Lessons from my arranged marriage for a happy relationship


Lessons from my arranged marriage for a happy relationship
  1. Lessons from my arranged marriage for a happy relationship
    theage.com.au
    For the first and second year of our life together, marriage was like a cold war until we both gradually adapted to each other. It wasn't…
    Football

I was a virgin at university. In the 1980s, almost a decade after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the gulf between girls and boys was vast. To make matters worse, I was shy and awkward, especially around girls. So my chances of finding a girl were slim, but I decided it was time to try. Perhaps I'd get lucky and find someone to be my girlfriend, or if was really lucky, my fiancee.

My dad offered to help. He liked the sound of a distant relative who lived with her mother. All I remembered about this girl was her elegant, metal-framed glasses, which made her look both attractive and sophisticated.

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A marriage that cant accommodate change is doomed to fail. A marriage that can't accommodate change is doomed to fail. 

My mum arranged a meeting with her mum, and one Friday evening my entire family, including my six siblings, poured into her house. Some first date! Our parents allowed us to have a whole hour of private conversation to get to know each other, and before the hour was over, our engagement date had been set!

For the first and second year of our life together, marriage was like a cold war until we both gradually adapted to each other. It wasn't easy and I won't tell you how many nights I slept on the couch. Surprisingly, not only did our marriage survive, but it grew stronger.

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"Marriage was like a cold war until we both gradually adapted to each other": Saeed Fassaie. "Marriage was like a cold war until we both gradually adapted to each other": Saeed Fassaie. 

Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case for some of my friends in Australia. Within a year or so, four friends of mine split up with their wives. All of them are in their late 40s, educated, successful in their professions, married to educated women, and with children.

I witnessed each couple's vain struggle to preserve their marriage before the final collapse. I saw some of the emotional toll before and after their separation; the financial cost of divorce, when one family's assets has to stretch to accommodate two; and the negative impact on the children. 

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Each couple had been married for more than 20 years. Two had begun affairs in the months before their separation. Three of them remarried within two years of their divorce and one has been in and out of relationships, still searching for the "right one".

Witnessing the ordeals my friends went through led me to contemplate the reasons for the breakdown of marriages.

  • Life expectancy has increased significantly over the past century. For instance, in Australia in the 19th century, life expectancy hovered around 50 but is now nearly 83. Perhaps it was easier to stay married for life in the 19th century when life was so much shorter. This was especially so for women, given the perils of childbirth.
  • Change is a fundamental human characteristic. I'm different in many ways from the person I was when I married my wife. One of my friends confided in me before his divorce: "My wife is not the person I married 20 years ago. Sometimes, I feel I don't know her anymore." It is apparent to me that my values and my wife's have converged over the years, but inevitably our opinions have diverged in several areas. A marriage that can't accommodate change is doomed to fail.
  • Diminished sexual satisfaction could also be linked to life expectancy. Both men and women have to adapt to the loss of the sexual passion of youth and changes in their partners and their libidos as they age. My friends complained about this, and I'm sure their wives complained to their friends, too. Sex and inti…
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