Recently, I had a twitterussion (twitter discussion) with a couple people I follow. I was having difficulty falling asleep and decided to see what was going on on twitter. The conversation started out in Arabic and my Arabic skills after midnight might be spotty at best. Through my misunderstanding, the discussion took a turn. The topic was causes of divorce. We were still talking about divorce but we also talked about how people get married, particularly here in Saudi Arabia and how it affects marriage and/or divorce. With what takes place to get married, it’s no wonder that the divorce rate is so high. So, how did you meet your spouse? And if you’re not married, how would you like to meet your spouse?
Some people prefer following their traditions. A man may want his mother to choose a bride for him. I remember meeting a woman when I first came to KSA six years ago who got married that way. Her husband asked his family to find him a bride. He wasn’t in the country at the time and he hadn’t seen her. And if I remember correctly, he actually saw her for the first time on their wedding day. Doing something like that means taking a huge leap of faith. Let’s be honest, we all have tastes, likes and dislikes. Knowing that, why wouldn’t you want to see the person you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with before getting married? What happens if you see him/her and you are in someway disappointed? Now you’re married. For a Saudi groom, you’ve paid out the wazoo to get married. You’d probably be pissed if you saw her and didn’t find her attractive. For either one, if they’re not pleased, how do they get out of it? That’s the thing, they can’t. Why? Because it would be cultural suicide. One family or possibly both would want them to stay together if for no reason other than saving face. It’s possible they could grow to love each other, but maybe they won’t. And it’s the ones that don’t that are more than likely to end in divorce.
So, what should people do? There are those who truly believe that an arranged marriage is the best way to get married and there are those who believe that arranged marriages don’t work. Coming from a western culture, once again I find myself unable to say yay or nay. If I base it on my own experience, arranged marriages suck! I was introduced to a man and my “guardian” was responsible for finding out what kind of person he was. Do you think people are completely honest or forthcoming with information I had a right to know? No, they weren’t. We were polar opposites. The only thing we had in common was the religion and even that we couldn’t agree on 100%. Nevertheless, I was patient. And I know for a fact that I was more patient than most. His own family wanted to limit their time with him. So, once it was finally over, I was a little angry, bitter. I wondered how people could recommend him and then sleep at night. Does this mean that all arranged marriages are destined for divorce? No. I’m sure that there are success stories out there, but I don’t personally know of any.
Young people today aren’t so keen on arranged marriages. Perhaps seeing failed marriages is part of the reason. Perhaps they are not slaves to the culture as the generations before them were. I often hear that they’d rather get to know a person first. It’s understandable because when you get married the way I did, you feel cheated somehow. And I’ll never get those years back. It would be nice to know the person’s personality so that you can decide on what you can and cannot live with and/or what things you might be willing to compromise on. How can you guarantee that the person you are getting to know is the real him/her? There are no guarantees in life I suppose so no one way is going to be foolproof.
How do you feel about getting to know your spouse before taking the plunge? If you agree to this method, what is the best way to go about it and how can families be sure that the would-be couple will not cross any lines or step outside what is permissible by the religion?