In some parts of the world, arranged marriages are the norm. While most of us scoff at the idea of spending our lives with someone we’ve never dated—and it should go without saying that no one should be forced into a situation they don’t want to be in—I don’t actually think it’s such a bad idea.
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you should marry them. Not everyone in an arranged marriage feels like they missed out on anything. Even though a lot of people marry for love, loving someone doesn’t always make for a successful or healthy long-term relationship. For people in arranged marriages, love isn’t always the focus or the goal. Maybe that sounds sad to some of us, but couldn’t it be a more realistic view of marriage?
Arranged marriages are all about longevity. I really like the idea of entering a marriage with someone where the idea of being together for life is paramount. This isn’t just wishful thinking either—the divorce rate in arranged marriage couples is only 4%! I’m not saying that Western marriages don’t also value longevity, but I feel like many couples are quick to throw in the towel because society tends to encourage people to change course when things aren’t going our way. I like the idea of achieving longevity as a principle of marriage rather than it just being a goal.
Devotion is more important than love. I’ve read up on arranged marriages a lot and there’s one principle that constantly comes up: devotion, which is associated with a sense of spirituality, sanctity, and loyalty. It’s like a commitment but much deeper—it’s almost vocational. I’m not saying that Western marriages don’t have these elements as well, but cultures with arranged marriages consider devotion to the other person as one of the major responsibilities spouses share in their marriage. While love is amazing, sometimes it isn’t enough to save a relationship, let alone a marriage. In my opinion, devotion provides a wonderful foundation for love to grow.
No love, no pressure. I’m personally a sucker for love and I think that I’d like a love marriage. That being said, finding said love can be a very frustrating journey, to say the least, and I’ve been pretty unlucky in that department. Love is literally an afterthought in arranged marriages; finding a suitable partner is the focus. Is that such a bad thing?
The exhausting dating phase doesn’t exist. If you’ve seen The Big Sick, you might remember Kumail’s mother bringing potential wives to dinner for him to get to know. Kumail seems super exhausted by his mother’s efforts in the movie, but I see the flip side. If someone could basically be my matchmaker and introduce me to super attractive, eligible men who are actually looking for marriage, I feel like I could totally get down with that. Dating is so exhausting and dating guys who reveal way too late in the game that they don’t want to be married is demoralizing.
Your family picks your partner, which is actually kind of a good idea. I was pretty skeptical about this until I realized that many members of my family know me really well. In fact, my sister could probably find me a husband pretty quickly if I asked for her help. She knows what I’m like, she knows my crappy dating history, and she’s been there all my life. When I think about it that way, it really wouldn’t be that bad. I trust her and I know she wouldn’t match me with just anyone.
You get the total scoop on the person you’re marrying so there are no nasty surprises. Since families are so involved in the arranged marriage process, they also play a huge role in vetting the potential spouse and potential in-laws after the courtship phase. When I start dating someone, I shamelessly ask my best friends to engage in FBI-level vetting to help me find everything possibly problematic about the guy I’m dating to make sure he’s not too good to be true. In an arranged marriage, it seems like this role is left to the parents and families of the potential spouses, and since they have a stake in the marriage, no stone is left unturned. Sounds pretty good to me.
Spouses are pretty much guaranteed to share values. One of the most frustrating things about modern dating is trying to find someone who shares my values. Since people’s families and cultures are intricately involved in the matching process in arranged marriages, finding someone you share values with doesn’t seem necessarily difficult. As someone who needs to be with someone who has morals similar to mine, I feel like this is one box that arranged marriages can check off without much effort.
It’s kind of like being in your own season of The Bachelorette. I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but it really does seem that way. Instead of Chris Harrison and producers choosing your possible mates, your parents and family do it. Sure, you don’t get to hand out roses, you probably don’t get to go on super fancy dates all around the world, and you’re still allowed to have your cell phone. However, your fate is in someone else’s hands at certain points in both situations. Either you grow to love a person you’re introduced to or you don’t. That doesn’t sound so bad to me.
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