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Matchmaker, Matchmaker!
When Phil Callaway was young, he thought arranged marriages were a horrible idea. Now that he has kids of his own, he sees the benefits.

When things get dull around our house, I like to remind my children that I am arranging their marriages. They usually stop whatever they are doing because they have strong feelings about this. So do my sons' girlfriends.

You’ve got two choices for dinner tonight:  Take it or leave it.

As a young teenager on the verge of dating, I believed that arranged marriages were a horrible idea, like driving through London on the right side of the road. But now that I have kids of my own, I see the benefits.

"In time you will grow to love her," I tell my sons, while thumbing through random pictures I have clipped from my high school yearbook. "A beautiful wife is not for you. But one of these gals will be grateful for your affection. Besides, cat-eye glasses will be all the rage in three or four years."

"Oh Dad," they sigh. They say those words a lot these days: "Oh Dad."

When our children were young, my wife and I began watching and praying for suitable mates for them. I even took to carrying pictures of our two sons and daughter in my wallet primarily to barter with other parents. Many were eager to participate in dowry negotiations. I once haggled with a couple in Oregon who were willing to sign papers betrothing their two daughters and son to ours, but when they asked for my house, the talks broke down. (Don't worry Jim and Jean, I won't mention your names.)

With the average Hollywood marriage lasting approximately 37 seconds, I say we start an organization called Arranged Marriages Work Awesome Eh? (AMWAE). Our slogan will be "Save money! Your honeymoon can double as your first date!"

Here are a few of our credos:

  1. The current match-making model is broke. Let's tinker with it.
  2. You think we don't know and love you? We changed your diapers.
  3. Why should marriage be based solely on love and respect when we can get some cattle in the deal?
  4. My son thinks tacos are a food group. How could he possibly choose a wife?
  5. When our children begin paying rent, we will begin listening to their opinions.
  6. You'll always have a story to tell at family reunions.

I nominate David Weinlick as president. While a senior in college David joked to friends that he would be married June 13, 1998. He had a tux and a ring. The only thing missing was a fiancée. So one week before the big day, he and his buddies launched "The Campaign to Elect Mrs. David Weinlick," attracting worldwide attention and 28 would-be brides to the Mall of America in Minnesota where friends and family overwhelmingly selected Elizabeth Runze on the second ballot.

The couple's first kiss was at the altar.

Today they have three children and a ten-year marriage. "I guess I'm curious as to why people are so shocked that it lasted," Elizabeth says. Though they went into marriage knowing very little about each other, David feels romantic love is a tad overrated. "Marriage really ought to be more about committing to being together than it is about how you feel at a given moment," he says. "We really work to make life enjoyable."

"First came marriage, then came love" is a tune they've been humming for over a decade. "I don't think it's that much of a secret," says David. "It's really about how we make it work together. We're committed." A few days after their much-publicized marriage, David told her, "Wow. I don't mean to freak you out, but I think I love you."

I don't mean to freak my children out either, but I think we're on to something here. I won't force them into anything, but I am sold on Arranged Introductions. And dropping subtle hints. And inviting certain families over. And taking out ads in the newspaper: "Jenny Sanderson. We think you'd make a great wife for our son. Have your parents call us."

Allow me to get serious for about a paragraph. The arranged marriages I've witnessed have turned out pretty well, partly because they were formed and continue to form in community. A friend from Angola told me that upon marriage couples there are assigned Padrinhos, a mentoring couple who will be in their lives for as long as the four shall live. I know for a fact that my own marriage would have been a disaster without such people, without the watchful love and care of fellow church members and friends—some of whom would have punched my lights out if I ditched or failed to cherish and honor the girl I've been learning to love these 26 years.

I'm so excited about this that I'm starting to believe in arranged weddings too. Think of the money we'll save. I will arrange my daughter's wedding complete with potluck. A-E bring salad. F-M bring wedding cake. She winces when I tell her this, but she will get used to it. By the way, she's getting married June 13th at the Mall of America.

Please mail all applications to our address here in Tuktoyuktuk where my children have locked me in a little cabin.

Phil Callaway is the author of It's Always Darkest Before the Fridge Door Opens (Bethany House). Visit him at Callaway is the editor of Servant magazine, author of a dozen books and a popular speaker. His web site is:

Originally published in Servant Magazine, Winter 2009, Issue 81.

Used with permission. Copyright © 2009





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