Friday, February 19, 2016

Arranged marriages aren't so bad after all

"Arranged marriages aren't so bad after all"....can u elaborate?

Ramnik asked me this question over chat and it was thought provoking... I've always held a few beliefs about marriage that I established after quite a bit of research (journals and plain old internet trolling). I can't really reference everything that I went through but these are the principles that I established for myself:

Why an arranged marriage?

In an arranged marriage, "you" are taken out of the picture while selecting a pool of eligible candidates... Your parents know you and seek to find people with a similar background, culture and most importantly values...
Having shared values is super important....
it's very risky to have a marriage where the two partners have been brought up in such disparate environments that they value things differently (eg. would one of the partners consider it beneath them to help maintain the house? How do you treat parents? What is the role of helpers in your lives? What are the attitudes towards money (save it? spend it? on what?) How do you approach old age?

The 3 dimensions of fights in marriages

In a marriage, there are only 3 things that people fight about:
  1. Money
  2. Time
  3. Children
This is clearly reductionist but it's a good representation from a 20,000 foot level (my opinion, of course... YMMV).

1. Money: How to earn it, how much to earn, how to spend it, what to spend it on.
2. Time: During dating, there's always a clear purpose to meeting: going for a movie, going out to dinner, hanging out, going for a walk... etc. After marriage, other things matter: you'll have free time and you'll have to decide what to spend it on:
  TV? House cleaning? Cooking? Reading? 
The choice of activities is important to building a shared future. If there are shared interests, time shared is time valued.
3. Children: It's not children per se that cause fights (though sleep deprivation in parents does contribute). Children contribute to marriage angst through the choices they present:
eg. what do you teach your kids? when? how much do you pressurise them to succeed? How do you deal with tantrums? What values do you provide to them? What do you reward? What do you punish? How do you punish etc.... Different people with vastly different upbringings will have amazingly different answers to these questions. More importantly, they will have strong views about these questions because they've experienced the answers in one way and one way only (the way of their family) and each person believes that their upbringing was the best that could be had and that's they way they'd like to pass on to their children. In families with parents with disparate upbringings, this gap needs to be bridged and bridging this gap comes back to shared values.... 
If the two partners have different values in this regard, there will be conflict....

Love marriages

Love marriages happen from a strong base along some of these axes (there is a natural understanding on both sides, presumably a set of shared interests, possibly some shared values). However, the choice of a partner is love marriages is often hamstrung by aspects such as beauty and attractiveness. Now beauty is in the eye of the beholder but that doesn't mean that societal pressures don't play a role. There are people that are considered desirable in social circles and are consequently provided preferential treatment. The impact of this preferential treatment is in the value system that they develop over time. Read this amazing answer on Quora about how a guy who faked being an attractive female got used to having things done for him.

Anyway, long story short, it's very unlikely that people think about the 3 axes of fights while selecting a partner (or at the GF / BF stage). The attributes that people look at that stage are completely devoid from these metrics... Hence Arranged Marriages aren't so bad after all.... ☺

Ramnik's last thoughts
ok. Have these been refined after your experience?

They've been completely validated... ☺
(as of this point... things might change later of course, but that's life)