I am, at the core of my being, a poet, a romantic, a real appreciator of the sentimental side of love (I will admit, I cried during The Notebook). However, the older I get, the more I realize that there is more to a relationship than the things that engage my heart, that there are some practical things that have entered my brain.
1. The person I will eventually marry will not be the person that I stay married to.
2. Just because I feel some emotional (or neurcochemical) connection to a person, doesn’t mean it will forever be that way.
3. Sometimes (and, I will especially speak on behalf of the younger men) it takes a while to know who you are, and, therefore, you don’t know what you will need in regards to a spouse.
4. The older I get, the more I realize that the world is not about me and that marriage can’t be healthy inside of a world that does revolve around me. Two egos butting up against one another every day is a recipe bound for disaster.
Recently, I have begun to consider (though I doubt it will ever happen), whether Christians should reconsider arranged marriages as they were practiced for most of Church history. While I agree that falling has led me to some of the most beautiful and transformative moments in my life, I also agree with Stanley Hauerwas when he of marriage, “The requirement of love in marriage is not correlative to the intrinsic nature of marriage but is based on the admonition for Christians to love one another. We do not love because we are married, but because we are Christian. We may, however, learn what such love is like within the context of marriage. For the Christian tradition claims that marriage helps to support an inclusive community of love by grounding it in a pattern of faithfulness toward another.” I think that arranged marriages (and their historical success rates) offer a shell for working out this lifetime of faithfulness with one another.
I also realize the practical value of this. With children hitting puberty earlier and earlier, and the level of sexual brokenness in our culture, having arranged marriages provides people with, hopefully, a healthier sexual outlet at a younger age. Also, with my generation growing up much more slowly, few things will cause a person to man up like having someone live in your close, intimate, proximity every day.
Lastly, the person I choose to marry someday will not be the same person that I remain married to through out my life. As Carl Jung reminds us, there is no universal path to transformation. So who we are at the moment of marriage is the not guaranteed to be the same person that we grow into. I think Hauerwas once again rightly notes, “We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.”
While, I know that an arranged marriage will never happen, and there is a beautiful value to our ability to choose who we fall in love with before we get married, I also see a historical, and, practical rationale for arranged marriages. While I don’t think the Church would go for this (and I would understand why), I also wouldn’t be opposed to it if they decided to.