Watching Married At First Sight has been educational. Initially, it seems like a crazy concept, right? Strangers meet, matched by people other than themselves, and (try to) commit to a relationship with that person. Surely that’s not going to work? What an interesting and new way to see love!
Every time I watch an episode all I can think about is my own arranged marriage and that of my parents, my siblings and friends; all who basically married at first sight. The difference is, we grew up with the system embedded in us.
As Muslims we grew up with the idea that love and sex and intimacy is something that is confined to marriage. Marriage for us is a spiritual act, that is witnessed by humans, a contract that both parties enter into facilitated by themselves or their family or friends. The word facilitated is more appropriate I think than ‘arranged’. Families facilitate a marriage happening.
Listen: The Recap talk, boys, beer and Married at First Sight. Post continues…
Being children of Disney and Bollywood and Hollywood cinema, we would have fantasies of meeting, dating and being proposed to but ultimately, we knew that was not the way it would work. We had our arranged marriage excitement too: the nervousness and thrill of having prospective partners visit your home with their parents, the awkward conversation when meeting a potential hubby, the crazy, shy, small talk with a person who could be your life partner, the excitement of the brief encounters once you have chosen each other and prepare for the wedding, the anticipation of the wedding… and the wedding night!
Growing up in Melbourne, the idea of a facilitated marriage to my non-Muslim friends seemed barbaric and old school. I’d often gently challenge that, saying, it’s just choosing to date after the wedding.
It didn’t always make sense to me to be honest and being surrounded by romantic love stories made it often feel like a burden. However, once I realised marriage for a Muslim is simply part of a broader way of life, where spirituality comes first, and once I started to see the real heartache friends went through in their dating lives, I started to get it.
Partnering in life is just another step towards an end goal. Your life partner is there to support you to be your better self, and live your life while sharing economic, household and parental duties. It’s a pragmatic system to get you through your days on earth. That’s not romantic but it’s honest and that’s why I like it.