DEAR HARRIETTE: I am interested in getting married, but I do not have the time or the patience to develop a relationship. A friend of mine suggested that I should find a mail-order bride. He also mentioned that the women are ready to be married and there is a low risk of rejection. I was wondering if there were mail-order bride programs in the United States. If so, how do I start this inquiry? -- Here Comes the Bride.com, Stonewall, Louisiana
DEAR HERE COMES THE BRIDE.COM: I don't think your friend was doing you any favors by recommending a so-called mail-order bride. Honestly, I think your friend was making a joke at your expense. Why? Well, it is true that in some cultures, people get married sight unseen, but they are immersed in traditions that trust that the parents or other elders have made wise choices on their behalf to match them with someone who will respect and commit to being family. The whole notion of marrying someone you don't know tends to work when everyone is following the same assumptions about what it means to create a family structure and grow together as a unit.
If you are unwilling to take the time to cultivate a relationship, how do you envision a marriage playing out? Marriage is a lifetime relationship that requires constant engagement, thoughtfulness, shared experiences, hopes, dreams, challenges, failures and tons of forgiveness. A healthy marriage represents the definition of patience under pressure, of love in action, of acceptance of another person as you also embrace and accept yourself. You can't buy that. It is something that you develop over time if you and your spouse make the commitment and stay focused. A healthy dose of faith in the equation helps, too.