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First Comes Marriage: Modern Relationship Advice from the Wisdom of Arranged Marriages Paperback – June 3, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Reva Seth is a journalist whose articles on arranged marriages have appeared in national newspapers across the U. K. and Canada, including The Globe and Mail. Seth and her husband live in London and Toronto with their son.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


First Comes Marriage...Seriously?

Are you sick of random dates that seem to go nowhere? Ready to move on to the next stage in your life? Wondering why you never seem to meet your Mr. Right or find the commitment you want? Or are you in a committed relationship and worried that your boyfriend or fiancé may not be the perfect soul mate you always dreamed of ?

If any of these sound like your current experience, then this book has some answers for you -- answers and insight that come from arranged marriages.

When it comes to dating and relationships, the arranged-marriage approach has only one focus: fostering commitment and marriage. It's not about dating for fun or dating for the experience, or wasting months or years agonizing over the issues you need to overcome before you think you can get what you want out of both life and love.

It's not about hotties, cuties, sexual chemistry, or soul mates.

Instead, it's about finding the right partner, making the decision, and getting on with building a life of purpose and marital contentment together. That's pretty much what arranged marriages are all about. And this book is all about sharing concepts, tips, and strategies from arranged marriages in a way that all of us can use to identify an ideal mate and maintain a happy relationship, not just for now but for life.

These are life- changing lessons that will work for you, regardless of your age, culture, or past relationship experiences. And don't worry; it's not about convincing you to have an arranged marriage (I didn't!), but about understanding how you can make that approach work for you.

But wait...

Relationship advice from arranged marriages?

I know, I know. The idea of dating or relationship advice based on -- or even in the same time zone as -- the arranged-marriage experience seems completely strange. Backward. Ancient.

If that's what you're thinking, I don't blame you at all. Until quite recently, I would have completely agreed with you. But keep reading and you'll see how and why the arranged-marriage approach is both a proven route to a stable and happy relationship and particularly insightful when it comes to many of our contemporary dating and love dilemmas.

So if I didn't have an arranged marriage, how did I learn so much about this approach and how it can help us?

I learned these lessons through five years of research and more than three hundred interviews with women in arranged marriages. And along the way, I found that arranged marriages have a lot to teach us about dating, love, and long-term happiness. From finding a great partner to falling in love, sharing a home, building a family and -- yes -- hot sex, arranged marriages offer amazingly practical and effective relationship strategies. And the best part is that you don't actually need to have an arranged marriage to feel the benefits.

No matter how counterintuitive it may sound, the arranged-marriage approach to relationships offers lessons and guidelines that are increasingly relevant to the modern dating scene. But until now, these lessons have been largely ignored and overlooked, even though they are lessons that many of us can benefit from tremendously.

I firmly believe that there has never been a better time to be a woman than right now. Think about it: compared to any other moment in history, we have unlimited freedom for opportunity, fun, and sexual adventure. And then, when we decide we're ready, we can also have a stable, fulfilling marriage and family. But there's one catch: finding and sustaining and enjoying marriage seems to be getting harder and harder. That's one reason why women are increasingly taking lessons from alternative models from the past (remember The Rules, anyone?) and, as in this book, using these models to modify their approach to commitment and lasting love.

According to Marian Salzman, coauthor of Next Now: Trends for the Future, "Today is the era of the arranged couple who fall in love around the birth of the first child. It sounds traditional, but in some ways so much of the future is back to the past, turbo-charged."

Increasingly, both men and women are realizing that the fantasy of randomly meeting and instantly recognizing "the one" is unlikely to happen on its own. So instead of passively waiting, they are deciding that practical, pro-active measures must be taken. Just as in an arranged marriage, these are measures that take a more direct, down-to-earth, and ultimately successful approach to long-term relationship success. "This is about picking a marriage partner -- not about falling into bed for a world-class romance," says Salzman, whose trend forecasts are based on pattern recognition and the issues that style makers are talking about. "There is a newfound interest in letting someone else solve the love dilemma," she explains. "We're on option overload, and we're maxed out in terms of time, and we'd all love a partner. So it makes sense to enlist those who know us best to forge a proper and satisfying match."

Much of this is thanks to the Internet. From chat rooms to online dating services, the Web has essentially become our electronic yenta. Time magazine estimates that approximately 40 million Americans regularly log on to dating websites and services. Online ads, matchmakers, and speed dating are no longer considered to be the hallmark of people who are "desperate." The old stigmas that came with using these methods to find a partner are quickly disappearing, especially since the participants are often confident, busy professionals who are increasingly trying to search out partners the way they would a new job.

The statistics are compelling. For instance, a 2005 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed that 15 percent of U.S. adults knew someone who had had a serious relationship with or married a person whom he or she met online, and 31 percent knew someone who has used an online dating service.

Some websites even feel like modern versions of ancient traditions. Consider how social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn act like social registries where you can "verify" a potential mate's social standing, appearance, and future prospects. On these sites you can even ask a mutual friend for an introduction to a complete stranger -- as is the custom for arranged marriages.

A Marriage Arranged by America?

If the idea of your parents or extended family picking out your husband seems strange, then just imagine leaving it to a group of network executives or worse -- the American viewing public!

In her book The Meaning of Wife, Anne Kingston discusses the success of Fox Network's Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, or, as she describes, "The commercialized update of the Cinderella tale." This was the show where fifty women between the ages of 19 and 43 were selected from a pool of over a thousand women who sent in videotaped biographies. The lucky fifty then got to compete to become the bride of a millionaire they had never met. Oh yeah, and they also got to take home an Isuzu Trooper and a $35,000, 3-carat engagement ring! So how was the bride selected? Well, the groom, a motivational speaker cum stand-up comic cum real estate tycoon, asked the women a series of questions, ranging from what they would do if they found a woman's name and phone number in their new husband's pocket to whether they wanted to have children.

The success of this show (the final episode on February 15, 2000, drew more than 22 million viewers) led to several other spin-off shows along the same lines, including The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire, Married by America, and Race to the Altar.

Why am I bringing this up? My point is that arranged marriages aren't as foreign as you might think. The overwhelming response to these TV show setups seems to indicate that more and more people are interested in alternative methods for finding a life partner. Although I'm not sure how I'd feel about millions of people voting on my future happiness!

Online dating, matchmaking, and other assisted-dating services are growing in popularity (come on, admit it: you've watched The Bachelor -- or at least The Bachelorette!). Why? Because, sadly, most women in our society have been groomed to think that one day our wealthy, handsome Mr. Right will just walk into our lives (with little or no effort on our part) and lead us away to blissful lives of happily ever after. We have been taught to believe in a fairy tale, and many of us spend our twenties, our thirties, and even our forties waiting for that fairy tale to come true. And when it doesn't happen, we turn to the Internet.

Could it happen? Well, theoretically it could. Will it? Probably not. But the belief or hope, however faint, that it might is what leaves so many women unhappy and alone. I want to change all that for you and for anyone you know and care about who's stuck in this situation. And I know that the answer can be found in these love lessons from arranged marriages. Here's why.

  • Arranged marriages don't leave love up to chance.
  • Arranged marriages don't require you to passively wait for love to find you.
  • Arranged marriages are suited to each person's unique relationship and life needs.
  • Arranged marriages offer women an approach that is proven to lead to stable and fulfilling relationships.

No matter what you know, or think you know, about arranged marriages, it's time to pause and give them a chance to show you what you can learn from their success -- especially since the secrets I will share are proven strategies for finding and creating a fulfilling, happy, healthy relationship.

What, Exactly, Is an Arranged Marriage?

Before we go any further, let's get clear on what arranged marriages really are. Unless you grew up with or have some firsthand experience of them, I'll bet that the words "arranged marriage" don't conjure up visions of happy, committed couples or l... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Fireside Trade Pbk. Ed edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416561722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416561729
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mary Ostyn on December 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
As a homeschooling mom I've known families who have taken an active role in helping their children find suitable spouses. Though I am eager for my kids to find the right spouses when the time is right, I've never been especially keen on the idea of an arranged marriage. Seems like too big a decision to hand off to others.

And yet a few weeks ago when I randomly clicked on an AOL story that featured this book, I was fascinated by the author's twist. Not 'is arranged marriage a good idea for everyone?' but rather, 'what things work about this idea?'

Turns out, there's plenty that works. Enough that after I roared through the book in three days flat, I handed it off to my 18 and 20 year old daughters to read. I believe that anyone would do well to take such a considered approach to finding a spouse.

Women featured in the book talked about the peace that comes from knowing that you are compatible on a foundational level. Not on the froufrou you learn when dating such as 'do we like the same movies?' but the deep questions that can bind together or tear apart a marriage such as 'how will we raise our children?' and 'do we agree that this marriage is forever?'

Turns out when loving families are given input in the selection, they often have a firm grasp on two things: #1-- Things that the young people themselves would wish for and need in a mate. And #2-- Issue that are truly important in ensuring a lasting relationship.

I still believe that young people should be able to choose a mate on their own. But there is a lot to be said for getting feedback from loved ones who know you very well. I believe that if more people knew how to look at core values instead of surface stuff right from the start in a relationship, they'd greatly improve the odds of a happy match, the kind that actually makes it to 'as long as we both shall live.'

This thoughtful book is one I am very glad to have read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Anne-Lise on November 15, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book does not promote arranged marriages, but it boils them down to some key concepts that can help people enter marriage with more realistic expectations which will then allow them to be happier within their marriage. The book diminishes the importance of finding a soulmate, of keeping your options open while dating, of having similar interests/hobbies, and focusing on Hollywood's definition of romance. Instead, it recommends focusing on compatible values, figuring out what you need in a marriage partner so you know what to look for, creating a balanced social life, and being willing to commit.

The book is engagingly written with lots of stories and anecdotes interspersed within the text. It gives you exercises to complete which really help to clarify your own expectations, desires, and needs and to see how the book's lessons should be applied in your own life. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a committed, long-term relationship, though the book is geared toward women.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth F. St James on March 8, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those books I wish I had read before I got married. I have always felt that an arranged marriage would be perfect for me as I do not believe that romantic love easily withstands some of the real challanges of life. I highly recommend that it be read before marriage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ranjesh Chitharanjan on March 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
This has to be a BEST SELLER.

From my cultural background, I have seen most arranged marriages usually successful. By and large, most couples are quite happy at least they are not unhappy nor dissatisfied with their marriages. However there are exceptions, some couples are unhappy, as well as, some are matches made in heaven.

I bought this book to understand how arranged marriages were successful. This book did give a great insight on understanding the process of modern arranged marriages and how it works out for couples.

If you read this book, you'd find that the author, Reva Seth has written it for today's women who are dating for marriage or getting into a serious relationship.

Reva Seth mainly discusses the different perspectives and mindsets that today's women have when they try to get into relationships. She discusses the common errors in judgment that women may tend to make during this and also explains the reasons for them. Her book has several relevant incidents of her friends and herself substantiating these ideas. I have heard of similar instance while I was living in the United States.

The author quotes her interviews of several women of all ages and cultures who have had arranged marriages and how it has worked out for them. Being raised in a culture where arranged marriage is the norm, I could clearly relate to these concepts. She calls these as 'Secrets' and has 7 chapters on each. She also adds excerpts from books of best authors at appropriate portions of the book.

I'm sure this book would be a best seller. I wish Reva Seth luck with her future books and look forward to read more of her writing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By odiouscat on July 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First of all, let me state that I had high hopes for this book. I imagine that I'm much like the author. My parents and all the parents of most of my family friends got together through arranged marriage. Basically, I have had a lot of mixed feelings about arranged marriage because I wouldn't call my parents' marriage the happiest in the world - they have had lots of ups and downs and aren't the two best matched people one could put together. Plenty of arranged marriages harbor deep secrets like abuse and alcoholism, and since women from the 1950's-1960's era weren't encouraged to pursue their own careers outside of the home once married, a lot of the women Seth talks about in her book didn't have any other choice than to be 'happy' in their marriages because there wasn't another option for them. Granted, the less you know, the more grateful you can be with what you have. Ignorance is bliss. But I believe this blind arranged marriage worked better when women had lower expectations of themselves and of their spouses, so including their stories, while historically informative, gives no insight into how you can use the approach of arranging a marriage in today's more complex world. Divorce is highly looked down on in societies where arranging marriages is the norm, and even when the community pulls together to keep both partners in the marriage on the right track, sometimes, this result is achieved through great personal sacrifice on the part of at least one partner (not always the woman). I feel that there is a need for romance and fun that arranged marriages aren't the fertile ground for providing, at least in the beginning, or maybe ever.Read more ›
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