Friday, December 25, 2009

Why Arranged Marriage Anyway

Reading your article, Reality, was good for me, because this was something I just didn't get. As a non-muslim woman, I always got to know more Omani men than women, and they would always tell me about the horrors of paying for a big exspensive wedding, an attrociously disgusting maher, family drama, a rather spoiled and useless uneducated wife... Really, a girl felt sorry for them, all the while knowing alot of Omani men (men everywhere understand---I was a well-travelled teenager) treated their wives with no consideration, and could be nonchalantly cruel and crazed with jealousy without cause. None of the boys I knew, understand. Or maybe I just understood it that way because none of the boys were married?

But I always hated on these spoiled Omani girls, who one of my friends would fall in love with, and die just to hold her sacred hand, and buy her coffee and sweets and purses and diamonds and perfume, who she would in turn climb walls and risk her reputation to drive around with, but she wouldn't fight her family, and then she'd forget about him the minute someone her family approved of knocked on the door. What a b**** I always thought, these young men heartbroken never thinking such a thing of their "angel" who was wearing a wedding dress for someone else, and now they'd hold off another four years marrying just to get over her. I wanted to jam the gold from her maher down these girls' throats. But I never met them while the two were falling in love. Spoiled and cruel. Deserves a cruel husband whose only love is to buy her things, I thought then. Because she's hardening a good, decent, loving young man, to think of a woman in a distant way, a way that we women are NOT naturally.

And then I read Reality's opinion why girls go for arranged marriages (ie family approval) anyway:

Now, I understand that LOVE is the major reason why many Westerners marry. We do not view our men as our “significant others” and we do not view ourselves as “one“. Those terms do not exist in our society. The way we grew up is that a man comes second, and the family comes first. We do not fight to marry someone simply because we “love” them and the idea of it is immature and childish.

Oh yes, I had forgotten. The family. I am almost an orphan, I have always been "one" unless I am thinking in an idealist soicietal kinda-of-Islamic sense, so it is no wonder, all the men I have known in Oman, young and old, feel there is something lacking in their lives or their marriages. They do not have the right to be individual in any free sense. Women do, but if they do, they are gambling with their body, their security, their reputation, and futures. My situation leads me to lack proper understanding. Maybe orphaned Omani girls feel the same as I do, lacking male Muslim relatives of any kind?

In this society, a woman’s backbone is not her husband, it’s her male relatives. We grew up to believe that if we are harmed in any way shape or form by our husbands, then the police are not the ones to deal with it, it’s our male relatives. They will fight for us, and they will kick the guy’s ass if he touches us.

The previous is very true. Covered head to toe in bruises and someone with broken bones from a domestic disturbance, and the police told me, they like to solve things within the family. If they weren't dealing with a unique personage like myself, nothing would have been done. There'd have been a father to do it, an uncle, a male cousin...

I know many girls that do not marry the ones they love because they fear. Yes, it’s FEAR. Fear from divorce, fear from getting hurt, and fear from finding out that your loved one married another woman. It’s fear that keeps us from seeking love and we accept an arranged marriage because if any of the above happens, then we have our families to fall on to. If we went against their wishes, then we have to take responsibility for the consequences alone.

Where is your courage girls? Maybe, if your families are worth it, I could understand... I guess you fear the man will grow to doubt the way you met, and be sucspcious of you, and it could end in jealousy, with, you did it with me, are there those after, were there those before... Maybe you suspect him of doing the same thing, a second wife down the road... Patience, long suffering, and sweetness, would cure this, if you could wait it out, but I understand you wondering, is it worth it?

Also, the stigma that attaches itself to the word “divorced” makes us fear and question our own feelings. “Do we really love this person? Or are we just blinded by love?” we ask ourselves. “What if this love ends?” and that is when we start to freak out. So we chose not to follow love. Some of my friends were in some relationships, and once a new guy knocks on the door (arranged marriage way), the girl ignores her lover and marries the new guy.

Personally, (and I’m the “westernized Omani” in the family) I will not marry a guy because I love him. That, to me, is secondary. Compatibility comes first, and if I ever find myself in a situation where I would fight to marry a guy, then I will not do it only because I love him. Of course love needs to be there for me to spend my energy on fighting, but I will only do it if I BELIEVE that the person is absolutely compatible with me.

So yes DA, love cannot be arranged. Yet, in this culture, love comes second. Respect and honor are valued more. You might not be able to comprehend it, but that is because you do not belong to this culture. You are an observer and you are judging through what you find or do not find acceptable. And I am not talking about the bad kind of arranged marriages where a woman is forced to marry someone she does not know. I am talking about the more practiced kind of arranged marriage: where the woman has the choice to say “yes” or “no”.

I do not feel I fail to understand it because it is not my culture, but because I have no family, and I see many only half-sustained upon this ideal that nourishes a few but while in bloom, beautiful success stories.

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