Arranged marriage offers three keys insights into finding true love.
Dating and relationship advice from arranged marriages!?
I know, it might sound strange.
But for my book, First Comes Marriage: Modern Relationship Advice From The Wisdom of Arranged Marriages (Fireside, 2008) I spent five years researching arranged marriages and talking to over 300 women from Canada, the US, the UK, and across Europe about their experiences.
The majority of women whom I spoke with seemed so confident in their relationships (especially compared to our general environment of relationship angst). Surprisingly, what I was hearing really seemed to apply to my own relationship issues.
My book does not defend arranged marriages or suggest having one (I didn't!). Instead, it looks at the success of arranged marriages (a 5-7% divorce rate versus the US average of 50%) to see what we can take away from this overlooked tradition to apply to our own dating and relationship lives.
Here, a few valuable lessons I took from the arranged marriage model:
1. Stop Drifting! Decide What You Want From Dating.
We research colleges, plan our careers and even comparison-shop for groceries, but most of us are still incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of objectively thinking about what we want from our boyfriends or partners.
Instead, we just drift into relationships with the men that we happen to meet and be attracted to. Arranged marriages are specifically designed to prevent this type of infatuation or short-term thinking.
Before any potential candidates are considered, families decide the values and characteristics that potential partners should have to see what type of life the couple might have together.
Making a list of what you are really looking for in a relationship and partner will change the way you date! It will help you recognize the right men for you, figure out where best to meet them – and what you need to do to interest them.
Deciding to have a relationship with someone is a big decision– isn't it time we started to treat it like one?
2. And Then Go Find It.
Too many of us still expect that our dating and love lives will follow the plot of a Hollywood script – that one day Mr. Right will just walk into our lives (with no effort on our part) and sweep us away to our personal happily ever after.
Could it happen? Maybe.
Will it? Probably not.
In contrast, arranged marriages are all about proactively finding the right partner. Once a family knows what they are looking for in a potential partner, they spread the word through family, friends, colleagues, newspaper ads, online sites, and professional matchmakers.
Now I don't suggest that you necessarily need to do all of those– but don't be afraid to take charge of your dating and love life and stop waiting for romance to come to you.
3. Put Coupledom In Context.
Since couples in arranged marriages come together as a result of their extended family and community, they naturally think of their relationship as part of something bigger than just the two of them.
In contrast, we culturally tend to focus on the idea that a happy or strong relationship should be about "just the two of us."
It might sound good at first – but once the initial infatuations wears off, this kind of thinking actually put a great deal of stress on the couple. Especially in the long term. Instead, try and make your relationship part of something bigger, such as a shared project or charitable cause.
Researching arranged marriages made me realize how difficult our culture has made it to find relationship happiness, but with a slight shift in our thinking, it doesn't have to be quite so hard. Good luck!
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