As little girls, many of us dreamed of our future wedding day, holding dandelions in place of a bouquet as we walked down the imaginary aisle. We had every last detail worked out — or at least every detail a seven-year-old can think of — yet nowhere in this fantasy is the part where our parents or community members decided on our groom. In fact, most of us would prefer to leave our love lives in the hands of chance encounters in grocery stores than allow our parents to do our choosing for us.
But Reva Seth, author of First Comes Marriage, Modern Relationship Advice From The Wisdom Of Arranged Marriages, argues there is a lot we can learn from arranged marriages.
Born in Toronto to South Asian parents who had an arranged marriage, Seth interviewed more than 300 women in arranged marriages in what started out as a curiosity on the subject, but later led to research for her book.
The biggest lesson she learned: Haphazard dating can set our dating lives into a tizzy.
“Arranged marriages can prevent unwanted relationships,” says Seth, although she is quick to add she doesn’t advocate them.
However, in an arranged marriage, people lay out exactly what they are looking for instead of adopting a date-whoever-comes-our-way attitude many of us have to dating, she says.
Her solution — we should tackle dating with a plan. A list of “marriage musts.” Those core qualities we simply cannot live without.
She did — five months and seven dates later, she was engaged. Four years later, she is still happily married and has a son.
She argues matchmaking services and even several online dating websites take a similar approach.
One item that doesn’t make Seth’s list of marriage musts is sexual attraction. That, she believes, is something we can create over time. Yet superficial though it may seem, I believe it’s that sexual attraction that helps us handle the bumps on our dating journey. It allows us to muster the courage to ask for a phone number or even a second date. It fills us with that curiosity to find out more about the person and perhaps move us closer to some of those “marriage musts” we’re meant to be searching for in a happy relationship.
– Armed with a notepad and a curious mind, Kasia Iglinski’s always on the prowl for a good story and a good date.