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Comments about ‘Linda & Richard Eyre: What we can all learn from arranged marriages’

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Published: Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Kings Court
Alpine, UT

Divorce rates in countries that have arranged marriages are extremely low. Divorce is the single most disruptive factor in a stable marriage and the well-being of children. I'm just baffled at our state's focus on gay marriage to this effect when a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the population would ever seek a gay marriage. If we really were about providing a stable family unit, we should be spending our time and money on mitigating divorce among heterosexual couples. In the gay marriage fight, the state is arguing about how allowing it will be the end of the universe, but in reality, the most disruptive thing to ever happen to marriage in the Western world was the Protestant Reformation which ended the ban on divorce and began the process of the separation of church and state, culminating in the enlightenment and the eventual founding of the United States and civil rights and democratic movements in other Western countries. So now, even though the Catholic church forbids divorce, Catholics can still get divorces since marriage is longer under the purview of religion, but of the state.

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

So much for agency.

higv
Dietrich, ID

If you don't meet someone tell wedding day what if you are not attracted to them? I could never sleep with someone I am not attracted to myself. Even hugging them thought makes me gag.

Vladhagen
Salt Lake City, UT

Wait, what? Did I just read an article about arranged marriage? Maybe the next article could be about how suppression of women can make a marriage easier for men.

Indiana H
Mission Viejo, CA

Arranged marriages are good! You can let yourself go from the very beginning! :-)

UTCProgress
American Fork, UT

I find it amusing that the Eyre's use India and Saudi Arabia as their example countries. Suadi Arabia's suppression of women is well documented, while India has recently been in the news for the brutal raping of women both in urban areas and in the rural countryside.

The United States has continued to prosper as a nation despite the declining participation in organized religion and despite the fact that we now have almost 100 years of gains in rights and status for women. I don't believe I want to live in a country that mimics the rampant religious despotism of Saudi Arabia, and I question the motives of anyone who does.

Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

The Eyres present a super-idealized subset of arranged marriage cultures, one of educated elites where romantic attraction is accommodated. It comes off as so very civilized. It might better be called parentally mediated courtship rather than arranged marriage. However, full disclosure should acknowledge the breadth of arranged marriage practice in various cultures to include child brides being married off with no choice or voice in the matter in exchange for a dowry. It's hard to discern a tangible difference between a dowry and a purchase in these cases. If Americans view arranged marriage with disdain, it is largely because of that end of the arranged marriage spectrum.

An unstated and unacknowledged subtext of the column is that there is no single form of "traditional" marriage. The idea of marriage and its definition varies with cultures and through history. Those who appeal to a singular notion of "traditional" marriage to oppose same-sex marriage are rewriting history and anthropology. That argument fails.

Maudine
SLC, UT

It is not surprising to see an article lauding arranged marriages, opponents of same-sex marriage have been telling us for years now that marriage is not about love and how better to demonstrate that than supporting arranged marriages?

There is much subtext to arranged marriages, however, that seems to be frequently glossed over in editorials such as this.

As one poster mentioned there is the dowry or "bride price" the bride's family must pay. Women are only worth what their fathers can provide to their future husband for their care. This often leads to sex-selective abortions or abandonment of young girls.

The devaluization of women leads to a culture of mistreatment and abuse, as demonstrated by India, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. Arranged marriages take much of a woman's empowerment and self-determination away.

As for the divorce issue, of course divorce is lower - the bride price stays with the husband as do the kids, in most cases. The woman very seldom has the education and work experience necessary to provide for herself and her family, being shamed, is not going to let her move back home.

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

Some very good points here.

When my daughter and her husband were married in the temple, the sealer told them that women were not property in our Church. They give themselves to the man of their choice--equal partners, equal before God.

Agency has always had the potential for failure, but it is still "the plan of happiness" because from it we can learn how to make good choices, repent, forgive, grow, and God provided a Savior to help us succeed.

There was another plan that purported to make choices for us. No one would fail. That plan was a lie because the point of this life is to learn how to choose and, in the end, rely on the Savior for what we cannot do by ourselves.

Finally, we all must come to our relationships and our God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Choosing your spouse is just the beginning. Every day you have to choose to love that person again.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Midwest Mom" "Maudine", and "Vladhagen" be honest with us, you didn't read anything beyond the headline. We know you didn't read past the headline because the young adults are not forced to marry. The parents find a person, they are introduced and they date for a while. Then, if the couple likes each other and wants to (choice or agency) they get married.

What you and your ilk forget is that within the arranged marriage community they eliminate many of the problems arise from finding your own mate. Imagine a culture where your mother-in-law likes you because she chose you to care for her daughter? Imagine a culture where your in-laws didn't fight for your time because your parents and your spouse's parents are friends. Imagine how many divorces would be avoided if the parents said no to the marriage of their child to somebody who would be a bad match, despite the fact that the couple was "in love".

What the Eyres didn't mention is that in the cultures with arranged marriages the young couples work harder than we do to make their marriages work.

dr.bridell
mclean, VA

I'm struck that most commenters on this article are not commenting on what it actually says....just using it as an excuse to express their viewpoints.
As I read it, the Eyres are simply saying they think families might want to be more proactive in looking for possibilities for their kids to date.....and also that the haphazard way kids date today (or don't) is not the best and most likely system to produce successful marriages.
Right on!

Maudine
SLC, UT

@ Redshirt: *Some* arranged marriages work that way - and *some* input from families isn't bad - however, that being said, the problems I pointed out are very frequent and common in countries where arranged marriages are the norm.

If you want to advocate for the good parts, that's great - but it is ingenuous to ignore the hard parts of reality.

Arizona LDS Guy
Mesa, AZ

@Vladhagen and others
I friend of mine who was born in the US but whose parents are from India. He is currently engaged to a young woman whose parents are also immigrants from India. Their courtship has been very similar to the one described in this article. My friend is very commited to his fiancee and his love for her is obvious. He appreciates the help his parents provided in bringing them together, as does she. She, by the way is a successful professional in the finance industry and has a degree from the most prestigious university in the Midwest. She is anything but oppressed. I know of many young Indian women who are likewise pursuing careers in medicine, law, and so forth.

I'd just like to point out one thing. I am a religious, conservative republican. Who on this board is showing more commitment to pluralistic principles and tolerance?

Careful, all you so-called liberals and progressives. Your hate is showing.

wrkn
Beverly Hills, CA

Some glaring ignorance in this article and in the comments. The dowry system that is commonplace in Indian marriages, especially among the wealthier and educated classes, is downright crippling to the bride's family. This puts the two families on very unequal footing from the start. Threats, extortion, and violence by the groom's family against brides is commonplace. Many Indians are uncomfortable discussing these facts with outsiders. Definitely not something worth emulating. Also, many families have perpetuated a toxic "culture" and I think that there are a lot of us who would be better served by breaking from those influences and starting something new, fresh, and better, with our future family in mind.

gmlewis
Houston, TX

"A good case can be made that this open-to-help mentality gives a higher chance of success than the haphazard, independent process of" of finding a marriage partner.

The authors didn't say anything about adopting bride dowries, bride ownership, or any of the other abusive aspects that occur in some other cultures. They simply concluded that it would be productive to include the two sets of parents with the responsibility of encouraging their children into healthy marriages.

In addition to the splendid benefits mentioned by authors, we could also say that this could really be a boon for young people who are hopelessly shy. There are a lot of young single folks who could use some help to overcome inertia.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Maudine" again, did you even read the article? I doubt that you read anything more than the headline. They also mention that in cultures with arranged marriages where the young couple dates and decides if it is a good match there is a lower divorce rate than in the US.

Are you saying that a high divorce rate is good for a society?

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

I read the article. Coercion in families is frequently enough to force.

My parents are wonderful people, but they are very different from the life choices that I have made. The same can be said for my own children.

We don't know people as well as we think we do. Imagine a mother-in-law who chose me before we were married? Does she choose me because she likes me or my parents and what they have?
Does she choose me because she wants me to be happy or because of what she wants for her child and herself?

Joseph Smith said, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves."

I believe in that concept. My son chose a woman who is very different from him, but they are perfect for each other. My daughter chose a man who comes from a disastrous family, but he has overcome his upbringing to be a wonderful husband.

Obviously, my children knew better than I did what would make them happy.

God trusts us enough to send us naked into the world. Agency is His plan.

Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

gmlewis: "The authors didn't say anything about adopting bride dowries..."

That's the problem. The Eyres use examples (as I pointed out in my orignal post) from their experience with a particular (and not necessarily representative) subset of arranged marriage culture. They argue that parental involvement in courtship is beneficial. Absolutely no dispute there. Parents obviously can apply their life experience and help vet potential spouses. And in the examples cited, the kids have the agency to choose. FWIW, I know an Indian couple whose marriage was arranged as described by the Eyres. They are happy; she is a liberated working professional-- no (minimal) oppression there. The process can work. However, the Eyres were remiss in not acknowledging the entirety of arranged marriage cultures, which can include ghastly oppression of girls, and specifying the limits of acceptable parental control of courtship. The ill-chosen headline did not help clarify this distinction.

I know cinema is not reality, but two recent films, the Saudi "Wajda" and the Indian "The Lunch Box" both portray women trapped in loveless marriages (presumably arranged) in those countries. Divorce is not really an option for them and they are left to suffer in lonely limbo.

Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

The Eyres note that their experience with arranged marriages is with well traveled, professional, educated elites, not the hoi polloi. They should be especially cautious about confirmation bias and nonrepresentative sampling. It may be that some of the success of these marriages is precisely because the couples are exposed to other cultures and are not as bound by tradition as regular folks in their countries. The marital success may be because they are more Western than Eastern.

As for lower divorce rates, Wikipedia (not the most reliable source, admittedly, but we'll go with it) cites a 50% divorce rate for Saudi Arabia, which is on a par with the US. The cultural mores and traditions keeping divorce low (e.g. the social stigma of divorce) are enshrined in law. It can be very difficult for women to divorce. Saudi women cannot divorce without the husband's consent. They cannot drive, get an education, travel, or work without a male guardian, so the survival options of a woman contemplating divorce are severely limited. Better to suffer in a bad marriage than to seek a divorce. Meanwhile, her husband can simply marry another woman.

Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT

@RedShirt
"They also mention that in cultures with arranged marriages where the young couple dates and decides if it is a good match there is a lower divorce rate than in the US."

Women don't exactly have all that much in the manner of rights in those nations compared to what they have in the U.S.

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