Globalization has made many things possible including the efficient exchange of all sorts of goods and services. Among these are ideas; scientists think nothing of collaborating across borders, and musicians can lay down tracks in one city and have them a genius producer someplace far away rearrange them overnight.
Some ideas don’t travel as well, however. What makes sense according to laws and customs in one place might be absurd or abhorrent somewhere else. Advice columnists — or as the British beautifully call them, agony aunts — have yet to globalize their business. But what if there’s demand? Today in Salon (thanks, Scott!), an Indian-in-India sista seeks to outsource her relationship counseling to Cary Tennis, the online mag’s advice-giver. And Tennis… almost punts, but not quite. Check it out. Here’s the woman’s situation:
… Arranged marriages have seen a resurgence in India and I suspect it is propelled by young people’s desire to shield themselves from heartbreak. I was one of those and I agreed to marry a doctor I met just once after I returned home from the States. I thought I was taking a very sane and levelheaded decision. He came from a good family and was well liked and respected in his hospital (all this info gathered through the extended family network that goes into operation for marital missions). He had no known addictions, was reasonably good-looking according to Indian standards (not my standards, I must point out, because I like muscular, clean-shaven men and he is neither). We came from similar backgrounds and our life goals seemed to match — raise kids, earn a lot of money and make our parents proud of us.
Three months into our marriage we had our first fight. It was nasty. We are still living apart.
Now I am not sure marrying him was such a great idea. He seems immature and his anger was shocking. Staying on in a marriage just because he is a doctor seems wrong now. I thought my decision would be right because it was dispassionate. But now I think the lack of passion should have been a warning sign. The fact that I wasn’t physically attracted to him should have been enough to decide against marrying him.
How do I know if I made a huge mistake? Divorce is a big deal here, especially in my religion. But I figure the sooner we break up the easier it will be. Then again, who am I kidding? I probably won’t muster up the courage to break up the marriage until he does something really horrible…
And here are excerpts from Tennis’s reply:
I do not know what it is like to be from India but I know what it is like to live with the choices I have made. … I do not know what it is like to be in an arranged marriage but I know that all marriages are in a sense arranged — by relatives, by the rain, by smiles and secret dances; by children whose arrival can no longer be postponed, by the intersection of ripening desires, by thirsty hope meeting cool water.
So you ask an American what to do. To do what an American would do would be disastrous, I fear. …
I would try to live within what you have already done. I would attempt to carry out the plans you had when you decided to marry: Have lots of children and make a lot of money. Absent one of the limited general grounds for divorce available to you under Indian divorce law … I would try to see this thing through. …