American Movies, Arranged Marriages

There are two recent romantic comedies that explore a scenario that overlaps in involving two individuals, one of whom actually loathes the other, getting engaged or married without genuinely wanting to, only to find themselves actually falling in love with their fiance/wife. One is The Accidental Husband and the other is The Proposal.

I find it intriguing that these movies (which are presumably aimed at an American audience that expects people to meet, fall in love, and then perhaps marry) offer a scenario not unlike what happens in arranged marriages, when two people are brought together and may only meet when the engagement occurs.

Arranged marriages have a higher rate of longevity than the typical American marriage, I believe. And so I wonder whether these movies in fact offer an exploration of an alternative approach, one that suggests that love is something that can (indeed, must) be cultivated rather than merely fallen into. Or perhaps they are simply latching onto a situation that is counterintuitive for entertainment purposes. But the parallel between the situations in these movies and arranged marriages seemed worth observing.

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  • Arcaemede

    I married outside American culture. It's my first and only marriage — and it occurred when I when I was 25 years old and I've been married for 15 years now. I remember discussing it with friends before the actual wedding date and some were discussing how "they don't marry out of love; its more like a legal agreement" … to which the guy said "come to think of it — maybe that would be better and more fulfilling"While, really, my wife's cultural doesn't do arranged marriages they do look at marriage differently than most Americans do.For me, the whole purpose around marriage is mutual stability and growth — maybe that's better than falling head over heels in love.With that mind, because I went into the relationship with that in mind and found someone who had similar desires, we have dealt with life in a much more vibrant fashion.

  • Angie Van De Merwe

    Arcamedia,How can you compare, since you haven't known another way? The only thing that you can compare is your own marriage, which might have worked anyway. There have been no "control" contexts to really know scientifically whether this would be the case or not.I think it has a lot more to do with expectations about marriage. And I believe that choice is an important aspect of taking responsibility or owning the choice one has made. Otherwise, one might struggle with "blaming" others for an unhappy marriage.Life mellows one out of idealistic expectations. Compromise and learning to negotiate differences is what marriage is about.Your comparison of a "legal agreement" assures each party in the marriage of their protections. The repsonsibilities of marriage can only be learned in mutual cooperationa, which should be a choice.

  • Angie Van De Merwe

    In fact, in Western culture, we believe that when one is forced to cooperate, it ceases to be cooperation and becomes "rape". The physical aspect of marriage is a material ananlogy of what should transpire in the emotional and pscyological realm. No one can be or should be forced to give anything of themselves if they do not feel "safe", comfortable, and if they are law abiding citizens.

  • Keika

    I was lucky to adolesce in the late 1960s, helped by a television show called, "The Newlywed Game." As a teenager watching couples hug with excitement after winning the prizes chosen especially for them (like a brand new refrigerator, dining room or weekend in Carmel, California), burned in me a cautious approach to commitment and long term contracts. Thank goodness too, since my parents never explained to me the facts of life. I'm still a bachelor and could write a volume about my dating experiences, two fatal attractions and soul mates encountered around the world. For entertainment, there isn’t a better subject to explore than people falling in love on their own, or being forced into that relationship by outside influences. After all, I didn't fall in love with God overnight. It took some desire and commitment, after being forced by my parents to go to that dreadfully boring Sunday school class every weekend.

  • Arcaemede

    Angie,Thanks very much for your reply!I do in fact agree with your first response pretty much down the row.As both of us grew older, we have in fact mellowed and, by "choice", worked out what each feels comfortable doing in our relationship.It has only been through that interaction with day-to-day reality that one can actually understand what it takes to make a relationship work.Since I lived (25 years) in a Western cultural setting, I do have a grasp of how some Westerners approach relationships and defining them — usually quite miserably.What I've noticed from living outside of the West is that we often think that we are somehow morally superior to people outside and that our structure of doing things is "without coercion" and "of free choice."The truth is, we might not whip or stone people in the streets but we still have our own form of coercion and programming that we both consciously and unconsciously exert on people regarding relationships.Even the concept of "law" is a dubious one to me (though admittedly I am quite happy we have laws :) I just don't see them as being adequate to settle all the issues of the human condition).