The New University Volume 45 Issue 4 : Page 12

PAGE 12 | FEATURES TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2011 | NEW UNIVERSITY F EATURES WHAT’S INSIDE Itriya Cafe Page 13 New Faculty Page 14 Smart Phones Page 15 “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs By Karam Johal Does the term “arranged mar-riage” have such barbaric and primi-tive implications that one can only meet it with horrified faces and noises of protest upon mentioning it? It must, because that’s the reaction I get every time. Not about myself, of course, but about every adult family member in my parents’ generation. I spent a large part of my typi-cally self-righteous teenage years not understanding the decisions that my parents made, but this one takes the cake. Not only did my moth-er marry and move in with a complete stranger, but she did knowing that she would have to move across the world to do so. I think this is pretty extraor-dinary, but appar-ently it was typical among the several other women in my family who did the exact same thing. Not all arranged marriages are as life-altering, of course. Nor are they all as long-lasting. So what are the motivations to agree to one? It is said that peo-ple do crazy things for love. I find it hard to believe there is much love for one’s arranged fiance prior to the wedding, but there has got to be some intense love for one’s par-ents. An AP World History teacher of mine once comforted me with the idea that the exams we take in high school are trivial compared to the rest of the tests life will throw at you, and he was adamant that the greatest test of all is choosing who to marry. I didn’t trust my parents’ advice when it came to studying for the SAT, and I thought that was a pretty important test. I know several people, however, who trusted their parents with “the great-est test of all.” Was that out of love for their parents? Or was it something else? In many cultures that still practice arranged marriages, fear of upsetting or embarrassing one’s parents is a prominent motivator in all aspects of life. For most people, earning a high grade point average, getting a good job and especially finding a significant other bring thoughts of how mom and dad will take it. But how many people in our generation would place the greatest decision of their lives in their parents’ hands? Then again, they’ve made most of our other major decisions. They raised us, sent us to school, set curfews and boundaries and handed out punish-ments. In many households, parents have control over their children’s lives for the first 18 years. Is another major decision after that really so different? Perhaps the terms of an arranged marriage have evolved. In my grand-mother’s day, she was married by 14 and went off to begin her duties as a wife by age 16. Let’s fast-forward to 60 years later, and now my cousins are getting married with mere “approval” from their parents at age 30. Today, I see more “facilitated” marriages than arranged ones, in which parents and children come to a mutual decision about who should join the family and often with a lot more arguing and dis-respect toward the parents than there was 60 years ago. But do these marriages last? Vowing to share a lifetime with someone you don’t know is a pretty risky thing, but it appears to work out more often than not. Perhaps these people whose arranged marriages last are simply so dedicated to their culture and family that they will not break an alliance, despite marital troubles. Maybe some-times it’s easier to let the hardest deci-sions be made for you. Maybe choos-ing your own partner is just as risky as having no say in the matter. Perhaps sometimes, our parents really do know what’s best for us — no matter how much we may begrudge them for it. GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATION BY NATASHA SEJKHON | New University

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