My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Arranged Marriage

So…I’m trying to decide if I should add this new “twist” to my Scarlet Daughter  or not. The twist? An arranged marriage. Well, sort of.

First, a bit of background.

Arranged marriage was pretty much the way you got married in Japan. It was a family affair. You see, Japan was built on the concept of ie or the household. Your family generally consisted of three generations (grandparents, children, grandchildren) and the family head (the grandfather or father) would often be the one who decided who you’d marry. There were go-betweens too, sort of like matchmakers in the Chinese society, although I’ve yet to find out how big of a role they played and how similar it was (if at all) to the Chinese. Anyway, the concept of a love match was an individual affair–not community based–and was about as foreign to them as the idea of a community based society is to us. Marriage was for the benefit of the family and love came, if you were lucky, after time.

Now in Japan, pre-1898 (before the Meiji Civil Code) marriages were not really “legalized” meaning there wasn’t really a huge ceremony, court records, etc. There may have been a small private affair between families but that was it. At least from the research I’ve been able to find.

The divorce rate in Japan pre 1898 was also very high, the highest in the world at that time. This was because unions were essentially done on a “trial marriage” basis and since there was really no legal tie-ups and whatnot, divorces were as simple as the husband issuing a mikudarihan or “three-and-a-half lines” dissolving the union. Of course, it was only the husband who could issue it (although in some cases, the woman’s natal family would coerce him into making one) and it generally happened within two years. Mainly it was because the couple simply were incompatible with one another, although there were also instances where the husband simply grew tired of his wife, or she wasn’t producing an heir, etc.

A divorce at that time also didn’t carry with it a social stigma for the woman. One third of women remarried within less than a year of their divorce, showing that it wasn’t really as scandalous as it would’ve been in Western society.

Now, where am I going with all of this?

I was trying to decide if maybe I should put Naomi in one of these “trial marriages.” Of course, it would initially start out as a guise to hide her, although as the book progresses it may become more evident that it was her father’s plan from the beginning (although hidden from her and even her guardian, Ryuji, who would obviously be the arranged husband). Of course there would be the whole eventual falling in love between them, etc. but I’m unsure if I should do this simply because I’m afraid it could be a bit cliche. I guess I could try it…although I’m fairly certain it’s going to throw my crit group for a loop 😛

Anyway, do you think it’s something I should try? Perhaps I should resort to flipping a coin…

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Comments on: "Arranged Marriage" (9)

  1. First of all, I find the background very interesting. I think it sounds like a great twist. I would go for it if I were you. Just hearing about it made me want to read your book. Or you could just flip a coin. 🙂

    • Thanks! I’m really leaning towards putting it in 🙂 My old first draft has it without so if it doesn’t really work, I can use some of the material from that.

      Thanks again for the input!

  2. Well! That would be a major change to your plot, so only you can really say whether it enhances the themes that you originally wanted to bring out. Sounds like whatever you decide, this is something you want to figure out sooner rather than later.

    Good luck!

  3. Just go with my new acronym: WWBD? (What Would Ben Do?)

    I think it sounds awesome. Then again, I haven’t read your MS, so it’s up to you!

  4. At first, I was afraid you were gonna do something angsty, like having Naomi or Ryuji almost in an arranged marriage with someone else. I would’ve had to strongly object to that sort of shōjo manga twist. 😛

    But this way could work, I think! 😉

  5. This is fascinating. I’ve read about Japanese arranged marriages, but this is a very interesting aspect I didn’t know before. It could definitely add a new layer and plot twist to the story. I’d be all for trying it–but then, I love cliches! :]

    • If I write it correctly, it won’t come across cliche. Of course, it probably will the first few times until I can get a good revision 😛

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