Pros and cons of arranged marriages

By Sam George

Last week we began a new series on arranged marriages. We looked at the question, “Which is more successful, love or arranged marriages?” We began to unpack the age-old tradition of arranged marriages in India and compared it with the modern notion of love marriages. We concluded that the process of mate selection does not guarantee happiness or longevity of a marriage relationship.

It is said that compromise is a factor that decides whether a marriage will work out or not. In love marriages, people expect more from their partners, largely because they have fallen in love before marriage. This leads to lesser compromise, as the person expects more from his/her partner. On the other hand, compromise and adjustments form the foundation of arranged marriage, largely because the married couple does not have any preconceived notions or expectations from one another.

In arranged marriages, man and woman come from a similar background and, therefore, are more likely to share the same views of marriage and family. The chance of divorcing due to irreconcilable differences is not as probable as two individuals falling in love. Moreover, parents and extended families are involved in most arranged marriages and breaking up will be more difficult as everyone else will only try to keep them together.

Arranged marriages offer more protection and security to the women. There is not much pressure on the woman to look like a model. Oftentimes, parents employ maturity and wise judgment when choosing suitable spouses for their children. Sometimes it helps to rely on another person’s opinion and experience when selecting one’s partner, especially when the people marrying are young and need guidance and advice in marrying a suitable person.

Support from the extended families is a big benefit to arranged marriages. In traditional societies, couples sometimes live with the parents or live in the same neighborhood. In times of difficulty, a couple can count on their parent’s or in-law’s help for physical, emotional and financial support. When children are born and both spouses work, finding adequate babysitters is a non-issue because the grandparents pitch in to care for and nurture their grandchildren.

This does not mean arranged marriages are the ideal sort of marriages. Having an arranged marriage does not mean that the married couple lives happily ever after or that there is harmony in the relationship. Women have been known to stay in abusive relationships for the sake of family pride and respect in society. Both men and women are sometimes dragged into the marriage against their will and treated as slaves after marriage.

Even in the “market” of arranged marriage, there is a different sort of pressure to be fair-skinned and beautiful. In India, the evil of dowry, caste, community issues, and the concept of matching horoscopes, sometimes taken to its extreme levels have contributed much to the argument against arranged marriages.

Arranged marriages are known for their unwanted external interferences. In-laws and extended families tend to meddle in marriages, especially in matters of finance, having children and meeting family obligations. When the in-laws interfere and impose their views, it causes unwanted stress to the marriage.

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