As much as I hate to admit it, when I was younger I devoured novels and media with romance as their selling points. I enjoyed reading books and watching shows that were chock full of spontaneous meet-cutes, love triangles, and flirtatious banter. But I was thoroughly confused as my expectations of romantic relationships were in direct conflict with my role models for relationships.
My parents have always been my role models in terms of a lot of things, but especially in the context of a relationship. They argue and fight just like everyone else. But they also make up and love each other. They have always been my goal for what a healthy, loving relationship should be like.
As I grew older, I had to face the possibility that their love was not a healthy partnership. People would often look at me in disgust, confusion, or both when I told them my parents had an arranged marriage, and I would be ashamed. What my peers and I didn't realize was that arranged marriages were not the same as forced marriages.
My parents had agreed to be in a relationship set up by their families and grew to love and care for each other. This was a difficult concept for my peers and for me to accept, as we were bred on Western notions of spontaneous romance. Even though I later learned that arranged marriage have significantly higher success rates than non-arranged marriages (though the reasons are debatable.) In reality, most marriages in the United States are not even spontaneous. They happen in the same way that arranged marriages do, through family or friends.
This healthy, loving marriage that I admire is anything but spontaneous.
My parents didn't meet by bumping into each other at a coffee shop or on their first day at a new school. My parents met for the first time at their wedding, almost 25 years ago. Over time, I learned to realize that's okay because love develops in different ways.
Surprisingly, my parents have taught me a lot about love. Your marriage itself can be spontaneous, even if your meeting was not. It doesn't really matter when and where you meet your significant other. What matters is that you communicate, love, respect, and support each other. And they certainly do.