I read an article the other day about a marriage in the United Arab Emirates that cost Dh 8 million (at a $1 USD to 3.67 UAD that is still about $2.2 M USD); a tidy sum regardless of your culture or location.
I know that is small potatoes when compared to Kim Kardashian’s second wedding that was in the $20 M USD range but I got a feeling from the article that we weren’t talking about Sultans or Arabian Princes. These were merely successful business men that were being asked to mortgage their future and their family’s future to finance wedding nuptials.
I readily admit that I know less than squat about UAE wedding nuptials. I know about that same amount about Bride Price, Dowry, or anything even closely related to them. My points of comparison are very simply based on my experience and that is not even very relevant to most of the United States. If you remember, I am a Mormon. The ultimate wedding for a Mormon is pretty low key by the world’s standards. It is more focused on the place where the wedding occurs and the Authority held by the one performing the marriage.
For a Mormon, a wedding in a LDS Temple is the quintessential wedding; we believe that when a couple is married in the Temple, they are sealed together as a couple for eternity. There is no “death do us part” in a LDS Temple wedding. There is only a hope and desire to create something that will last for eternity. With the LDS eternal perspective to what is happening, the pomp and splendor that are so obvious in many other wedding ceremonies outside of a temple seem rather frivolous to a Mormon.
While the story talked about escalating costs and the various aspects of a wedding in the UAE and the impact to these fledgling families, I began to think about what I know about the whole concept of weddings. How different the rest of the world is from my little slice of experience. There is so much that I don’t know about all of those concepts and challenges faced in marriage by the majority of the world. I decided to at least try and figure some of that out. So what I learned about that is presented in the rest of this blog.
There are lots of places where a man must “buy” his bride, sure I know it isn’t really buying and selling but seriously they call it Bride Price for a reason. I have a nephew that married a women whose family was from Southeast Asia and this was something that he had to deal with (maybe he still does, I don’t know). Since my story was from the UAE originally it is also only fair to talk about what that means to someone that is subject to Islamic Law.
So here is what I learned about Bride Price and Islam:
“Islamic law commands a groom to give the bride a gift called a Mahr prior to the consummation of the marriage. A mahr differs from the standard meaning of bride-price in that it is not to the family of the bride, but to the wife to keep for herself; it is thus more accurately described as a dower. In the Qur’an, it is mentioned in chapter 4, An-Nisa, verse 4 as follows:
And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr [obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage] with a good heart; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful).” Wikipedia
Here is what I learned about Bride Price and China:
“In traditional Chinese culture, an auspicious date is selected to Ti Qin (literally meaning “propose marriage”), where both families will meet to discuss the amount of the bride price demanded, among other things. A couple of weeks before the actual wedding, the ritual of Guo Da Li (literally meaning “performing the rites”) takes place (on an auspicious date). The groom and a matchmaker will visit the bride’s family bearing gifts like wedding cakes, sweetmeats and jewelry, as well as the bride price. On the actual wedding day, the bride’s family will return a portion of the bride price (sometimes in the form of dowry) as a goodwill gesture.” Wikipedia
Now even with a little understanding of the whole Bride Price thing, I can’t really figure out what it is doing in the 21st century in China. Bride Price is obviously part of Islam so I completely understand why it still exists there, I get the “weird” part of religion. The story that initiated this thought problem mentioned many other escalating costs for weddings and how those costs are exorbitant. But it causes me to wonder, why does a man feel that he needs to comply with the “pressure” that he must feel? I am sure that there are lots of reasons you can think of but let me try a couple of my theories on you.
Let me try the first theory: It is all about “HER”. I know that the original story blames the gals too but I am not going down their path. I think I should share a story to better explain my perspective on how it is about her. This perspective is based on a story I heard in my Youth, the story of Johnny Lingo. Johnny Lingo has been made into at least 2 movies, one a full feature movie. Spoiler Alert: Johnny pays Bride Price that everyone thinks is way too much. Everyone thinks that Johnny pays it for his ego, reality is he pays the price for his wife’s self esteem. Johnny paid 8 cows as Bride Price for is wife so that when the wives gathered at the well she would always be able to say that her Bride Price was more than any other Bride Price.
Now there surely are some other options and theories that could be presented for why this is happening. I want to share another option – It is all about HIM. This next little story comes from Elder Robert D. Hales, a member of the current Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He tells a story from his life experiences. He and his wife were finally at a point in their lives where they could afford some of the comforts of life. He offers to buy her a nice coat and he describes the result as follows:
She looked me in the eyes and sweetly asked, “Are you buying this for me or for you?” In other words, she was asking, “Is the purpose of this gift to show your love for me or to show me that you are a good provider or to prove something to the world?” I pondered her question and realized I was thinking less about her and our family and more about me.
So I would ask each of you, Is an expensive wedding about ego? My opinion is this, it really doesn’t matter whose ego. My conclusion is similar to the original posting, what should matter is this; decisions should always take into consideration why you are doing it. Especially when it is a decision that is likely to impact a spouse or a family. The priority to create something that has the potential to last through life, and in my case and other Mormon’s out there, ETERNITY, takes lots of give and take. It will take everything that both parties have to be successful. In order to be successful in marriage there really isn’t any room for ego.
What do the rest of you think? Should ego matter in marriage?