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Hasmik Hovhannisyan

Comments on the Article “Marriage, Armenian Style”

Dear readers, thank you for your comments on the article “Marriage, Armenian Style”.

The overwhelming majority of the responses came from Armenians of both genders and different ages, living in Armenia and abroad. Most of the comments were based on the analyses of subjective experiences: if someone had an arranged marriage and it went on successful it is the right thing to do, if not - it is wrong. IAE we decided to post your thoughts on the website without commenting them.

1. I am an Armenian woman living in Argentina where many young Armenians found their future wife this way. Families were created where was respect to the husband and to the mother- in-law (there is no other way), but was there love, a desire to be together?

Once on the Mount Aragats I met a family who were temporarily living in tents shepherding sheep. Nice, educated peasants. They invited me for a cup of coffee. A very beautiful girl, about 16 years old were serving coffee in silence.

“Today is her last day here, tomorrow she is leaving for Russia to get married”, her parents said. 
I asked the girl, who still was a pupil, does she want it? She shook her head with tears in her eyes.

Why they needed to take the girl our from her surrounding, where she could find business for herself she would like and be useful rather than to send her to serve a stranger she had never seen?

Our nation will never move forward on the ideas “our traditions”, “we have no divorces”, “our ancestors” but will go on living in the atmosphere of hypocrisy. Because, I forgot to say, the guy who brought a girl from Armenia a year ago, already has a lover.


2. As to my opinion, marriage always happens to be a lottery, when it is not a good planned program. And believe me it doesn’t matter whether you know the person whom you are going to marry for a week or let’s say for whole 5 years.


3. Hi, I'm an Armenian reader from California. Ever since visiting Armenia last year I too started to dream about getting married Armenian style, although I didn't realize it was so common. It also makes me happy to know that Armenian girls are willing to get married on faith like that, although it can cause lots of problems. I think they should be slightly more demanding than Anna was, but always within reason.

I would also like some feedback, since I'm an Armenian guy over here, and want to get married to a girl from over there, what are some characteristics that Armenian girls look for (or want), from a guy who visits from America for 21 days?


4. Hi...being an American born Armenian...and married to an American born Armenian...we met & fell in love.. have been married more than 54 years.....my parents...both survivors of the genocide....met and married by writing each other letters...dad here in America...mom out of an orphanage...living with an Armenian family in Greece...they had the utmost respect for each other and were in love (I'm sure) they never argued and spoke kindly to each other....
in my teen years....my mother said "in Armenia...you marry and then fall in love" in America "you fall in love...and then marry"...


5. I have read your article in HETQ online on 'Marriage, Armenian Style' and could not resist writing to you. It is an amazing thing what you have done. You tried to fight the 'monster' with a mirror. May be one day they will see themselves and see that their patently 'care' is also something one would call sell for a good deal? May be one day these mothers burgeoning with their daughters will understand they are revenging their children for the 'sold' life they had?
Besides, I would really like to comment on endless comparisons of Armenia and the West that try to reveal the national 'traditions and values'. I wonder of the people making the dramatic comparisons ever traveled out of their homes to the West. I would like to ask how do they know about the family institute in Europe if the last scientific book translated into 
Armenian was in 'Soviet times' perhaps.

'We are all in the same gutter, just some look at the stars' Oscar Wilde. It is not definitely about the heroes of your article!


6. It sounds almost incredible that people in Armenia still consider the marriage to be a contract between two joint-stock companies, where every detail has to be evaluated according to the interests of the company. People just got used to hide behind the concept of tradition while trying to find an excuse for their own ignorance.

The marriage story you brought to our attention has awakened in me the desire to write about my own story.

I was born and lived in Yerevan till my 18th birthday after which, in 1994, moved to Europe with my family. Why we left was not only the consequence of the difficult life in Armenia , but because my father was a highly qualified scientists needed abroad.

While traveling from country to country, learning new languages and different cultures (by now I speak 6 languages, have graduated from a prestigious European university and am completing my PhD), I could never imagine life might turn to be a labyrinth for me.

Nine years ago, in the Armenian church of one of the most beautiful European countries(let me keep the name veiled), I was presented to a nice Armenian guy 4 years younger than me. We started to hang out together with some other friends of the Armenian community, getting to know each other better. After a while we realized we had fallen in love with each other, and it was a fantastic feeling!

To make it short, just let me tell you that month by month and year by year our feelings grew and we decided that the marriage would represent the fulfillment of our dreams.
Unfortunately his parents, who lived in Armenia, didn't have the opportunity to get to know me, so he informed them of my existence while talking to them on the phone.

Can you imagine how shocked they were by the idea that their son had dared to take a decision on "the most important step in life" without their approval. But the best is still to come!
They got quite disappointed about me being 4 years older than him and tried to convince him of the theory(typical Armenian) that women grow old more quickly, and that he had to think of choosing a younger wife. But the world turned upside down for them when they got to know I am NOT of Armenian origins. Although I am a Yezidi Kurd (non-Muslim) of Armenia, my ancestors fled from Turkey together with their Armenian neighbors during the struggles of 1915.

Since then we have been living in Armenia, with the Armenians, learning the Armenian language and culture, and respecting the Armenian traditions. So why, I ask myself, shouldn’t they try to accept me first of all as a quite good “educated” human being with it’s own personality who loves their son and can make him happy?

As about traditions, there is no such a big difference between us any more. Our peoples have learned to get along with each other respecting one another’s origins and traditions.
Isn’t it strange that, while Armenia is moving towards the globalized world, we still have to give our falsehood the gloss of moral sanction?

Is it fair and morally more correct to try to find a bride for their son in Armenia in order
to have him marry a complete stranger rather than the girl he loves for such a long time, even though she is not Armenian? This questions are still to be answered….

In the mean time 9 painful years have passed for me fighting and waiting for a happy end. My struggle still goes on.

K. A.

7. Passion disappears in a few months, marriage should last a lifetime. This system probably works a bit better that others.


8. I have read the article and to be honest felt disgusted. I live in Armenia and do not agree with that way of getting married. That girl was born to become a mother. There are many Armenian families where the wife is just a mother of the children, someone who looks after the everyday life. And the husband goes “to left” and then boasts of it in front of his friends. The wife has not to work, the University diploma is just for putting in the dowry. To me wife is something more than just a washing machine, a vacuum cleaner or an incubator for the future generation. 
What about the small amount of divorces nowadays there are getting to be more and more. Besides women are scared to divorce because they economically depend on their husbands and on the society’s opinion and so prefer to drag on their poor existence with the husband they do not love. Why no one in our country raises up the issue of sex discrimination? Many girls feel proud of getting a 60 000 drams salary per month and say it is pretty good for a girl. Thus they unconsciously consider themselves half human beings.
It is a shame that we as a nation clutch at the past and introduce this slavery way of thinking as a national tradition.


9. I have read the article and indeed got upset because it is our reality which keeps on for ages. As an Armenian woman, as a mother (I have got two wonderful kids) I would like to advise Armenian parents: do not interfere into your children’s private life. Trust them. Give and advise but do not try to control them. They are mature people and live in the 21st century. You can destroy your child’s life. But you should feel happy seeing your child happy.


10. My parents marriage was arranged by my dad's sister picking my mom and then the visit and engagement went on. They were not allowed to be alone before the engagement and it took 24 hours for my dad to travel by car to where my mom lived so they saw each other only a few times before the marriage. They did, however, come from the same area of Turkey and knew each other's families in the old country.

They were married a month short of 65 years when my dad died. Mother followed in less than 6 months.

I, on the other hand, "fell in love" and married someone whose family I met for the first time two days before the wedding. I discovered a few years later that my husband came from a very dysfunctional family and he was never able to deal with the problem he and his brothers had with their mother. We were divorced after 15 years. His next younger brother's divorce followed ours by a few years.

I wonder, should I have married one of the men whose family came to call on mine with that in mind? Who knows.


11. Though I am an Indian, I am an occasional visitor to your site and I am generally interested in the Armenian society. Your article, Marriage, Armenian Style evoked memories of my own marriage in Mumbai, India, a couple of years back.

I was really surprised to know about the rituals / customs followed in Armenia are hardly different from those here in the Indian society. We call it the arrange marriage and the foreigners find it very difficult to understand how two totally unrelated parties can even make a decision of staying together in a matter of a few minutes.

In my own case I have discovered that the whole process is actually very good and works to the advantage of the boy as well as the girl, provided none of the interested parties try to steal the show form the other one.

Needless to say, myself and my wife have been very happy together during the past few years - even though we met only a couple of times before making the final decision and saying yes.


12. I am a 25 years old girl and not married. I am currently visiting your web-site, I am interested in all of your articles. They give me a food for thinking.

Now please let me express my ideas on the Marriage in Armenian Style. I think that the girl should have never married to a boy having known him only for a couple of weeks. This is nonsense...

What age we are living at? And I can not understand the fact of leaving the couple alone for 15 minutes chat????? How can it be, to get to know each other in 15 minutes, to get engaged in a week and get married the next week? The parents of the girl are wrong in their turn also, why did they make daughter marry? may be she could have a rather good luck abroad, making good 
carrier, personal life.

And I don’t agree with the saying that the marriage is a lottery. No, not at all. I think that couples already feel if they have a lot in common, can they share a bed , is there a physical wish between them, do they have the same interests, partly the same way of thinking and behaving? And in order to know and feel these, the couple needs more than 4-5 months to get to know each other, and not only to be limited with frequent visits to each other houses, what about walking, caffees, 
theatres, cinemas, this as another way to know the person, to get introduced with the way of behaving, manners, because you are getting married for a ONCE and forever, you should be too careful and confident.

Marriage is not a pair of shoes to try on and then give back or to buy then throw away for getting a new pair.


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