Arranged to marry a strange…

My grandma

There has been a lot of controversy around the concept of not being able to choose whom you love and whom you spend the rest of your life with. Arranged marriages are organized strategically by family members, you are essentially forced to marry a stranger, fingers crossed you get along and aren’t at each other’s throats.

But many people argue that you grow to love that significant other, and in that sense the marriage is in some way built on a more solid foundation than love at first sight.

Shockingly, arranged marriages divorce rate globally is only at 4%. When we compare this to more natural instances of marriages, at the age of about 30 the divorce rate is at 41%. Arranged marriages do in some sense account for ultimate compatibility, the decision is made with a sort of checklist in mind: within same religion, beliefs, linguistic group, background, culture, dietary preference etc. I’m assuming that most people having gone through an arranged marriage probably had the worst expectations and thoughts going into it but then often down the line are somewhat surprised by how well they work together. Dr Robert Epstein studied and did some research on arranged marriages, he concludes that being in love can sometimes “fade by as much as half in 18 months, whereas the love in arranged marriages tends to grow gradually” (Mail Online). Essentially arranged marriage is thinking with your head, which consequentially leaves less impulsive and foolish decisions.

So perhaps arranged marriages are in fact the more successful, worthwhile method? But then again there’s something so exhilarating in being foolishly, inevitably and passionately in love with another human. It’s the sort of experience that cannot be fully explained or portrayed in words or movies, it’s something you have to live through yourself. We are ultimately talking about love, surely love defines liberation, its an entity that’s far beyond our control, it’s something we don’t ultimately have power over. Being forced into something that should come naturally can make someone feel very uncomfortable and hesitant to the ceremony.

It is also the 21st century, which entails strong individuals with increasingly unique and ‘out of the box’ beliefs and opinions. The millennial generation may have grown up within a certain culture but we also grew up in a somewhat liberal environment shaping us into open-minded, individualistic, free-spirited and opinionated beings. That in some sense has to make it more difficult to arrange a marriage between two very individualistic beings even if they are from the same background and culture.

Just because the divorce rate of arranged marriage is considerably less than that of ‘love marriages’ doesn’t really say much considering that it is somewhat expected of you to carry out the ‘contract’, for your family and for your culture. For me, the idea of an arranged marriage comes across as a very superficial accord. It’s essentially a checklist that should result in the best possible outcome in terms of: reputation, wealth, vocation, medical and appearance.

I’m not at all saying I’m against arranged marriages. I just believe each person should at least once have the freedom, choice and experience of falling head over heels in love with another person. There’s something so organic and real in being able to live through that.


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