Arranged marriages are one of the oldest traditions in the world.
For generations, young men and women have relied on their parents and highly trusted matchmakers to choose their life partners.
And in countries like India, Japan, and China, it has worked very well.
As NBC News reported, “The divorce rate of arranged marriages is less than 4 percent versus 40 percent of marriages in the U.S. where partners chose who to marry on their own free will.”
Bottom line: Arranged marriage isn’t going away any time soon. And, in fact, maybe it’s time more people considered arranged marriage.
If you base what you want for your marriage on what you see in a typical American rom-com, you’re likely setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment.
There is nothing wrong with love and romance, of course, but love and romance are rarely sustainable for the duration of a multi-decade-long marriage.
And they don’t make for a strong foundation when the going gets tough.
If you want to be married to the same person for many decades, it’s a good idea to focus on compatibility instead of emotion.
For many (if not most) people who pursue arranged marriage, preserving long-held family traditions and values is of utmost importance.
Families know that marriage is what will preserve and ultimately pass down their values to the next generation.
So there’s a mutual interest in picking a partner who will share these priorities.
These shared family and personal values often include:
- sharing the same background or culture
- sharing a similar financial status or compatibility
- sharing the same religion or religious beliefs
To be human is to have expectations. But when it comes to an arranged marriage, partners don’t typically enter into the relationship expecting to be dazzled by their partner.
Relationships formed in the context of an arranged marriage take time to warm and grow. Trust isn’t established automatically.
In an arranged marriage, there’s a shared understanding that the relationship will require work and effort. Nothing is taken for granted.
Without knowing each other or spending time in a lengthy dating period, the couple in an arranged marriage has very few actual expectations about each other.
This can lead to great commitment and contentment as they start without unhealthy demands placed on each other from prior years of keeping each other happy.
Young adults today who date in the traditional way face lots of unnecessary pressure to find their “soul mate” and to be the person their “soul mate” wants to find.
So much stress exists in the dating scene as people change who they truly are in order to find who they truly want. Not so in an arranged marriage.
With arranged marriage, you don’t need to wait around for your “soul mate” who may never actually materialize.
Additionally, traditional dating requires a lot of time and energy without much of a commitment or plan for where the dating is headed.
Basically, dating can be very costly – emotionally, financially, physically. In a traditional dating relationship, the following questions may be asked:
- Am I dating the right person?
- What if there’s someone out there who is more compatible?
- Am I truly happy with this person?
- Does this person meet all my needs?
Arranged marriage seeks to eliminate the unnecessary questions posed in the modern dating game and instead allows young people to focus on career, family, friends, and hobbies while still finding the right life partner.
In the world of arranged marriages, there is no pressure on young adults to find their soul mate. The hard work of finding the right partner is done for them.
In a traditional dating relationship, autonomy is generally prized above partnership.
But in an arranged marriage, “us” is more important than “me.”
Community and family are highly prized from the beginning of the relationship and every day thereafter.
While marriage is ultimately a relationship between two people, it is also a merging of families, traditions, upbringings, and habits.
And a strong marriage will have the love and support of both families.
It has been said that in marriage, you don’t just marry your partner; you marry the family.
Since arranged marriages are typically decided between family units, both families are more involved and supportive of the couple even after they are married.
Families are usually very committed to helping the couple succeed in their marriage.
Three ways the family often stays involved with the couple after they are married include:
- helping care for and raise any children produced by the marriage
- resolving any unfortunate conflicts that arise between the husband and wife
- supporting the family in the event of financial need or collapse
While there are plenty of surprises in an arranged marriage (since the partner’s identity can even be a surprise), keep in mind that most families have already completed a police-level background check on the person you are marrying.
Very little – if anything – is left undiscovered before a wedding.
Often, in an arranged marriage, the couple knows more about each other before they ever meet than dating couples know after years of spending time together.
And there are fewer surprises because individuals in an arranged marriage have nothing to lose by telling the truth – they aren’t already physically or emotionally invested in the relationship.
There are fewer surprises from the very beginning. For example, before the couple ever meets or agrees to a marriage, the family has already vetted the following:
- current job and future employment goals
- family history, values, and traditions,
- lifestyle choices
Marriage is an incredibly big and important decision, and it’s ironic that so many couples who date make the decision with little to no understanding of what would actually make a good marriage partner.
By involving the family in the decision, couples avoid a lot of unnecessary heartbreak and enjoy the benefit of relying on the wisdom of those who are older or more experienced.
In arranged marriages, there is no “trial and error” like there is in dating.
Parents know the type of partner their child would benefit from – and what type of partner would benefit from being married to their child.
And so, years of experience and wisdom guide the parents into arranging the right marriage for their child.
Three of the most important issues in a marriage that older, wiser generations can help assess in a future partner include:
It’s hard to deny the research: arranged marriages have greater success in the long run.
For hundreds of years, it was not uncommon for couples in an arranged marriage to meet for the first time on their wedding day.
While today there are different variations of arranged marriage, it is most common for couples who have been arranged to meet ahead of time and even date in their family’s home or under the supervision of a chaperone once a commitment has been made.
No matter the details of the arranged marriage, one thing is clear: commitment is the goal. Couples enter into an arranged marriage ready to do the work to make the relationship thrive.
There is no “Plan B” for a couple who chooses an arranged marriage, and even this mentality often sets couples on the path to relationship success.
One of the many benefits of involving the family in the decision of selecting a life partner is that the family will ensure that both partners act in a responsible and respectable way.
Their own reputation hinges on it. No family wants to be known for the arranged marriage that fell apart.
Couples in an arranged marriage typically respect their own family and would never want to do anything that places their family or reputation in jeopardy.
So, this ensures both members of the arranged marriage put in the necessary effort to make the marriage work.
Arranged marriages typically offer mutual respect.
Recent research estimates that “Over half of the marriages worldwide are arranged and that over 20 million of those unions exist in the world today.”
And with the divorce rate of arranged marriages only 4 percent, it does make it an option to consider.
Why do arranged marriages work? Or maybe the more important question to ask is: Why aren’t more people choosing arranged marriage?
Family involvement, commitment, and leveled expectations must be key ingredients for relationships to survive over the long haul.
Those who choose arranged marriage are experiencing a higher degree of marital success.
Arranged marriage isn’t for everyone, but it is for those who value their family’s input and prioritize commitment and sustainability. While it may be hard to pinpoint exactly why arranged marriages are more successful than traditional dating-turned-marriages, one thing is clear: statistically speaking, an arranged marriage is a marriage meant to last.