Bento Box in the Heartland: A Response

No, I haven’t finished the book yet, but I wanted to address the chapter about arranged marriages. Linda compares her two divorces that started as “love marriages” to her parents’ strong arranged marriage. Linda recalls her mother saying that love marriages weren’t popular in Japan because “… everyone knows they don’t work… always end in breakup.” She makes it sound as if the reason her attempts at marriage failed were because of — just that — the fact that they were “love marriages”. But I disagree.

Linda made it clear that had her mother not chosen to fight to make her arranged marriage work, and instead, had returned to Japan, she, along with her entire family, would have been disgraced.

I argue that it is not a question of whether the marriage is arranged or for love. The issue here is the mindset.

I remember reading an article on dressing modestly. It addressed the fact that sometimes, the definition of “modesty” is affected by the culture. The article gave the example that a woman completely covered up in one part of the world might be “modest” by the standards of the society in which she moves, where everyone well covered up is the norm; whereas the girl on the other side of the world who dresses scantily may be “modest” by the standards of her culture, because it is the norm where she lives; and no doubt if these two ladies were to exchange places, they would be shocked by the standards of the other.

In the same way, it is not whether it is a “love marriage” or an arranged marriage, but rather — is “giving up” a disgrace or not? If Linda’s standards concerning a “love marriage” had been the same as her mother’s — that it would have been a disgrace to not fight to make the marriage work — then what kind of marriage it was would have been completely irrelevant. The question is: Is divorce acceptable? A godless society as opposed to a God-centered one will have different standards, and they have been and will continue to shock each other. I, on some level, will never get over the fact that some people out there simply don’t get what I believe marriage is — indissoluble. And I’m sure those people think I’m crazy for not looking at marriage as just the same as any other stage of relationship — severable.

(Ahaha. WordPress thinks “severable” isn’t a word.”)

If going back to Japan would not have disgraced Linda’s mother in the eyes of the society in which she moved at the time, would she have left? It’s perfectly possible. But the standards that she chose to live by were that you only get one shot at forever and you work it out, period, no questions asked; standards that she apparently did not pass on to her daughter. What a pity.


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