Arranged marriages. What do you think?

Last week Rabindra and I had a very funny conversation.

It went something like this:

R: “You know, I was thinking…. it’s really hard in Australia.”

Me: “What do you mean?” 

R: “Well you have to find your own boyfriend or girlfriend..YOURSELF.”

Me: “Oh God. You’re only realising that now”

R: “I know but in Nepal, if we don’t find anyone ourselves then it’s no problem cause our parents will find us someone”. 

Me: “Yes well in most parts of the world you have to find your own partner.”

R:“Yeh I realise that now. What if you don’t drink/go to the bar or don’t do many social things? You’ll always be single. You can’t find anyone”

Me (laughing): “Hmmmm I can’t believe I am having this conversation..”

Anyway you get the point…

In addition, I’ve noticed a major difference amongst the attitudes of my Aussie and Nepali single friends.

My Nepali friends aren’t worried that their nearly 30 and still single.  They know their parents will find them someone when they want it. They’re not particularly worried about whether or not they will be happy in the future with that person. They just assume they will be because it’s an arranged marriage and most are successful.

My Aussie friends who are single are generally positive but they still worry about whether or not they will meet someone let alone find that person they want to marry and spend the rest of their life with.

My girl friends are more worried because they have the babies thing at the back of their mind and don’t want to miss out from having children because they are too old.

I’ve become quite fascinated with this topic as arranged marriages are not something I really thought about until I met Rabindra.

In Nepalese culture, arranged marriages make up the majority of marriages.

Marrying within the caste to a man or woman the family (normally father) chooses is the most common path.

If Rabindra was single, his family would mostly like choose a girl they think would be a good daughter in law, show him the photo and then if the parents and children agree, the marriage is fixed a few weeks later.

I’d say that most westerners think arranged marriage is a very controlling, patriarchal tradition that should be stopped.

In some ways, I agree. To me, it’s absolutely absurd.

What about ‘chemistry’? Do they want the same things as you in the future? Are you alike or opposites? What if they have extremely annoying habits you can’t handle? …………The list goes on.

Don’t get me wrong, if the children are 100% happy with the decision as well as the parents, then arranged marriages can be great.

But what I don’t like is that it causes a lot of stress, heartache and pain for young people who fall in love and have to hide their relationship for years from their family.

I know of many Nepalese people who have done love marriages and not told their family. At some point, their parents will try to marry them off and they have a huge fight on their hands to get approval of their relationship. If a person loves their family too much, they will agree to the marriage and let their love go. 

Rejection by the family is common- people want to fight members of the family- and in the worst situations, parents or children suicide.

I guess what makes me angry is that the family’s image and reputation is more important than the child’s future happiness.

I know traditional people from these cultures will disagree with me and say that the family reputation is more important. But I simply disagree. 

A few days ago I met an Indian woman and we got talking and I told her my partner was Nepalese.

She asked me if it was a “love” relationship and I said yes (of course).

She then told me out all of the people she knew, no love marriages ever lasted. Only arranged marriages.

It got me thinking:

Why are arranged marriages seen as likely to be more successful than love marriages? What are the reasons behind this?

What are the pros and cons of arranged marriages?

Why do parents so vigorously oppose love marriages?

For those in love relationships, did you worry your partner’s parents would force them to have an arranged marriage? What did you do about it?

 I hope my readers can shed some light on this topic.

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45 Responses to Arranged marriages. What do you think?

  1. Jubeee says:

    Have your ever read Unhooked Generation? I read this years ago and it really got western relationships to a tee. At one time western relationships were viewed as partnerships. Someone had to work and someone had to take care of children/home and that’s what marriage was about, to a large extent most eastern cultures still view marriage the same way. Then the sexual revolution happened and the idea of love in marriage happened, that generation had the highest divorce rate in history, every generation (in the US at least) has had a decreased divorce rate. Its not that we don’t believe in love its just we are becoming much pickier and delaying marriage. Now those who marry in the US after the age of 30 have the highest rate of staying married. I think our generation is beginning to understand the love/partnership dynamic.

    As far as the resistance, I believe older generations mostly resist what younger generations do. I see it in my own culture, its just progress. When you have a view of the world and your children don’t fit into that view it can be upsetting and feel like one has failed to bring their children up how you wanted them to be. In the US for instance, young LGBT people have had a hard time coming out to their parents but LGBT youth (teens) are coming out much earlier than ever, many in their adolescence. I feel like marriage in eastern cultures will follow this same path. When our children are old enough to get married, all but the most conservative people will accept love marriage.

    • No I haven’t but I think I will get that book now.
      I really like the background you have provided. I had no idea marriages were seen as “partnerships”. Do you think that’s how south-east Asians see them now? It’s interesting about the Sexual Revolution and the changes that occurred as part of that era.

      I do hope that future generations will change the cycle and become more open to how our children want to live their life.

    • Raj says:

      No, eastern culture will not adopt western values. The evolution of western culture you describe will not be replicated in parts of the world like India or the Middle East or China. Sorry to burst your liberal bubble.

      Also, I do remember reading a study that found out that people who marry in their mid to early 20s, especially women have less of a chance to divorce.

      • I’m not saying that they will adopt western values. But already we are seeing a relaxation of traditions and rules in traditional places. Attitudes are becoming a lot more modern. My partner has seen the changes in his home country over the past 10 years.

      • Raj says:

        white girl in a sari, that comment was aimed at Jubbeee or whatever her name is, not yourself. I agree with most of what you said. I disagree with her highly politicized statement entirely though. I think it is a good thing that there are more love marriages in India, but I do not think western promiscuity, sexual revolutions or divorce rates are anything to be admired, on the contrary I hope they stay confined to the western nations they were born in.

      • Jubeee says:

        I think its pretty arrogant to believe you can accept some aspect of westernization but refrain from others. When people have economic freedom, they choose their own paths and are less inclined to keeping with tradition.

      • Raj says:

        Love marriages aren’t “western”. I would read more about the history of India before making such claims. Arranged marriage became popular in India because of the chaos of repeated invasions stretching back to 700 AD.

        Its funny to hear someone like yourself talk about arrogance as well. From the posts of yours that I have seen, you sanctimoniously believe your LIBERAL western interpretation of everything is right, and that is the way the world is heading. n When people get more economic freedom they do choose their own path, but that doesn’t mean they will choose yours. Indian-Americans are a prime example of this. They are very wealthy but keep their conservative traditions and ideals alive to this day.

  2. renxkyoko says:

    Arranged marriages work ( not 100%, though) because what the parents choose for their children are always the best.

    • You think that what the parents choose is always the best! You must have very good parents. hehe

      I agree with you though arranged marriages do work.

      • renxkyoko says:

        On second thought, what do I really know about arranged marriages? (^_^) My employer, an Indian woman, had an arranged marriage too, and they seem such a happy couple with 2 beautiful, happy children. My parents also have Indian friends, like this couple who have been married 35 years. They all have their marriages arranged . But then, we cannot really generalize, nor even speculate.

  3. Another thing to add- it is interesting to see how arranged marriages really are successful. The divorce rates in countries with primarily arranged marriages are very low. Whereas countries with mostly love marriages have a much higher divorce rate. I think it comes down more to society and the social stigma attached to divorce rather than the actual type of marriage though.

    • Abby says:

      I agree Casey, if family expectations are so heavy (as is the case in arranged marriages) then naturally the couple will do everything in their power to stay together. This makes these marriages look successful due to low divorce rates.

      In a marriage where the couple chose each other, they did so because they thought life together would be the path to happiness. If things change and they’re no longer happy as a couple, they will probably divorce. Personally I like the idea that my husband and I stay together because we choose to do so, not because we feel stuck together.

      Hedonism rules in Western society – although I am not certain this is always the best thing in all facets of life.

      • Thanks for your post Abby. You are right about Hedonism in western culture

      • Sara says:

        Hmmm…”hedonism” is a very strong word, and I don’t know if it fits with the rest of your point as I understand it. I think all humans strive to embrace pleasure and avoid pain, in the long-term if not in the short-term. A one-night stand is about embracing all the pleasure of the moment with little regard for potential damage. Staying in an unhappy, unproductive marriage is about avoiding the “messiness” of broken promises and divorce, and of becoming an ostracized “divorcee.”

        If we were truly impulsive hedonists, going toward whatever shiny object attracts us at the moment, none of us would marry or get college degrees. I do believe that my husband and I will end our marriage if it reaches a point that it no longer serves what we think of as its necessary functions (enriching the growth and development of all members, including future children). I think my in-laws see the function of marriage as stability and family, so their marriage will never stop serving that function. I don’t think I’m more “impulsive,” and I might be more “hedonistic” in my definition of the function of marriage, but I think saying “Hedonism rules in Western society” is misleading…something about “White girls just sleep around” and “Westerners don’t take marriage seriously”…and togas and wine. 🙂 Maybe I missed your meaning, though?

      • Sorry I shouldn’t say I fully agree that Hedonism “rules” in western society but it’s a much bigger factor compared with Asian culture.

        Also I certainly don’t agree “White girls just sleep around” and “Westerners don’t take marriage seriously”. Not at all. I think in the western world, it’s much more liberal towards women and that’s why they can do what they want more freely- there is choice if you want to act that way or not. But for example in Nepal, my understanding is that women have to get married. Even if they don’t want to. Men on the other hand don’t have to (there is still pressure from family but not like it is with women). Women in western countries like Australia have more freedom and except from maybe a little pressure from their parents to get married they are generally free to do what they want. Also, in Australia, amongst the people I know, marriage is taken just as seriously as it is in asian culture. Yes, even though divorce rates are high, it’s still considered a very important passage in life.

      • Abby says:

        Depends on your definition of hedonism. I meant it in the broad sense of doing what brings you pleasure. I feel that in Western society we are more free (of societal pressures) to do what makes us happy in life i.e. choose not to have kids, choose to have a uni education, pick our own partner, decide to follow a religion or not.

        I really don’t know why you brought up one night stands etc.?? Speaking for myself, I can’t say that has ever been something I’ve longed for, but everyone’s different.

      • Sara says:

        I brought up one-night stands as an example of my image of hedonism — taking in whatever short-term pleasures you can get in that moment, in this example through immediate sexual gratification and feelings of intimacy without commitment or the vulnerability that comes with real intimacy.

        I had never thought of the freedoms you describe as hedonism. To me, being able to choose my own life partner still means choosing to hold back from a lot of things (like choosing to date slowly and carefully, rather than picking up a series of one-night stands, and choosing to sacrifice some of my wants and dreams to meet in the middle), which doesn’t fit my image of “hedonism” because it does still include sacrifice and delayed gratification.

        I do understand your perspective, though, because I have chosen a life path that I believe will be maximally satisfying to me (long-term partner of my choosing based on personality/value compatibility; career and university of my choosing based on its attractiveness and feasibility; planning out timing and number of children to fit with my own life, career, financial, and family goals). My concern was that your use of the word might contribute to negative stereotypes; I Googled “hedonsim” and quite frankly am afraid to click the first few links! At least in my experience, it has been linked with irresponsible decisions, including sexual decisions (again, hence the one night stand example) and lack of commitment. I really do like the perspective you’ve given about the freedom from family pressure in choosing life courses, though…although of course that varies within Western culture by subculture and family!

      • Abby says:

        Yeah I see what you are saying. 🙂 I see your point about one night stands – they are more socially acceptable in Western cultures I believe. And to me there’s a huge difference between if you are married or not. No matter where you come from or what kind of marriage you’re in, I think it is important to consider your partner and not just your own wishes.

      • Sara says:

        Well, I guess that’s true, ONSs are more acceptable here (although not in every subculture), but I meant to use ONSs as an example of what I think of as hedonism — the kind that is part of stereotypes about White/American women (we have sex, a lot, with a lot of partners, and it doesn’t really mean that much to us). I would usually think of the things you named as “autonomy” or “free will,” the power to decide along with the responsibility to consider consequences and think long-term. I do understand how, from an Eastern/South Asian perspective, these choices of who to marry and what career to choose seem quite self-indulgent.

        I’m from the US, so I wonder if there are regional differences in the use of the word hedonism that are throwing us off? I think Westerners also have more flexibility — if I got a fantastic, huge-paying job opportunity but have small children or aging/disabled family members who need care, we are comfortable considering hiring a nanny or having my husband stay home or work part-time. These options could be viewed as selfish by some. Or maybe we’re still missing each other and should just know that we’re not in total opposition to each other?

  4. Pumba says:

    Ohhhh this subject is so interesting to me! I just ordered a book on ebay that came in the mail Saturday that is a collection of short stories. The book is titled “Arranged Marriages” and it is by Chitra Bajerjee Divakaruni. I haven’t started it yet but I’ll let you know if it is worth getting 🙂

    As a psychology graduate and someone who just simply loves observing human relationships, I must say the idea of arranged marriage is so fascinating and disturbing to me. Simba and I have had sooo many discussions (read, disagreements) on this subject matter. He is very defensive of arranged marriages and I think his defense of it irritates me. I know his parents have a great marriage (and I’m so thankful because I think they provided a good model for him) but that doesn’t mean all arranged marriages are wonderful.

    I agree that one reason divorce rate is so low in countries with arranged marriages is largely because the stigma of divorce and inability for many women to support themselves and their children. American women have more freedom and financial ability to leave bad marriages…and so they often do. But I don’t think that means love marriages don’t work….after all the most successful arranged marriages ultimately turn into “love” marriages right?

    Simba and I were discussing this last night. We were very good friends for 2 years before dating…we slowly grew to love each other and the passion followed. We are not married but the concept of growing into love is the same. We just haven’t had a legal ceremony yet…

    I find this subject so interesting that I’ve become somewhat obsessed with reading books by indian authors that talk about it. One very common theme I have seen is that many parents pick a spouse for their child based largely on things like income, career, and family name.

    Those are all well and good but not the most important (in my opinion). I’d rather be with someone who makes less money but has good character and integrity and makes me laugh than a rich man who is cold and distant…chemistry is not something that can be meshed on paper and I simply don’t buy the notion that all couples in arranged marriages eventually fall into love. The lucky ones do…

    Well I’m rambling but I could ramble and go on and on about this subject all night so I’ll stop 🙂 Good blog though.

  5. Grace says:

    As someone that has been to India – I can tell you from first hand experience there are endless miserable couples that came together by way of arranged marriage.

    As Pumba said, the stigma is a huge thing & frankly not everyone can get along together – some matches are miserable from the beginning but have no way of getting out.

    Beyond not getting along, what if the person your parents found was a complete liar – what if their family forged information for the sake of stealing from you & your family…
    What if you marry a wife beating, backward guy – without ever knowing??
    Whilst arranged marriages can work – if the necessary preparation is not done, the risk is very, very high.

    I know of so many loveless marriages in India where the parents live separate lives but to the outside world are together.

    I know of young girls uprooted from loving relationships only to be married off in the next month – women that are torn & miserable and unable to satisfy their arranged marriage husband & hence are abused and mistreated.

    There are so many dynamics beyond “arranged marriages work”…
    Don’t forget that the concept of marriage has been completely diluted and disrespected over decades gone by.
    Westerners are marrying out of novelty, obligation and peer pressures – not because they choose to commit to a person for their lifetime.

    It is hard to divorce in Desi countries, when you divorce you will be forever looked down upon, if you are a woman – who will financially support you? What about the children, what about your aunts and uncles that like your spouse?
    In division of assets – they do not have the concepts that we have. The property is that of the husband, the only things that the woman truly owns are inherited from her family.
    Not only the family consequences – but what about the children? How will a divorced mother find a good family to agree to marrying her children??
    Marriage in India is an idealised, life long relationship, built on respect & a love that is unheard of in the western world.
    If parents are divorced, then the children will be pigeon holed – it will be assumed that they too cannot function within a marriage & it will make things much harder for them.

    There are pros of arranged marriages when they are done properly.
    A lot of the older style arranged marriages were not so much arranged, as forced.

    Thankfully, things in middle & upper class families are much MUCH different in 2011.
    It starts when the parents look for someone suitable – someone from the same religion, same upbringing, place in society, career, caste etc. Desis are very much into matching the careers of the children ie a Dr is more suitable for a Dr than anyone else, and two accountants will be better matched than an accountant and an artist…

    As strange as it seems to Westerners & as much as Sikhs are not supposed to take part in caste discrimination – it serves a purpose in terms of suitability. The castes are a standard that has been present in society so long, that they have dictated boundaries for people – whilst things are changing, it is only in the recent decades with the growing middle class that people are actually starting to overcome the caste system and work outside their stereotyped place in society…

    Once they find a family that seems suitable they meet the parents, they scout the home & the way things are and if that is fine – then they will have the children meet.
    In arranged marriages there is choice, in forced marriages there is not.
    We are no longer in a time where someone will wake up in the morning and be told their husband has been found and they should prepare for marriage.
    The children have every right to say NO to the suitor if they do not like them…
    At the end of the day the parents want their children to find someone to love & support them throughout their entire life, if their daughter doesn’t like her husband – how could that be achieved??

    Arranged marriages are more successful statistically as most people do not see divorce as a realistic option, they see that they will be with this person forever & as such they have to do what they have to do to make the situation bearable.
    When there is an arranged marriage – it is not just two people like in the western world.
    It is two families coming together, and not the direct families either.
    It is the two extended families, their friends & their communities coming together to unite & support the couple.
    There is also a lot of family involvement in the union, advice & support etc.

    The concept of arranged marriages are so complex & varied it is hard to discuss as a whole.
    I believe that if the process is carried out with due caution, kindness and support to the children – then arranged marriages can by all means work…

    However, most people do not like the idea of a love that grows over time and instead chase fleeting romance & lust over a life partner – if that is the case then their marriage will be doomed regardless of who they marry.

    I find myself constantly saying this, but to every gori wife/girlfriend a trip to your SO’s homeland is invaluable…
    You will learn so, so, so freaking much without even trying!!

    🙂

  6. Grace says:

    Oooh, PS with regard to the parents choosing family reputation over anything else – it is what they know & what they are forced to do….
    The wives of generations gone were so tied up with obligation to not shame their parents or disappoint elders, it was not uncommon for a desi wife to look sideways whilst her husband cheated on her!!
    In desi culture there was previously a very, very prevalent concept that husband is God – and it is very hard for a woman to stray from that, especially when her own mother believes the same…

    When you hear that someone’s husband is ‘away on business’ or that the Mother is living with her children to help out with the grandkids – usually that is all lies.
    The vast majority of the time when comments like these are made it is because the couple are not together, but never divorce….
    Hence, the statistics of divorce in India and Nepal will never, ever reflect the reality of failed marriages…

  7. Anilu says:

    Hi! I am Mexican and hubby is Indian from Bangalore and hindu. In his family there have been mainly arranged but also 3 (including mine) love marriages.
    His parents arranged marriage is awful. They don’t love each other and have nothing in common. They dismiss each other and verbally abuse each other.
    His sister had an arranged marriage 6 years ago. She had a kind of boyfriend before but it didn’t work out and out of sadness she agreed to have an arranged marriage. He is a nice guy but they are so different. She is bubbly and outgoing. He is shy and quiet. They expect to much of each other and they fight a lot. You can see there is no real love. She has thought of divorcing many times but they stay together for the only child they have.
    His uncle many years ago had a love marriage (from the same caste). They lived very happily. Sadly she died of cancer 2 years ago and he has remarried a mature never-married lady (arranged). He seems to still idolise his dead wife.
    His cousin went to school with a guy and fell in love. Rumour has it they caught them kissing and were encouraged to marry. Luckily he was the same caste and everyone is happy. They are still much in love and live in Oz.
    Another cousin (sister of the previous) is having an arranged marriage this year. She is young and modern, never had a boyfriend before and plans to marry the guy because he is hot 🙂
    We have been together for 6 years and married for 1.5. We love each other very much. We live in a third country, UK, away from both families. Bliss.
    His friends from school have had love and arranged marriages. It’s becoming easier as years pass by to accept a love marriage.

    That’s all I know about them. I personally wouldn’t marry someone that my parents chose or hadn’t dated for a while but I understand this better than before.

  8. xaspireonfirex says:

    I think one of the most interesting aspects of arranged marriages today is how in these times, the modern practice of arranged marriage (parents put the word out, children meet prospective spouses until they find a match – one which, as a result of how the pool of “candidates” has come to light, will please the parents as much as themselves) can actually be really helpful!

    I sometimes listen to my single (non-desi) friends and think, if only they/we had a network like this to filter for partners. Wouldn’t it be great to know that the person you were going out on a date with was really serious about wanting to be in a long-term relationship? Wouldn’t you be glad to know that, if you felt that spark, the person would also be readily welcomed by your family and you by theirs? And wouldn’t you love to know whilst dating that their was a safety net? No risk of meeting weirdos or psychopaths – that there was a pre-vetting procedure?

    Somehow, it seems to me that we are coming full circle. Just as Jubeee notes that this generation is beginning to understand the love/partnership dynamic (that possibly, we’re finally learning from the rush of “freedom” experienced after the Sexual Revolution), I think there will come a time when families – whether that is one’s parents, siblings and other relations or the more broad descriptor of one’s urban tribe – will need to take a more active role in introducing prospective partners to each other.

    Someone to provide a path through the madness of online dating, speed-dating, and so on? I look forward to that day!

  9. xaspireonfirex says:

    sorry – the link on that first reply was way too long!! Feel free to delete!

  10. therealdeal says:

    The only reason arranged marriages work more than love marriages in my opinion is because they are much more harder to get out of, their is so much more at stake than the two people. Theirs the two families and family’s reputation at stake.

    • luckyfatima says:

      I am of the same view. Cultures that value arranged marriage also highly stigmatize divorce, especially for women.

      Also, whitegirlinasari, I don’t think most of the world has love marriages. If arranged (of some form, even in the form of a facilitated introduction) is the norm in India, the Middle East, North Africa, and some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, probably arranged could statistically be the norm.

      I don’t think social introduction type arranged marriages are wrong, but I don’t think arranged marriages in which the two people don’t get to know each other at all before the event are the healthiest.

      • Hey that’s interesting about it probably being the norm in other parts of the world. I never really thought about it outside of Asia but you are right, thanks for pointing that out.

      • Grace says:

        To substantiate this….

        Arranged marriages even in European families were and are still happening.

        I know a Greek girl that was born and raised in Australia and was married off to the man of her father’s choice…

        I think amongst more traditional versions of every culture they are common…

        Centuries ago they happened in the western world two… Alliances, business etc…

  11. blonde.bahu says:

    I think that arranged marriages can work if both people have the same values and both people have the same idea of what they want from marriage. If you reach a certain age and decide, “hey, you know what? I’m ready to get married!” then arranged marriage is wonderful. But I think it’s different when people are sent to live in the U.S. with husbands they barely know. Within my US circle, I know equal proportions of people who have had arranged marriages that are wonderful for each other, people whose marriages are just kind of so-so, and then, of course, the ones that are disasters.

    More often than not, Indian women come to the U.S. to live with their NRI husbands (often on h4 visas that don’t allow them to work). Of those I know, the best arranged marriages I’ve seen are between people who have similar education levels and similar economic backgrounds.

    The ones I’ve seen that are disasters are the fault of parents thinking that their American NRI sons need to marry uneducated village girls. We know one guy (not someone we meet other than at parties) who is on arranged marriage number three. His parents repeatedly conjure up girls from rural Gujarati villages to come to the US and marry their son after the previous wife runs away. His third marriage came only two weeks after his second divorce was finalized. I met two of the three wives, and none of them knew English, had any higher education, any family in the U.S. or any friends here. One of the wives was so shocked to see people drinking beer at a backyard barbecue that she ran upstairs sobbing. Clearly, their parents weren’t thinking about these women’s well-being when they married them off sight-unseen to NRIs. Just just saw the prestige of marrying their daughters to someone with money.

    In the world of Shaadi.com and other desi internet marriage sites, a lot of people seem to get together based upon region, caste, and religion and then communicate online for a little while before deciding to marry. I know a few men who have had dates with women from these sites that went more like job interviews; one woman went so far as to list all the dishes she could cook. None of those dates went anywhere.

  12. Sara says:

    I skimmed through all the comments, so I hope I’m not repeating…

    – “Success” depends in how you define it. Neither my husband nor I need to stay married to support ourselves financially or socially, and I believe that, in the short-term, marriage necessarily has ups and downs, but in the long-term, it’s better to be divorced if your marriage has been consistently unfulfilling. I realized this difference starkly when my in-laws were discussing how “stable” Indian marriages are in the empty-nest stage, compared to American marriages…all I could think was, well, if we’re both unhappy (again, long-term, not just a rough patch), what’s the use of being stable?

    – Divorce rates went up with the sexual revolution, but also with the increase in women’s options. It’s easy to have a perfect marriage when one person is groomed her entire life to make it perfect, no matter what, or give up her habits of eating regularly and sleeping indoors.

    – I think of three paths to marriage: find-them-yourself love match, old-school arranged (remind me my groom’s name?), and the group effort blind date approach. The old-school arranged puts the least emphasis on interpersonal compatibility…instead, it’s focused on someone who will fit with the FAMILY, not the person, and has the qualifications (running from the right degrees to the right amount of deference). I found my own partner and dated essentially in isolation (which actually really freaked me out, because I had no family or friends to validate my views and reassure me that I wasn’t blindly overlooking multiple personality disorders and criminal tendencies), but I actually kind of like the hybrid: A family-orchestrated “blind date” system. However, within this system, the focus (family versus personal compatibility) can still vary widely.

    Great post! And you handle critical comments much better than I would!

  13. Love in London says:

    While I don’t mind two consenting adults agreeing to an “arranged” marriage, i.e. “Parents, can you please find me somebody who wants to get married because I want to get married too?”, I do struggle with the idea of marrying someone without being in love with them. I think East & West will always find it difficult to come together on this idea because arranged marriage has such a negative stigma in the western world and just seems so archaic in this day and age.

  14. Thanks readers. You all provide such interesting and diverse views which I appreciate so much. Listening to other people’s views on serious topics like this- whether we agree or not- makes us more wordly and understanding of others.

  15. “Girl’s arranged marriage ruled invalid” – read this article- it might make you upset like it did to me. And check out the comments at the bottom. Ignorant people make me so angry!! http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/arranged-marriage-ruled-invalid/comments-e6frfku0-1225999387146

    • luckyfatima says:

      I think we should be clear though that *forced* marriage and arranged marriage are not the same thing. That girl is lucky that she escaped her situation and got justice. What a terrible thing to happen to a young woman. It isn’t an uncommon story, though.

    • Grace says:

      I don’t know that the comments that are currently there are terribly ignorant…

      Some, yes – others no.

      The general consensus amongst those commenting is more on the lines of if you don’t want to be here, don’t be here or if you cannot obey our laws – go back home…

      I think it is important for the community to understand that these people are not commonplace amongst Indian society and for our Indian partners it is so important to never band people together for simply being Indian.

      It is such a shame that a girl that lived 18 years in a country with the freedoms that Australia has was still bound by such barbaric and nonsense ideas!!

      Another reminder of the sort of people that value caste….

      Her father sounds mentally ill.

      “not allowed to cut her hair or wear skirts or dresses unless they were part of her school uniform”

      With regard to the above comment. I am guessing the girl was Sikh and hence I see nothing wrong with her not being allowed to cut her hair.
      Skirts, dresses and clothing is a matter for parents to decide as well.

      I hope that over the coming years people will gain understanding of other cultures beyond what they read in biased media articles!

  16. Sunny says:

    Check out this topic in my blog. It will give you some Idea about arrange marriages.

    http://desiunlimited.wordpress.com/2010/12/25/arrange-marriage-culture-in-india/

    • I think the following point you make is great- “arranged marriages is not something which is fought against, or a source of protest among the young of India”. I think that’s important to realise.

      IN response to the comment “Here, we get married without having feelings for the person. We base our marriage on commitment, not on feelings. As our marriage progresses, the feelings develop” I don’t fully agree. Feelings can develop but sometimes they don’t and no matter how hard people try, they are simply not in love with each other which then leads to a life of unhappiness.

      I also fully disagree with this “Whereas in the west people do not take the idea of marriage seriously until after they know a person for a number of years or feel like they know everything about the person” Totally not true. People fall in love quickly, it’s serious from the start and can still sustain a long, healthy and happy marriage.

      And the reality is some arranged marriages are forced marriages. The girls don’t want to marry but they are forced. It doesn’t happen all the time but it does happen.

      I like your article though because it really does show that arranged marriages done the right way are certainly not wrong even though they are perceived very differently by those in the west.

      Thanks for the link 

  17. Gia says:

    This is definitely an interesting topic and if it wasn’t past 4 am, I’d probably write a whole paper on my thoughts on it. I personally don’t value arranged marriages over love marriages or vice versa. Both can be flawed, both can be wonderful. I think the success rate of a marriage always boils down to expectations and communication. But then again, what do I know, I’m just a single girl observing both ways of life… 🙂

    love you blog and will definitely be back!! xoxo

  18. Ram says:

    Has anyone ever thought that perhaps the reason arranged marriages work – most – of the time is because the two parties develop a bond and emotional connection AFTER marriage?

    In love marriages, all the chasing and dating and loving’s done even before exchanging vows. In arranged marriages, you agree to marrying someone whom you’ve not had enough time to figure out. You like their face, they’ve made a good first impression and then you get married.

    Now that you’re in this marriage, you don’t have a choice but to get to know each other proper, know each other’s habits, deal with those habits, influence each other, learn to like each other’s passions. And in that period of understanding and accepting each other, they have to deal with raising a kid. All these challenges only make the bond stronger in the end. It may not be the sexually charged Hollywood movie relationship that everyone wants but it helps build the bond that you need to keep a relationship going. The connection is built over time and then comes happiness.

    I don’t believe love marriages are doomed to failure. They can work out. It’s all about building bonds and creating a long-lasting love. But if you take things too quickly in the heat of the moment, the flame will burn out eventually.

    The idea of an arranged marriage is a great, if not for the exclusive nature it breeds. The precedence of race/religion/caste over personality/values/ambition. I take it very personally cause discrimination is a big f’in deal to me and arranged marriages, as I see it, only breed discrimination.

    So there, I’ve attacked and defended arranged marriages. Hope this brings new perspective on an old topic.

  19. California white girl says:

    My ex-husband, whom I had a love marriage with, left our marriage due to his family pressuring him to have an arranged marriage. I felt he was my other half and so it shattered my life. I couldn’t quite make sense of it for years. I still see it as so wrong of him to have divorced over family pressure and abandoned me like that when I loved him so dearly. He valued his family’s reputation and the opinions of his family more than his marriage to me. It makes no sense. That is the dark side of the social pressures surrounding the practice of arranged marriage. However, that does not mean that arranged marriages are all bad. I think with any marriage, you would expect the other person to always uphold their commitment and uphold the sanctity of marriage. No matter if it is a love marriage or not, it is wrong to break that.

    And that is why arranged marriages are actually successful. It is because the commitment and sanctity of it is usually upheld as opposed to love marriages where one person may find themselves unhappy for whatever reasons and choose to leave (such as what my ex did). Many years have passed since my ex left me, and I am finding myself ready to move on and find my life partner once and for all. The irony is that since I can’t bear to give someone my heart again not knowing if they will break it, I am actually considering an arranged marriage. I figure that maybe if someone has the social pressures of knowing they should stay in the marriage, then perhaps I will have a committed man.

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