Unit One Happy Family Life
Part II All you need is love?
Many people in Western cultures choose their own wives and husbands. In many other cultures, spouses are often chosen by the parents. In China and Japan before this century (20th century), upper-class marriages were arranged by the older males. In many cultures in the Middle East, Asia, and pre-industrial Europe, the man’s family negotiated a “bride price” with the woman’s family; the man’s family was expected to pay it. In Hindu India, the bride’s family paid a “groom’s price” to the family of the man. These customs are weakening; for instance, only 9.2 percent of Japanese marriages are now arranged.
What are the criteria for choosing mates? Most marriages—whether arranged by families or occurring from personal attraction or love—are based on similar social backgrounds. In other words, the man and the woman come from the same social class (or else a class that is only slightly higher or slightly lower). Among many people in Egypt, key members of the man’s family must go to the family of the woman and propose marriage. These family members must be able to show that the man’s family is at least of the same social class as the woman and that a certain amount of money exists to allow the marriage to go forward.
Having the same race or the same ethnic background is the second
main criterion for marriage throughout the world. In the U.S., where there are many different races, only 3 percent of all marriages are between blacks and whites, meaning that the races are still largely separate in marriage.
In many countries, marriage is also based on the woman and man having the same religion; this is a third common criterion for choosing a mate. In cultures in which religion is a very strong value, marriages would often not take place if there were religious differences.
A: What do you think it is that attracts people to each other, that makes people want to be together?
B: I think that perhaps unfortunately in the initial stages it’s the physical appearance that attracts. I think unless you find somebody attractive, unless there’s something about them—it could only perhaps be the way they smile or they laugh, or a twinkle in their eye, or the way a curl falls over their forehead. But something like that has to make you interested enough to find out more about that person, unless that’s there I think you just don’t bother. So initially physical attraction I think is all important.
A: Why do you say “unfortunately”?
B: Because in fact it shouldn’t be what somebody looks like that is
important. You should be able to look beyond the physical appearance and see what sort of a person he or she is, whether they’re selfish or selfless, whether they’re kind, caring. But I think initially you’re not bothered with that. That comes perhaps later. A: In pop songs and magazines and newspapers and so on, the idea of falling in love is always emphasized, so people have this idea that you have to fall in love. Do you think this is misleading for people?
Do you think people expect something that in fact doesn’t exist? B: Yes, I do, in fact I think we can probably lay the blame for the high percentage of divorces—it’s a third I think now, isn’t it? I think one in three people get divorced. Probably as far as I can see it, the reason is that they go into marriages or into a relationship with a very romantic view of love which I think has been created by the pop songs, by all the love stories, by the Barbara Cartland novels, etc., that young people read. Really, you meet someone, you fall in love, and that’s it, it’s the beginning, they live happily ever after.
And I think that’s the problem, because people just expected that, and it’s not like that.
A: So what is it, do you think, that really sustains a relationship, that keeps a relationship going?
B: Well, I think you have to differentiate between falling in love with somebody, which I see as more superficial, and loving somebody,
which I see as a deeper emotion and one that perhaps lasts. Falling in love is superficial attraction, being attracted to somebody physically, having fun together, whereas loving somebody I think is an emotion that grows, it comes with shared experiences, perhaps enjoying doing the same things together, shared hobbies, shared interests, suffering together as well, going through the bad times, helping each other, supporting each other. I think all that needs time to grow, and I’d call that love, and I think that’s what makes a relationship last.
For years men and women have been getting married. They say their wedding vows which bring them together as one. They promise to love and cherish each other until death do them part.
When a man and a woman get married, it’s one of the biggest decisions they will make in life. A man may select a woman because he, in his own eyes, sees her as the “just right” wife for him. Every man has his own definition of what the “just right”wife is. For instance, the millionaire man and the poor man both may define their “just right” wife according to her physical qualities.
A millionaire may describe his “just right”wife as charming, beautiful, sexy, intelligent, and well developed. On the other hand, a poor man may define his “just right”wife as pleasing, attractive, desirable,
knowledgeable, and shapely. Both men describe their “just right” wife by the same physical qualities but use different words.
Although some men define the “just right”wife by her physical qualities, other men describe their “just right”wife by her athletic qualities. For example, the outdoors man may define his “just right” wife as a woman who loves to fish, to camp, to hunt, and to water ski, whereas the inside sportsman may define his “just right”wife as a woman who enjoys watching football, basketball, baseball, and wrestling. Both of these men define their “just right” wife by her sports qualities but in two different atmospheres.
Men from all nationalities also have their definition of the “just right”wife. For example, the Italian man describes his woman as a woman who stands six feet one inch tall with blonde hair and blue eyes, and who is well developed in the upper portion of her body. On the other hand, the French man may describe his ideal woman as a woman who stands only five feet three inches with brown hair and green eyes, and who is moderately built.
Other nationalities, such as the German man and the Spanish man, may define their “just right”wife as a woman with style. The German man may describe his “just right”wife as a woman who likes to drive expensive sports cars, a woman who visits a different foreign country every month and wears only the most expensive designer clothing. But
the Spanish man may define his “just right” wife as a woman who enjoys giving dinner parties every weekend, wearing a lot of jewelry, and drinking expensive wines.
Part III First Meetings
Kate: I was on my way home from junior high and in order to get to my house you have to walk by this baseball diamond. And there was a game of baseball going on and it looked kind of interesting, so I stopped. There weren’t very many people watching. And there was this guy and he wasn’t really very good-looking, but he had frizzly hair and glasses and he was really funny. He did this kind of monologue thing, which was great. And I went home and I told my mother I was going to marry him after talking to him for half an hour.
And when I got to high school, he was president of the student body and he asked me out and…we’ve got our picture in the yearbook together holding hands, and it’s really nice.
Kerry: Well, I’d arranged to have a drink with a…. friend of mine… a…a woman friend of mine who’s a platonic friend of mine. And she….insisted on bringing this friend of hers which…who she aid I’d like to meet and…. I thought she was trying to fix us up and I said, “Please don’t!”Um…but she did bring this friend.
Um…and …we hit it off. And ….after the wine bar we went to …to
have a pizza and we all got ….had a few more drinks and….the other woman who…..ended up ordering a pizza that had a bunch of stuff on it that I really like and she ….I ordered a pizza that had a bunch of stuff on it that she really liked, so we picked at each other’s pizzas all night and we realized that we were…sort of had an ideal relationship, so that we could order really any pizza on the menu and …we’d both be happy. And …..anyway we ended up living together and still are.
Coralyn: Um…we met at a party and it was a fancy-dress party. AA friend of mine’s twenty-first and it was quite big and I went dressed as Alice in Wonderland and… this person, this guy that…. I married was dressed as the Cheshire cat. And it just seemed so amazing that, you know, we were both from the same thing and we started chatting and ended up being together.
Jill: Well, ….I’d arranged to go to the cinema with a group of friends and ….unfortunately I missed the train that would have got me to the cinema on time, so all my friends has gone in and I was left standing outside—the film had started. So I wasn’t allowed in. And…. There was a chap outside, he’d also missed the film and we started to talk and …we talked quite a bit and he said,“Let’s go down the road and see that film, because that one hasn’t started at the Odeon.” So we went down there and …well, we’ve been going out ever since!
Carole: I… I first met my partner…. When he was on a boat and I was on the river bank, standing and looking generally into the distance and he was coming in to land with boat and he threw me a rope and said,” Would you mind catching this?” And I caught and missed and tripped over it and fell in the river and he had to dive in and rescue me. And that was it!