I was 17 years old when a woman knocked on the car window asking my mom about my age. Why would a stranger ask about my age? It turned out that she was proposing on behalf of her son! Strange? Well, not in Iraq. The woman spent half an hour praising her engineer son. Keep in mind, we are still sitting in the car, and she was standing outside speaking to us through the window. Luckily, I have a mother that does not allow early marriages, so she ended the conversation with “sorry, my daughter is not ready for marriage”.
It was funny that I received my first marriage proposal at the gas station sitting in the car; however, it is sad that my mother rejected. I could be married by now, but wait, I have not seen the groom! He could be cute. He has not seen me either! I am wondering, how many men and women get married this way. Let’s forget about the terms intimacy, acceptance, chemistry which we express when loving someone, and think about this: I could be ugly, weird, or even have some organic disease. How would the mother decide her son’s future? Oh wait I never thought of this, perhaps marriage is not related to future and settlement but rather a tradition. You get married, have children, leave your wife home, and rock the bars until 2:00 AM, or have as many girl friends as you wish, with whom you can experience love and attraction!
Whether around Iraqi provinces or in Kurdistan region, arranged marriage is being practiced widely and in large numbers. We live in a modern world? May be, but there are traditions being practice regardless of the development. Why do men or women accept to start a family based on their parents taste? I am not saying parents do not have a say in our marriage decisions, but marriage is an establishment that contributes tremendously to the bigger community. With all the respect to the marriages that have been arranged. They can succeed; they may work, but how likely? According to the UNICEF research in June, 2012, the global rate for arranged marriage has reached 55%, most of the cases were occurring in areas around Middle East and Africa (UNICEF Council). The success rate of such marriage type is not measurable because it is not possible to track all cases recorded. So, I was not successful finding out successful arranged marriages in numbers.
Many reports and studies illustrated that arranged marriages are practiced for traditional reasons. Fair enough, but how about when the family is not traditional? How about when the man does everything in his life untraditionally, except when it comes to choosing his wife? Oh no, mothers know better. Funny answer I received from one colleague. He stated, “Mothers know which one makes a good house wife”! Excuse me, are you not grown up enough to choose your wife? Let me rephrase” My mother knows which one makes a good maid that help her clean and cook”. It is sometimes difficult to escape family traditions, but if you are free to choose things in life, do not miss the chance to be able to choose a partner. Choosing your partner will give you higher success chances than marrying someone you hardly know.
These phenomena would never stop until the idea and principle about marriage change. Thinking of marriage as a project rather than a community entity will lead to many arranged marriages that produce as many children, who are more likely mismanaged, and will end up being a burden to this community. A project has a start and end date. Marriage does not. We sure can end marriage when the couples are no longer able to keep their promises to one another, but we should not start it by arrangement either. I know this article will make some people judge me by saying she is promoting love relations out of marriage. Well, if that is going to ensure a happy fruitful marriage, YES I DO. If you are scared to be judged and break your family or folk traditions, at least practice your right to know who you are marrying before your mother starts to speak about her 23 year old hero to others.
In our community, sex out of marriage is not acceptable. If that is the rule you live by think about a relationship when sex is not involved. Try to enjoy your partner company and see what you do and do not like about them. Getting to know someone within work or school is never wrong.
I want people to keep in mind; I am not talking about traditional arranged marriages when marriages are planned since individuals’ childhood. This is another article by itself. I want people who give their mothers or sisters the authority to choose their wives to realize, that your marriage is your choice, and no one else’s.
Reference: UNICEF Council, ABC News, August, 2012. Available at ()