What’s good about arranged marriages

Awaiting The Fire God To Solemnize The Union O...

Awaiting The Fire God To Solemnize The Union Of Life Together…..A Wedding Or Marriage (Photo credit: Sunciti _ Sundaram’s Images + Messages)

For me personally they’re beyond my understanding. My parents fell in love and married. My mother is German while my father was Indian. I grew up believing that people got married because they love each other. I paid little, if any, attention to the few arranged marriages I saw around me. There weren’t many – I think a lot of people believed in love in the 60’s.
Now, in 2013 I’ve met more than one young person from the urban elite or urban middle class who want an arranged marriage. After much dating and many girl/boyfriends they ask their parents to find them somebody from the same background. Their reason – “If something goes wrong it’ll be their responsibility.”
They start out their married lives not wanting to take responsibility. Arranged marriages are the best thing for them. They’ve grown up with the idea of marriage as a transaction between two families, not between two individuals. Indoctrinated since birth they see no problem in throwing in their lot with a complete stranger.
When the marriage is arranged you’d think a long engagement might be in order – enabling families and fiancés to get to know each other. This is never the case. Engagements are short – taking place a week or a month before the wedding ceremony. Families don’t trust each other and harbour the suspicion that the other party will opt out suddenly, leaving their daughter/son with a bad reputation. The broken engagement may not be their fault but will definitely leave some stigma attached to them, the least (or greatest) of which may be “Bad karma.” Nobody will agree to marry them after that. Engagements are not a time for getting to know each other.
Couples who opt for an arranged marriage, or who don’t have an option MAKE it work because they are culturally attuned to arranged marriages and against divorce. They find positives where others might be hard put to notice them. They say, living with a stranger is new and exciting. They feel safe with an individual approved of by their family and even more safe in the bosom of their family. They believe that sex sanctioned by the family is the only sex to have and are ok with it and happy.
In arranged marriages everyone’s roles are clearly defined. The wife is subordinate, she’s tolerated in the marital home provided she panders to every whim of her mother in law, husband and anyone else who needs their ego stroked. In exchange she will be given bed and board and the much-needed status of being a married woman. Hindu priests pray over women with the blessing, “Sada suhagan ro” – may you always be married.
Ho hum.
If being married is the most important thing in your life, then any marriage, even an arranged one, will do.
On the other hand, one really great outcome of arranged marriages is the ability to bargain, if you’re not a meek woman. If you’re really bold enough to take on your mother in law and all the time-tested traditions you can deal with an arranged marriage. Many of the women of today are developing this strength to be who they want to be. Within the boundaries of what their parents expect them to do they become hard bargainers – unfettered by the chains of romantic love with their eye clearly on the goal of what they are fighting for. No emotional blackmail from a husband works. Because they don’t love him.  Any softer emotion they feel for him is secondary to their getting their way. It seems to work for them so that they’re empowered rather than being a slave to love. They’re not suppressed and this works because the waters are not muddied by emotion.
There’s something to be learned there for all those women who are so in love with their spouses they have a hard time getting their needs met, because they’re willing to give it all up and make their needs subservient to his.
Arranged marriage gives you a good head for bargaining.
What do you think?
I guess you can still tell that I haven’t found anything very positive in this patriarchal custom where wives are child bearers, upholders of the families morals and unpaid slaves.




About Kalpana

Trying to change the world one blog post at a time. I write. It's the best thing I can do. I am the Hanged Man, the Fool, the sometime Magician. Whether I travel in my imagination or in real life I write about it and show you pictures either through my photography or through the pictures I paint with my words. I read books and write fiction. During working hours I teach English as an Additional Language. I edit.

Posted on July 12, 2013, in dating, Divorce, habits, oppressive customs, strength, tradition and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I believe, every marriage, (both arranged and love), has its difficulties, and every marriage has its joys. In every marriage, both the partners have to make it work. While in an arranged marriage your spouse may be a stranger, even in love marriage, meeting a person for a few hours is way different than staying with him/her 24×7…

  2. subzeroricha

    strange but true.. all marriages need work to be done. And maybe in an arrange marriage its more but the fact is that any marriage is difficult to work…We all need to realise that loving someone and living with them for 24 hours is a damn tough job to do..


  3. the little princess

    i don’t think it is about arranged marriages or love marriage…. after all the initial euphoria, both fall into the same class….. that is love in a marriage. unless there is love, everything will to to be subservient, dominating, not worth it, etc etc…. with love and understanding, any type of marriage will be a very successful one….

  4. I grew up among arranged marriages and I disagree with everything that is being said here. All kinds of marriages fail and all cultures have chauvinistic men. One cannot generalize a system based on random observations. I did not have an arranged marriage, but had I not met me hubby, I’d have been game for one. Every marriage requires work and compromise. That being said, I would oppose marriages that are imbalanced, arranged or otherwise…:-) You have a very biased opinion on arranged marriages – from my firsthand experience, I’d seen some of the most successful and blissful unions in an arranged setting! Just had to give my 2 cents 😉

  5. I can so relate to your observations about arranged marriage being convenient and rooted in family sanctions. I used to work for one of the topmost youth brands in India and every market research unearthed the same thing.

    Personally, I don’t get arranged marriages. I see their logic, but I don’t understand how two young people, perfectly free to find their own love, can depend on an older generation to make the most important decision in their life??

    • So true urbanindianwoman. When people are old enough to vote, old enough to earn, why are they not old enough to take their own decisions? Why does someone else have to do it for them?

  6. I never agreed on arranged marriages and still don’t – even after I have a failed marriage under my belt, I was able to find a new partner and begin anew.

    I don’t want to put my happiness or lack thereof on anyone else. It’s my choice of whom I bed with, marry, and service. My family has nothing to do with it and nor should any other!

  7. I was not aware that many people allow the parents to arrange their marriages so that the parents would be responsible for its failure, if any. It amazes me how far people will go to shirk responsibility. Each of us only has one life to live. We can either: 1. Take responsibility and create the lives we want to live or 2. Let others shape our lives into something they want us to live. If you let others shape your life, you’ll never attain the degree of success or happiness you are striving for.

    Rachel recently posted The 16 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful People

    • Rachel Lavern, I too don’t understand what people mean by “so that the parents would be responsible for its failure”. If a marriage fails, irrespective of who the matchmaker was, the pain is directly felt by the person, and no one else can bail them out of the mess, but themselves. Parents in India have nothing to offer when their daughter’s marriage falls apart. They have a problem in letting the daughter stay with them at a time when she needs them most. They are scared of the uncomfortable questions the neighbors will ask. Everyone is alone in their pain. So no point in handing over life’s decisions to others.

  8. Very interesting. I don’t think I would like an arranged marriage but certainly if you had to you would adjust maybe sacrificing your own happiness if your simply couldn’t adapt.


  9. “If something goes wrong it’ll be their responsibility.”
    This. This is what I used to hear from my peers back in the 70s. What, if anything, has actually changed in the intervening years?! I am left wondering.

  10. “Within the boundaries of what their parents expect them to do they become hard bargainers – unfettered by the chains of romantic love with their eye clearly on the goal of what they are fighting for. No emotional blackmail from a husband works. Because they don’t love him. Any softer emotion they feel for him is secondary to their getting their way. It seems to work for them so that they’re empowered rather than being a slave to love. They’re not suppressed and this works because the waters are not muddied by emotion.”

    I think you are slightly off the mark there.. for women do not really bargain in arranged marriage. And its not really about being bold or not. Where in a love marriage, her wishes might become subservient to her husband, there is still hope that the man will give in since he does love her. But in an arranged marriage, her wishes become subservient to those of the entire family – basically, her chance never comes. When she does take on her in-laws, she is in many cases, ostracized, her parents are abused and sometimes, the entire community gangs up against her to retain the sanctity of their so-called norms.

    I think a woman is sacrificing everything that is dear to her – her dreams, wishes, aspirations in the hope that the new partner will “turn out” to be a great person. This doesn’t happen because a grown up man who can very well choose his own partner lets his mother choose only and only because he is a mama’s boy – and will be, always. There starts the root of many many problems to come.. and the girl has to accept this hard fact that her place will always be beneath her husband’s mother/father/sister.

    • As a woman who has been married to the same man for 39 years in NOT an arranged marriage, I still think that a smart woman could make an arranged marriage work – if an arranged marriage is her only cultural option. She could get her husband to fall so deeply in love with her that he will empower her, and stand up to his mother if the mother-in-law attempts to treat his wife badly. She in turn could make her mom-in-law her best friend….”The Art of War for Arranged Marriages” should be written.

      • I personally feel each person comes with their own personality and attitudes. I wonder if it is possible to reform a person and get him/her to become what the other person wants him to become. If there was some mantra for marital success, everyone would have used it. Every marriage has its ups and downs, but when one of the spouses has to do all the adjustment and back bending towards their spouse and the spouse’s family, it is a recipe for disaster. But in our country separation is not an easy option and one finds themselves stuck. They can only hope and pray for a better partner in their next life, unless they are bold enough to consider a separation.

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