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Marriage – Mail Order, Arranged and Online

There are many different ways for couples to meet besides the traditional ways: at work, at school, at the bar, at the gym, etc. Nowadays mail-order brides (and husbands), arranged marriages, and the online dating revolution all seem to becoming new (although some date back for hundreds of years) ways to meet your soul mate.

holding handsMail-Order Brides

This is a label that is considered offensive by some definitions because of the negative stereotype mail-order brides have received. A mail-order bride is a label applied to a woman who publishes her intent to marry someone from another country, which is usually more financially developed. Often brides come to Canada, the USA, and Australia from the Philippines, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, and to a lesser extent Latin America.

Historically, mail order brides were women who listed themselves in catalogues and were selected by men for marrying. Sometimes the men and women were citizens of different countries (i.e., a women from a European country moving to the United States), and sometimes they were citizens of the same country. Usually, however, the women were from different, developing countries.

In the past, international marriage agencies allowed women to sign up to be listed in picture magazines and catalogues, but the Internet has largely eliminated this. Now women are able to register on websites, have their picture and biography posted, and contact men interested in them via email. In the past, these women would move to a country to marry a man without even meeting, or talking to him, but now she is able to talk to him, and a courtship process is possible. Normally, a man who is interested in finding a mail-order bride will buy a membership to one or more agencies that allow him to meet and communicate with potential brides. He is able to travel to the country where the agency is based, and meet many of the women there. He is able to go on private dates with the women that he is interested in, and is even able to propose marriage. Women are able to be selective and do not have to marry the first man who is interested in them, but many do because they are desperate to leave their homeland. Leaving with any man is better than living in poverty and despair.

The term mail-order brides originated during the colonial period when men travelled through various empires for financial gain. After they had established themselves in their new colony and began to generate an income they faced three choices: 1. Stay single, 2. Marry a local indigenous women, or, 3. Seek an available women to come from the metropolitan centre or their mother country. Many chose the later option. Often the marriages were arranged by members of the immigrant’s family back home and the relatives picked and negotiated amongst available women to find the one that would suit their family member. The women were often willing to travel because there was limited opportunity for marriage where they lived.

Nowadays, the men who are interested in mail-order brides are often relatively wealthy and have been divorced, or have not had success with women in the past. In many cases, they decide to pursue a woman from a less developed country because they believe that such women will be submissive to them, as opposed to the more independent women from their home country. They see such women as being more appreciative of them than others. These men also choose brides that are significantly younger, often by 20 or 30 years.

In recent years, in the United States, there have been several high profile murder cases, which have drawn a lot of attention to mail-order brides. Three separate cases in the past twenty years have resulted in a mail-order bride being murdered by her husband. In 2002, a mail-order bride was charged with poisoning her husband.

However, the success rate of these marriages in the United States is actually quite high. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reported that “…marriages arranged through these services would appear to have a lower divorce rate than the nation as a whole, fully 80 percent of these marriages have lasted over the years…” The report continues that mail-order brides and email correspondence services result in 4000 to 6000 marriages each year between American men and foreign brides.

Arranged Marriages

An arranged marriage is often a perplexing thought to many of us living in the Western hemisphere since we have accepted love and traditional marriage as the norm. But as more and more people immigrate to North America, more and more arranged marriages are occurring here – hand heartsfamilies that immigrate want their children to remember and embrace their culture, and one way of doing this is by selecting their spouse for them, often from their home country. An arranged marriage is a marriage arranged by someone other than the couple getting wed, curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship.

Arranged marriages have deep roots in royal and aristocratic families around the world. Today, however, arranged marriages are commonly only found in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and India. Arranged marriages are also found in cultures where dating is not prevalent; they are able to bring people together who may have otherwise not met. In these cultures, arranged marriages are seen as the norm and are accepted by young adults. Even where courtship practices are becoming fashionable, young adults tend to view arranged marriages as an option to fall back on. In these cases, the parents become welcome partners in a hunt for marital bliss.

Arranged marriages are generally passed down as a tradition throughout some cultures through generations. Parents who take their son or daughter’s marriage into their own hands have themselves been married by the same process. If their child chooses a love marriage or even courtship over an arranged marriage it is seen as a failure on the part of the parents to maintain control of their child. Denying an arranged marriage is seen as a sign of disrespect toward the family.

Usually the most important aspect of choosing a suitable spouse is the bond between the two families, not the relationship between the couple being wed. Other factors the families consider are: his/her economic status, family reputations, education, vocation, looks, religion, and sometimes, the dowry. Property or land sometimes seals the marriage agreement.

When an arrangement is made, if both people are of age, the wedding should occur as soon as possible; engagements are not lengthy like they can be in the Western world. Sometimes, the couple will marry within two weeks of the proposal. Even with this short preparation period, and marriage to sometimes a complete stranger only 5-7% of arranged marriages end in divorce, compared to 50% of traditional American marriages. However, you must take the cultural norms of such marriages into account – usually cultures that practice arranged marriages see divorce as bringing disgrace to their family and therefore remain in the marriage even if they are not happy. They stay together because it is what is expected of them.

Online Marriagescomputer screen

Online dating or Internet dating is a dating system which allows individuals, couples, and groups to make contact and communicate with each other over the Internet, usually with the objective of developing a personal romantic or sexual relationship, with marriage becoming a common outcome after courtship. Online dating services provide unmoderated (usually) matchmaking over the Internet, through the use of personal computers or cell phones.

Initially, online dating and matchmaking sites had a negative stereotype attached to them – that people who searched online for love were lonely and desperate. However, over time public attitudes toward online dating are becoming more positive, and people are more comfortable talking about it, as the volume of online daters has grown in recent years. In the United States residents spent $469.5 million on online dating and personals in 2004, and over $500 million in 2005. Online dating is the largest segment of “paid content” online other than pornography. The US dating market is expected to increase spending to $932 million by 2011.

People who are investing so much into online dating sites, to find “the one”, are seeing positive outcomes. About one in ten Internet-using adults or roughly 16 million people have visited a dating website or another site where they can meet people online. Thirty-one percent of all adults say they know someone who used a dating website. Forty-three percent of online daters, nearly 7 million, have gone on dates with people they met through the sites, and 17 percent, or 3 million, started long-term relationships or married their online dating partners. Seems like the Internet is a pretty good matchmaker!

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