Would I actually be able to share my experience with him?Would cultural expectations around relationships and marriage prevent him from entering the world I will have inhabited for five months?Four years later we’re talking about our future together.In Nepal, marriage is viewed as a forever commitment.Common belief asserts that families know more about what will last in a long term relationship than a young couple in love will. “Because arranged marriages are favored, if an arranged couple asks for a divorce they are more likely to be granted one than a couple who married out of love.” So I was surprised to learn that my host-sister’s marriage was a love marriage.In fact, she dated her (now) husband for seven years before they married.A month before I left for Nepal, my boyfriend of four years, Chris, booked his plane ticket to visit in December.While I was excited for him to visit, prior to his booking the flights, I had doubts about whether it would be worth it.
So it was no surprise when at the age of seventeen I met Chris.
I was aware that the majority of marriages in Nepal were arranged. I come from a long line of high school sweethearts.
I’d even had extensive conversations with a study abroad adviser to discuss my relationship, the difficulties I might have talking about him with my host-family, and the likelihood that I would be able to introduce him to my family at the end of the program; but it all sounded so complicated. My cousin and her husband started dating during their sophomore year of high school, as did my aunt and uncle.
A number of factors are taken into consideration when two families arrange a marriage: caste, financial standing, skin color, family dynamics, horoscope compatibility, family character, education level… While these are all factors that play into most relationships (whether we like to admit it or not, whether it is right or not), they are extremely important in Nepal, in the effort to prevent divorce.
While divorce is legally an option, as my host sister explained one evening, the process of actually getting a divorce is all but culturally forbidden.Marriages are arranged in an effort to decrease the chance of divorce.