The Chemistry Test

No, this test does not involve the periodic table or the concept of electronic structure. This is much more nerve wracking and complex.

It is the heavily chaperoned date where you and your potential spouse meet face to face. It’s a date set up, typically, by a matchmaker. Matchmakers come in all different forms and disguises. They could be your best friend, who wishes you to be married as soon as possible (so she could wear the fabulous dress she bought for your wedding), or your mother’s friend that loves you so much, but has no eligible son to pair you with. She takes it as her responsibility to get you married before the sun sets that day. She comes with all kinds of stories, one more dubious then the next: “He is a rocket scientist/surgeon plus, he took his sweet old grandmother to Hajj and came back with a Ferrari!”

We all know very well that that’s a bait to get you married to the guy and find out exactly how fabricated the “went to Mecca and came back with a sports car and is somehow a spaceship doctor” tale truly is.

Then there are your relatives from back home. The ones who, every time they come over, ask in surprise “Oh, you’re still here?” Yes, yes I am still here, thank you. They have good intentions, but speak their unfiltered opinions out loud – to everyone. Once they see you, they immediately ask for your age and if your eye color is real and if a thirty-year-old engineer would be suitable. When you politely decline, citing a memorized speech about your devotion to your long-term studies and how you’re not yet ready for marriage, they just sigh and go back to wrapping grape leaves.

Finally, there’s grandma. Blessed grandmother, who is as old fashioned as riding camels to the market place. She would be over the moon seeing her grandchildren married in her lifetime, and wants you to have kids more than your own parents do. She sits with you and goes through the list of cousins and neighbors and sorts them by age, height, and compatibility. Then she multiplies the chances, subtracts the mother’s intimidating nature, divides the uncle’s approval and ends up with an all too unpleasant equation that makes your stomach queasy.

Some don’t really support arranged marriages at first, but realize later that it might not be such a bad thing. Going out yourself and finding your significant other isn’t as easy as they make it out to be in movies. Often we get approached by a friend or colleague with a good “resumé,” but expectations fall short. Also, dealing with finding Prince Charming yourself will present you with the problem of being approached by any Tom, Dick or Harry. Or in this case, Muhammad, Hassan or Ali, all claiming to be of royal lineage.

There are many simple solutions to this age-old problem, like being the first to catch a bride’s bouquet or lighting a candle at a bride’s henna party or if you’re really desperate, find a newlywed, cut a lock of their hair, and add it to a potion and drink it under the full moon. Pretty easy to remember.

Of course, there’s always love at first sight. It exists. You’re not asking for much, just for the way he looks at you with a twinkle in his eye when he sees you in a public place, accompanied by his friends while you’re surrounded by your own.

Some are afraid that a relationship prior to marriage will change afterwards. Dropping out of the race due to the possibility of losing doesn’t make any sense, though. True, they’ll change, but most likely you both will change together. The only way for a good marriage to work is if both parties are willing to collaborate. Love and companionship comes from a mutual understanding that what makes your spouse happy makes you happy, and that you are partners and supporters of one another.

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