For the past few weeks I’ve been looking at this website Betrothal and Wedding.com and it looks like a less disgusting version of Vaughn Ohlman, lacking the drooling on teenage girls breasts that Vaughn engages in at his various betrothal sites like Let Them Marry.
But that does not mean it’s any less outside the mainstream of faith and the hinterlands of Quiverfull even. The site has kept me amused for many a long day, looking at the claims of this being the only way to a happy marriage by people that do not understand arranged marriages still happen in some cultures here. These ideas are old ones, not new, and the evidence does not support their claims of this being a happier and better way to go about things. The statistics do not show that this system creates marriage without divorce. The divorce rates are lower but here’s the social scientist take on why.
“…suggest that the low divorce rate may not reflect stability, rather it may reflect the difficulty in the divorce process and social ostracism to the individuals, who choose to live in a dysfunctional marriage rather than face the consequences of a divorce.”
It has more to do with poverty, culture and difficulty in obtaining legal help. Nothing to do with being somehow ‘happier’.
The only reason to look at the divorce rates of arranged marriages/betrothals is that people like the oddly bearded and covered heads of this group claim that their way produces less divorces. That’s only true on a global scale when you factor in all the types of betrothal marriages, from forced child marriages to cultural arranged marriages in third world countries like India. In the U.S. the divorce rates are more in line with all divorce rates here, higher in the world of faith, lower among those faithless sinners (or so they might call them!)
One of the married couples from this unusual little offshoot of fundamentalism have written about why they think this is the best way to go about things, and this comes up:
Oh sweetheart! This last bit just breaks my heart for everyone getting married this way! You might not feel those fireworks and romantic love every single moment of every single day, but you better feel it at least occasionally. That love, (and sexual attraction) is the oil that makes the marriage work on those days when some child has just thrown up on you at 2 am, and your husband works a double shift and everyone in the family has the flu. Just like machinery needs oiling and maintenance so do our marriages.
Much of marriage is the not so fun stuff, so there better be an essential love component at the bottom or what you have is something less than a marriage, and more like a bad business partnership. That essential bond makes slogging through the unfun days much easier than the master/slave or parent/child dynamic portrayed on their site.
Essentials for a great marriage include friendship, compatibility, sexual attraction, romantic love, and a host of other things all predicated on spending enough time getting to know each other before marriage, much more time than can possibly happen in a betrothal setting.
The betrothal is also an artificial construction that does not lend itself to participants behaving in natural normal ways either. Everyone is on their best behavior all of the time. You’re not around them long enough for them to experience the ego depletion that happens when you can no longer pretend and the real you emerges. It’s only later, when the rubber meets the road in the weird everyday that you finally figure out exactly what type of pig in a poke you’re now tied to. If he’s a keeper, great! But you hold just as much chance of ending up with a creeper, or an abusive jerk, or someone else that secretly horrifies you if you’re not given ample opportunity to get to know him in the everyday.
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