Monday, October 10, 2016

Arranged Marriage - The Daughter's Perspective

I've given my view of the arranged marriage of my daughter in two parts found here and here.

My husband has also written about the process here.

Today it gives me great pleasure to share my daughter's testimony of the matter. Her story is not a typical romance story or a courtship story, because she did not get to know her husband in that way until after they were married. Instead you are about to read about a many-year journey of the heart. I hope you will be amazed and encouraged, as I was, to read of the sovereignty and goodness of God in the life of a young woman.
A few months before I turned 11, my mother made an announcement to me and my three siblings. She was going to remarry. She would be marrying a man she met in law school and the wedding would take place in a month or two.

My mother and biological father had been divorced since I was 2 and I was very excited by the news of her remarrying, as I knew she could not have any more children until she was married and I very much wanted more younger siblings.

A year and a half later we moved from my childhood home-state to the state where my step father was from originally. This was also exciting for me. The new home was in the country, with a river on our land and many places for adventurous children to play.  I looked forward to a new home and being next door to his parents, whom I quickly came to regard as my own grandparents, and the affection was returned with greater vigor.

Through the years I began to become unhappy with the changes in my life that, at the time, had created such excitement in me. I began to resent the man who took charge of our family and made changes to us that were, to me, hard. This resentment only got worse as I grew older. I did not trust that he was doing what was best for me and the relationship with my parents grew strained.

By 17 I had decided I no longer wanted to live with my mother and stepfather and had made arrangements to leave home forever and live with my biological dad. I was in a state of mourning with this decision. I greatly loved my younger siblings whom God had given to our family, and I knew from what my parents had said that if I left home I would not be allowed to see or talk with them.  During this time I did not read my bible, or pray in any way. I tried to succeed where all others had failed at ignoring God, and hoping to slip by unnoticed by Him. Perhaps He would forget me.  It is with great joy now I can say that He did not. When it came time, instead of leaving as I had planned, I came home. I do not know, even now, why I returned home from the trip I was on instead of going through with my plan, except to say God’s plan was unavoidable.

Once I was home I spoke with my stepfather and set before him how I was, and was still,  feeling, and the need I felt to do something drastic. I do not know how he truly felt about this, but after two or three months of prolonged conversations, I made a choice. I would stay at home. I would trust in God to provide for my happiness, and I would change my attitude to that of one of contentment.

This was a changing point in my life. I used to always plan for two futures, one at home and one away. I was prepared at any time to catch a ride to the airport and forever leave my family. Now I depended on God. I truly believed He placed me in this family for my own good, that He was sovereign and I could not escape His plan by running away, but I could certainly make that plan much harder on myself.

I am not proud of how I behaved, or my confusion as a teenager. I do not tell these things to bolster a view of me or show false pride in my actions. Rather I relate them so it can be known that I did not always trust  my parents. We have not always had the relationship we do now, and it was a struggle to get there. But even in the midst of my own fears and doubts, not the least of which was trusting my parents to search out and find the spouse I would live the rest of my life with, I make the conscious decision to trust not only them, but God.

After making my decision to stay home, my parents started to actively train me in wifely ways. They had tried before of course but, due to my attitude, while I could clean and cook not unwell, many of the spiritual lessons were lost on me. The ability to have a peaceful mind, a forgiving heart, and an understanding spirit had until this time been impossible to attain. We now talked of marriage often, and it was my earnest desire to be married. (I had wanted to be a wife and mother from a young age, but how to go about that had always eluded me.)

My parents explained to me how they were going to go about finding a husband for me, and the specific Scriptures that had lead them to this way of thinking. I was reassured to not feel pressured into doing this by myself. I was instructed to not show favoritism, to not seek out the favor of young men and to let my works be my apparel.  My parents urged me to protect my heart, and not let it float around, ready to be damaged.  Through some experiment I conducted on my own I came to the realization that “Attitude is Everything”. I could fully control my own attachments. By the end of a year I was firmly convinced I could love anyone.

I reached this conclusion by age 20 but I did not marry until just after my 22nd birthday. It was a long two years (was that all!) but I found contentment at home. I knew my parents (and especially my step-father)  were doing all in their power to go new places, usually 3-4 hours away, to meet new families and talk to fathers, but it all seemed to me to be taking too long. What was God, (and all these eligible sons) waiting for? ( I now know my sweet, wonderful and perfect husband was at that time fighting for his life in a hospital and was not available for marriage.)

Finally a good tip came in from a friend. Their church (about 4 hours away) had many young men who were looking for a spouse. Off we went to visit and sure enough there were more than one, or two, that I had no objection to at all. We met one family in particular and over the course of three months we saw them 3 times. For my family that was a lot of traveling and meeting them so often was encouraging, though I never suspected anything more.

(The following is my favorite part of the story so forgive me if I add too much detail.) Imagine my surprise when one day in May 2015 while at our favorite grocery store, my step-father took me in alone, and whilst buying me chocolate, let me know there was a young man who had answered the questionnaire my father and I had put together years ago, and that soon I might be asked to answer one as well. I tried not to show my excitement, but I am sure my father figured it out by the way I kept pestering him to see the suitors answers. Father did not want me to see the suitor’s answers until I had answered my own questions to prevent me from tailoring my answers. I suspected at this time the suitor was from this particular family we had been meeting with, but as they had a few sons I was not sure which son it was.

About a week later I answered the questions put to me. (The questions were sent to my father’s email, and he emailed them to me to prevent my knowing from which son the questions were coming. So crafty, as I was hoping for a clue from the email address.) I was then allowed to see the suitors answers and all but three were satisfactory. Those three we continued to discuss for the next month, and I was told who was seeking me: Brad. We saw each other once while these discussions were going on. It was a slightly nerve racking time for me because I was expecting at any time to be rejected, but even expecting that, I could not help but see the many good things in this man Brad, and to see he would be a good husband indeed. However, my answers could never have been as satisfactory as his, so I assumed he would soon come to his senses and tell me this was done. His family came to visit mine, and a week later we were engaged. (At a dance, it was all very romantic and beautiful.)

Two months after that we were married, and despite being told often and by many people what to expect, we have found it to be complete bliss. We have yet to encounter many of the hiccups we hear other couples talk about or even have a major disagreement.

I was asked to write this up to show my perspective of what my parents did. Truthfully, the only fault I have is, after Brad and I were engaged we were not allowed to hold hands. That is it. (I found out later it was not just my parents, my husband also did not think it was a good idea.)

I truly appreciate my parents keeping Brad’s identity from me, and that he was even interested, until he had already been approved. I am glad they did not tell me about the talks going on between his father and mine before Brad was told I would be a good match for him. I like to think I am usually level heading and wouldn’t have gotten stresses or worried about it. But after I was engaged and my emotions got rolling, I had a hard time controlling them and that was after I knew we were getting married. If I had known before, and there was a chance of it being called off, I don’t know what I would have done with myself.

I have been married over a year now, and I could not be happier. I see no signs whatever of my marriage not lasting forever, and everyday I thank God for my husband. I do not believe Brad or I have in anyway been damaged by our parents being involved in the process, quite the opposite in fact. We are both very happy that we got all the important questions out of the way and settled quickly so we could move on with getting married, being confident that our parents would let us know if we were rushing through disagreements merely because our emotions were aroused. We had no romantic relationship until married and I believe that was excellent. We of course got to know each other after marriage (Favorite colors, foods, movies, books, etc.) but with the benefit of no bedtimes, other people listening in, or physical boundaries, I firmly believe this was the best way for us, and I would not change anything. 
I don't have anything to add to that. 

No comments: