The Seven Secrets of Arranged Marriages We Can All Learn From

I’ve been blogging on From First Comes Marriage: Modern Relationship Advice from the Wisdom of Arranged Marriages by Reva Seth. If you’ve been reading my previous posts, then you know that I’m intrigued by this book. I find myself coming up with many questions that I’m hoping she’ll respond to in time (and I’ve already decided I’ll get in touch with her if need be).

Here’s a listing of her 7 secrets (slightly edited):

  • Secret #1: Your Spouse Doesn’t Have to Be Your Best Friend
  • Secret #2: The Musts Are All That Matter
  • Secret #3: Commitment Is the Opposite of Constraint
  • Secret #4: It Doesn’t Matter If He Doesn’t Dance
  • Secret #5: Romance Needs a Rewrite
  • Secret #6: Sex Appeal? It’s All About You!
  • Secret #7: Family Matters

 I’ve already mentioned that a key component of arranged marriages that seems to get them off on the right foot is:  Low Epectations! Actually, a fairer way to put this would be: Reasonable Expectations! Seth insists that we modern, affluent, mobile Americans want something from marriage that has never been expected in the history of humankind. Namely, an all encompassing romantic experience that scratches all of our itches. People in arranged marriages would scoff at such inflated expectations!

What keeps coming to mind for me, however, it that there is one bedrock expectation that is necessary to all satisfying marriages: My spouse will keep promises. Neither good marriages, nor good friendships, can last without promises. Furthermore, relationships are shaped by the capacity of each person to make wise and thoughtful promises. Alas, here’s the rub for us romance based hitchers! Usually, at a very young, and healthy, age, we stand up in front of God and everybody and promise to always be there, say, in sickness and in health. We make that promise without the slightest understanding of what a chronic illness might mean for us.

Although I don’t see Seth speaking to the place of keeping promises directly, she does allude to it in many ways. For instance, the only expectation a woman brings to an arranged marriage is financial stability and children. However, if she can trust that her family has vetted her future spouse properly, she can be fairly assured that he will be on board. In other words, the initial promises made are very clear, and very concrete.

So, I keep reflecting on all the expectations of Holly I’ve carried over the years, and recognizing how I’ve allowed them to feed my discontent, and hers. I’m realizing, also, that it’s a lot easier to start with few expectations than to let go of unwise ones that have taken root!




About Wes Eades

I've been a pastoral counselor, marital therapist, and overall listening ear since about 1989 or so.
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