The Arranged Marriage

“I’ve thought about marriage before in a couple of relationships I’ve been in in the past. I thought I probably could be married to this person. We sort of even discussed it. It seemed kind of real then because there was already a flow to the relationship. You felt like what would marriage be except some kind of formalizing of this bond. But here is like going from nothing to everything. It’s like one of these commercials for cars. They go from zero to sixty in two point three seconds or whatever There’s no starting point. It’s all of a sudden You’re going at sixty miles an hour and you don’t even know how you got there.”

– A young man on arranged marriage vs. choice-based marriage.

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Arranged marriages are counter to the relationship ideology held here in the United States. We are all about choosing who we want to love. The idea of a partner chosen by your parents might send chills up many people’s spines. But there are cultures where a person does not have that choice.

I’ve wondered what is the mental state of a person in such an arrangement? Are they angry with their society? Do they feel cheated out of a real opportunity for love? Do they resent their partner? Are they less happy than people who got to choose someone they loved? What keeps the couple together when things get hard? What is the glue to arranged marriages?

I needed these questions answered so I could answer another question that I’ve been wanting to find an answer to. I zoomed to Youtube to watch a documentary on contemporary arranged marriages. I’ve linked to it below.

It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. The arranged marriages in this documentary did involve choice. The people weren’t betrothed at an early age and then wed once they could bear children. Some of the subjects in this documentary dated normally before they got involved in an arranged marriages. They had their choice of suitors. One woman placed an ad in a newspaper looking for a husband, and received over two hundred letters from men. She had a choice in them

I did figure out that the glue to many arranged marriages was tradition. Children wanted to make their parents proud by finding a partner that continued the traditions of their cultures.

One scene where this was evident was a car ride between two friends. One girl was adamant that her partner had to be Indian like her because it would be easier to live with her partner. Her friend struggled to understand why she couldn’t accept someone else. The other girl said that it would be so annoying to explain her culture to an outsider and proceeded to attack her friend’s Indianness for not seeing it the same way.

While the documentary was informative, it didn’t give me insight into the mental state of a person in an arranged marriage. So I did some heavy research and googled the subject. The first entry was this article.

Here’s a snippet from it.

” We found absolutely no difference between participants in arranged marriages and those in free choice marriages on the four measures we included in our study. Regardless of the nature of their marriage — whether their spouse had been selected by family members/matchmakers or had been personally and freely chosen — the participants in our study were extremely (and equally) happy with their relationships.”

This is just one report. I was unconvinced so I went down to the fourth entry on google where I found this article.

“They are seen by many as business deals that have little to do with love.

But arranged marriages are far more likely to lead to lasting affection than marriages of passion, experts claim.

According to research, those in arranged marriages – or who have had their partner chosen for them by a parent or matchmaker – tend to feel more in love as time grows, whereas those in regular marriages feel less in love over time.

Relationship experts claim this is because arranged matches are carefully considered, with thought going into whether potential partners’ families, interests and life goals are compatible.

This means they are more likely to commit for life – and to stick together through rocky patches.

Those who marry for love, on the other hand, tend to be blinded by passion and so overlook these crucial details. ”

It’s very possible that those in arranged marriages are lying on these surveys and are saving face for their relationships, pretending to be happy when they are miserable. But then perhaps the same could be said of choice-based marriages. People will always lie to save face and look good in front of others. Lying is more convenient than telling the truth. Just look at politics.

But if everyone was honest with their answers, then it seems to me that these two types of marriages are not so different after all. They both end up with the same destination. They just go through a different process of weeding undesirables to get to the ideal partner. This does stem to many other questions, but now I’d like to focus on the question that led me to look into arranged marriages in the first place.

Is love a choice?

I’m still trying to discern how best to find an answer to that question. There is a lot of material I may have to shift through from love psychology to human biology. I’d also have to find a working definition for love which is much harder than it sounds. Love between two people today is not the same sort of love that existed in two hundred years ago. If I do find an answer, I’ll write about it on here some day.

Beauty.

Celebrity worship is one of the easiest things a person can aptly criticize society for. You’ll never be wrong if you point it. There are always more important topics that deserve our attention than the latest outing of Miley Cyrus or the condition of Renee Zellwegger’s face. But still these sort of people get 24/7 coverage and are mauled as they leave restaurants. The demand is there. We want to know more. Who is Justin Bieber dating? Is Jennifer Lawrence really that goofy or is it all an act? Why can’t Amanda Bynes get her life together?

What is it about these people that makes us so curious?

They look good. They won the genetic lottery. Their faces are more symmetrical than the average person. They’re more charismatic. They are beautiful!

We love them for it. We shovel money at them. We love to give them money. Beautiful people can get rich just by looking good and walking down the street. We give them love. People send hundreds of love letters to celebrities. Some take it a bit too far. They get so enamored by their facial features that they have to follow them home and find out every little thing about them. People would buy the water that they bathe in.

And people want to emulate them. They want to look like them. They dress like them. And act like them. They’re trend-setters. Miley Cyrus and her stupid fucking video created the twerk. People still twerk to this day. Because she’s one of the beautiful people.

But what is the real value of beauty?

It doesn’t make you a better worker. It won’t make you a better father or mother. It won’t increase your intelligence. It doesn’t give you better reason. There is nothing virtuous about being beautiful.

Only in the world of love and lust does beauty reign supreme in value.

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This woman was kissed by the late Heath Ledger. He was a man like so many others. But his beauty sent this woman into shock with just the touch of his lips to hers. What a crazy power beauty has.

It makes your heart pump in your chest. You might stutter and slur your words when you encounter it. You can just be left in awe of it. It makes men destroy marriages just so they can have a taste of it. It makes smart women endure pain that no one should just so it can be theirs. It makes fools of us all.

We treat beautiful people differently. The rules do not apply to them. Celebrities get slaps on the wrist for their crimes. People trip over themselves trying to make beauty theirs and lock it down. Beautiful people are given better paying jobs. More people want them to be around.

But no one thinks any thing of it. For beauty is not to be criticized. Its treatment is not be rationalized. It is divine. We all just sit tight and worship it, hoping that it rubs off on us.

The Way

Even if we knew the solutions to our impossible problems, (racism, sexism, crime, poverty, hunger, illness, violence) we would not be able to solve them. Our system is not built for such radical change.

Picture this. A man sleeps in his bed. He is visited by an omnipotent cosmic creature that wants to help mankind. The creature whispers in his ear the way for man to live together in peace and harmony. Where suffering is minimized and everyone can eat as much cake as they want without gaining weight. The man wakes up.

What can he do with that divine inspiration? How best could he reach the world to show us the way?

The man could try out politics, the game of compromise. But to enter politics, he’d need money and a good reputation. He’d need to appear to be what the people wanted so they would vote for him. If he had a stammer, showed weakness or was born the wrong race, he could fail right out of the gate. He’d have to shake hands and kiss butts for a long time before he could start enacting any change.

He’d have to be able to withstand the media and the mud-slinging from other politicians. His solutions would be radical therefore controversial and dangerous. He’d have to keep them bottled up or he’d end up scaring off voters. Even if he were completely right, he’d end up losing. Being right doesn’t guarantee you votes. He’d have to learn to smile for the camera. He’d have to join one of the two major parties if he wanted to really get anywhere.

Even if he made it to the top and became President, he’d have only eight years at most to stir America the right way. And that would be only America. The rest of the world would be lost to him. If people didn’t see results instantly, he’d be out in four years for someone else pretending to know what he knew. He’d face difficulty from the corrupt for his entire life if radical change did come. He might end up assassinated. Then the way would be lost.

He could try his hand at religion. He could create a church that worshiped the divine creature that visited him. . Persuasion would be a necessary tool to get started. A community would have to be born that believed in him and his way. But without the inertia of tradition, why would anyone listen to him? What separated him from the mentally ill and insane?

If he were charismatic, he might be able to start a cult. H might be lucky enough to build a grand church out of that. But the way would end up lost when he passed away. His disciples would interpret his teachings as best they could. But they would be human and therefore selfish. The way would be stained by their desires. Changing whenever it benefited them.

Academia is another path. He could write down all he knew. He might end up in peer-reviewed journals. His message would reach an elite group of intelligent people but be lost to the public. He’d receive awards for his brilliant writings. He could become so noteworthy that people would teach classes about him and his philosophy. A few students might end up inspired to do their best to carry on his way. Others might see his way as a reason to hurt others.

The man would best be suited to going right back to sleep and pretending he never heard a thing.

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Us and Them.

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Right now there’s a guy in a cafeteria sitting all by himself. He’s unpacking his brown bag lunch with the same meal he eats everyday. He might look over at the table next to him. No person greets him. Not a person is excited that they’ve sat down. No person even knows them.

You’ve seen this guy or girl in every workplace or school cafeteria. They sit on the edge of a table by themselves.
What is it that these people are lacking? Why has no one brought them into their group? Is it because they are a bad person?

But even angry violent people have friends. The worst of the worst have people willing to put up with and care for them. Serial killers receive thousands of letters. Some get marriage proposals. Terrorist organizations trip over new recruits between their day-to-day bombings of the innocent. So it can’t be morality.

And it isn’t looks. The ugly find people on their level to connect to. These loners aren’t the ugly. You wouldn’t bat an eye if you saw them accepted into a group. They’d fit right in to that group of friends that they’re sitting across from.

Perhaps they’ve been offered to join a group and turned it down. They are strong enough to be alone. There is no joy in social places for them. They want the solitude and seek it. People come and go. Why care about their acceptance? There’s only one person they need to love. And that’s the only person that’ll be there with them for their entire life.

Could they have been a part of a group and then kicked out? Perhaps they are an exile from a lunch table across the hall. They’re reduced to eating by themselves.They once saw smiling faces across the table and now only strangers around them. They made a mistake and this is their punishment.

Are they mentally stunted? Can they not process the pain of social rejection? Were they born without a need for human contact? Did someone pummel it out of them? A childhood spanking gone awry? Perhaps they hit their head as a child and lost what the rest of us have?

They could smell. That could do it. The best personality in the world can’t overcome a putrid odor. Has someone told them about their problem? Perhaps they know and can’t do a thing about it. No deodorant, cologne, or soap can fight back the stench radiating from their body. So they sit there, knowing no one can stand to be within them.

Could they be an alien from another planet? They’re watching our every move and waiting to slip in. They’re leaning all our social scripts and irrational gestures. And then they’ll ask how you’re doing. You’ll be none the wiser. You’d accept them. They’ll say all the words at all the right times. They’ll come off as human like you and I.

Is it their destiny to be where they are? If there are people with friends, there must be people without friends. One cannot exist without the other. They’ve drawn the short straw in life. It’s unfair.

But if they opened their mouth to complain or beg for a chance, it’d only push us farther away from them.

There is nothing more repugnant to the human spirit than the socially desperate. They wear their emotions on their sleeves. We see them for all they are. We know what they want. And it disgusts us. It is written in our flesh and blood, right down to the bone to reject such a person.

We are not as cruel to the hungry and thirsty. We toss them our scraps and urge people to be more considerate of them. But the socially starved gain our disdain whether they’re responsible for their position or not. They ask too much of us. How can we accept them? They might as well be begging for a cancer cure.

No person is good enough to be everyone’s friend. No person good enough to look at all people and see something worthwhile. We have our favorites that we keep close.

They’re agreeable to us. They were born near us. They went to the same school as us. They share some of our same opinions. So we give them our love. We deem them worthy of our time and affection. They get to become a part of us.

There must be us and them.

Just be glad you’re not them.

Moo?

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Is sexual attraction biological or social? The real answer is some sort of mix, but I’d want to test that. The only problem is how do you separate biology from society? Only a being with absolute divine power could do that sort of heavy-lifting.

I came with this experiment that I would do if I had divine power.

I’d take a thousand straight dude of various ages and put them in a space ship. Why a spaceship? They’re going somewhere. But not before I use my special machine. This machine would have the power to zap all their memories and social experiences regarding romance and sex. All these guys would forget what the ideal woman looks like. They’d forget how to love and who they’re supposed to love. They’re back to zero, only instincts. And then I’d wipe their memories of women entirely.

I leave their sex drives in tact because I need them for my experiment.

Then using my great divine power, I would create a planet. I’m not very original so it’d be just like Earth. The only difference being women have been replaced by cows. This would be an entire world where man and cow are lovers. I’d use my divine power to give them a cloning machine too because I’m not allowing half-cow half-human creatures. None of that while I’m in control.

I would transport all those now sexually primal men here to this man/cow love planet. Normal guys from our normal version of Earth with our normal human man on human woman loving. They’d get off the ship and see billboards with men kissing cows. On television, they could see relationships develop on bad television between man and cow. They’d see cows walking around hoof and hand with a man.

I wonder if after sometime in this man/cow love world if these guys would start warming up to the idea of a cow being their soul mate. Would their primal instincts drown out all the social noise and remind them that they are supposed to be into human women?

Is societal pressure so strong that men would ignore their instincts and do what everyone else is doing?

These are the types of things I think about when I’m on long car rides by myself.

101 Ways to Live Life

This list not by me, but damn do I wish it was.

1. Sing the Batman theme incessantly.

2. In the memo field of all your checks, write “for sexual favors.”

3. Specify that your drive-through order is “to go.”

4. Learn Morse code, and have conversations with friends in public consisting entirely of “Daaaa Dit Dit Daaa Dit…”

5. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.

6. Amuse yourself for endless hours by hooking a camcorder to your TV and then pointing it at the screen. <

7. Speak only in a "robot" voice.

8. Push all the flat Lego pieces together tightly.

9. Start each meal by conspicuously licking all your food, and announce that this is so no one will "swipe your grub".

10. Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 98 copies.

11. Stomp on little plastic ketchup packets.

12. Sniffle incessantly.

13. Leave your turn signal on for fifty miles.

14. Name your dog "Dog."

15. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions "to keep them tuned up."

16. Reply to everything someone says with "that's what YOU think."

17. Claim that you must always wear a bicycle helmet as part of your "astronaut training."

18. Declare your apartment an independent nation, and sue your neighbors upstairs for "violating your airspace".

19. Forget the punchline to a long joke, but assure the listener it was a "real hoot."

20. Follow a few paces behind someone, spraying everything they touch with Lysol.

21. Practice making fax and modem noises.

22. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and "cc:" them to your boss.

23. Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.

24. Invent nonsense computer jargon in conversations, and see if people play along to avoid the appearance of ignorance.

25. Erect an elaborate network of ropes in your backyard, and tell the neighbors you are a "spider person."

26. Finish all your sentences with the words "in accordance with the prophesy."

27. Wear a special hip holster for your
remote control.

28. Do not add any inflection to the end of your sentences, producing awkward silences with the impression that you'll be saying more any moment.

29. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears.

30. Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge across the room.

31. Give a play-by-play account of a persons every action in a nasal Howard Cosell voice.

32. Holler random numbers while someone is counting.

33. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist to others that you "like it that way."

34. Drum on every available surface.

35. Staple papers in the middle of the page.

36. Ask 1-800 operators for dates.

37. Produce a rental video consisting entirely of dire FBI copyright warnings.

38. Sew anti-theft detector strips
into peoples backpacks.

39. Hide dairy products in inaccessible places.

40. Write the surprise ending to a novel on its first page.

41. Set alarms for random times.

42. Order a side of pork rinds with your filet mignon.

43. Instead of Gallo, serve Night Train next Thanksgiving.

44. Publicly investigate just how slowly you can make a "croaking" noise.

45. Honk and wave to strangers.

46. Dress only in clothes colored Hunters Orange.

47. Change channels five minutes before the end of every show.

48. Tape pieces of "Sweating to the Oldies" over climactic parts of rental movies.

49. Wear your pants backwards.

50. Decline to be seated at a restaurant, and simply eat their complimentary mints by the cash register.

51. Begin all your sentences with "ooh la la!"

52. ONLY TYPE IN UPPERCASE.

53. only type in lowercase.

54. dont use any punctuation either

55. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.

56. Pay for your dinner with pennies.

57. Tie jingle bells to all your clothes.

58. Repeat everything someone says, as a question.

59. Write "X – BURIED TREASURE" in random spots on all of someone's roadmaps.

60. Inform everyone you meet of your personal Kennedy assassination/UFO/ O.J Simpson conspiracy theories.

61. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times: "Do you hear that?" "What?" "Never mind, its gone now."

62. Light road flares on a birthday cake.

63. Wander around a restaurant, asking other diners for their parsley.

64. Leave tips in Bolivian currency.

65. Demand that everyone address you as "Conquistador."

66. At the laundromat, use one dryer for each of your socks.

67. When Christmas caroling, sing "Jingle Bells, Batman smells" until physically restrained.

68. Wear a cape that says "Magnificent One."

69. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.

70. Stand over someone's shoulder, mumbling, as they read.

71. Pretend your computer's mouse is a CB radio, and talk to it.

72. Try playing the William Tell Overture by tapping on the bottom of your chin. When nearly done, announce "no, wait, I messed it up," and repeat.

73. Drive half a block.

74. Inform others that they exist only in your imagination.

75. Ask people what gender they are.

76. Lick the filling out of all the Oreos, and place the cookie parts back.

77. Cultivate a Norwegian accent. If Norwegian, affect a Southern drawl.

78. Routinely handcuff yourself to furniture, informing the curious that you don't want to fall off "in case the big one comes".

79. Deliberately hum songs that will remain lodged in co-workers brains, such as "Feliz Navidad", the Archies "Sugar" or the Mr. Rogers theme song.

80. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head. like a parakeet.

81. Lie obviously about trivial things such as the time of day.

82. Leave your Christmas lights up and lit until September.

83. Change your name to "AaJohn Aaaaasmith" for the great glory of being first in the phone book. Claim it's a Hawaiian name, and demand that people pronounce each "a."

84. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.

85. Chew on pens that you've borrowed.

86. Wear a LOT of cologne.

87. Listen to 33rpm records at 45rpm speed, and claim the faster speed is necessary because of your "superior mental processing."

88. Sing along at the opera.

89. Mow your lawn with scissors.

90. At a golf tournament, chant "swing-batabatabata-suhWING-batter!"

91. Ask the waitress for an extra seat for your "imaginary friend."

92. Go to a poetry recital and ask why each poem doesn't rhyme.

93. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions, and then scribble their answers in a notebook. Mutter something
about "psychological profiles."

94. Stare at static on the TV and claim you can see a "magic picture."

95. Select the same song on the jukebox fifty times.

96. Never make eye contact.

97. Never break eye contact.

98. Construct elaborate "crop circles" in your front lawn.

99. Construct your own pretend "tricorder," and "scan" people with it, announcing the results.

100. Make appointments for the 31st of September.

101. Invite lots of people to other people's parties.