Since we went to see Fiddler on the Roof last week, I’ve been pondering the idea of arranged marriages. Obviously not something done in my sphere, though I have known one woman whose marriage was arranged. I didn’t get the impression that it was all that common in her community anymore (she’s Indian), but I gathered her personality was such (read: mouse) that her parents determined (rightly, I suspect) that it was unlikely she would have taken that particular bull by the horns herself.
It left me pondering people’s expectations. We expect a lot more out of relationships these days than they used to, I think. Best friend, lover, confidante, business partner, soul mate… Back in the day, it would seem that if he was nice enough, held a steady job, didn’t beat you, and didn’t drink too much, he was a hot commodity on the husband market. And women? Well, a nice figure, good cooking and homemaking skills, ability to bear and raise kids and be a good hostess for company. Or something.
Men’s and women’s social spheres used to be a lot more separate than they are now, which, I think, relates to the changes in what we socially, personally, and romantically expect from our chosen partners. Women had communities of other women because there were simply so many things you just didn’t talk about with men.
Anyway, I’ve also been pondering what I’d have ended up with had I been subjected to an arranged marriage. (And most certainly I’d have been married off before the crusty old age of 32…)
My Mom is a lovely woman, and very nice, but, frankly, errs a little too much on the side of thinking the best of people. (When she’s not whipping out indefensible prejudices from time to time…) Were my mother responsible for finding me a mate, I’d be screwed.
She’s suggested any number of potential partners over the years, beginning in my teens. The most entertaining prospect she brought up was one of my brother’s friends who, while a nice guy, had nothing in common with me, and, to borrow a phrase from Yente, “Too much brains he was not blessed with…”. Oh, and he had a rather serious drinking problem at the time. Splendid.
Really, Mom would be happy with someone who made me happy, but how would I know if I hadn’t met the person? She’d rely on those traditional elements of what he does/how much he makes, what he looks like, etc. Now, Mom had a big crush on Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver) back in the day, and she is fond of George Clooney, so her taste isn’t all bad there…
Dad… hmm. Some possibilities there. I’m thinkin’ Dad would aim for someone who measured up to his standards of a man. Which would be nice in that I’d get someone who owned his own tools (including at least one chainsaw), could change his own oil, was handy around the house, enjoyed meat and potatoes, and liked sports. Huh. I could totally go for one of those. 🙂 Except with Dad I doubt looks matter so much. I might end up with someone redheaded. Heaven forfend.
Personality-wise… harder to say. My Dad’s very social, but I’m not sure how analytical he gets. His opinions of people, once formed, are pretty strong, though. I can guarantee he’d pick someone considerably more conservative in views than I am. None of that lesbian cabaret and topiary nonsense…
And hey, while we’re at it, let’s give my brother a crack. Again with the manly. The ability to fix things is good, as is an interest in motorcycles. And weed. 🙂 A great sense of humour is a must. The enjoyment of practical jokes and squirt guns is a definite asset.
My brother would, I think, pick someone who he thought was like me (though he would pay some attention to looks). Which would be interesting. Seal of approval as long as he seemed really smart and the word “computers” was uttered somewhere in a description of his interests or job or what have you. Doesn’t matter if it means software development or selling them. Oy vey.
Again, the person would likely have rather more conservative views than I do. To put it politely. Though I think Patience is slowly improving that. But I can guarantee that none of my family members would choose someone who wasn’t white, or who had one of them funny religions.
So… yeah. If I had to allow one family member to pick a mate for me, I’d probably be best off if it was my brother, and not my parents. That said, I’d still probably be completely screwed, and hell would freeze over before it’d ever happen… but it’s entertaining to ponder.
Not nearly as entertaining as pondering how screwed some of my friends would be if their parents had picked their mates, though. Heh.