An arranged marriage is when a couple are decided to wed by people other than themselves. In most cases, this is decided by their parents or other elders in their families, but can also be decided by religious figures, teachers, close friends of the family or others. It is mostly practised in Southern Asian, African, East and Middle Eastern cultures today, and in East and Southeast Asian cultures to some extent. Arranged marriages are not just an alliance between two individuals, it is an alliance between families. Unlike forced marriages, partners are usually only suggested to the single person in question. They can accept or refuse.
Many people in Western cultures disagree with arranged marriages. It is the social norm in the west to form a deep, emotional bond with someone before marriage is even considered. However, recent studies have shown that although arranged marriages start with a low level of love (using the American Rubin Love Scale), they usually have twice the amount of love as non-arranged marriages within 10 years. Whereas in non-arranged marriages the level of love seems to become less as time goes on.
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While they are unpopular in the United States, arranged marriages still exist in some places around the world today. An arranged marriage, as it’s most commonly known, is one in which the parents select the spouse for their children. There are two different types of arranged marriages. The first type is a forced arranged marriage, when the parents or guardians select a spouse for their child, and the individual child has no say in the decision. In the second type, the child is allowed to meet the selected spouse in advance, and perhaps go on a few family outings together before they have the power to approve or reject their parents’ selection. The latter type of arranged marriage tends to be more common, especially in the 21st century.
In either case, the marriage does not depend on any feelings of love between the couple beforehand; instead, their love for each other is expected to grow throughout the marriage.Q1
Love and Marriage
From a Western perspective, we might think that marriages not based on love are doomed to failure or unhappiness, but this is usually not the case. One study done in India in the 1980s used the Rubin Love Scale to measure the amount of love in a relationship over the course of many years. In India, both autonomous and arranged marriages are fairly common, so the researchers compared and contrasted their results. They found that autonomous marriages start with a high amount of love, but the number goes down steadily in future years. In arranged marriages, on the other hand, the amount of love the couple feels starts relatively low, but it increases over time. By the ten-year mark, arranged marriages experienced twice the amount of love as autonomous marriages. Of course, some marriages are dysfunctional and even abusive, but according to the study, those in arranged marriages generally enjoy happier lives and lower divorce rates.
Millions of people have had arranged marriages in the past, and millions still engage in the practice today. Most modern arranged marriages take place in the Middle East and Far East, in countries like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Japan, and others. It has become less popular in places like China over the past few decades, as the culture rapidly Westernizes and young people are beginning to value individual choice more than family traditions and preferences.
Arranged marriage was much more universal in previous centuries, and was still quite common across Europe until the 1700s. Immigrant families brought the practice to America, where it still lingers among some minority groups. Today, some royal families and elites around the world still arrange their marriages, to preserve royal heritage or social status.Q2
Reasons to Arrange
The reasons for arranging a marriage vary widely based on location and era. Often, families arrange the marriage of their child simply because it is the custom. The basic idea is that the parents know their children better than anyone else, so they will have the wisdom and experience to pick the perfect partner. It also gets the whole family more involved in the relationship, allowing the marriage to prosper with the help of respected elders and family members.
Arranged marriage usually has practical benefits as well. Parents will select a richer man for their daughter to marry to ensure her financial security and social standing. In many cultures, the right marriage can even raise the status of a whole family. Marriages can also be political actions, whether they further the family’s position in politics, establish political alliances for the future, or smooth over some past conflicts. Poverty sometimes necessitates an arranged marriage when the parents can no longer afford to care for their own daughter. Among immigrant populations such as in the United States, parents set their children up with future spouses to ensure the child marries within their own ethnicity.
Arranged marriages might seem unfamiliar and strange to certain people, but they are actually fairly common around the world and have many individual and social benefits. Some young people in China have begun to realize this — when a single person 30 years of age or older and has not found a spouse, they will sometimes ask their parents to set up a marriage, because it is easier and more reliable than continuing to date on their own. So if you ever feel tired of the single life and would like to give married life a shot, you too could ask your parents to go ahead and set you up with that special someone.Q3
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