BBC reports that a village 25 miles from India’s capital, New Delhi, has banned marriages based on love. Those marrying for this reason will be sent from the village. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-18824367
At first glance, this seems extreme. Aren’t marriages supposed to be about love? Yes, but from the traditional Indian point of view, love is what comes after marriage, not before.
In the West, we think that you first fall in love, then marry for that reason. But traditionally marriage partners are chosen by family, then you learn to love the person you’re with. Falling in love is a passionate feeling; loving in marriage should be based on learning how to behave in ways that lead to care and trust.
There is a case to be made for the traditional approach. Simply look at US divorce rates. It’s not a record to be proud of.
Unfortunately, the traditional approach to marriage brings along with it a lot of unacceptable baggage. This is revealed in what else has transpired in the Uttar Pradesh village. Women under 40 cannot go shopping alone. They are prohibited from using mobile phones outside the home. And they must cover their heads in public.
Marriage based upon falling in love may be a weak basis upon which to build a stable family. But having marriages chosen by elders, as in this village, is a worse choice for women. It is a reflection of male dominance and female subservience. The woman becomes a vehicle for reproduction and a symbol of manly success.
Somewhere between the two extremes of love before marriage and love after marriage lies the proper balance. A marriage needs to start with being in love but not end there. Those who are in enduring relationships learn that loving includes but is not confined to feelings. Love that lasts is based upon actions that reflect mutual respect and care.
A long-lasting marriage combines being in love, which waxes and wanes, with acting with love, which is demonstrated over and over in countless ways large and small.