Marry First, Love Second: The Case For DIY Arranged Marriage


If you really want to be married, get married — and let romance happen later.

Do the countries where arranged marriages happen have a history of being oppressive towards women, though? Yes. Have women historically been treated as chattel, a bartering chit for securing land, power, and influence? You bet. Do I like the idea of women not being able to choose? Of course not. But in a first-world country, you can choose. You just ... aren't.

As a single woman (currently in a relationship) who has never had the real drive or compulsion to get or be married, it's ironic, I know, to admit that I'm squarely behind this argument. I realize that. But I am — only insofar as marriage is concerned. Because while we all want to be loved, to feel a connection with someone, we don't all need to, nor should we all be, married. But if you do want to get married first and foremost, well, Chen's way makes a lot of sense.


You're Not Willing To Work For It
Here's where our cultural expectations get the best of us: We fall under this spell, from a fairly young age, that we should just be able to have something magical — true, everlasting love. That it's our God-given right, in fact, and fairytale romance should happen. Then we're so beside ourselves when it doesn't happen in the way Disney said it would.

But let me ask you: In what other area of your life would you expect something like that to just materialize because you're entitled to it? You don't assume you just "deserve" a CEO position if you've never held an office job, right? You don't just walk into a company, with no relevant experience, and say, "I'll take that job, up there in the corner office," then, when they deny you, stomp out in a huff and complain there are no jobs out there. Of course you wouldn't do that. But that’s exactly what women (and lots of men) do when it comes to relationships. 

Now I realize corporate hierarchy is a limping analogy. But, in essence, you do want the job, so to speak. And if you want to be married and live a married life, then you have to start with what's available and commit to making your life what you want it to be. That's what Chen is saying.

And I'll admit, the idea of "dating" the person you married is appealing. It's enough to make me wonder if we waste all the good stuff while we're courting and then bore ourselves to tears after vows are exchanged.

In fact, Chen may have found the secret to marriage: Imagine if the good stuff wasn't the appetizer, but the main meal. Think of how differently your romantic life would be if you could enjoy all the sexy fun of dating without wondering "where this is going" — because you're already there.

For more on Hellen Chen, check her out at


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