I think people who don’t have to have arranged marriages think I must be awfully jealous all the time of people who have to have arranged marriages but then don’t have arranged marriages. I am awfully jealous all the time, but not of those people. Those people, the ones who choose the intercultural relationships, I’m in awe of. That is hard work. Hard work that I’m hoping to avoid with a non-inter-cultural relationship that may not actually be arranged, but falls under the auspices of arranged. Who am I awfully jealous of? I’m awfully jealous of the people for whom not having an arranged marriage wasn’t a choice.* I’m jealous of my cousins in India who knew from the get-go that this is how it would be, who didn’t doubt that they would get married or the broad demographic characteristics of the person they would marry. I feel screwed not by the prospect of the arranged marriage, but the prospect of the non-arranged marriage.

*Just me, in my particular life circumstances. You don’t have to be jealous or not jealous of anyone. I understand the many, many life circumstances in which this reads like an ignorant and/or privileged statement.


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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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