By Lana Barakeh
Cover picture taken from masterclass
“Love is finding your soul’s match in another.” At least that’s what my grandmother used to say, even after her second divorce. It’s hard to believe that someone who has seen as many courtrooms as she still believes in the concepts of love or of a successful marriage. But, according to her, just because she hasn’t found it, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Many people follow the same train of thought as my grandmother; we often call them ‘hopeless romantics’. Yet it seems ironic how those who are most hopeful of finding love are the ones we describe as ‘hopeless’. This has been a hot topic for ages; what’s the secret to a successful marriage? Is there such a thing as the passionate love we read about? Is it a foundation of trust and respect? Indeed, many people believe that Disney has had a major negative impact on most marriages in the US. This is why many would rather trust in arranged marriages and their outcomes. My opinion is a bit different. In my eyes, the secret to a successful marriage is a bit of both: the passionate love that makes us feel alive and a foundation of trust and respect built upon logical thinking.
I recently read an article by Robert Epstein who sides with arranged marriages and blames Walt Disney for the failure of marriages. Epstein’s article revolves around the unrealistic ideals of love Disney has set for us. “Disney, you see, contributed to the failure of many marriages around the world.” (Epstein, 3). Epstein openly blames Disney for many divorces in the US. I disagree with his claim simply because the people who idealized love weren’t waiting for Disney to give them a fairytale. They simply found what would feed their expectations and latched on to it. If Disney had not created films based upon those fairytales, those people would’ve moved on to someone who had. Then, Epstein would’ve been blaming another creator. You can’t blame the storyteller for telling the story. Besides, if we were to take a closer look at the prominent reasons behind divorce rates in the United States, we would be able to pinpoint the real culprits. “The most commonly reported major contributors to divorce were lack of commitment, infidelity, and conflict/arguing.” (Scott, 1). This article lists the main reasons behind the divorce rates in the US. Unless one of the spouses cheated on the other with a Disney princess, I can’t really see where Disney played a part in these divorces. It’s time to open our eyes to the facts and not put the blame on someone else. All the contributors mentioned in the article by Shelby Scott, stem from the lack or maybe the loss of love between individuals. Maansi Shah explains in his article that one of the main reasons that individuals ‘fall out of love’ is the small incongruities that are already there at the beginning of the relationship and that become magnified over time until they outweigh the positive aspects of the relationship (5). This falls under the category of ‘poor choices’. It is common logic to get to know a person before you become romantically involved with them. If at any point in the talking stage you find those incompatibilities, work on them instead of letting them go and hoping it will all work out in the end.
Although I disagree with the part of the article that blames Disney for failed marriages, I do agree with a lot of valid points that Epstein made in his article. He talks about how romanticizing real-life relationships is not the way to go if you’re looking for a healthy and long-lasting relationship (2). He uses common sense at its best. What people need to learn is that believing in love doesn’t equal believing in the gleaming carriages, or even the princes. Romanticizing love is the first step to take in the direction of a failed relationship, and Isabella Difranco agrees with me. In her article, she states that “Idealizing love this way has become the breeding ground for toxic relationships.” (Difranco, 4). If you are a girl who expects her significant other to be the ideal partner, one with whom she never argues, I hate to break it to you – but that’s not how the real world works. I’m not saying that you should settle for an unemployed, lazy guy who drinks beer for breakfast. We should never settle for less but instead, learn that relationships take effort and patience from both ends. It’s not a magical fairytale that happens overnight, or before midnight in Cinderella’s case.
As I went deeper into the article, it became clear that Epstein preferred the idea of an arranged marriage to eliminate the concept of romanticizing love. He states in his article that in many parts of Asia children are taught to value their parents’ opinions concerning their potential partners and that the families of the newly-weds must be able to get along in order to achieve a united marriage (2). I partially disagree with him on this point. Arranged marriages are very popular in Asia and they are actually part of the culture. If we were to take a closer look at the concept of arranged marriages, we would be able to see the potholes that come with this kind of agreement. To start off, you don’t really choose your partner. You are matched with someone your parents or matchmakers believe to be fit. They look into their social status, financial situation, and other factors they deem important. Epstein was captured by the idea of “First comes marriage then comes love.” As he states in his article, “Many people do indeed build love over time.” (Epstein, 2) Using this as evidence to back up his belief in the success of arranged marriages is illogical. The cases he talks about in his article are of people who managed to fall in love with their partners after marriage, but what about the cases in which they didn’t? I’m all about looking at the glass as half full, but this is marriage. You are bound to someone for the rest of your life, so what do you do if you don’t fall in love? I don’t think the answer to that is divorce. Epstein shares the divorce rates of India (a little over one percent) in his article to support the concept of arranged marriage (2). Yet I don’t think these percentages point in the right direction. In arranged marriages, the union doesn’t only involve the spouses, but the respective families as well. This means that divorce would involve the opinion of both families, therefore, turning it from a decision made by one of the spouses (or both) into one made by the entirety of both families. That’s why the low divorce rates in arranged marriages aren’t necessarily a sign of happy marriages or high marital quality. The article written by Keera Allendorf further proves my point, as she mentions that “The existence of a pre-existing relationship and emphasis on personal compatibility in marriages in which individuals choose their own spouses suggests that those who participate in the choice of their own spouse will have greater marital quality than those whose spouses were chosen by their families.” (Allendorf, 3).
I’m not attacking arranged marriages in any way. On the contrary, I think that they have many positive attributes that should be extracted from them and combined with those of love marriages. Consequently, people wouldn’t be going into a marriage blind and expecting a fairytale while still not leaving falling in love with their spouses to chance. This is how we gain the passionate love that makes us feel alive while also basing marriages upon a foundation of trust and respect. Following this route, we could also not give people like Robert Epstein another reason to blame Walt Disney for people’s failed marriages and let the man rest peacefully in his grave.
Allendorf, Keera. Determinants of Marital Quality in an Arranged Marriage Society. Author Manuscript, 2013.
Difranco, Isabella. The Problem with Romanticizing Love. Candour, 2020.
Shelby B. Scott, Galena K. Rhoades, Scott M. Stanley, Elizabeth S. Allen, and Howard J. Markman. Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications of Improving Relationship Education. Author Manuscript, 2014.
Shah, Maansi. Falling Out of Love? Berkeley: Berkeley Scientific Journal, 2009.