When things get dull around our house, I like to remind my children that I am arranging their marriages. They usually stop whatever they are doing because they have strong feelings about this. So does my son's girlfriend. As a young teenager on the verge of dating, I believed that arranged marriages were a horrible idea, like driving through London on the right side of the road. But now that I have kids of my own, I see the benefits.
“In time you will grow to love her,” I tell my sons, while thumbing through random pictures I have clipped from my high school yearbook. “A beautiful wife is not for you. But one of these gals will be grateful for your affection. Besides, cat-eye glasses will be all the rage in 3 or 4 years.”
“Oh Dad,” they sigh. They
say those words a lot these days: “Oh Dad.”
our children were young, my wife and I began watching and praying for
suitable mates for them. We even took to carrying pictures of our two sons
and daughter in my wallet primarily to barter with other parents. Many
were eager to participate in dowry negotiations. I once haggled with a
couple in Oregon who were willing to sign papers betrothing their two
daughters and son to ours, but when they asked for my house, the talks
broke down. (Don’t worry Jim and Jean, I won’t mention your names.)
With the average Hollywood marriage lasting approximately 37 seconds, I say we start an organization called Arranged Marriages Work Awesome Eh? (AMWAE). Our slogan will be “Save money! Your honeymoon can double as your first date!”
Here are a few of our credos:
The current match-making
model is broke. Let’s tinker with it.
think we don’t know and love you? We changed your diapers.
should marriage be based solely on love and respect when we can get
some cattle in the deal?
My son thinks tacos are a
food group. How could he possibly choose a wife?
When our children begin
paying rent, we will begin listening to their opinions.
You’ll always have a
story to tell at family reunions.
nominate David Weinlick as president. While a senior in college David
joked to friends that he would be married June 13, 1998. He had a tux and
a ring. The only thing missing was a fiancée. So one week before the big
day, he and his buddies launched “The Campaign to Elect Mrs. David
Weinlick,” attracting worldwide attention and 28 would-be brides to the
Mall of America in Minnesota where friends and family overwhelmingly
selected Elizabeth Runze on the second ballot.
couple’s first kiss was at the altar (the picture was taken moments
after they tied the knot).
they have three children and a ten-year marriage. “I guess I’m curious
as to why people are so shocked that it lasted,” Elizabeth says. Though
they went into marriage knowing very little about each other, David feels
romantic love is a tad overrated. “Marriage really ought to be more
about committing to being together than it is about how you feel at a
given moment,” he says. “We really work to make life enjoyable.”
came marriage, then came love” is a tune they’ve been humming for over
a decade. “I don’t
think it’s that much of a secret,” says David. “It’s really about
how we make it work together. We’re committed.” A
few days after their much-publicized marriage, David told her, “Wow. I
don’t mean to freak you out, but I think I love you.”
I don’t mean to freak my children (pictured) out either, but I
think we’re on to something
here. I won’t force them into anything, but I am sold on Arranged
Introductions. And dropping subtle hints. And inviting certain families
over. And taking out ads in the newspaper: “Jenny Sanderson. We think
you’d make a great wife for our son. Have your parents call us.”
me to get serious for about a paragraph. The arranged marriages I’ve
witnessed have turned out pretty well, partly because they were formed and
continue to form in community. A friend from Angola told me that upon
marriage couples there are assigned Padrinhos,
a mentoring couple who will be in their lives for as long as the four
shall live. I know for a fact that my own marriage would have been a
disaster without such people, without the watchful love and care of fellow
church members and friends—some of whom would have punched my lights out
if I ditched or failed to cherish and honor the girl I’ve been learning
to love these twenty-six years.
I’m so excited about this that I’m starting to believe in arranged weddings too. Think of the money we’ll save. I will arrange my daughter’s wedding complete with potluck. A-E bring salad. F-M bring wedding cake. She winces when I tell her this, but she will get used to it. By the way, she’s getting married June 13th at the Mall of America.
mail all applications to our address here in Tuktoyuktuk where my children
have locked me in a little cabin.
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