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Can love be arranged?

Insights from India...

In America, we are free to choose our relationships, our friends, our religion, traditions and pretty much everything. How would our life be if we were not free to choose? I could not help but wonder how someone who is given their spouse and meets them for the first time at the ceremony finds love and happiness. Meeting people who spoke about their beliefs, traditions and relationships was enlightening. Learning personal and intimate stories raised questions that cause me to ponder this more and inspired me to share my random thoughts with you.

One special man was open to share his story. I will refer to him as RJ. RJ's marriage was arranged when he was 16 and his wife 14. He had his own dreams and aspirations. He was just a boy living in a small village of 2000. He respected his parents and obeyed them. One day a strange man came to his village to meet his father. This man would change RJ's life forever. RJ was married by arrangement. The marriage was consummated 2 years after the ceremony. Even with this awkward beginning, the two found love and happiness. I was sure RJ would not arrange his own daughters marriage based on his own experience. I was wrong, So how does this tradition still exist today? And how can parents in India shelter their children from the modernization that is occurring? Like America, life in the large cities are much different than life in small towns. Villages are still an important structure in India, but many are leaving their families to find better work in the larger cities. Just as we do in America.

How does distance affect family culture and traditions. Does modernization break our families up? Is love and happiness more a part of family tradition and culture than just between two people? It seems that love needs roots, a grounding point to keep it growing. What impact does our broken families, working parents and high divorce rate have on our ability to nurture love and happiness? How do we pass this on to the next generations?

I am celebrating 25 years of marriage. I deeply love my husband and am grateful for our friendship and our two amazing kids (young adults). Love has always rooted us. I also believe that our family unit, extended family and friends who share our traditions, create a culture and bond that unites us. Time has a way of escaping and leaving behind remnants of what once was .... so what can we do about that?

It takes everyone working together to make a village of family. In America, it might not be blood relatives as in India, but its your tribe of people who become your family. Like the large family units in India, its your safe place to go where traditions, cultures and love protects and anchors you. So ... although we don't arrange marriage in America, we arrange our lives in ways that help us find love and happiness. This is our core, our trueness and from this center all else blossoms.

We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion. This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine, or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple. The doctrine is compassion. Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need.

Dalai Lama

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