Romantic love: good or dehumanising?

Read a great article about emotional taboo's and romanticized love.  I've been thinking about a lot about arranged marriages and the dynamics around it.  It's different from the boy meets girl, boy falls in love, boy marries girl dynamic we have in western society. 

Indian marriages
I went to India the beginning of the year and was impacted by how strong the custom of arranged marriages still is in India.  Even in the churches where I volunteered in Bangalore and Chennai, marriages still are not based on romantic love.  It is more based on commitment towards one another and trust in God.  What I found interesting was how much happier these marriages were than most of the western marriages.  Not perfect, but contented and committed. 

The how of arranged
The marriages are not arranged without the consent of both partners.  In the church, it worked this way.  A person will tell the older people that they want to get married.  After prayer and discussion, a few partners are identified.  They then will go on a date or two to get to know one another a bit better.  There is then more prayer, sometimes fasting and both partners have to decide to carry on with the process.  Then, counselling with the elders in the church to find out if they are really ready and suited.  Only then will family get involved and the whole engagement process starts.  These young people are so well protected by their church family and are fully supported in the whole process towards marriage. 

And it gets hot too
I asked a few of the married women how they could have sex with a husband they didn't feel an attraction for the way I know it to be in the western world.  The one replied that 1 Corinthians 13 love (love in action) and obedience to God makes for a very happy honeymoon.  I was a little taken aback by the unexpected response, but has been thinking about it ever since. 

Love in action?
Likewise, the article talks about love in action:

"Dr. Scott Peck’s definition for authentic love in The Road Less Traveled:
“Love is not a feeling. Love is an action, an activity…Genuine love implies commitment and the exercise of wisdom…love is the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”
In contrast, romanticized love sets up unrealistic, and often dehumanizing, expectations for male and female sexuality that seem a setup for failure."

Interesting idea:  that romanticized love seems to be a setup for unrealistic and DEHUMANIZING expectations.  Wonder if this could be one of the reasons the divorce rate has just grown and grown since in the last 50 years?

"According to traditional roles, for example, men are expected to forgo what allows human beings to meaningfully connect – the capacity to feel emotions of vulnerability (as well as love). It’s taboo, for example, for men to feel hurt, sad, fearful, as these emotions imply weakness, inferior status, and the like. Men are also warned against emotions of exuberance and expressive love, regarded as ‘fluffy’ or ‘feminine.’

On the other hand, women are expected do without emotions of anger, hatred, and negativity in general. It’s also taboo for women to say what they want or need, make direct requests, say no to other’s requests, and in general display strength or confidence. Regardless the “equality” gains, we still tend to frown upon women doing what makes men feel uncomfortable, threatened or turned off. (It may be surprising, yet most women, consciously or subconsciously, feel responsible and vigilantly act to “protect” men’s feelings or ego.)"

Not untrue, but I'm not sure all the role stereotypes have to do with romanticized love.  I do, however, agree that I'm not sure that the current model for partner selection is an altogether successful one.  I just saw that the couples I met in India were happier than most couples I know here.  They started from a different place with different expectations. 

The passion happens
Interesting was how many couples fell in love after they got married.  After trust and commitment, passion came.  Maybe that is a recipe for success? 

I don't have the answer, but I'm still thinking about it.  Especially since I've been thinking a lot about the church being the bride of Christ.  Us being in an arranged marriage with trust and commitment being the core ingredients.  Hmmm. 

Maybe I think too much.  Maybe not. 

What do you think about arranged marriages?  Is there a place for it in the western world?

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