Friday, January 15, 2010

How to Find a Marriage Partner

Within the Arab world there are at least five different methods of finding a marriage partner; arranged, search, dial-a-bride, hourly and love.

Having written about the hourly /daily/weekly/monthly marriages in an earlier post {see wgaw blog archive: misiyar} this post describes four other ways of finding a partner.

1. Arranged Marriages
An arranged marriage occurs when the parents of the bride and groom decide their offspring are old enough to get married. With this system the children have no say in the process what-so-ever and it is precisely this lack of choice which makes it an arranged marriage.

Should the bride or groom be asked what they want, or who they want, then it’s no longer an arranged marriage. The Arabic saying [as s-qoot al-a-mat al il-red-ha] translates as, ‘your silence is a symbol of your acceptance’ comes from the expectation a girl will remain quiet if she decides she wants to marry the man offered to her by her family.

2. Search Marriages
Search marriages occur when someone decides they want to get married and enlist the help of their parents, or a matchmaking friend, to help search for a suitable partner.

The person wanting to get married announces they are ready to get married and are looking for someone. This is quite a common place event and I’ve often been asked if I know of anyone. It is at this point that the matchmakers start looking in earnest for a suitable person.

The matchmakers all have a network of people they use to find a possible match and this will include relatives and friends, their friend’s friends, and their friend’s friend’s friends. Once someone suitable has been found the couple start to get to know each, often over the telephone and this part serves as a useful catch all, even if the person is approved by all, it allows for a ‘spark’ to occur.

Whilst the couple are getting to know each other each family will be asking lots of questions about the other person’s family, the person themselves, their job and their aims and objectives in life. In many cases the person wanting to get married will reject three or four candidates before an acceptable mate is found.

3 – Dial-a-Bride
The dial-a-bride service is a recent innovation to the Gulf and started in Saudi a couple of years ago. It seems to be growing in popularity and this example below outlines the process someone goes through if they choose to take up dial-a-bride services;

“A new dial-a-bride service has been launched for the first time in Bahrain. It allows couples to find their match over the telephone. The service, called Marriage Line, will be supervised by Shari’a judges and clergymen. Users will be given a choice of partners - either a, b or c - and a meeting will be arranged by a committee. If the couple gets along they will be married according to normal procedures.

"This service will allow us to use new technology while abiding by Islamic rules and regulations. Everyone has the right to leave if not satisfied with their choice when they meet. No-one is forced to marry."

4. Love Marriages
Love marriages, those things we think of as marriage in the west, usually happen through the bride and groom meeting at work, or through studies at university.

Urban Legend
Two Saudi women married to the same man and living in the same house, lived next door to another couple and had become friends with the wife. When next door neighbour died the woman begged their husband to marry the neighbour’s widow. After some discussion and thought their husband agreed and so did the widow next door and now all three live together in one house.


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Christine said...

I like dial-a-bride service the most!