work for them.
As the title said, it was my perspective on arrange marriage and I know lots of happily arranged married people. Even I live in western society and have its influence in my daily life; I do appreciate lots of tradition and culture from the place I was born.
You are not alone in the pool of nepali keti/keta who are avoiding arranged marriage. I have few friends who are like you and all I wish all of you is great life ahead. Hope you meet your prince/princess charming soon, fall in love and live happily ever after. 🙂
I will try to watch the movie soon 🙂
Really well written about such a taboo subject. Nice to see someone with a mature/open point of view on this 🙂
Thank you for appreciation… 🙂
Agree with your views and congrats on your love marriage – but, let me try and clarify (and perhaps para-phrase) in general terms the ‘philosophical thinking’ between the two marriages for the benefit of the internet community at-large (but brace yourself it’s a bit long):
In an arranged marriage (through the effort of many people), the pot of gold (i.e. person’s background – from education to work history, financial wealth, family, societal status quo, caste, religion, etc.) is all realized and known BEFORE marriage. Most couples will have met 3 or 4 times before deciding to tie the knot – in other words, most won’t have known much about each other at that point. Compromises and love, if any, comes afterwards. Imagine agreeing to spend the rest of your life with someone because you’ve seen the pot of gold yet not knowing if your partner’s habitual astronomical sneeze in the middle of the night is going to scare the hell out of you!
In contrast, love marriage (through the effort of two people) occurs with a lot less pot of gold in mind. In my view, partners marry because of their sole belief and utmost respect for each other – not because someone told them to do so or due to religious fit, etc. Although there are a few outliers (gold diggers and religious fanatics) out there, most marriages do occur out of sincerity (at least I hope so).
Arranged marriage is an ancient tradition – dates back to thousands of years. This was the way aristocrats and nobilities married – many at times for strategic reasons. Think of the Ranas and Shahs, European heads of states all the way to a nepali farmer wanting to hook up his daughter with a son of another farmer who is better off than he is. And his thinking isn’t wrong – after all, he wants a better life for his daughter. But that quest of grasping materialistic values as an indication of a successful marriage slowly dissipated, as people (women more so than men) became more independent. And so came the fruition of love marriage – which is a fairly new phenomenon and has been in an accepted existence for only about 200 years or so. And this form of romanticism has created an abundant choice for the individuals to express themselves and uphold their own decision in choosing their significant others.
Let’s put this into practice, shall we. Here we go. Let’s take an extreme view of these two types with you as an example (no pun intended, of course). Let’s pretend you are not married and let’s say you’ve known a guy for 3 years and he proposed to marry you. However, you also know that he currently lives under a cardboard box but yet you’ve never ever met anyone in your life quite like him who makes you feel good as he does. In a completely different scenario, let’s say you don’t know any guys yet and you are single and let’s say your parents found a guy for you – his status of family and wealth is in par or better than yours – and you met him 3 or 4 times – but your feelings for him are average. Which one would you choose?
That said, totally agree that everyone has the freedom to choose (so being judgemental is out of the question) – as you’ve appropriately given a dietary example on the importance of being impartial – but this freedom *depends* on ONE of the two philosophical beliefs I’ve outlined above and your answer to the extreme example. Moreover, a third choice can be to live as a husband and wife without being legally married – an arrangement recognized as ‘common-law marriage’ as we so proudly call them here in Australia, as well as in some states in the USA and a few other developed nations.
P.S. ‘Pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen’ is a figure of speech, similar to ‘pot of gold’ – it does not mean what it says in literal terms.
Thanks again for expressing your view JavaBeans.
According to my understanding, the situation you have given me is independent of each other. If that is the case, I will be happy in either scenario depending upon what place in life I am. I am not saying to leave your boyfriend (who is poor) and get married in arranged marriage for money. I am just trying to put the real arrange marriage facts out there. Most of the western people have misconception about arrange marriage. They think arrange marriage is forced marriage but you know in Nepal, it is not like that any more. Even my parents weren’t forced into to arrange marriage but they went through as it was culture then and they were happy with that.
I really want to know bit more about you now when you gave me the third option of living together without getting legally married. I know it is common here and I have no problem with that at all. As long as two people are happy with this arrangement, there will be no problem. But I am sure; these kinds of arrangements won’t be accepted by Nepali society yet. I am sure that is where people will be heading in future but if I had put that idea with my family now, I can’t imagine the reaction 😀 😀
P.S. I knew ‘pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen’ is a figure of speech, I was just pulling your leg 🙂
That’s exactly it. Marrying someone for love defies the advantages of arranged marriage. Unless the arranged marriage complements love marriage in some shape or form – marrying someone for money, status, caste/religion, b/c the matrimony befits your family more than you and b/c of no pre-marital sex or abstinence of sorts – is all nothing but a bucket of vanity. Marrying upwards is a better choice when no such boundaries exist and you marry because you adore the person’s character, charisma, temperament, humility and so forth. Although we come from a developing country where tradition is the king – Nepali couples no longer need to tolerate the idea of a wife (pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen) being at the mercy of her husband’s parents – I bring this up only because arranged marriages in Nepal entail more of this sort of mentality than open love marriages. If you can answer the question – would you rather get rich by inheritance or through self-made endeavours – you will have easily answered the dilemma between the two marriages. Most people will choose inheritance as an easy way to riches. Why? They are lazy – similar to the laziness they so utterly exhale when they choose arranged marriage. Working to earn the respect of your partner to the point of marriage and to be self-made is a lot harder – so, there’s a HUGE philosophical differences between the two marriages!
Thanks Java beans for you comment but I do disagree with few things you said.
I believe the family of your husband has nothing to do with your choice of arrange or love marriage. When you love someone, you only look at the person and not his family so you are not guarantee to have a fabulous family with your new husband.
I want to point out that the people who choose to be arranged marriage are not lazy but may be just unlucky in love. I don’t know your situation but not everyone is lucky in love. I have a cousin who went out with a girl for 13 years before they call it quit. Then he didn’t want to go through the whole saga again so asked his parents to find a girl for him. He had his own share of love and heart break so you can’t call him lazy. Now he is happily married with a beautiful wife and a lovely daughter. And I am sure he is very much in love with his wife.
In arrange marriage as well you need to earn respect of not only your partner but the whole family which is much tougher than single person. So laziness is the word I will describe the person who agree to go through the whole ordeal.
If you are talking about people in Nepal who had love marriages, they still live with their in-laws for at least few years before moving out. In most case, if the husband is only son, they live with the in-laws forever. (According to what I saw so far). I am sure when people fall in love, they won’t ask if you are only son or you have brothers to avoid living with their in-laws. I haven’t not seen” pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen “wife for a long time but how can you guarantee that arrange marriage would led to that, not love marriage. I believe especially in Kathmandu, gone are the days when a wife live in the mercy of husband’s family. Most of the women I know are independent and working ones who run their own life.
I had love marriage and I know how wonderful it is. I know many people who had arranged marriage and they said the whole experience was wonderful as well. So people are free to choose what works for them. I believe arrange marriage is a choice like being vegetarian is. So just because you don’t eat meat, the people who does aren’t bad people. I just don’t want people to judge other’s choice without knowing the details.
When gone my boy friend to his parents to say……I have found my lovely then he had little bit a fear. What will say his parents? A woman from europa? No Hindu, not the same caste, a woman whitch is living in an other society?
First his dad had made a consideration for some hours, then he came to say my friend…….its you life and if you be happy with a girl from other society then she is welcome in our family….
OMG we are so happy.
For me I cant imagine to make a arranged marriage, in our society never thats so, but I know in al lot of countrys and Nepal too there is arranged marriage. My opinion is…..when the couple is happy eith the decision then ist’s ok. But nowbody can to be pressured to a married.
That’s true Basundhara.. Gald that things worked out perfectly for you 🙂
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You know, its not like I am against arranged marriage and being from today’s generation five of my classmates are already married (arranged) and they are all living happily ever after. 4 out of 5 of them had serious relationships before marriage, which is why they got married off pretty early,without much say from their part, but nevertheless they are still or “seem” to be happy. What is hard to digest is that we see breakups. 8-9 year long relationships crash, end. If you can’t live with a person you’ve dated for so long, how can you trust that you’ll gel with a person you barely knew. Whether your ideals would match? whether you can be under the same roof without killing each other? whether you can commit, compromise, love and cherish your partner? whether you will have the courage to take it as it comes and overlook the mistakes? I always feel that if I left who I loved for a man who is customarily arranged for me, I would be a hater. I would compare, and contrast everything in our lives until I never give the man a chance and our lives will probably, with credits to me, would fall apart. The case would be different if you never loved a person, never dated anyone, its easier to believe that this is the best I could get.
But what do you do.. when you already have the best and you have to settle for ordinary (acc. to you) ?
Arranged marriage is not bad at all as long as their is full consent from both parties involved. By both parties, I solely mean the Bride and the groom. Its not the families who are marrying and living together, even though they will be bound by relation. Its those two people who’ll have to spend an entirety to together. Reproduce not procreate! To love and be humbled by love ,we must have space and faith in our hearts. If you start on the wrong foot, you’ll end up on the wrong side.
I think you have answered your own question tash. Life has no guarantee and so there is no guarantee in any kind of marriage. If you have seen love marriages which had fallen apart even after 10 years of being together then may be it is not time you need with your partner but the perspective of your life together is what is required for longer lasting marriage.
I am not saying if you are in relationship, you should leave your boyfriend and go and marriage a complete stranger in arranged marriage. My point is that if someone does gets arranged marriage (I am talking about Nepal here), they are happily married like any other couple so western society shouldn’t pity on the bride or groom as people who didn’t have choice. They had choice and they choose to be arranged marriage. (I am not aware about your friend cases but I am talking about what I seen in Nepal among my friends and family)
Talking about having the best, I think it is relative term. You don’t know if you have best until you can compare that with something. You can be right that your first love is better than your arranged marriage husband but you have to agree with me that there may be chances where your husband is lot better than your 1st or 2nd boyfriend. What about when one has love marriage to his/her first love then there is no one to compare with. How come in that situation, you know that the first love is the best?
Lastly I know people often says that marriage is between two people which is more true in western world but where I come from, marriage is between two people and also between two families. I so believe in that especially after my own wedding. I had love marriage but both our family has consent on our marriage (which was really important for us). So, even we are not in Nepal, our families invite each other for dinners and festivals. For example my MIL performed all the traditional rituals for Father’s day last year even I was not there which made my dad’s day. He didn’t feel left out just because I was not there. They talk regularly and both AS and I have two families in our life now. I would want them to be big part of our kids’ life one day. I believe family involvement in ones marriage is very important.
That is true M, having family consent and support is vital. Its like nothing goes right without it. But then again I guess sometimes it takes a lot of convincing if you gut feeling tells you its all worth it eh 🙂
It all comes down to whatever works for those involved,and both partners are on equal footing. So long as we preserve a framework where that proves true, I’ll not criticise.
Would it work for me? Honestly, no.
You said it right nelle, it all comes down to the couple in the end.
I respect that you think this kind of arrangement won’t work for you but at least you are not negative about it.
There you go…cudos to you for bringing this up and seeing all positive in it. I liked it actually coming from a girl (stereotype is women are abused in arranged marriage). I had numerous arguments in the past in so many blogs trying to convey the same message. People actually don’t realize that people choose to do an arranged marriage not otherwise.
However, I didn’t like like the way you were comparing it to online dating/matchmaking as arranged marriage is lot better than that.
Thank you Nepalidwang. I think arrange marriage has so many negative conceptions in the western world that I feel sorry sometimes on how misinformed people are. I was trying my best to give the real story through my blog.
Probably it is not the best ways to relate arrange marriages to online dating but I thought I have to make a comparison somewhere so people in western society can understand what I am trying to explain. I am sure the arrange marriage is lot better than online dating with so many reasons. The most important one will be that there will be family involvement in the whole process of arrange marriage in positive way.
I think its a really great system with a lot of benefits. I can’t say that I know too many people who have actually be in an arranged marriage, so I can really only speak about the concept as I understand it. I definitely wish that my parents had played a great part in my marriage that ended in divorce, but their mentality was “it’s my life, my choice, my consequences, NOT their problem.” I do like how the arranged marriage system is primary based on the concept of “my child, my family, DEFINITELY my problem” at least from parents perspectives. Not long after our “I Do”s my marriage turned physical and emotionally abusive. My former spouse turned to drugs and alcohol as more than a fun distraction, but a daily crutch, and finally I had to make the choice to raise my child in that environment or do what was best for my daughter and I, leave. So I ultimately left and the consequences have been terrible and will be life long. How nice it would have been if only my family had told me then, what they told me after everything fell a part, “we knew that he was no good, we knew it was going to end up that way.” But they never said anything, because the American value is to hold your tongue when adults are involved.
Flash forward to when I actually started living a life with self-esteem and value. I met and fell in love with the person who without a doubt would have been the person I’d have spent my life with. He agrees, that if it weren’t for my unfortunate past, he would clearly marry me. And here is where my problem with arranged marriage enters, prejudgments and stereotypes. In every other way, I’m a fit under the arranged marriage system. His parents even agreed with our personal choice to be together and am quite sure they would have approved of a marriage. Until they learned that I was divorced, even this fact could have been looked over, except I have a child that very clearly isn’t their son’s.
And that’s it. In one moment, our choice to be together, and our love went from being a good choice and family supported to a horrible sin that needed to be undone before any more family or friends could find out. All reputations were at stake and all negative stereotypes about American’s and their sexual promiscuity, divorce rates, and thieving ex-wives destined to steal your best son’s children and money came to light. I became a symbol of everything that they didn’t want for their son and so they put their foot down and as a very good son, he complied. I understand that in Nepal divorce is terrible and status is important. But I also feel that me as an individual wasn’t given a chance because of one fact that does not make me a terrible person. I wasn’t a “slut”, I was just raised in a culture that doesn’t view parental involvement in the same way.
One thing I actually loved about my former boyfriend’s was his commitment to his parents. I thought that being with someone that knew how important family is was more in line with my personal beliefs than with my cultural or family’s beliefs. As a girl who would really be more of my husband’s family than my own, I didn’t quite understand why my personal values didn’t matter. Why would it be that just because my family failed me, I’d be doomed to fail my own children and husband? And yes, as people who support arranged marriage always say, he could have chosen to stay with me, Even his parents said that. But at what risk? At the risk of the community punishing his parents back home? At the risk of not having the multi-generation family home with his parents that they all knew they wanted? I wanted that too, but I have a black mark on my name in the arranged marriage system. A black mark that can never be erased, covered, or explained. A black mark that means no matter how much else is perfect, nothing can ever make up for that horrible scar on my past.
I am really sad to hear what happen with you. But your situation falls more into Nepali culture and tradition than arrange marriage. I know in Nepal, divorce is not widely accepted.
I know a cousin who is divorced without any kids and had an arranged marriage. My uncle and aunt was honest about their daughter past so her new husband and his family accepted her with that.
I think if I hadn’t had any children, things would be different. They knew I was divorced and that wasn’t a problem. When they found out about my daughter that is what was too upsetting to tolerate. It doesn’t even seem to be a personal opinion of anyone involved. It seems to be a fear that the family will loose status and be gossiped about.
I guess I will never understand. In the US gossip is considered relatively unimportant. There will always be something to say about someone. We are taught a rhyme as children “sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That principle doesn’t seem to be the case in Nepali culture. It seems to me that nothing could be more important than status or reputation. At least for this one family. I can’t imagine that is the case for all families in Nepal.
The reason I attach so much importance to arranged marriage is that even when their son told them about me and asked them to stop bride searching, they continued anyway. And when they found out about my daughter, they told him that if he wasn’t going to choose me over them (which he obviously would never do) then here are several potential bride’s pictures to choose from.
And then after telling me for months that he was going to try to get through to them and figure out a solution, he has resolved to just go ahead and have an arranged marriage at some point, that dealing with all this love business is too much pain. It just felt painful to hear him resign to marrying whoever his parents bring to him because they said no to the person he used to claim he wanted to be with. I want to understand this model of thinking, but I just don’t know how to wrap my mind around it.