Lieven's Blog

What's on my mind...

Finding our soulmate

Clipboard with Pencil_16x16An acquaintance of mine has a new girlfriend. Together they have five children. Two from his two previous relationships and three from his current one. He is the biological father of the first two. Most of my sons friends are growing up in recomposed families or in a single-parent family. The friends of my son are all great kids and they live in warm and caring families. It is fact though, that in the “Western” world we have the freedom to choose our partner and most of the time there is little resistance from the society to separate one’s a couple feels or think that the relationship doesn’t bring the happiness they hoped for. But almost every time separation brings grief and uncertainty about the future.

As much as I like (and would defend) freedom, I recently was attracted by another way of finding a potential soulmate... the arranged marriage. A friend of mine recently married in Asia. The parents of the young man and the young woman were searching for the best possible match for their children. The future husband and bride met each other briefly on a few occasions and then the marriage was decided. “What about love”, I asked? The answer was:” Love will come afterwards”. I heard exactly the same answer some years ago from a man who just married and grew up in the Jewish orthodox community.
I don’t like to think that one way of finding a partner is better than the other. Both have advantages and disadvantages. But the advantages of the arranged marriages that I have seen have some interesting and appealing characteristics to me. First there is the strong commitment of the man and the woman to live for the rest of their lives together. They took a real step, no ifs or buts, only a clear: “yes let’s go for it”. No discussion about who’s refrigerator it is in the family and who has to pay for the rent this month. They unite and share everything.

Second there is a quite clear value system that guides the new family about the rights and obligations of the man and the women. No more constant searching about what you can and can’t expect from the other.

Another appealing aspect is that these couples take future problems between them as something normal. Problems are in the first place a part of “the living together process” and not an obvious reason to separate. Marriage is a process that has its ups and downs and by handling these ups and downs, the relationship gets stronger.

Finally due to the quite clear value setting, the marriage can start in a rather smooth way because both know what their role is in the family. The value systems are defined in such a way that the husband and the wife has the obligation to take care of each other and of the family. This in turn gives room for both to discover each other. It is beautiful to see when two people do what is right to make a family work and by this learn to appreciate each other and from that experience, to love each other.

Call me old-fashioned but, commitment, responsibility for the family, sticking together whatever happens and growing together, are beautiful values.

I know, in the West we hear mostly stories about suppression of the women and other negative things when it comes to arranged marriages. I don’t argue that it doesn’t exist, but these terrible things can’t be generalized neither.

It is my conviction that the goal of a relationship is not to seek happiness all the time, as a psychologist I don’t believe that such a thing exists. Seeking for constant happiness will only bring sadness and a feeling of being unfulfilled. It’s about growing together in time and being influenced by each other, and in this way hopefully experiencing the great satisfaction of becoming each others soulmates. With a soulmate I mean a person with whom we have a deep feeling of natural affinity, passion, compatibility and love. As long as this takes place, the process that leads to this is of lesser importance. The way of growing together is just different among cultures. (708 words)

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Lieven Verbrugge, Basic Author

Social - IM_48x48 Update January 9, 2012

This article got a lot of response. Here is one I really want to share. It’s a funny but really interesting too. “Arranged marriage: How to find a beautiful wife?” see The author is Rajiv Pant, find more of him on Twitter @rajivpant