Sunday, July 3, 2011

Traditions

My husband tells me that his grandmother used to speculate that the reason so many people get divorced was because women no longer make bread (this was before the bread machine). Yes, it's true that we've modernized and in a lot of ways it's good. In some ways, it's bad (like no-fault divorce).

I often think how more positive my life as a SAHM would be if we lived more traditional. Most likely either my husband's or my parents would live with us. I'd live very close to siblings. It would be more communal. Whenever I needed help for dealing with morning sickness, moving furniture, etc. etc., I'd have a built in system. But I don't live next to family.

And realistically, when you live close to family problems crop up. My mother and I butt heads often enough that I don't think I would particularly enjoy having her in my house for really long periods of time. I like my in-laws, but after a few too many touchy feelys around my small mid-section (baby rubs), I finally told Hubby that if it kept happening his Uncles and I might have to mince words. First off it's my body and if it's inappropriate to touch my stomach under non-preggo conditions, then why is it okay during preggo conditions? Secondly, I'm not a baby-making machine. One of the uncles keeps saying I should have a dozen children. I bit my tongue a few times and decided it would be better not to retort with a comment about how he can raise them if he likes that many. Not that I have a problem with 12 children. But just like women don't like to feel pressured to stop having children with nasty comments like "breeder" or "don't you know where babies come from?", I kinda think the same pressure can be applied to women who can't have children or choose with God's blessing to stop. The Uncle who made the suggestion comes from my FIL's side. If it had been the other touchy feely Uncle, I think I raised an eyebrow especially since my MIL's side has had a number of child-bearing issues. (Sadly there have been a number of miscarriages.) I almost wanted to point out to the other Uncle that not everyone is so blessed. But I'm not going to bring up the subject of infertility since I know that it's such a personal thing and brings up intense feelings. So I didn't opt for the gentler path either. Instead I just smiled. Okay rant over.

Anyways...I recently watched a movie that I highly recommend called Arranged. It's about an Orthodox Jew and conservative Muslim who become friends in New York. It touches on society's prejudices against traditional people, a major plus in a film that I haven't seen. And it also shows that people of different faiths can be close friends despite their respective societies' hesitation. Tolerance is awesome. The movie also delves into arranged marriages.

There a numerous types of arranged marriages. For the Orthodox Jew, women date men that they are fixed up with either through family or by a match maker. I wouldn't say that this type of marriage is unusual. A lot of people meet their husbands through family or friends (or dating sites). The difference is that you can't just go out and meet someone and then date them. There has to be some sort of approval before hand.

For the Muslim, her father goes and brings a man home to have dinner with the family and talk to his daughter. They don't go anywhere by themselves. She's still able to meet with him at her home and to talk to him through e-mail.

Then there is the type that the movie didn't bring up, the more strict type. You know the one most people think about when they hear arranged. Basically the two families meet and agree that their children should marry. The children meet each other briefly (like a speed date) and then they're married. The crazy thing to most modern daters is that for the most part this type of arranged marriage like the other two usually lasts a life time. I've heard couples say they start out as friends and then their romance blossoms. Maybe it's because they are traditional and therefore won't divorce. But I'd like to think it's because the couple shares many of the same values. If you come from the same background where cheating is bad, frugality is important, family comes first, and children are blessings, chances are you get along a lot better. People on the radio say that they are happy with their open marriages (although I really think that at some point that's destructive to a marriage, but at least they have the same "value").

Having come from the modern dating scene, I'm happy to say that I'm glad that I left it. I honestly hated it mostly because of one big problem: lack of interest in marriage. You could ask the person up front, but in the modern dating world, you're told not to because it could scare the guy off even if he's interested in getting married. If I had it to do all over again, I would not date. I would do something that comes from the traditional book: courtship.

The Duggars are an example of courtship. They meet a person and agree to court. They are chaperoned on dates. It's one way of courtship, but I think it's also a mindset. You don't need to be chaperoned to be courted. The idea is that from the beginning you agree that you both interested in marriage as the ultimate goal (not long term dating which is what I often found out later after a few months of dating). You also agree to only go to public places (college often opens you up to finding yourself in a dorm or apartment hanging out) or being in large group. While I think people can be alone together, I think the person you're dating takes you more seriously if you present strict guide-lines. A lot of people, men and women, do try to make moves on a person that the person might deem inappropriate. It's best to be upfront rather than feeling them out.

The worse advice I ever got from a professional after a nasty break-up was to be more mysterious about myself during the dating process. While I don't think a person should bring up the most embarrassing thing that happened to them during tenth grade summer camp, I think coming forward about your goals and expectations of dating is important. While an individual can have the mindset that they are "dating for marriage", that doesn't mean the other person does. One can say that you easily weed out the "dating for dating" crowd, but I've dated some very respectable men and they weren't interested in marriage. I know I'm not the only one. Knowing upfront that the person has no interest in marriage can save a person a lot of heartache. You can try to make them change, but if you know that their coming to the process differently, then you need not even try. The same can be said about other values. I've known people who dated a person for a while to discover later that the other person never wanted children. While you may not want to say all that on the first date, it's still important to talk about your believes. Somewhere along the marriage discussion things like children come up.

But of course hindsight is always 20/20. And with my own kids, dating could change. I hear more and more stories about people meeting online. I guess I'm going to have a "talk" about sex-ting and inappropriate picture taking instead of dorm room etiquette.

1 comment:

  1. By my late twenties, I had converted the Catholicism and I was pretty done with "casual dating," too. I actually used an online dating site, but I put myself out there honestly on the profile: Catholic, chaste, looking not for marriage tomorrow but unwilling to waste time on a relationship that wasn't headed decidedly there. What's amazing is how many responses I got - hundreds, literally - and I went on a lot of first dates to the coffee shop.

    These men were, as far as I could tell and for the most part, intelligent, attractive, productive, and actually really felt relieved and excited that there were women out there who hewed to these values. A culture of media, consumerism, and sex told me that, as a woman, no decent man would respond to profile like mine or take me out because they all just want fun and lusty times ... yet when put into practice the reality was quite different. I really hope that every person who finds him-or-herself yearning for that kind of relationship can ignore cultural messages and find the person who shares a similar heart and mindset.

    (I definitely did - I just married one of those coffeeshop dates!)

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