I'm 22, and my close friend’s planning her arranged marriage.
She’s Toronto-born and raised, so I was surprised at her interest in marrying a stranger from another country, given our age and lack of independence/adult life.
But because she was excited for it, I’ve supported her.
However, I've noticed what I'd consider red flags.
As a dowry, he’s asked her to buy a house for them, under her name.
She’s also responsible for sponsoring him to come to Canada and paying for his education.
While she spends $1000 on gifts for him for birthday/Christmas etc., he buys nothing for her.
In his country, he's a lawyer and so he definitely has some money.
When I raise these concerns, my friend reassures me he's not "the kind of guy” to take advantage of her.
I suggested her getting a prenuptial agreement, but she accused me of being jealous that she’s getting married.
I feel she’s all about the idea of a wedding and marriage.
She's not even going to meet him until the day before her wedding.
I'm scared that she'll come back heartbroken.
Is there anything else I can say or do?
You’ve not mentioned the cultural and personal reasons why she chose an arranged marriage in the first place, e.g. if her parents have a happy arranged marriage, or if she believes it has less risk of divorce, etc.
You may be correct that she’s closed her eyes to any potential problems.
But understand that marriages are arranged according to a protocol. The backgrounds of both parties are researched, even astronomical charts are considered and matched.
Someone’s helped her with these arrangements – perhaps, her parents. Or someone in her community who does this professionally.
It’s not as random as you seem to believe.
Stay supportive, it’s possible that her intended groom will turn out to be a fine man…
Or not. Then, as a friend, she’ll need you more than ever.
I’ve been seeing a wonderful woman for two years. We’re in love.
I’m in my 60's, she’s in her late-50’s, and we’re both divorced. I see a future together.
However, I’ve withheld a dark secret.
Seven years ago I was charged with a criminal offence – white-collar crime - and went to prison.
I served my time, but am prohibited from travelling to the U.S. without getting a waiver, which I’m working on.
My girlfriend knows nothing of this, but I want to be honest with her.
I should’ve disclosed this much earlier but I just couldn't. She's my whole world, and I don't want to lose her.
Ex-Con in Love
Work on the cross-border waiver and research whether a pardon’s possible for your particular crime.
Disclose all to her VERY soon, and also describe these efforts to put the past further behind you.
Be open and honest about the circumstances that led you to commit that crime (e.g. pressure from others, greed, sloppiness, whatever).
Tell her how jail affected you, how you handled getting back into society, and in what positive ways you believe you’ve changed.
She’ll be shocked initially, but if she loves you she’ll have some compassion for who you were then, and how you’ve changed.
Apologize for not telling her sooner, for fear of losing her.
She may want some time to think about the relationship. But if you’ve truly turned your life around, there’s plenty of reason to be hopeful that she’ll come around.
FEEDBACK Regarding the pregnant woman, her boyfriend, and her sister (January 12):
Reader – “Why is a 39-year-old pregnant woman still living under her mother's roof and the baby's father’s living with his mother?
“Why can’t they make a life for themselves and their child in their OWN home?
“By the time of middle age and bringing a child into the world, they should be able to support themselves.
“Also, the 30-year-old sister should be in her own place, and Mom shouldn’t be "doing everything" for them.”
Ellie – If lives were run according to outsiders’ conclusions, you’d have made some good points.
But peoples’ lifestyles have origins that we don’t know unless told.
Two-to-three generations of family often live together for economic reasons. On their own, this couple would need two decent, incomes for daycare, rent, food, etc.
To change their situation – given what may be limited educations, low-wage jobs, co-dependencies with elders – requires more than passing advice.
Tip of the day:
Don’t judge an arranged marriage without knowing more about it.