Friday, September 10, 2010

Yon's question

Yon Gin asked - I was arranged marriage. Was not bad in long time, was scary in you begin. Why you run if you raise that way to be arranged?

I'm honored that someone from another culture is reading this blog. Yon Gin has asked questions before and she is legit (not a troll). Yon, I respect that arranged marriage has worked in other circumstances and was the predominant tradition for several eras. I know that some people are happy with their arranged marriage - I'm happy for them that it worked out.

The way *I* was raised, despite what many people think, was not to prepare for an arranged marriage. That's the duality of the ATI and patriarchy movement. When you're small and even when you're not-so-small, they tell you that JESUS has already chosen your partner. They tell you that the 'one god has for you' is waiting and praying for you and you should pray for him. They don't tell you who that person is. There's a lot of talk about saving yourelf for that person and how your parents will help you know who he is but they don't outright tell you, when you're young, that your parents will pick this person for you. They don't tell you that the talk about YOU praying about a match won't mean a hill of beans because the decision will have already been made for you. It's not the arranged marriage part that bothered me as much as the forced marriage part. I wasn't ready for ANY marriage (I'm still not) let alone marriage to someone I hated. He wasn't the sort of man I was told to wait for or give myself to but because he was a benefit to my father, I was expected to capitulate. When my parents and my faith group were talking to me about being a jewel in my husband's crown, they never told me I would have to ignore the instincts and ignore what I felt God was telling me. It's so hard for me to explain this to anyone who hasn't been there. I hope I'm explaining it right. It isn't like I had feelings for anyone else or wanted someone different and that's why I rebelled. That's not it either. I just knew it wasn't Adam who "God had for me" and I guess I didn't trust my parents enough (when it comes right down to it) to be carrying out God's will. (pause)

After I wrote that last paragraph I had to take a break because it's the first time I've put that out there so plainly. I didn't trust my parents. Even though it went against everything I'd been taught about parental authority and honoring that authority - I didn't. I wanted to with all my heart but I couldn't - I imagine it's in the same way that you can love your best friend but still turn them in for beating their child or wife. You know in your heart what is wrong and what my parents were attemptimg to do was wrong. Even my mother.

Back to the question - I was raised to trust God and give my parents authority over my life. When Adam was put before me, I just realized doing both wasn't possible. God, in my head, was telling me no.

How would you all answer Yon's question?


  1. I think you answered the question perfectly. I know some people who are in happy arranged marriages. They are from cultures where it has been practiced for generations so their parents knew what is was like to have an arranged marriage and I believe that helped them choose a spouse for their children.
    The only thing I would add to your explaination is that Adam seems to have had serious issues. It wasn't just that you were scared because you didn't know him well or didn't like him, you got some serious warning signs from him that pointed to him turning into an abusive husband.


  2. Writing can be so therapeutic Ruth, and I'm glad this blog seems to be helping you bring all this junk out so you can deal with it and move on.

    The jist of this is, your parents didn't give a rat's ass about you. They cared about advancing themeselves and the ATI movement. God does not stand for that and you are a billion percent right when you say you could not follow your parents and God when they were contradicting each other.

    It seems God lead the way for you to leave and protected you in a way that maybe you are just now appreciating. Just please PLEASE always remember, the god your parents follow is NOT the real God. (((hugs)))

  3. They are from cultures where it has been practiced for generations so their parents knew what is was like to have an arranged marriage and I believe that helped them choose a spouse for their children.

    I think this is a really excellent point.

    FWIW, I spent time living in a country (Nepal) where arranged marriages are standard. In the city, my host-sisters friends would sometimes ask me if I wanted to have an arranged marriage, or a love match; they were startled to hear that my parents would be unwilling to arrange a marriage for me....even though they all wanted love matches ("because then there is understanding between husband and wife.")

    It was also quite common for couples to meet and fall in love, and then to nudge their parents into formally Making the Arrangements. I mean, even in a culture where arranged marriages were the Way Things Were Done, they didn't always happen the way the anthropology books would say they did, and they sure as heck didn't look like the nightmarish matchmaking Ruth's parents engaged in.

  4. In addition to what Ruth said, I would add that Ruth was able to get to know Adam enough to know that he was not a good man. He made her very uncomfortable and said inappropriate things.
    I find it ironic in that through all of this, Ruth ran away because she was actually listening to God--the very thing her parents claimed they wanted for her.

  5. sometimes arranged marriages work and sometimes they don't. it's very much like ruth said... whenever you relinquish the decision making ability to another person (or to god), you have to trust that they are going to do what's best for you. ruth's parents were obviously just doing what was best for them and not for ruth. they were abusing their power. i believe that women/teenagers are not supposed to relinquish all decision making abilities just because they are women or young people. we are fully capable of knowing what would make us happy and what would make us miserable, and make the right choices in life whether our parents support us or deny us that right.

    personally, i would never let my parents choose who i married... my parents and i value much different things in life, and i enjoy exercising my own choice to make life decisions. if a person and his/her parents valued the same things in a match, their input would hold more weight. in a happy arranged marriage, the parents choose a good match because they want their daughter/son to live a happy life. ruth's parents didn't care about ruth's happiness at all, they were completely selfish in their choice.

  6. I think it can be so hard for young women to be able to say "no." Even in secular culture we are so encouraged to be passive, people pleasers, to put others first. In the Quiverfull culture these are mandatory traits. It takes incredible courage to listen to your inner voice and find the courage to advocate for yourself.

  7. I think you've explained it well. Friends of mine in communities which arrange marriages always draw a clear distinction between arranged marriage and forced marriage, with the former being open, supportive and consensual. But you had the worst of both worlds in that you were forced towards a marriage you had to pretend to be not only a free choice, but a gift from God.

    Do you ever want to return to your parents? Many women who have escaped abusive religious groups often do.

  8. Ruth, I find it terrifying that in the small amount of time you were allowed to get to know Adam you learned he was such a bad person. If that much was obvious, I imagine he was actually, much, much worse. It's terrifying to contemplate. You seem to have good instincts and are clearly quite brave. discussed the issue with friends in the past

  9. I think it speaks volumes that you trusted your instincts (which can be attributed to god if you like) over your parent's wishes. I know a guy who had an arranged marriage that was a disaster but which led to a blessing. He helped his first wife escape her family and then helped her become a citizen and divorced her so she was free to live her life. He allowed his parents to arrange a second marriage and is very happy.

    I think love is a strange thing. You can love the wrong person and not love the right one. But in the end I think you just have to listen to your instincts. You seem to have a good set, Ruth.

  10. As a parent who *flirted* with the whole arranged, or at least *parent-pressured* marriage idea, I have discovered in hind-sight that the potential spouses who have less than desirable motives are quite adept at performing for the prospective in-laws all the characteristics they sought.

    This kind of mentality just fertilizes the soil that nurtures imposters.

    However, their young people--being peers-- see the real person they really are, while the parents just see what they want to see.

    This was a prevalent problem in my experience and time has revealed the truth--sadly-- much too late.

    I wonder, "How can any parent with the slightest understanding of the nature of young people possibly deny this potential?"

    Also, of the arranged marriages I know, there was always the option to decline on the part of both the intendeds.

  11. This is the first time I've weighed in, Ruth. I was raised in patriarchy but not strictly QF, like you, and my traumatic experience with courtship was where my parents forced a "no" rather than forcing a "yes." (Here's the full story: ). I too have been blogging anonymously in order to try to understand the ways in which my patriarchal, abusive upbringing is still affecting me.

    I recognize myself in so many of your descriptions of yourself as a quivering daughter--meek and quiet on the outside, but in reality, we were just terrified of being perceived as disobedient.

  12. I think that the most salient point you can make is the distinction between forced and arranged. Forced/coerced marriage is what you had, Ruth. People were planning your wedding before you told that toolbag Adam yes! That's not arranging, that's railroading.

  13. I'm with Bowling Team on this. I had an Indian friend who agred to let her parents find her spouse. Being sh and her parents were Western educated, she thought she'd give it a shot and if it didn't work, it didn't work. She agreed to meet the first guy, no sparks. Her parents tried again, and she and her husband have been married for six years now.
    But the important thing was, she had a CHOICE. Ruth did not. Ruth's finger was thrust forward to recieve a ring she didn't agree to, and a wedding was starting to form she wanted no part of. I say from now on that's how we readers refer to it: FORCED, not arranged.

    Your parents did not have YOUR best interests at heart, and that's what upsets me the most. Ruth, as a female, was a means to an end. Luggage. Chattel. And Darth Daddy was a selfish pimp.

  14. Is anyone else humming "Matchmaker, Matchmaker?"

    Anyway, I suspect most marriages are "Arranged" by someone-at least as far as who makes the initial introduction. It's what happens AFTER that point that makes the difference. In some ways, I envied the girls in college who had arranged marriages waiting for them. Some of them had met the guy, generally liked him, and were looking forward to it. Others didn't know who he was, but generally were able to relax, without the "set ups" and the uncomfortable blind dates and other efforts by well-meaning friends to create a romance.

  15. Ruth,

    I am a long time reader, first time commenter. First of all I want to say that I hate what you had to go through, but I love the way you write. Your story is so sad, but you write about it with such strength.

    This post made me want to ask you a question. In your opinion (or from stories you've heard) do you think other QF families would have been willing to arrange a different marriage? Or do you believe it's normal for the children to be told they just haven't been praying right if something feels wrong to them?

    Good luck with this semester!

  16. Well I think in those cultures where arranged marriages are the norm, parents know their children, and know who will be be compatible with them, and choose partners accordingly. Not that that makes it any more right. :)

  17. Skipping over the comments to post about my Hindu friend:

    Her arranged marriage worked so well precisely because she could and did trust her parents. She believed (rightly so, it appears) that her parents had her best interests at heart.

    Second, she retained a final veto, if after meeting her potential husband, she did not like him. She told me her father would never make her marry against her will!

    Finally, they used a marriage broker to make potential matches. I'm not sure exactly all that this involves, but I had the impression it's a pretty thorough intake first, and then the matchmaker looks for several potential suitors and starts there. Having a third party involved, with several potential prospects to investigate, is very different than the power deal Ruth's father was trying to set up.

    It was never "this is the ONE", no from the beginning it was "IS this the one?" My Hindu friend is very happy. Her situation was very different from what you experienced, Ruth.

  18. Historically arranged marriages are forced marriages. Just because some families do it differently doesn't change that. And just because it is a part of someones culture doesn't make it any more right.

  19. Hi Ruth, I am happy to see you maintain an open mind about these things and seem to realize that what was happening in your situation was unusual and abusive. Im sorry you went through what you did. In the family I grew up in, there was some talk of betrothal but it was never an official arrangement. My oldest brother and I were to each mary the oldest daughter and son (respectivly) of our best friends (who had 17 children in all.) But I think those "plans" were really based more around the fact that we had childhood crushes on those children and our parents wanted us to marry thier best friends children. Still the talk was about "when you marry so-and-so." Im pretty sure I was considered "engaged" at about 14, which I was pleased to tell anyone who asked. Looking back now I think that was Weird, with a capital W... Still, even though it was "weird" it was not abusive or against our consent. As it turned out, both of the "engagements" fell through and although my brother and I were heart broken about it at the time, we are both now happily married to people of our own chosing and I dont think it could have worked out any better.

    I was wondering, you mention TWOP in several of your posts...what is that? I cannot determine if its pro or anti QF/ATI based on the referances you have made to it. I googled it, but no luck. Thanks!

  20. Oh, I wanted to add, our friends parents were much MUCH weirder about the betrothal than my parents were. I remember my betrothed telling me he was developing feelings for some other girl and his parents really tore into him. THEY were very patriarcle/QF and ABUSIVE where my family was not as into the patriarchy/QF and I think that is part of why we were spared that particular brand of abuse.

  21. Television Without Pity- it's a great web site where fans of tv dish about their favorite shows.

  22. I've lived in three cultures which practice arranged marriages historically and currently. In the past 10-15 years more young people are having more say. I wish I could tell you that the parents usually had their son/daughter's best interest in mind. I also realize these were "pagan" cultures, but the parents did not have the children's interests in mind, particularly the girls'. In one of the cultures it has even become more corrupt as finances were more involved. Often one of the marriage partners would run away before the marriage in order to avoid it. Yes, it occasionally worked out well and many times, once children were involved, the couple developed a compatible and loving relationship according to the cultural standards. There were many exceptions of progressive parents who really did look out for thier children's welfare. And, even in the old system, the ideal was good in that, the parents got to know the prospective life partner and see if they were a good worker and fit into the family.

    As pertaining to North American arranged marriages. I personally do not like them. But, just as an individual can "perform" for the parents, but the peer may see the truth, I think that parents (loving ones) may also have discernment that a love-struck young or older person may not have. I'm thankful that my parents spent time with my husband before we got married. My father shared some things with me that were very helpful. I'm sure if he had seen something seriously troubling with my potential life partner, he would have given me a warning. But, I also know he would never have pressured me too much one way or another. I was blessed.

    Whatever your views on arranged marriages, when an individual has a strong reaction and sees serious problems, even the most conservative Biblicist would say that she (or he) should obey God rather than man. Nobody should walk into an abusive relationship just because some authority told them to do so.

    I'm sorry this is so long, but I have daughters ages 20, 18 and 17. I'm thankful they ask us about their relationships and yet we can only give advice and love. They will have to live with their choices.


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