55% of all marriages in the world are arranged by parents and family, while in India this statistic goes as high as 88.4%. (Source) . And if you thought most marriages are a result of an ongoing, happy relationship between two people, you probably need to rethink.
What Is An Arranged Marriage?
A marital union of two individuals chosen by the parents and the immediate family is known as an arranged marriage. Now, there is a considerable difference in an arranged marriage where both the bride and groom share a short courtship period and can refuse the marriage; and forced marriage. A forced marriage differs from an arranged marriage in the respect that it does not give the right of dissent to either the bride or the groom, or both. Arranged marriages, though questionable by the modern society, still remains as the most common mean of matrimony in countries that follow a traditional social model.
Arranged Marriages In India
Marriages in India are not just two people who take vows to spend their entire lives together, but a whole festival that lasts for days and involves everyone in the family, neighborhood and friends. And when the marriage is an arranged one, the hoopla can simply not be ignored. Though one would say that arranged marriages have been in existence (for good) as far as human history goes, the recent century has seen many of us questioning the morals and principles behind it. And if you thought marriages are made in heaven, let us remind you that at the end of the day, the couple has to live on Earth. And a lifetime isn’t short. Nevertheless, they remain highly popular, and leave little or no control with the individual. You could read more about advantages and disadvantages of arranged marriage here.
Are Arranged Marriages Happy Marriages?
Every marriage has a 50% chance of being a happy one, however, you can be truly happy if you are in love with the person you vow to spend the rest of your life with. Respect, mutual understanding and cooperation, sensitivity to each other’s needs and desires, financial stability, compatibility, comfort levels with each other etc. are other key metrics that lead to a happy marriage. However, these metrics are very subjective in nature and could be missing in an arranged marriage. But because arranged marriages do not give ample time and right to the couple to decide on these factors, they take a secondary importance. Needless to say, not everyone who is in an unhappy marriage really goes about saying so.
What Are The Top Arguments Against Arranged Marriages?
Let us discuss top 8 arguments against arranged marriages. Bear in mind that we are only talking about arranged marriages and not forced marriages. In our society, an arranged marriage has plenty of room for concealing deal breakers, like the below listed :
1. One is not in control to choose a life partner
You come into this world with all your relations already in place- except one. Finding a spouse is essentially everyone’s right, and arranged marriages take away that sole right as well. One does not get to listen to their mind and compare them against their ideals. Most parents believe that a meeting or two with the prospective match is enough to take a decision for a lifetime.
2. Compatibility is decided by parents, family
Compatibility can create a successful marriage or make a recipe for disaster. However, in case of arranged marriages, one cannot know enough about the other person to gauge the compatibility level in the short courtship period, wherein most people put their best foot forward.
3. The process is dehumanizing
Some cultures follow a practice that involves the prospective bride to be selected based on color, height, weight etc. The girl is often paraded like a commodity and the groom can reject the girl for the way she looks- breast size to wide smile. People in arranged marriages marry the physical aspects of a person that satiates them, not the qualities.
4. Love is the second priority
In India at least, arranged marriages are marriages between families. This puts a lot of pressure on both the partners to meet the opposite family’s expectations. This often leads to frustrations, frequent arguments and unhealthy compromises – making love take a seat at the end.
5. Extended family interference
Because the full control of the wedding and everything concerned with it lies with parents, their involvement stays paramount in the relationship. Sometimes, it could turn nasty with privacy and individuality both being compromised, giving the marriage a miserable shape.
6. Expectations are not clearly defined
All of us have some expectations out of our life partners, which actually rarely get discussed in arranged marriages. With a very limited say in your and your partner’s life, it could make a marriage unhealthy and unsustainable.
7. One ends up living with a stranger
Imagine meeting a person a few times briefly and the next thing you know is you are sharing a life with him or her! Bizarre as it may sound, it is the truth. Arranged marriages do not leave one with enough time to get to know each other closely.
8. Likely communication gap
One does not know what to expect out of the marriage, one is in a very limited control of the relationship and one is battling loads of family interference. Communication gap creeps up its ugly head and turns to be a potential relationship wrecker.
9. Relationship takes a long time to bloom
With love a second priority and the weight of family expectations, it is but only likely that a relationship will take a long time to bloom. It is sometimes after having children that a couple realizes that they are indeed, in love!
10. Love making is a chore
With little or no feelings, love making just becomes a regular chore, at least for women in the initial stages of arranged marriages. No one talks about what they like or dislike and simply ‘do it’ because they are married.
11. Financial loopholes
In arranged marriages, there are huge chances that one is not aware of financial debts of the other family. Sometimes, one partner is not prepared to deal with the financial commitments of the in-laws and this serves as a deal breaker. Dowry is often associated with arranged marriages, so as to show-off the financial status of a family.
12. Low divorce rate, but high unhappiness index
Because arranged marriages involve families, people tend to live in bad marriages for the fear of brining shame to the family. Even if a marriage is an abusive one, many women continue to live their life in misery and fear as a divorce is unthinkable and will bring bad name to their families.
So Are Arranged Marriages Wrong?
In theory, arranged marriages seem a perfect way to start a married life. Why, the divorce rates are almost negligible! But in practice, they are much like a social evil, with individuals having little or no choice over their most important decision in life. They bring about a lot of other evils too, like abuse, dowry, compromises etc. Love should be the driving force behind a marriage, not family pressures. Kick-starting a new life with someone needs to be a happy, mutually consented decision so that life is enjoyed in all its glory.