Betrothal Causes Love?

Betrothal Causes Love? December 20, 2019

For the past few weeks I’ve been looking at this website Betrothal and 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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NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

I Fired God by Jocelyn Zichtermann

13:24 A Dark Thriller by M Dolon Hickmon

About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Friend

    Scary1 stuff indeed. Pseudo Amish, tooooo many white garments, a dress code and hair code for men and women, and a boatload of language about Israel, a married couple expecting to become the “bride of Yeshua,” etc. Yikes!

    And a question. Suzanne, is a quote missing, right above “Oh sweetheart!”?

  • Tawreos

    Betrothal A.K.A. The period before marriage spent making sure the check does not bounce or the goat is not sick. Not so great for people, but great for property transactions.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Thanks for pointing that out! Patheos stripped out the lengthy screen cap

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Give it an hour to regenerate in the server and it’s there now. No idea why it didn’t show up at first.

  • Cynthia

    I’m a divorce lawyer in a pretty multicultural area. I’ve had a number of clients who had arranged marriages, ranging from arranged introductions with brief dating allowed, all the way to those who only met at the wedding.

    No, these marriages are NOT happier or more stable.

    The selling point is supposed to be that people can do clear-headed screening before the hormones kick in, and parents especially can investigate a potential spouse’s background. Perhaps in the days when people would get set up with someone from their village, this might have worked. Now, especially with online matchmaking and people going farther to find someone, they just end up getting married to complete strangers. Superficial lists of questions can’t weed2 out bad apples, and are no substitute for actually getting to know someone. Not just going on a contrived meeting in a public place, but actually getting to know them in a variety of settings and seeing them in all sorts of moods.

    Once people are in a place where divorce is possible, many will divorce.

  • SAO

    An anecdote is not proof of anything. Many of us have anecdote of good marriages that started with dating, then intimacy, then living together before tying the knot. But, fundamentally, she describes the first throes of infatuation. It’s a great feeling, but it’s easy to be infatuated with people who turn out to be jerks.

    Even if you are hung up on virginity at marriage, dating is a better way to go. Don’t sleep with the guy, if you don’t want to, but spend time with him and figure out if he’s a guy you can imagine spending the rest of your life with.

  • paganheart

    My sister has been happily married for 15 years to a guy she actually first met as a “one-night stand.” Not saying that’s normal, but it happens. (And it still makes some of my more-conservative relatives’ heads explode…)

  • Jim Jones

    Falling in love is perhaps nature’s greatest high. Just seeing your beloved can make your heart race, your legs weak and your face flushed. Touch him, and well…

    Movies try to convince us we’ll feel this way forever, but the intense romance has an expiration date for everyone. Expect the passion to last two to three years at most, says Dr. Fred Nour, a neurologist in Mission Viejo, California, and author of the book “True Love: How to Use Science to Understand Love.”

    It’s all about the chemicals in your brain — a potent mix set up by nature to get you to procreate, give birth to a healthy child and take care of him until he’s mature.


  • AFo

    I can’t get over how many of these couples describe themselves as not really being that in love on their wedding days. To me, that’s a huge red flag.

  • Saraquill

    As someone in a long term relationship, reading that descriptor of infatuation sounded exhausting. I would hate1 to have that stretch over a long marriage.

  • Saraquill

    I have nothing against arranged marriages in theory, but the people doing the arrangements MUST have the couples best interests in mind. I have close family whose idea of vetting would be “Is he rich? Does he look good on paper? Match!”

  • Saraquill

    I wouldn’t attribute love entirely to chemicals. All the hormones in the world wouldn’t keep me with Larry or Michael Pearl. Partnership must be earned and maintained by all involved.

  • Jim Jones

    Sure, but there’s a ‘click’ if the other is close enough.

    I’ve heard as little as 6 months.

  • persephone

    I watched a documentary on matchmaking in India called A Suitable Girl. Even in the cases where the couples got to meet before and the woman had some say, there were still problems. One woman picked a man because he said he wanted her to keep working. Then, his father had a stroke2, and the traditional result was that she ended up having to care for his father, and his mother made her wear sari, instead of her usual Western clothing.

    One woman married a man who was working in Dubai. I think she was able to get a job too. So she had space and didn’t have to live with his family, but they really just seemed more like roommates than a couple.

  • persephone

    Exactly. If divo9rce means ostracism, especially in a community with religious and ethnic closeness, the spouse that leaves is often without any support, emot9ional, physi9cal, or monet9ary. Same reasons people have diffic9ulty leaving relig9ious communi9ties in general. They’re left absolutely high and dry.

  • persephone
  • persephone

    My parents requirements would have been: Is he baptized, going out in service regularly, going to all the meetings, and so on. Much more important that he be a good JW than a good person and good husband.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    It was ‘stroke2’

    Damm2 the spammers2

  • SAO

    And, frankly, your sister’s anecdote is just as valid as that of the woman arguing for betrothal. In fact, it’s remarkably similar, infatuation based on short term attraction turned into a happy marriage.

  • Mel

    I found the infatuation portion of dating heady – but I was glad when it was over because I really got nothing done in my life.

  • Mel

    Familiarity breeds – but only when it doesn’t breed contempt. People are much more likely to fall in love with people they spend time with – and much more likely to fall in love as they spend more time together – but only if they are reasonably compatible.

    In terms of the article – the human urge to procreate exists next to an urge to make sure that your child is a decent prospect for breeding in the next generation. Since humans require a craaazy amount of care before maturity and humans exist in groups, we tend to be much more selective in breeding partners than a cow or a bear since a bad personality often reduces reproductive success.

  • Mel

    Oooo-kaaaay. That’s….quite….a…website for a cult.

    I think the cult is ether centered around this website for has been started by people who met through this….cult.

    It’s a cult – but you can totes trust them in their “totally not a dating website dating website!” They only need 6,000 to set it up! Coding is hard!

    OMG….it’s a cult.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Oh my! Wonder if the cult is related to the Fabulous David Waller?

    Trips to Israel to work in a literal vineyard? I guess at least that means the Israeli owning the vineyard can reduce the paid staff for a few days. Mission-cation with a side order of full indoctrination. Perfect for that full indoctrination, and good Christian martyrbating about the end of the world and the return of Jesus.

  • Mel

    He doesn’t seem to be a direct relative – but man, they look alike. Maybe he’s a nephew? Most of the staff is Waller kids, Waller in-laws, and two converts.

  • Jennny

    In cultures where arranged marriages are the cultural norm, doesn’t one just accept that as a fact of life and hope upon hope that your parents choice will be kind and loving and not a tyrannical abuser? I told my g/kids I grew up in a house without central heating and bedrooms could have ice on the inside of the windows in winter, that I walked a long distance to school in all weathers in a raincoat and shoes that were nowhere near as waterproof as present day ones so got soaked and had chilblains. They asked why I hadn’t protested, got my parents to change those things. But it wasn’t like that years ago, and children didn’t have choices…It seems to me that’s exactly how it is in the matter of arranged marriages, you have to go along with it, there are no options, none at all.

  • lady_black

    In the beginning it may be mostly chemistry. But in a relationship, there better be more than that. I’ve lost count of the number of people who ended up divorced, while never losing the spark in the bedroom. The problem happens because you eventually have to get out of bed.
    As someone married a long time, no, you will not keep that crazy feeling you first had. And who would want to? If you’re compatible, and good to one another, it becomes something much deeper.

  • lady_black

    My Nana used to put it this way (regarding being “in love with” a jerk1) “After awhile, it gets all. There’s nothing left.”

  • Raging Bee

    Ooooh, they get to show bare legs and stomp on grapes? Sounds kinda racy2…

  • Raging Bee

    “In cultures where arranged marriages are the cultural norm,” I wonder how much infidelity, wife-swapping, and the like is quietly tolerated…