“Arranged marriage“, we hear it all the time and our judgemental instinct kicks in.
It is different in each country how things work but in the end we call it the same thing.
I have read one too many articles judging and mocking those who agree to arranged marriages and how miserable their lives must be.
I have heard endless opinions about the loveless lives of people who fall in the cynical life of those marriages.
However allow me to share my opinion. Try to hear me out with an open mind.
I, like any other girl before me, I rejected and was even disgusted by the idea of arranged marriage.
But then reality hit and I realized… what difference does it make?
I’ll explain it all to you in American Language so you can understand the way things work in my country’s culture.
Step#1: the phone call.
Someone in my family would get a call from someone else’s family who thought of me and how perfect I would be for her son or friend’s son or relative or whatever.
So my family member would ask for the essential details. Like: name, age, job, where he lives and bla bla bla. Then they would come and tell me who called about who and what were the details they acquired.
They would show me their Facebook profile or their picture, but after I rejected everyone’s picture I saw, they decided it was in everyone’s best interest not to show me pictures so that I wouldn’t judge by looks and give him the benefit of the doubt after I meet him.
After telling me the details, show me a picture or not, comes the moment where they wait for me to say yes or no to meeting him. If no, I MUST specify very logical reasons as to why not. And those have to be reasons anyone would agree on.
Step #2: the blind date.
Let’s assume I said yes for a meeting, A.K.A what you call it a blind date, except that I would have to take my mom with me.
You see, in our culture, our families are over protective of us and too jealous to let us meet a total stranger on our own.
Come to think of it, better safe than sorry.
So we arrange a time and a place via the contact person, dress up in what you call it my Sunday best outfit and go out on a date…with my mom and a total stranger.
The awkwardness! You’d think that you’ll have a lot to talk about, meeting a stranger and introducing yourself and all that shit. But no, there is nothing worse than the awkward silence and not knowing where to look and not coming off as rude!
Then thank god for my mother, she would strike up a long boring conversation with him and engage me along with her.
She is very good at it, except that when I asked her later how she felt, she hated every minute of it as well. Who wants to meet a total stranger and keep talking about our life and not knowing what’s next…really.
I’ll tell you what’s next.
Step #3: the analysis.
With some magical trick, we’d slip away and go home.
Then my mom would analyze every single word he said and how I answered.
Then we would wait a couple of days to hear back from him. Of course he would call my mom if he wants a second date, how dare he call me!
If he didn’t like me, he would tell the contact person that set us up together and she would tell my mom that it didn’t work out.
Sometimes we would get reasons why, but not so often.
In any event, after the second phone call, either comes the second date or the next guy to have another first date with.
Step #4: the second set up.
The second so called date would be at my house. And he would get to meet my father or my brother, whomever is available at that day.
Usually by the second date, the family would leave us alone to get to talk and know each other a little bit more.
Then if all goes well, that’s how things go for a few more dates, which all would take place at home or if outside, a family member has to be present.
If we agree on each other’s façade, then an arrangement would be talked through with my father, he would make his intentions clear – as if they are not already – then we would enter the pre-engagement and then the engagement period.
Step #5: the engagement adventures.
I know what you’re all thinking. How could you get engaged to a perfect stranger. Well I’ll have you know that, that’s when all the fun begins.
Yes, he is a total stranger to me, but wouldn’t any other man be?
In the engagement period, my family would actually let me have real dates with him, alone. We’d get to go out together, know each other, talk on the phone, text, fall in love, blablabla, everything like a normal dating relationship in American dictionary. The steps are just a little different here.
The engagement period could go for as long as a year, maybe two , some of my friends extended it to three to make absolute certainty that they are marrying the right man.
If not, they can break off the engagement and all is well that ends well.
The way I see it, it is not much different.
If I meet a guy, we would date for a while as much as we want then we would get engaged to be married.
However in Western cultures, the engagement usually doesn’t last that long.
In our culture, I get to date when I am engaged, then ii is totally up to me to marry him or break things off.
I understand it might not be the same in some families and households that are much stricter than mine. Some girls don’t even get a say to break up with the guy if they want to. The family always has an OCD called “what would the people say?”, as if their daughter’s future is a matter of national security!
In any event, in normal families like mine, where you get a say in the big matters To marry him or not?, I think arranged marriage or love at first sight.. its all the same.
After all, I am so very single so who am I to tell, I am just here to say an opinion. After reading so many hate messages about arranged marriages, I just wanted to clear it all up.
Passant A. AbdelAal is an Egyptian with a severe addiction for reading novels and a passion for poetry, who writes bits and pieces of poetry and musings.