are we the only ones to have to worry about this?

Here’s something I wonder about. In the United States, there was no one worrying about arranged marriages forty years ago. And by “no one”, I mean there wasn’t a generation of young men and women angsting about either pulling off a marriage within the community or pulling off a marriage outside of the community like it was their job, every moment between marriageable age and married. When there wasn’t a critical mass in the immigrant community, you either went back to India for your spouse or you married someone else, but it didn’t matter because the community was so small there weren’t enough people to ostracize you for choosing differently. (I’m guessing; maybe I’m very off in this analysis.) Now there is a critical mass, and there’s a community to be ostracized from, and there are just enough second generation immigrants alongside you that you conceivably have options, or there’s always India. And so some of us choose this table.

But the thing is that most of us are assimilated enough that we already confine ourselves to dating second-generation immigrants only and we try to approximate the dating process of non-immigrants within the parameters of immigrant tradition. And no one, not me, not anyone who I know who did marry within the community, and certainly not anyone I know who married outside the community, plans to enforce the pressure to marry within in the same way with the next generation. Certainly there’s a lot of pressure for the next generation inherent in being brought up within the community and likely wanting your children to fit easily into that community. But I have no plans to explicitly forbid marrying outside. Or no plans to be anything but completely welcoming to a son-in-law or daughter-in-law of another cultural heritage. Hell, even if I did have plans, I would have no idea how to network for a within-community marriage for my kids. Plus, many people I know and love, including possibly a sibling or two, will have already married outside, making the whole in-group out-group thing a little more murky.

I imagine that there will be new second-generation kids at that point, children of people currently my age who immigrated in adulthood. But I know some of these immigrants, and they don’t have the kind of numbers of the wave that came before, and they’re products of a more globalized upbringing already, and they’ll have intermingled with the likes of me (and my values) for another two decades before their children are marriageable.

So are we it? Is this angst generation-specific to this very generation? Forgive me if that doesn’t quite make me feel special.

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sec·ond-gen·er·a·tion (sknd-jn-rshn)

adj. 1. Of or relating to a person or persons whose parents are immigrants.

n.b.: arranged marriage

When I use "arranged marriage" here, I'm talking a very specific type of marriage, in which one (often a second generation immigrant) is socialized and pressured by their community to marry someone from within that community as part of a way to bind two families together. It's often accompanied by a cultural prohibition against dating, especially serial dating, such that there is typically a short timeline from meeting to marriage. In the United States, where I am, and in other diasporas, an arranged marriage isn't necessarily arranged anymore, although parents and grandparents shoulder much of the responsibility in networking and making introductions. The bride-to-be and groom-to-be yield veto power at all times and their happiness and consent are among the most critical criteria in proceeding. In general, the kind of arranged marriage that I know is enforced only by family and community approval and disapproval (although let's not underestimate how powerful these are). At no point am I talking about a truly arranged marriage in which there's no options, no veto, and enforcement by violence or restriction of liberty. I don't pretend that I know anything about living that kind of truth or that anything I experience is comparable to that kind of future.

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