The Arranged Marriage

“I’ve thought about marriage before in a couple of relationships I’ve been in in the past. I thought I probably could be married to this person. We sort of even discussed it. It seemed kind of real then because there was already a flow to the relationship. You felt like what would marriage be except some kind of formalizing of this bond. But here is like going from nothing to everything. It’s like one of these commercials for cars. They go from zero to sixty in two point three seconds or whatever There’s no starting point. It’s all of a sudden You’re going at sixty miles an hour and you don’t even know how you got there.”

– A young man on arranged marriage vs. choice-based marriage.

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Arranged marriages are counter to the relationship ideology held here in the United States. We are all about choosing who we want to love. The idea of a partner chosen by your parents might send chills up many people’s spines. But there are cultures where a person does not have that choice.

I’ve wondered what is the mental state of a person in such an arrangement? Are they angry with their society? Do they feel cheated out of a real opportunity for love? Do they resent their partner? Are they less happy than people who got to choose someone they loved? What keeps the couple together when things get hard? What is the glue to arranged marriages?

I needed these questions answered so I could answer another question that I’ve been wanting to find an answer to. I zoomed to Youtube to watch a documentary on contemporary arranged marriages. I’ve linked to it below.

It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. The arranged marriages in this documentary did involve choice. The people weren’t betrothed at an early age and then wed once they could bear children. Some of the subjects in this documentary dated normally before they got involved in an arranged marriages. They had their choice of suitors. One woman placed an ad in a newspaper looking for a husband, and received over two hundred letters from men. She had a choice in them

I did figure out that the glue to many arranged marriages was tradition. Children wanted to make their parents proud by finding a partner that continued the traditions of their cultures.

One scene where this was evident was a car ride between two friends. One girl was adamant that her partner had to be Indian like her because it would be easier to live with her partner. Her friend struggled to understand why she couldn’t accept someone else. The other girl said that it would be so annoying to explain her culture to an outsider and proceeded to attack her friend’s Indianness for not seeing it the same way.

While the documentary was informative, it didn’t give me insight into the mental state of a person in an arranged marriage. So I did some heavy research and googled the subject. The first entry was this article.

Here’s a snippet from it.

” We found absolutely no difference between participants in arranged marriages and those in free choice marriages on the four measures we included in our study. Regardless of the nature of their marriage — whether their spouse had been selected by family members/matchmakers or had been personally and freely chosen — the participants in our study were extremely (and equally) happy with their relationships.”

This is just one report. I was unconvinced so I went down to the fourth entry on google where I found this article.

“They are seen by many as business deals that have little to do with love.

But arranged marriages are far more likely to lead to lasting affection than marriages of passion, experts claim.

According to research, those in arranged marriages – or who have had their partner chosen for them by a parent or matchmaker – tend to feel more in love as time grows, whereas those in regular marriages feel less in love over time.

Relationship experts claim this is because arranged matches are carefully considered, with thought going into whether potential partners’ families, interests and life goals are compatible.

This means they are more likely to commit for life – and to stick together through rocky patches.

Those who marry for love, on the other hand, tend to be blinded by passion and so overlook these crucial details. ”

It’s very possible that those in arranged marriages are lying on these surveys and are saving face for their relationships, pretending to be happy when they are miserable. But then perhaps the same could be said of choice-based marriages. People will always lie to save face and look good in front of others. Lying is more convenient than telling the truth. Just look at politics.

But if everyone was honest with their answers, then it seems to me that these two types of marriages are not so different after all. They both end up with the same destination. They just go through a different process of weeding undesirables to get to the ideal partner. This does stem to many other questions, but now I’d like to focus on the question that led me to look into arranged marriages in the first place.

Is love a choice?

I’m still trying to discern how best to find an answer to that question. There is a lot of material I may have to shift through from love psychology to human biology. I’d also have to find a working definition for love which is much harder than it sounds. Love between two people today is not the same sort of love that existed in two hundred years ago. If I do find an answer, I’ll write about it on here some day.

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