greybeta: (D2 - Silver and Gold)
[Author’s note: [livejournal.com profile] nysidra made a beautiful silver and gold “D2” icon for D2. According to alchemy’s law of equivalent exchange, D2 must give her something free in exchange for something free. So it is that D2 writes 500 words in response to the prompt “I'd like to read about what you've learned about the Vietnamese culture that you consider interesting, neat, noteworthy, or particularly unique. What does it mean to have a Vietnamese heritage?” Now 500 words isn’t nearly enough to encompass all that is Vietnamese, so D2 has chosen to write about a certain aspect of Vietnamese culture that is very different from American culture. And, since she didn’t specify, I will count digressions towards my 500 word limit.]

Do you know how hard it is to play a meaningless game, a game you’ve already won?

I know the feeling.

Because I have an “arranged marriage.”

Let me explain the Vietnamese concept of arranged marriage. First, allow me to tell what it is not. It is NOT like some random girl was promised to me when I was five years old. It is NOT like I do not have a choice in the matter, because I still have veto power if I really do not like the poor girl. It is NOT like playing Russian roulette.

So, I bet you’re curious to know what it is. Well, I don’t want you to be confused when I say I have an “arranged marriage” so I will go ahead and tell you. It is a stable marriage because both families are part of the same socioeconomic class. It is a way to formalize relations between two friendly families. It is more of a way to ensure the one bullet you get to fire hits something good.

What is arranged marriage at its worst? Hmmm, you probably already know but let me reinforce what you are already thinking. Rich families use arranged marriages to keep wealth within the family. Often, marriages are arranged between cousins, usually second cousins, just so that the estate remains in the family name. Sometimes, arranged marriage is used to pay back certain debts that cannot be paid otherwise. The unhappiest marriage is one where both families are pushing for the union but one of the children do not want it (cause usually the union is made at the behest of one of the children).

Then, what is arranged marriage at its best? I hate to admit this, but arranged marriage works best when it coincides with the American courtship system. What I mean is that most “arranged” marriages aren’t really arranged. C’mon, do you really think arranged marriage could have lasted so long if the husband and wife weren’t truly in love? Of course not! Arranged marriage in the Vietnamese culture succeeds because marriage becomes more than just about the bride and groom. For a convenient example, I only have to think of my mom and dad.

We’ve all heard the saying, “You marry into the family.” Well, arranged marriage in the Vietnamese culture takes that and makes it a requirement for marriage. Before my dad dated my mom, he actually got to know my uncle first (Dad took Mom’s younger brother to go play soccer and other fun stuff). When my dad screwed up the courage to ask my mom out, he had to ask my mom’s dad for permission first. Whenever he dated my mom, he first paid his respects to my maternal grandparents. Vice versa for my mom, as well. Hmmm, perhaps the only reason one in twenty five arranged marriages fail (random Simpsons reference) is because the bride and groom basically merge their two families.

Now, tell me, is arranged marriage so bad?

July 2009

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