Week two, I was captivated with the article “Why Are So Many Indian Arranged Marriages Successful?”. I’m not too familiar with the Indian culture, but I am aware they practice arranged marriages. Though, I was not aware the practice of arranged marriages was so highly prevalent in society today among Indians. The article states that “a vast majority of Indians and Indian Americans, many of them among the highest educated and westernized strata, choose an arranged marriage over a free-choice one”. The article identified interesting statistics to include that Indians have low divorce rates, high-levels of satisfaction, and because of arranged marriages, lack the need for decision making and expectation of their partners.
The article begins by explaining how the “typical modern arranged marriage works”. The typical arranged marriage begins when an individual’s parent or guardian conducts a search within their community, social circles, and even advertising on matrimonial websites and newspapers and vets’ potential mates. After a successful match is identified, the prospective families meet and allow the new couple a few supervised dates and possibly time alone. As both parental parties agree it’s not uncommon for decision of marriage to occur within a few days. “A 2013 IPSOS survey found that 74% of young Indians (18-35 years old) prefer an arranged marriage over a free-choice one. Other sources report that as many as 90% of all Indian marriages are arranged”.
It is recognized since 2007, that 1-100 Indian arranged marriages end in divorce which is one of the lowest divorce rates in the world. With that being said, there is a high-level of satisfaction in Indian arranged marriages. “A study of relationship outcomes among Indian-American couples, married either by free-choice or arranged marriages” indicate that there is no difference in how the married partners loved one another. The level of satisfaction of free-choice and arranged married couples revealed comparable results. My belief is that there would not be a difference in satisfaction within a marriage, whether by free-choice or arranged. Most people want to be married and have the desire for their marriages to be long-term. Dholakia provides his explanation for why arranged marriages are as satisfactory as free-choice marriages. He states, because the individuals involved surrender their right to choose, have little to no time to deliberate, and lower relationship expectations. These are great points and reasons that an arranged marriage can be successful, but these same factors could lead to negatives for an arranged marriage.
Previously, I noted the how a typical arranged marriage works. Which involves a parental figure vetting for the “perfect” match. A person naturally trusts their parents and choices they may make for them. The parents vetting process takes away any preconceived notion or “checklist” one could have if in a free-choice relationship. The potential, individual in an arranged marriage wouldn’t have the choice to decide on looks, personality, finances, and every other superficial desire those in free-choice relationships need fulfilled to say, “I do”.
That leads to the second point, no time to deliberate. Within a pre-arranged marriage, all choices have been decided to best fit “the family needs”. The person doesn’t have the ability to be overwhelmed with decisions or regret making the “right” choice. The article references research regarding complex decision making, “people are better served by not thinking too much and relying more on gut feelings. I agree with that. Complex decisions are difficult for me and at times can cause feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety, and headaches. Although not always complex, it makes me think of multiple choice test and deliberating between answers, “go with your first choice (answer), your usually right”.
Finally, the last reason that an arranged marriage is successful, is lower expectations of the two individuals. The only expectation would be of the potential marriage. The idea of choice and deliberation are not a factor because of the vetting process is already complete. The individuals are in the relationship as clean slates with no fixed opinions and lower expectations. In an arranged marriage, “many people give greater weight to compatibility and financial security over romantic love”. However, most things can get better with age. Arranged married couples have the honeymoon period to grow together and really get to know one another. Love can eventually grow and develop over time. “Research on satisfaction judgments shows, when expectations are low, they are more likely to be met or exceeded”.
The ideals of arranged marriage and free-choice marriage is a matter of preference, but more so a cultural and religious facet in life. It is interesting to know that arranged marriages are just as successful as free-choice marriage. Arranged marriages remind me of blind dates or online dating that could be successful at times. Each have a parent/friend or computer code vetting the “perfect relationship” match. According the television commercials some of those online dating sites are quite effective with their matches. Before reading this article, I thought of the negatives associated with arranged marriages to include the lack of choice and free-will, lack of love, and possible exploitation. As a US citizen, we want the right to choose. Choosing a partner is one of those choices in life. It may not be the right choice to have a “compatibility check list” when choosing a mate but from our decisions we experience life and learn from our mistakes. I was married once, it was a free-choice marriage. I and never thought the idea of a divorce would be an option an option for me. I married “till death do us part”. However, those sentiments must be the same between both parties. I guess that’s the part where free-choice is not the best as I had higher expectations of my ex-husbands and at the end was disappointed and let down after the “honeymoon” period.
Dholakia, U. (2015, November 24). Why Are So Many Indian Arranged Marriages Successful? Web log post. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-behind-behavior/201511/why-are-so-many-indian-arranged-