You, Too, Can Learn From Arranged Marriages
By Janel Breitenstein
As a woman—with a decent degree of independence from my parents—the idea of an arranged marriage punctures me with fear.
Letting my family pick my husband? Singleness would look better and better.
(They didn’t pick my husband. Phew. But they like him a lot.)
Yet there’s actually no statistical difference in happiness between arranged and love-/choice-based marriages. And arranged-marriage partners are nearly twice as compassionate to each other 10 years in.*
“What makes arranged marriages work can be summed up in one word: Commitment. This often means that commitment to working through issues is often put before personal needs and feelings,” explains psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona, weighing in on Lifetime TV show, Married at First Sight.**
On the show, singles entrust matrimony to experts, who use compatibility and coaching for a new generation of matchmaking.
Arranged marriages seem to view marriage as a family-supported event, rather than the mere responsibility of two individuals.
What I learn from arranged marriages (not that I’m endorsing arranged marriages or Lifetime)? It’s some version of plan to work—and with community—for your happy marriage.
And perhaps, have expectations compatible with planet Earth.
We venture into marriage stocked with happy love hormones … that scientifically last a maximum of 18 months.
We set ourselves up for failure. Especially when the modern standard of worthwhile marriage seems to fall along the lines of “Am I happy?”
Perhaps a lack of hyperfocus on our own happiness could also contribute to compassion for our partner long after the veil’s lost in the attic.
But if we see a fulfilling marriage as an uphill battle from the start, something precious and hardwon, a commitment upheld by two families—there’s something sacred to glean.
The Good Stuff: Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)
Action Points: How would your perspective change if your spouse wasn’t responsible for your happiness?
(Myers, 2005; Schwartz, 2007; Walsh and Taylor 1982)
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