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Article Contents

I. introduction, ii. misunderstanding the arranged marriage, iii. understanding arranged marriage, iv. conclusion and suggestions for further research.

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Understanding Arranged Marriage: An Unbiased Analysis of a Traditional Marital Institution

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Naema N Tahir, Understanding Arranged Marriage: An Unbiased Analysis of a Traditional Marital Institution, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family , Volume 35, Issue 1, 2021, ebab005, https://doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/ebab005

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This research asks one simple question, a question many studies on the arranged marriage omit to ask, namely “What exactly is the arranged marriage?” Author Naema Tahir, born and bred in the arranged marriage culture, but educated in the free-choice marriage culture, argues that much literature on the arranged marriage fails to offer full exploration of this traditional marital system. Instead, the arranged marriage is often analysed through the lens of the modern free choice marriage system. However, this is not a neutral lens. It considers the free choice marriage to be the ideal. As a result, the arranged marriage is perceived to be a “marriage of shortcomings”, one that fails to meet the standards of the free-choice marriage system. The author encourages readers to break this frame and offers a neutral perspective on this traditional marital system practised by billions around the world. Readers are invited to an in-depth and rigorous analysis of the foundations upon which the arranged marriage system rests. While this analysis zooms in on the case study of one particular focus group, the British Pakistani diaspora, it reveals broad insights into the arranged marriage system in general. This analysis highlights and critically examines social principles fundamental to the arranged marriage system and which are much misunderstood, such as hierarchy, patriarchy, collectivism, group loyalty and the role of parental and individual marital consent. The author argues that it is vital to first understand the traditional structures of the arranged marriage, before one can understand modernizing tendencies the arranged marriage system is currently undergoing. As such, this study hugely contributes to an unbiased understanding of the arranged marriage and changing arranged marriage patterns and is a valuable reading for those interested in marriage, marital systems and the future thereof.

There is a tendency in academic literature to view the arranged marriage from the lens of the autonomous marriage. In this literature the arranged marriage is compared in a binary to the autonomous marriage. 1 While a comparison of the arranged marriage to the autonomous marriage should be an unbiased one, the contrary is true. From this binary, both marital systems are not viewed neutrally. The autonomous marriage, thriving on individual choice, is perceived to be the ideal marital system, while the arranged marriage, supported by traditional kin authority, is not considered ideal. Resulting from this, the autonomous marriage sets the standards of an ideal marriage all marriages must aim for, including the arranged marriage. The arranged marriage is then measured by characteristics typical of the autonomous marriage system. However, the arranged marriage, even in its most modern manifestation, is not an autonomous marriage. Monitoring the arranged marriage as if it were or should be autonomous, emphasizes defects, deficits, lacunas in the arranged marriage on matters related to autonomy. Measured this way, the arranged marriage turns into something faulty. It becomes a marriage of shortcomings.

There is a necessity to study the arranged marriage on its own terms and not in a binary with the autonomous marriage. 2 This will enable judging the arranged marriage on the qualities and rewards it holds for its practitioners. At its core, this article hopes to contribute to an understanding of the arranged marriage from an unbiased lens.

This article is set up in three sections.

Section II will investigate biased understandings of the arranged marriage in more detail, by critically evaluating the binary approach in scholarly literature, illustrated further by a study of a variety of categorizations and close interpretation of definitions on the arranged marriage. Section II argues that in scholarly literature, the arranged marriage is framed as a lesser version of the ideal of autonomous conjugal union.

Section III will aim to construct a Weberian ideal type 3 of the traditional arranged marriage as a useful tool that offers neutral, unbiased insights into general features all arranged marriage systems, to varying degrees, share. The arranged marriage will be understood as a guardianship invested marital system, which is organized in a hierarchical, aristocratic manner, upheld by parental authority, group orientation and belonging. This section will provide a conceptual, theoretical analysis of the arranged marriage by drawing on literature that intersects between tradition and modernity, by leading scholars in the field. 4 Through this analysis a marital system will surface which is embedded in a cultural inherited belief that the young must be relieved of mate-selection which is perceived, not so much as a harmless liberty with mere individual impact, but as a burden that the strongest shoulders in the community must be bear, and as a choice that has broad implications for the family, extended family, and community.

Section IV will conclude as to how knowledge on the arranged marriage proper, as an aristocratic guardianship system, can be applied to the varied practices of changing patterns in arranged marriages, that include the increasing involvement of the young in mate-selection and marriage making. This section will also offer suggestions for further research.

This article will focus on analyses of conjugal practices of British immigrant Pakistanis residing in the UK, the largest Pakistani diaspora in the world that strongly upholds the arranged marriage system. While narrowing down the focus to one culture, norm and values will surface that typically underlie the arranged marriage system in general.

For this article, the following working definition of arranged marriage will be employed: marriage for which the mate selection is under the guardianship and authority of elders of the (extended) families of both marital agents and that aligns the families in a durable relational bond that allows for a legitimate space and belonging for the conjugal union. 5 The following working definition will be employed of the autonomous marriage: marriage for which the mate selection is undertaken by the marital agents, who base their selection on subjective criteria with the aim to align the agents in a durable relational conjugal union. 6

1. Biased Binary Approach

The so-called binary approach in the study or representation of the arranged marriage is much criticized in literature. 7 This binary is considered ‘liberal individualist’ 8 or Eurocentric. 9 Set in a binary with the autonomous marriage, the arranged marriage is judged by the idealized standards of the autonomous marriage. That which is idealized is individual freedom and conjugal choice. Individualism is considered progressive, there is free choice and the freeing of individual potential. 10 The autonomous marriage elevates the individual who emancipated themselves and rose from the bonds of a history in which marriage choices were not left to solely the individuals. 11 Individuals assume that this transformation from ‘arranged marriages to love matches is progressive and “healthy” … the result should be happier marriages’. 12 Central to the autonomous marriage is the nuclear family, otherwise known as the conjugal or the atomistic family. 13 The dissolving of the extended family into the nuclear family is also seen as a marker of modernity and progress. 14 Modernity signifies improvement, including modernity in the way one marries. 15 Through modernization, arranged marriage will be replaced by self-chosen unions. 16 ‘[A]lthough Western ideas about the family are often opposed or resisted at first, many of these ideas are nevertheless adopted, often in modified forms, because the Western style family is so closely associated with development.’ 17 And while this theory may have its critics, 18 this article claims that it still holds ground as regards arranged marriage.

As suggested by the convergence theory and developmental paradigm, 19 the arranged marriage is held to the expectation that it will one day adapt to the Western ways, and advance into the autonomous marriage, as a sign of emancipation, of progress.

Until then, the arranged marriage appears lacking in those very features so particular of the autonomous marriage: free choice, individual energy, emphasis on the idiocentric conjugal union and the self-centred nuclear family. Literature magnifies those very features and puts the arranged marriage to the test: can it fulfil standards of full and free autonomy? Failing to do so turns the arranged marriage into something faulty. The arranged marriage culture is seen as ‘deficient’ and ‘deformed’. 20 It becomes the ‘other’. 21 ‘[T]he “Orient” is constructed and represented in the binary opposition against the Occident as the “Other”.’ 22 This binary distinction ‘[p]roblematically contributes to the discursive portrayal of arranged marriages as certainly less than and other to mainstream marriage practices’. 23

The social principles of individual freedom and autonomy are given much weight in perspectives on the arranged marriage. However, such principles are not neutral. They are ‘European values, assumptions, cultural codes’, are ‘culturally-determined and biased’, and offer ‘limited historical perspectives’, 24 providing a lens through which the arranged marriage is evaluated. There then, is a free-choice system at one end of the spectrum, a space that cannot be shared with the arranged marriage, for that is a parent-orchestrated endeavour and parents’ ‘subtle coercion has a tainting effect on the child's quality of choice’. 25 Thus emerges at the other end of the spectrum the not so free system called the arranged marriage.

Of course, the arranged marriage is certainly not considered a forced marriage in the studied literature—though media often equate the two. 26 However, literature on the arranged marriage frequently mentions forced unions and thus frequently connects arranged marriage to forced marriage. Besides, an overlap between arranged and forced marriage is often recognized and referred to as a ‘grey area’ with the potential of ‘slippage:’ the slightest increase of duress can lead the arranged marriage to ‘slip’ into a forced one. 27 The arranged marriage is always haunted by force.

The heightened attention to freedom and the lack thereof highlights consent, arguably the most important legal principle the arranged marriage is expected to prove. This consent must be full and free. 28 A recurring question in literature is whether arranged marriage supports full and free consent. 29 If consent is present, the union is considered an arranged marriage. Without consent the union is considered coerced. Consent separates arranged marriage from forced marriage. 30 This leads to a preoccupation in legal and policy discourse with the presence of consent and the absence of coercion in the arranged marriage. 31 The presence of consent and the absence of coercion determine the value of the arranged marriage. In essence, the arranged marriage is framed in yet another binary: that between consent versus coercion, a binary that is damaging and limiting. 32 The culture of the arranged marriage in itself becomes problematic. 33 This culture needs to prove constantly that there is no coercion involved. In addition, the binary is limiting in a different sense too. Consent, full and free is a human rights standard, 34 as well as a legal tool to declare the legitimacy of marriage as an uncoerced union. 35 Yet, consent as it operates in the law is given a ‘Western individualistic bent’. 36 As such, read in ‘plain language’ ‘only “free market” or choice marriages —a hallmark of Western societies—meet the “free and full” requirement because “there is nothing to prevent men and women from taking spouses which do not meet their families” approval’. 37

Arranged marriage contexts do not evolve around the freeing of individual energy. They are characterized by collective dynamisms with a particular ‘distribution of power and wider familial and community involvement’. 38 ‘The arranged marriage process, heavily reliant on parental and sometimes extended family input, fails to measure up to the requirements of free and full consent.’ 39 The attention given to full consent ignores that something given an individualistic bent is a strange bedfellow in a system that is not primarily or fully individualistic, nor aims to be. Consent is a universal principle which certainly has its place in the arranged marriage system. Yet, the language of consent in the discourse on arranged marriage is an expression of the ‘rational individual with free will’ 40 or the ‘free self’. 41 It is the language of an atomistic individual, of ‘an autonomous agent who is able to choose and act freely’. 42 This is not the language of a member deeply engrained in community belonging, duty, and purpose.

To reiterate, individual autonomy, including the right to consent, dictates the preoccupation in literature on arranged marriage. Notions such as agency, control, freedom to date, freedom to reject a selected candidate, negotiating power, the right of marital subjects to fall in love, choice and the freedom to self-select, receive profound consideration as a consequence.

In this regard, it is illustrative that arranged marriage is often categorized in types which reflect differing amounts of yet again this very notion of individual autonomy. There are three main types of categorization: traditional, semi-arranged, or love-arranged marriage types. 43 Arranged marriages earmarked as traditional are described as offering no or very little involvement by the young, 44 as if involvement or the lack thereof is the only feature of traditional arranged marriage. Semi-arranged or hybrid types, also known as joint-venture types, point to control shared by the elders and the young alike, 45 which again only emphasize this control as a shared element, as if nothing is of any relevance other than control . Finally, the love-arranged types are embodiments of near full individual control and individual love. 46 This categorization according to a ‘sliding scale of control’ 47 does not highlight what the arranged marriage in general is or what it offers, other than control, to those practising it. Some authors even reject ‘arranged’ as a word to describe this marital system, as this word suggests a lack of control. 48 Individual control has become a dominating feature by which arranged marriage is judged. But it is again agency and control towards more autonomy that academics are consumed with and not agency or autonomy towards more traditional features arranged marriage offers. Those are simply ignored or not sought for. Those remain irrelevant and underexamined.

There could only be one reason why social principles that are founded upon the philosophy of idiocentrism and the freeing of individual energy, are tirelessly sought in a system that thrives on allocentrism, group-belonging and honour for group loyalty. Arguably, the arranged marriage culture only seems to satisfy the Eurocentric mind if it contains the same recognizable ingredients as the autonomous marriage culture. And as it does not, the arranged marriage represents a lesser marital version than the prized autonomous marriage.

2. Biased Definitions of Arranged Marriage

The above bias is reflected in descriptions and definitions of the arranged marriage. Many descriptions or definitions only really offer information as to who selects the mate, eg ‘parent orchestrated alliances’, 49 or ‘marriages that are instigated by the family’, 50 or ‘arranged by family members or respected members in the religious or ethnic community’. 51 Other definitions view the arranged marriage from a biased Eurocentric appreciation. These definitions accentuate ‘individualizing tendencies’. 52

While there is nothing wrong with individuation and autonomy, especially if so desired by those involved in arranged marriages, 53 headlining these modern notions points to a Eurocentric domination as to how the arranged marriage ought to be valued. Simultaneously, such one-sided promotion undervalues notions that cannot be grouped under ‘individualizing tendencies’ and the freeing of individual energy.

A case in point are the following definitions. Arranged marriages are featured as those ‘in which the spouses are chosen for one another by third parties to the marriage such as parents or elder relatives’, 54 or ‘the partners to which are chosen by others , usually their parents’. 55 In these definitions elders are referred to as ‘third parties’ or ‘others’. These wordings seem innocent, yet they are not. They suggest that marital subjects are the ‘first parties’. This qualification is justified if marriage is perceived to be an alliance between individuals, which is the case in the autonomous marriage system. This qualification is not correct if marriage is seen as an alliance between (extended) families, which emerges in the arranged marriage system. 56 ‘ First ’ parties suggests a hierarchy above ‘ third ’ parties, which is not an attribute of the arranged marriage system where singular members of the group, in this case the marital agents, are not valued above the elders or generally above one’s group. Similarly, mentioning that ‘parents rather than. spouses’ or ‘two families rather than individuals’ 57 contract a marriage is again pointing to a Eurocentric preference for self-selection.

Other definitions amplify attention to the individual more explicitly. For example in the definition ‘marriage arranged by the families of the individuals’, 58 the individual is seen as a separate entity, while, as we shall learn in Section III, a ‘tradition directed person … hardly thinks of himself as an individual’. 59 Indeed, ‘[t]he ideology that underpins a South Asian “arranged” marriage is that obligations to one’s immediate and more extended family have priority over personal self-interest’. 60 Ignoring this, is judging the arranged marriage from a ‘Western individualistic bent’. 61 In the same vein, many definitions contain the words ‘control’, ‘agency’ ‘choice,’ which all emphasize individual autonomy as the standard and which in effect draw attention to arranged marriage as primarily a space where marital agents negotiate increasing amounts of individual control. Other definitions refer to this ‘control’ highlighting dominion and power, suggesting that the arranged marriage is a battlefield between the elders and the young: ‘Traditional arranged marriage placed considerable power in the hands of the parents, and in particularly the father’. 62 Or, ‘In “traditional” societies, parents or the extended family dominate marriage choices’. 63 The power difference referred to suggests there are two parties with opposing aims and interests, which again is not an insightful reflection of unified interests so characteristic of group cultures. Also, culture here is presented as merely problematic: a father’s or parent’s role is that of power or domination, with negative connotations, and not much else.

A third set of definitions emphasizes the changing and flexible arranged marriage types, especially towards offering more control to the individual. It seems as if the arranged marriage is trying to prove that it is very capable of accommodating modernity and is progressive and evolving, for it has choice, agency, room for dating and romance, or the right of marital agents to say ‘no’ at any stage of the arrangement. This latter is illustrated well by Ahmad’s words referring to marriage as a dynamic process: ‘a family-facilitated introduction of a potentially suitable matched prospective candidate followed by a managed pattern of courtship prior to a potential, and agreed to marriage’. 64 Her words seem to suggest that the only acceptable arranged marriage is a progressive arranged marriage, one that resembles the autonomous marriage.

Love too, when mentioned, generally suggests lovelessness in arranged marriage as opposed to true love in autonomous marriage. 65 Arranged marriages are contrasted to marriage where there is romantic love 66 or to ‘love marriages’ based on romantic attachment between the couple’. 67 Arranged marriages when ‘a couple validates its love choice to their respective families’ 68 would be termed love-arranged or western type marriages. One commonly held view is that love will (hopefully) grow in arranged marriage as time passes. 69 Reference to ‘marriage, then love’, 70 supports this theory. Or when ‘love is not forthcoming’ the couple ‘are increasingly supported to divorce … ’. 71 In these examples it is yet again the love between the spouses, primarily romantic, sensual love, or individual affection that is stressed, which again celebrates the love so typical in the autonomous marriage system. 72

Families that are not conjugal have valued ‘not affection, but duty, obligation, honour, mutual aid, and protection … ’. 73 Such love for family or culture or any type of gift-love 74 are hardly mentioned in descriptions of arranged marriage. Even when ‘companionate’ love features, the focus remains on the spouse’s companionship for one another, and not for any(thing) other. Arguably the Eurocentric perspective holds little regard for other loves than the romantic.

3. Evaluation of Biased Science on the Arranged Marriage

The manner in which the arranged marriage is described in the literature studied is a marker of recognizing the arranged marriage as worthwhile only in so far it mirrors the characteristics of the autonomous marriage system. The words employed to describe the arranged marriage reflect autonomy-related values, but exclude community-related values that are foundational to the arranged marriage system. The arranged marriage is thus undervalued for the fundamental characteristics upon which it rests. These are ignored, not understood, arguably misunderstood, if at all known. Set against the autonomous marriage, the arranged marriage then becomes the other, deficient, deformed, a marriage of shortcomings, a marriage lacking in freedom and a marriage that is catching up and trying to prove it is not as traditional, thus not so backwards or rigid as analysts of the arranged marriage suggest.

The arranged marriage proper then remains a much understudied marital system and can only be understood by abandoning the binary approach and adopting a neutral lens. One needs ‘to turn the picture round’ as Tocqueville puts, in his eloquent study of aristocratic systems. 75 Such an aristocratic system is the arranged marriage, as we shall learn below.

As mentioned before, arranged marriages are frequently categorized in types, varying from traditional to hybrid to loosely arranged modern versions. They are frequently studied individually, through empirical research which offers a rich, complex, and varied analysis of arranged marriage practices, in diaspora communities, transnational communities as well as in communities and cultures around the world that are globalizing and are in transition. Yet, while all arranged marriages are arguably different, all do share a basic set of similarities. This section aims to bring these to the surface, drawing on sociology, so as to arrive at an ideal type of the arranged marriage.

The arranged marriage as an ideal type is a theoretical construct. 76 The ideal type emphasizes typical features of the arranged marriage, which all concrete individual arranged marriages share with one another and which are presented ‘into a unified analytical construct’. 77 As such the ideal type, ‘in its conceptual purity … cannot be found empirically anywhere in reality’. 78 ‘It is a utopia’. 79 Yet, it is a necessary tool to bring to the surface a neutral, unbiased understanding of the arranged marriage. It is also a ‘measuring rod’ 80 to measure the reality of cultural differences or change the arranged marriage system is constantly undergoing. 81

Before I proceed, it is vital to address academic opposition against the essentialization of the arranged marriage system. This essentialization is criticized as it captures the arranged marriage in a binary opposition with the autonomous marriage, idealizing the autonomous marriage and ‘othering’ the arranged marriage. This essentialization exaggerates cultural difference. 82 It portrays the arranged marriage as a rigid, static, unchanging, unnuanced system. 83 It ‘assumes the complete hold over the migrant of traditional gender and family norms by underscoring the foreignness of … arranged marriages’. 84 Authors opposing this essentialization are quick to point out that the arranged marriage is a dynamic and highly flexible system, that is able to accommodate change, modernization, individualizing tendencies, agency, romantic love and negotiating spaces, in which especially women assume more control in their endeavours to navigate around victimization by patriarchy. 85

What these scholars are in actual fact doing, unknowingly, is trying to exhibit to the Eurocentric mind evidence that the arranged marriage resembles the autonomous marriage. These authors demonstrate that the arranged marriage is very capable of upholding choice, agency, and control. These authors preoccupy themselves with bringing those qualities in the arranged marriage to the surface of their research. Sequentially, traditional features of this marital system remain understudied.

This section will not essentialize the arranged marriage system from a Eurocentric viewpoint for it desires not to repeat the othering of the arranged marriage. It will not try to prove that the arranged marriage is a flexible modern institution able to accommodate a constant flux of variety and diversity. As valuable as an investigation of that change may be, one cannot study the arranged marriage by studying how it absorbs constant flux. ‘[W]eber defines reality as an “infinite flux” which cannot be apprehended in its totality’. 86 One cannot apprehend arranged marriage on its fundamental shared characteristics if only the constant flux and change towards autonomy dominate academic engagement.

Despite being diverse and different on individual level, there are common qualities that make a marriage an arranged marriage and thus a largely unexamined ideal type of the arranged marriage will be examined in Section III of this article. The rich diversity between cultures, countries, social and economic classes, between religions and religious denominations, between those that have migrated and those that have not, as well as the constant evolution of the arranged marriage, will be left to the efforts of other scholars. 87

At its core, all arranged marriage cultures have marriage arrangers, whether these arrangers operate on their own or co-jointly with the marital agents. All marriage arrangers are senior members of the family or community, whether these arrangers operate on their own or co-jointly with the marital agents. All arranged marriage cultures value marriage to be arranged by these senior marriage arrangers, whether these arrangers operate on their own or co-jointly with the marital agents. All arranged marriage cultures consider mate selection to be not primarily the responsibility of the marital agents, whether they share this responsibility substantially or subtly with the marital agents. All arranged marriage cultures consider mate-selection physically and mentally risky, shameful and burdensome for the young to be engaged in, whether the young engage themselves in such matters or not. Family is placed central to marriage in all arranged marriage cultures, as they all consider marriage an alliance between families, whether or not the marital agents emphasize their conjugal alliance above that of the family’s. All arranged marriages guard against an incoming candidate harming family unity or family interests. Objective reasons for marrying are always valued as these support aforementioned family unity and interests, regardless of whether there is room for individual desire and preference. Finally, all arranged marriages are voluntarily accepted by marital agents on the basis of legitimate parental guidance and authority.

As such, all arranged marriage cultures are hierarchical cultures, as they accord different roles and responsibilities to the elders and to the younger ones of a group; they are group cultures that strongly incorporate its members through loyalty to the group and its interests; they are all driven by parental guardianship and authority, rooted in protection, providence and voluntary compliance. These principles of community, hierarchy, guardianship and authority are foundational to the ‘way of life’ 88 of the arranged marriage system, and will be explained below.

1. Arranged Marriage is a Community Oriented System

Literature frequently makes reference to arranged marriage cultures as collectivist, community oriented, occurring in extended families, whether there is individualism or not. 89 Marriage concerns the whole family and families are characteristically extended with extended kinship ties. 90 Marriage choices ‘have a far-reaching impact upon … relatives, affecting the futures and socio-economic positions of a much wider range of kin than just parents and children’. 91 Beyond the conjugal alliance, marriage creates alliances between a variety of family-members. 92 ‘Strategic marriage choices enable social mobility even within the extended kinship network.’ 93 Fox argues that arranged marriage preserves family unity, ‘by felicitous selection of the new spouse’ which ‘allows for the furtherance of political linkages and/or economic consolidation between families … it helps keep families intact over generations; and … it preserves family property within the larger kin unit’. 94 Objective selection criteria are emblematic of the families’ desire to preserve a stable family. ‘Parents usually assess the reputation, economic standing and personalities of the potential in-laws and the educational level and occupation of the potential groom or bride.’ 95 The strong emphasis on pragmatic, unromantic reasons that guide mate-selection are considered wise: the new conjugal addition must suit family background and thus fit harmoniously into its organization. 96 As such, extended families remain strong in the social order. Less attention is paid therefore to subjective love. One learns that spousal love may come as martial time goes by. 97 This need not be romantic, it may as well be love in a ‘more all-encompassing sense’. 98 Typical of group cultures is that ‘[i]ndividual choice … may be constricted either through requiring that a person be bound by group decisions or by demanding that individuals follow the rules accompanying their station in life’. 99 The individual is ‘sacrificed’. 100 ‘The tradition-directed person … hardly thinks of himself as an individual.’ 101 He is a ‘collective being’ not a ‘particular being’. 102 But such sacrifice ‘is more than offset by the advantages of fulfilling one’s role within the family … ’. 103

2. Arranged Marriage is a Hierarchical System

The mere fact that marriage arranging requires some element of wisdom, experience and providence, suggests hierarchy. Not everyone is suited to make marriage choices, certainly not young children and this applies to all cultures, whether autonomous or arranged. In the latter culture, arranging marriages is a responsibility bestowed upon elders, mostly parents of the marital agents. 104 Elders, given their status and rank, are considered most able, equipped, wise and well connected to undertake the grave and delicate task of mate selection. It is their proper place to screen and select mates and it is the proper place of the young to trust and respect the judgment of the elders in this regard. Pande points to a case of a young woman called Shabnam appreciating this ‘proper place’ as she would never directly go up to her parents with her marriage wishes as ‘parents deserve their izzat ’ 105 (respect NT). And while elders are given the privilege of mate selection, they do not and may not select for their own benefit, but in the best interests and the good of the group, 106 into which are incorporated the interests and the good of the marital agents. 107

Arranged marriage cultures are thus hierarchical. 108 To understand arranged marriage, is to understand hierarchy. Yet, the social principle of hierarchy does not sit well with the Western mind. 109 The western mind views society from the lens of equality and freedom and hierarchical systems lack equality and freedom. Thus arranged marriage is rejected: it is a space where parents have the ‘power’ and upper hand and ‘dominate’ in marriage choices. 110 Arranged marriage becomes nothing more than a ‘chain of command’ 111 or a ‘power hierarchy’. 112 However, as Dumont argues, this is not true hierarchy. 113 To understand hierarchy one must ‘detach … from egalitarian societies’. 114 One must view hierarchical systems on its own merits, in an organic manner. 115

‘[H]ierarchy. comes from the very functional requirements of the social bond.’ 116 Literature offers the organism, a whole or the body as a metaphor to understand hierarchical systems. 117 Hierarchy is ‘the principle by which the elements of a whole are ranked in relation to the whole’. 118 The whole body and its parts are strongly bound together by rules, 119 social control, 120 and a common value system. 121 One accepts as necessary the rank order and the fulfilment of distinct obligations—without this the whole cannot function as it is supposed to function. 122 Decisions are taken by the most able in the interests of the whole and its parts. 123 The most able are the guardians and guardianship and hierarchy are strongly intertwined. 124

Families in arranged marriage cultures are organized hierarchically, with each member aware of its own and other’s status and social ranking, 125 with each member submitting to ‘group control’ and fulfilling ‘socially imposed roles’, 126 with each member keeping in one’s proper place, honouring order, 127 and subject to a ‘hierarchized interdependence’. 128 It is deeply understood that elders arrange marriages—it is their obligation to find matches from good families, and to exercise control as to who joins the family. 129 This applies whether or not they share this task with the marital agents. ‘From the viewpoint of many parents, arranging and seeing through your children’s marriages is a primary duty, to the extent that your role as a parent is unfulfilled until this duty is accomplished.’ 130 It is ‘a matter of great family honour.’ 131 It is a necessity too as ‘marriage normally confers the statuses of wife and husband, which have been and still are regarded in many societies as necessary to being seen as an adult rather than as a child’. 132 It is only through marriage that intimate life with a stranger turned into family is legitimate. So, the young depend on the patronage of the elders. 133 Amber, a twenty-four year old student ‘sought her parent’s intervention stating it was their ‘responsibility’. 134 Elders are not to abandon this role, nor to share it with the less qualified. They too are answerable to tradition and community. 135 But they are bound also, as good guardians and figures of authority, to choose wisely and in the best interest of the child. 136 Below a further exploration will be provided on guardianship, which is ‘a standard justification for hierarchical rule’ 137 and authority which too manifests itself through hierarchical relations. 138

3. Arranged Marriage is a System of Guardianship and Parental Authority

Arranged marriage cultures thrive on authority and entrusted leadership of guardians. Though literature never does, one could call arranged marriage a rule of guardians 139 or of parental authority or an aristocratic marital system. 140 In such a system ‘rulership should be entrusted to a minority of persons who are specially qualified to govern by reason of their superior knowledge and virtue’. 141 The entrusted uphold community values, such as ‘altruism, sacrifice, love … order, security, loyalty, duty’. 142 They govern as guardians, as figures of authority. 143 Traditionally, elders are the entrusted ones. 144 And the young honour their authority. 145 The arranged marriage of Manju and Jagdesh, both from Indian middle class families, offers a good example of these notions. 146 Manju, twenty-one years old at the time and Jagdesh, twenty three, were ‘both told that they would be a good match and should marry’ and soon after their agreement, the marriage took place. 147 Or the case of Saima, a 20-year old student who says that ‘my parents will obviously find the guy for me … I trust them for it … If they come out with a decent guy and say we’d like you to marry him, I’d say yes … ’. 148 In both examples parental authority occupies a central role in match making.

A. But what exactly is authority?

‘The need for authority is basic. Children need authorities to guide and reassure them. Adults fulfil an essential part of themselves in being authorities; it is one way of expressing care for others.’ 151

‘Deeply embedded in social functions, an inalienable part of the inner order of family … ritualized at every turn, authority is so closely woven into the fabric of tradition and morality … ’. 162 As such, traditional authority is embedded in arranged marriage cultures. It ‘roots in the belief that it is ancient’. 163 In arranged marriage cultures traditionally there is trust in parental leadership. 164 One is assured that parents know what is best for their child, as they know their child, sometimes even better than the child knows itself—they see through them. 165 This inspires obedience. 166

Parental authority is a necessary component in arranged marriage systems. Marriage affects a whole family’s stability and future, so marriage choices need to be supervised. 167 The young, inexperienced and not yet wise, are traditionally not considered well trained for this task, as they may be misguided by love. 168 So, arranged marriage societies isolate the young from potential mates. 169 In addition, social control, typical for group cultures, is applied to guard behaviour. 170 Young people can easily fall prey to romantic and sexual behaviour considered disruptive to the dignity and order of the family. 171 Here then arises the necessity for elders to authorize rational mate selection. 172 Of course, this does not exclude that young people may step out of their role. If they do, shame and dishonour may be brought to the family. 173 Such youngsters are considered deviants who must be blamed, heavily punished or re-educated. 174 As such being nourished by parental authority offers security, 175 and enables moral life. 176

4. Studying Arranged Marriage Practices

The idealized typology of the arranged marriage, as a Weberian theoretical construct, demonstrates that, at the outset, arranged marriage systems are traditionally systems of community, hierarchy, guardianship, and authority. So described, the arranged marriage finds its rationality in a system that safeguards mate selection by placing this under the guardianship and authority of elders of the (extended) families of both marital agents with the aim to align both families in a durable relational bond, that strengthens its economic and societal standing, and that allows for a legitimate space and belonging for the conjugal union.

This typology is an ideal construct, in the same way the autonomous marriage is also an ideal construct. Borrowing then from William Goode who arrived at an ideal type of the conjugal family, which was also seen as an ideal , the arranged marriage as typified above is also seen as an ideal in that a ‘number of people view some of its characteristics as proper and legitimate, no matter that reality may run counter to the ideal’. 177 Elders in arranged marriage contexts all around the world consider it an ideal to take upon themselves the role of proper guardians and authorities in marriage arranging, and children, in their turn, ideally accept the parental choice, understanding that this is wisely made, that it gains its majesty in legitimate authority. All around the world, this ideal is an inspirational reference point in arranged marriage cultures.

This said, of course reality does not always represent the ideal portrayed, however inspirational. Still, the value of the ideal and the ideal type remain: this construct, even if it is an utopia, is necessary as it provides a neutral and unbiased understanding of the arranged marriage, one that is detached from a restrictive binary approach that others the arranged marriage. The ideal construct serves also as a measuring rod to study the reality of arranged marriage practices that depart from that construct. It ‘[p]rovides the basic method of comparative study’. 178

Taking a look then into these realities, one will find that, for one, elders are not always capable of arranging marriages well. ‘The notion that parents will always act in the child’s best interests is … based on an idealized interpretation of the parent/child relationship and assumes that adults will be altruistic whenever they relate to children with love, care and empathy.’ 179 Elders may not always understand what guardianship truly entails. They may confuse parental authority with the exercise of parental power, force even.

In addition, elders continuously share marriage arranging duties with their children, as the variety of semi-arranged marriage types suggest. These hybrid arranged marriage types are expressions of transformations of marital agents’ role in exercising self-determination and self-realization in marriage matters. They also reflect the changes in traditional parenthood: where once it was the elders who decided for the collective, this is now scrutinized by marital agents’ desires for freedom to (also) decide. In the words of Aguiar ‘arranged marriage has become the locus of a set of liberal and communitarian discourses that articulate competing visions of individual and collective agency’. 180 This does not always run smoothly. Elders may not always believe that transitions towards freedom and individualism are proper. Families often act as buffers against ‘too much’ individualism that is perceived as an isolating and alienating force that disrupts family cohesion and hinders traditions to be passed on from generation to generation. Many, in arranged marriage cultures, parents as well as young people, are grappling with the blended agendas of the liberal and communitarian, of the individual and the collective that are shaping arranged marriage realities. A very sensitive portrayal of an intergenerational struggle in this regard can be seen in the drama film A Fond Kiss : protagonist Casim, son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants to the UK, asks his parents to accept his love choice for Roisin, a Catholic divorcee. In their turn, his parents, emotionally destroyed and shamed by Casim’s desires, plead to their son to accept an arranged marriage to his cousin Yasmin. This Casim refuses and the family breaks up. 181

As indicated earlier, the tendency is to view such realities from a Eurocentric lens, that prizes liberalism and equality, and that advocates the individual’s rise from traditional structures as a marker of sovereignty, supported by contract, geared towards independence and freedom from authority. 182

Again, such views monopolize examination of arranged marriage, are biased, ‘culturally-determined’ and entrenched in ‘limited historical perspectives’. 183 ‘Many people in this world have registers of well-being that are not the same as degrees of freedom, measures such as duty, devotion and responsibility.’ 184 Many people do not value, experience, nor desire full independence from parental authority.

Hybrid arranged marriages are in a sense partly separated from and partly belonging to traditional as well as liberal structures. It is vital to represent and express belonging to these traditional structures in the discourse on arranged marriage. It is important to acknowledge notions of guardianship, authority, and community when one measures change and modernization in arranged marriage realities, but also when one measures distancing from that very modernization in efforts to hold on to traditions.

The current tendency, when marital agents demand a stronger role in mate selection, is to capture this in a language of freedoms, control, agency and the rising individual. This language presupposes that marital agents’ main aim is to free oneself, become independent and ultimately exit the arranged marriage system. 185 It presupposes too that marital agents are very capable of acting independently of their parents. The fact of the matter is, that many marital agents are deeply connected to a system of parental guardianship and authority, they are hierarchically interdependent with family, they cherish strong belonging to their community and understand family cohesion as a necessary component of their family’s well-being in which their well-being is integrated. Marital agents granted or demanding a role in match making, challenge in essence (part of) the authority of parents, but do not act as fully atomistic units. When parents allow their child to jointly decide with them on marriage matters, this is articulated in literature mostly as a step that invests power in the child. However, this ought to also be valued as a sharing of parental authority or guardianship with the child. Adding authority and guardianship to the conversation on the arranged marriage gives rise to a language that relates to and represents community. For instance, why do some parents share their authority, why do others not? It might be possible that some parents deem their children disciplined enough to select wisely, pointing to the principle that ‘discipline is authority in operation?’ 186 It might be that some parents believe that their children can act as their own guardians, partly or in full, given that these children are educated and skilled in ways the elders are not? Might it be that in diaspora contexts elders are searching for new meaning to traditional concepts such as authority and guardianship and need a language to cope with this hybrid dynamic rather than a language that calls upon their children to exit anything traditional? Asking and addressing such questions will contribute to a discourse on arranged marriage that respects the very foundations it is built upon. It is knowledge about these foundations that is pivotal if we wish to understand the arranged marriage proper and change in that domain.

This article argued for a full renunciation of the binary approach adopted in literature in studying arranged marriage. In the binary approach, the arranged marriage emerges as a lesser conjugal union in comparison to the ideal and prized autonomous conjugal union. Recognizing that the arranged marriage must be valued on its own merits, this article sought for an ideal typical construct of the arranged marriage, as a neutral departure point in a study of this marital system and as a tool to explore arranged marriage realities. The arranged marriage is fundamentally rooted in the sociological principles of collective belonging, parental guardianship and the protective, provident authority of elders in match making. This article calls for a fresh discourse on arranged marriage and changing arranged marriage patterns that reflect these principles in order to arrive at a much needed and understudied fuller appreciation and conversation of a marital system that engages hundreds of millions.

In order to be as impartial as humanly possible, this article does not offer personal opinions on or preferences for the arranged or the autonomous marriage. It is of fundamental importance that any scholar on the arranged marriage system (and many other subjects for that matter) is an unbiased scholar or at least strives to be. Neither advocacy of nor opposition to the arranged marriage, and neither advocacy of nor opposition to the autonomous marriage should enter a scholar’s theories and findings. A scholar’s role is not to express any preference for either system, it is not to value one system as better than the other, it is to become independent from any prejudice of one over the other

This article is based on, The Arranged Marriage – Changing Perspectives on a Marital Institution (Unpublished Dissertation Utrecht University) Utrecht, 2019.

Authors referring to this binary are eg F. Shariff, ‘Towards a Transformative Paradigm in the UK Response to Forced Marriages’ (2012) 21 (4) Social and Legal Studies 549–65; M. Aguiar, Arranging Marriage, Conjugal Agency in The South Asian Diaspora (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018); R. Pande, ‘Geographies of Marriage and Migration: Arranged Marriages and South Asians in Britain’ (2014) 8 (2) Geography Compass 75–86; S. Anitha and A. Gill, ‘Coercion, Consent and the Forced Marriage Debate in the UK’ (2009) 17 Feminist Legal Studies 165–84; M. Khandelwal, ‘Arranging Love: Interrogating the Vantage Point in Cross-Border Feminism’ (2009) 34 (3) Signs 583–609; F. Ahmad, ‘Graduating Towards Marriage? Attitudes Towards Marriage and Relationships among University-educated British Muslim Women’ (2012) 13 Culture and Religion 193–210.

M. Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Wissenschafslehre (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1988) p. 191.

Notably, H. Arendt, Between Past and Future (New York: Penguin Books, 1977); M. Douglas, ‘Cultural Bias’ in M. Douglas (ed.), The Active Voice (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982), as referred to by Thompson et al., Cultural Theory (Boulder, San Francisco: Westview Press, 1990); Thompson et al. ibid; M. Douglas, Risk and Blame (London, New York: Routledge, 1992); R.A. Dahl, Democracy and its Critics (New Have: Yale University, 1989); L. Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); R.A. Nisbet, The Quest for Community (California: ICS Press, 1990); R.A. Nisbet, The Sociological Tradition (London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd, 1966); R. Sennett, Authority (New York: W.W. Norton, 1980).

For origins of the term ‘arranged marriage’ see Aguiar (n 1) 14.

‘Autonomous marriage’ is used in I.L. Reiss, Family Systems in America (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976) as referred to by G.R. Lee and L. Hemphill Stone, ‘Mate-Selection Systems and Criteria: Variation according to Family Structure’ (1980) 42 (2) Journal of Marriage and Family 319–26, 319.

Anitha and Gill (n 1); Shariff (n 1); Aguiar (n 1); Pande (n 1); Khandelwal (n 1).

Shariff (n 1) 556, on binary between consent and coercion.

Compare Ahmad (n 1) 194; see also Pande (n 1) 82; see also Aguiar (n 1) 14.

Nisbet 1990 (n 4) pp. 3–4; A.J. Cherlin, ‘Goode's “World Revolution and Family Patterns”: A Reconsideration at Fifty Years’ (2012) 38 (4) Population and Development Review 577–607, 580, 581; see for progress towards the atomistic family C.C. Zimmerman, Family and Civilization (Wilmington Delaware: ISI Books, 2008) pp. 124, 247–49; in general on progress see J.B. Bury, The Idea of Progress (New York: Cosimo Classics, 2008); R.A. Nisbet, History of the Idea of Progress (New York: Basic Book, Inc. Publishers, 1980); see also Arendt (n 4) 100, 101 on progress theory.

See S. Coontz, Marriage, a History, How Love Conquered Marriage (New York: Penguin Group, 2005) p. 25; See for more on this evolution J. Witte Jr., From Sacrament to Contract , Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition (Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997) pp. 194–215.

X. Xiaohe and M. King Whyte, ‘Love Matches and Arranged Marriages: A Chinese Replication’ (1990) 52 (3) Journal of Marriage and the Family 709–22, 709.

See for these terms W.J. Goode, World Revolution and Family Patterns (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970) p. 1, and Zimmerman (n 10) pp. 30–36.

A. Thornton, Reading History Sideways: The Fallacy and the Enduring Impact of the Developmental Paradigm on Family Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), as referred to by Cherlin (n 10) 581; see also, K. Allendorf and R.K. Pandian, ‘The Decline of Arranged Marriage? Marital Change and Continuity in India’ (2016) 42 (3) Population and Development Review 435–464, 435.

Cherlin (n 10) 581.

Allendorf and Pandian (n 14) 435.

Thornton (n 14), as referred to by Cherlin (n 10) 593.

Cherlin (n 10) 594.

On the ‘convergence theory’, see Goode (n 13) and Cherlin (n 10); on ‘developmental paradigm’ see Thorntan (n 14) as referred to by Cherlin (n 10) 581; see also A. Shaw, A Pakistani Community in Britain (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988) pp. 2, 3 on the expected disappearance of Pakistani migrants’ culture.

M. Enright, ‘Choice, Culture and the Politics of Belonging: The Emerging Law of Forced and Arranged Marriage’ (2009) 72 (3) The Modern Law Review 331–59, 338.

R. Pande, ‘Becoming Modern: British-Indian Discourses of Arranged Marriages’ (2016) 17 (3) Social & Cultural Geography 380–400, 384; see on consequence of ‘othering’ of migrants, Pande (n 1) 75; Shariff (n 1) 562.

E. Said, Orientalism (New York: Penguin, 1978) as referred to by S.R. Moosavinia et al, ‘Edward Said’s Orientalism and the Study of the Self and the Other in Orwell’s Burmese Days’ (2011) 2 (1) Studies in Literature and Language 103–13, 104.

Pande (n 21) 384.

Moosavinia et al, (n 22) 104; Said (n 22).

P.J. Gagoomal, ‘A “Margin of Appreciation” for “Marriages of Appreciation”: Reconciling South Asian Adult Arranged Marriages with the Matrimonial Consent Requirement in International Human Rights Law’ (2009) 97 The Georgetown Law Journal 589–620, 601; compare Shariff (n 1) 557.

E.g.: ‘I fled in just the clothes I was wearing’: How one Muslim woman escaped arranged marriage, Mirror , 17 September 2012; L. Harding, ‘Student Saved from Arranged Marriage’, The Guardian , 14 March 2000, as referred to by R. Penn, ‘Arranged Marriages in Western Europe: Media Representations and Social Reality’ (2011) 42 (5) Journal of Comparative Family Studies 637–50, 639, for more examples, see 639–41; see also Aguiar (n 1) 11, 12.

Enright (n 20) 332; Shariff (n 1) 557; Anitha and Gill (n 1) 171; G. Gangoli et al, Forced Marriage and Domestic Violence among South Asian Communities in North East England (Bristol: University of Bristol, Northern Rock Foundation, 2006), as referred to by Anitha and Gill (n 1) 167.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), G.A. Res. 217A, (III), U.N. Doc A/810, 10 December 1948, Article 16 (2); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), GA. Res. 2200A (XXI), 16 December 1966, Article 23 (3); International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), G.A. Res. 2200A (XXI), 16 December 1966, Article 10 (1).

Aguiar (n 1) 11–13, see also Anitha and Gill (n 1); Shariff (n 1).

Aguiar (n 1) 11, 67.

Anitha and Gill (n 1); Aguiar (n 1) 67.

Anitha and Gill (n 1); Aguiar (n 1) 13, 14; Shariff (n 1).

Enright (n 20) 338.

UDHR (n 28); ICCPR (n 28); ICESCR (n 28).

Aguiar (n 1) 13.

Gagoomal (n 25) 611.

R.W. Hodge and N. Ogawa, ‘Arranged Marriages, Assortative Mating and Achievement in Japan,’ in Nihon University Population Research Institute, Research Paper, Series No. 1986, as referred to by Gagoomal (n 25) 601.

Shariff (n 1) 562; see also Anitha and Gill.

Shariff (n 1) 557.

Aguiar (n 1) 67; see also Anitha and Gill (n 1) 171.

Anitha and Gill (n 1) 171.

Anitha and Gill (n 1) 171; see also Thompson et al, (n 4) 7 on the ‘individualistic social context’.

See for a slightly different categorization R.B. Qureshi, ‘Marriage Strategies among Muslims from South Asia’ 1991 10 (3) The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences , as referred to by A.U. Zaidi and M. Shuraydi, ‘Perceptions of Arranged Marriages by Young Pakistani Muslim Women Living in a Western Society’ 2002 33 (4) Journal of Comparative Family Studies 495–514, 496.

Qureshi (n 43) as referred to by Zaidi and Shuraydi (n 43) 496; Gagoomal (n 25) 592; Cherlin (n 10) 589; see also for modified traditional types, Shariff (n 1) 558; H. Siddiqui, ‘Review: Winning Freedoms’ (1991) 37 Feminist Review 78, 81, as referred to by Enright (n 20) 340, ft 45; see also R. Pande, ‘I Arranged my Own Marriage': Arranged Marriages and Post-colonial Feminism’ (2015) 22 (2) Gender, Place & Culture 172–87, 175; S.P. Wakil et al, ‘Between Two Cultures: A Study in Socialization of Children of Immigrants’ (1981) 43 (4) Journal of Marriage and Family 929–40, 935; see also Ahmad (n 1).

Qureshi (n 43), as referred to by Zaidi and Shuraydi (n 43) 496; S.A. Patel, An Exploratory Study of Arranged-Love Marriage in Couples From Collective Cultures (Dissertation Northern Illinois University, Ann Arbor: ProQuest LLC) 2016, 10; J. Kapur, ‘An Arranged Love Marriage: India’s Neoliberal turn and the Bollywood Wedding Culture Industry’ (2009) 2 Communication, Culture, and Critique 221–33, as referred to by Patel 10; Cherlin (n 10) 590; Shariff (n 1) 558.

Shariff (n 1) 558; S. Seymour, Women, Family, and Child Care in India: A World in Transition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) p. 212, as referred to by Kandelwal (n 1) 595; K. Kezuka, ‘Late Marriage and Transition from Arranged Marriages to Love Matches: A Search-theoretic Approach’ 2018 42 (2) The Journal of Mathematical Sociology 237–56, 237; N.D. Manglos-Weber and A.A. Weinreb, ‘Own-Choice Marriage and Fertility in Turkey’ (2017) 79 (2) Journal of Marriage and Family 372–89, 373; Pande (n 21) 389.

Shariff (n 1) 558, who refers to M. Stopes-Roe and R. Cochrane, Citizens of this Country: The Asian-British (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 1990).

Ahmad (n 1) 195, 200; M.J. Bhatti, Questioning Empowerment: Pakistani Women, Higher Education & Marriage (Dissertation University at Buffalo, State University of New York, 2013) 153.

R. Huch, ‘Romantic Marriage’, in H. Keyserling ed., The Book of Marriage: A New Interpretation by Twenty-four Leaders of Contemporary thought (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1926) pp. 168, 177, as referred to by Gagoomal (n 25) 607/n 112.

S. Davé, ‘Matchmakers and Cultural Compatibility: Arranged Marriage, South Asians, and American television’ (2012) 10 (2) South Asian Popular Culture 167–83, 168.

F.B. Ternikar, Revisioning the Ethnic Family: An Analysis of Marriage Patterns Among Hindu, Muslim, and Christian South Asian Immigrants (Dissertation, Chicago, Illinois, August 2004) 41.

Ahmad (n 1) 206, see also 207.

See among others Ahmad (n 1) and Aguiar (n 1).

Enright (n 20) 331, italics added.

Pande (n 21) 384, italics added, referring to the Oxford English Dictionary.

K. Charsley and A. Shaw, ‘South Asian Transnational Marriages in Comparative Perspective’ (2006) 6 (4) Global Networks 331–44, 335; Zaidi and Shuraydi (n 43) 496.

Zaidi and Shuraydi (n 43) 496; see also Penn (n 26) 637.

Zaidi and Shuraydi (n 43), 496 (italics omitted).

D. Riesman et al, The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the American Changing Character (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961) p. 17.

A. Shaw, ‘Kinship, Cultural Preference and Immigration: Consanguineous Marriage Among British Pakistanis’ (2001) 7 (2) Royal Anthropological Institute 315–34, 323.

G.W. Jones, Changing Marriage Patterns in Asia (Working Paper, Asia Research Institute, Series 131, 2010) 4.

P. Wood, ‘Marriage and Social Boundaries among British Pakistanis’ (2011) 20 (1) Diaspora 40–64, 41.

Ahmad (n 1) 200.

Charsley and Shaw (n 56) 338; Khandelwal (n 1).

Davé (n 50) 167, 168.

Charsley and Shaw (n 56) 338.

M. Aguiar, ‘Cultural Regeneration in Transnational South-Asian Popular Culture’ (2013) 84 Cultural Critique (2013) 181–214, 183.

Aguiar (n 1) 7.

A. Patel, ‘Marriage, then Love — Why Arranged Marriages Still Work Today,’ Global News , 26 July 2018.

K. Qureshi et al, ‘Marital Instability among British Pakistanis: Transnationality, Conjugalities and Islam’ (2014) 37 (2) Ethnic and Racial Studies 261–79, 276.

Pande (n 1) 75; for more on this love see K. Bejanyan et al, ‘Associations of Collectivism with Relationship Commitment, Passion, and Mate Preferences: Opposing Roles of Parental Influence and Family Allocentrism’ (2015) 10 (2) PLoS ONE 1–24, 3; Goode (n 13) 9, 12; Coontz (n 11) 149; Compare Zimmerman (n 10) 39.

R.A. Nisbet, Twilight of Authority (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc. 2000) 235.

C.S. Lewis, ‘The Four Loves’ in C.S. Lewis (ed.), Selected Books (London: Harper Collins, 1999) pp. 5, 15.

A. de Tocqueville, La Démocratie en Amérique (Paris: Gallimard, 1961, 2 vols.), English Translation by H. Reeve: Democracy in America (London: 1875) as referred to by Dumont (n 4) 17.

Compare the ideal type of the conjugal family, Goode (n 13) 7.

Weber (n 3) 191, translation by H. Ross, Law as a Social Institution (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2001) p. 34.

L.A. Coser, Masters of Sociological Thought (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977) p. 223.

Compare Goode (n 13) 7.

Khandelwal (n 1) 584, 586, 605.

Ahmad (n 1) p. 194; Pande (n 21) p. 384; see also R. Mohammad, ‘Transnational Shift: Marriage, Home and belonging for British-Pakistani Muslim Women’ (2015) 16 (6) Social & Cultural Geography 593–614, 596.

Pande (n 44) 172, 183; Pande (n 21) 384.

Khandelwal (n 1); Ahmad (n 1); Pande (n 1); Mohammad (n 83); Pande (n 44) 181.

S.J. Hekman, Weber, the Ideal Type, and Contemporary Social Theory (New York: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983) p. 20.

For existing analyses on the topic, see Goode (n 13); D. Mace and V. Mace, Marriage East and West (London: Macgibbon and Kee, 1960); for marriages and caste in India, see Dumont (n 4); for Pakistani immigrants in Oxford and arranged marriages, see Shaw (n 19); see also Pande (n 45); Ahmad (n 1); Aguiar (n 1).

Thompson et al (n 4) 1.

See e.g. Aguiar (n 1) 15, 25, 139–44; G.L. Fox, ‘Love Match and Arranged Marriage in a Modernizing Nation: Mate Selection in Ankara, Turkey’ (1975) 37 (1) Journal of Marriage and Family 180–93, 181; Lee and Stone (n 6) 320; Kezuka (n 46).

Lee and Stone (n 6) 320: see also Mate selection theories, Encyclopaedia of Sociology, The Gale Group Inc., Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/mateselection-theories (last visited 14 July 2019).

Shaw (n 60) 325.

See eg Goode (n 13) pp. 240, 241; R.O. Blood, The Family (New York: Free Press, 1972) pp. 293–96, as referred to by Fox (n 89) 187.

A. Shaw, ‘Drivers of Cousin Marriage among British Pakistanis’ (2014) 77 Human Heredity 26–36, 31.

Fox (n 89) 181.

Shaw (n 93) 31.

See also Fox (n 89) 181; Lee and Stone (n 6) 320.

Gagoomal (n 25) 611; Lewis (n 74) 5, 15 in general on gift-love.

Thompson et al. (n 4) 6, referring to the grid-group analysis.

Tocqueville vol 2 (n 76) 90–92, as referred to by Dumont (n 4) 17; Shaw (n 19) 6.

Riesman et al (n 59) 17.

Dumont (n 4) 7.

Shaw (n 19) 6, referring to immigrant Pakistanis.

Lee and Stone (n 6) 320.

Pande (n 44) 177.

Lee and Stone (n 6) 320 see also Fox (n 89) 181.

See for various examples Gagoomal (n 25) 615, 617, 618.

G.P. Monger, Marriage Customs of the World: From Henna to Honeymoon (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2004) 13.

Dumont (n 4) 2, 239, 19, 20; Nisbet (n 73) 217.

Jones (n 62) 4; Wood (n 63) 40–64, 41.

P. Crone, Pre-Industrial Societies (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003) p. 99; Dumont (n 3) 19.

Dumont (n 4) 19.

Ibid., 17, 2.

Compare Crone (n 111) p. 104 on an organic view of society.

Nisbet (n 73) 217.

Dumont (n 4) 66, 240, 243, 244; Crone (n 111) pp. 99, 107; Thompson et al (n 4) 59.

Dumont (n 4) 66.

Thompson et al (n 4) 6.

Ibid., (n 4) 6.

T. Parsons, ‘A Revised Analytical Approach to the Theory of Social Stratification’ in R. Bendix et al (eds.), Class, Status and Power (London: Glencoe, 1954), as referred to by Dumont (n 4) 19.

Thompson et al (n 4) 6; Dumont (n 4) 17–19; see in general on guardianship Dahl (n 4) 52–64, 73.

Parsons (n 121), as referred to by Dumont (n 4) 19, see also 239, 240.

Dahl (n 4) 52.

Monger (n 108) 13.

Crone (n 111) p. 105, who refers to pre-industrial societies and hierarchy.

Dumont (n 4) 18.

M. Shams Uddin, ‘Arranged Marriage: A Dilemma for Young British Asians’ (2006) 3 Diversity in Health and Social Care 211–19, 211; F.M. Critelli, ‘Between Law and Custom: Women, Family Law and Marriage in Pakistan’ (2012) 43 (5) Journal of Comparative Family Studies 673–93, 677; Fox (n 90) 186,181.

Shaw (n 60) 324.

Shams Uddin (n 129) 211.

G.R. Quale, ‘A history of marriage systems’ in Contributions in Family Studie s, Issue 13 (Westport, US: Greenwood press, 1988) 2.

Tocqueville II (n 76), as referred to by Dumont (n 4) 18; see also Sennett (n 4) 126.

Ahmad (n 1) 201; in a similar vein see Mohammad (n 83) 603; see also Wakil et al (n 44) 936 on this responsibility.

Tocqueville II (n 76), as referred to by Dumont (n 4) 18, 17.

A. de Tocqueville, Democracy in America II (London: Everyman’s Library, 1994) 196.

Arendt (n 4) 93.

On guardianship see Dahl (n 4) 52.

On aristocracy see Tocqueville II (n 76), see Dumont (n 4) p. 18.

See for an explanation on tradition and authority, M. Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization , A.M. Henderson and T. Parsons (trans.), T. Parsons (ed.) (New York: Oxford University Press, 1947) 341, as referred to by Nisbet 1966 (n 4) 142.

Compare Pande (n 44) 177; Shams Uddin (n 129) 211; Ahmad (n 1) 201 on trust and respect for parents.

Gagoomal (n 25) 589, 590.

Ibid., 590.

Ahmad (n 1) 201.

Arendt (n 4) 92.

Sennett (n 4) 15; see also Arendt (n 4) 92.

Weber (n 144) 341, as referred to by Nisbet 1966 (n 4) 142; Zimmerman (n 10) 215.

Zimmerman (n 10) 215.

Arendt (n 4) 93, 103.

Sennett (n 4) 18; Arendt (n 4) 93.

Sennett (n 4) 15–22.

Sennett (n 4) 16.

Arendt (n 4) 111; Weber, as referred to by Sennet (n 4) 22.

Weber, without further reference, as referred to by Sennett (n 4) 22.

Derived from Sennett (n 4) 19.

Nisbet 1966 (n 4) 107, 108.

Ibid., 142.

Shams Uddin (n 129) 211: Ahmad (n 3) 201.

MTV Documentary, True Life: I'm Having an Arranged Marriage , 2007, as referred to by Gagoomal (n 25) 617; Pande (n 21) 387; Gagoomal (n 25) 615; see also Sennett (n 4) 17 on a conductor that sees through members of the orchestra.

Sennett (n 4) 17.

Lee and Stone (n 6) 320; Fox (n 89) 181.

See W.J. Goode, ‘The Theoretical Importance of Love’ (1959) 24 (1) American Sociological Review 38–47, 43–46; compare also Bejanyan et al (n 72) 3.

Goode (n 168) 43; H. Papanek, ‘Purdah in Pakistan: Seclusion and Modern Occupations for Women’ (1971) 33 (3) Journal of Marriage and Family 517–30, 520.

Goode (n 168) 43; Thompson et al (n 4) 6; Shams Uddin (n 129) 212.

See for more Bejanyan et al (n 72) 3.

Goode (n 168) 43; Papanek (n 169) 520.

F. Bari, Country briefing paper: Women in Pakistan, Asian Development Bank July 2000. http://www.adb.org/Documents/Books/Country_Briefing_Papers/Women in Pakistan , as referred to by Critelli (n 129) 677; Shaw (n 60) 330; see also Riesman et al (n 59) 24.

Thompson et al (n 4) 59; see also in general on shame, N.P. Gilani, ‘Conflict Management of Mothers and Daughters Belonging to Individualistic and Collectivistic Cultural Backgrounds: A Comparative Study’ 1999 22 Journal of Adolescence 853–65, 854, 855; Riesman et al (n 59) 24.

A. de Tocqueville, Democracy in America II , 298, 303, as referred to by Nisbet 1966 (n 4) 114.

Nisbet 1966 (n 4) 151.

Goode (n 13) 7.

Coser (n 80) 223.

C. Breen, Age Discrimination and Children’s Rights. Ensuring Equality and Acknowledging Difference (Leiden: Brill Nijhoff, 2006) as referred to by A. van Coller, ‘Child Marriage – Acceptance by Association’ (2017) 31 International Journal of Law, Policy and The Family 363–76, 369.

Aguiar (n 1) 215.

Film A Fond Kiss , Ken Loach 2004; see also the Film What Will People Say , Iram Haq 2017 on a similar intergenerational struggle between an immigrant Pakistani father and his daughter in Sweden.

Derived from Nisbet 1966 (n 4) 116.

Moosavinia et al (n 22) 104; Said (n 22).

S. Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011), as referred to by Aguiar (n 1) 219.

For more on this exit see Anitha and Gill (n 3) 176–80; Shariff (n 3) 550, 551, 553, 561, 562.

Nisbet 1966 (n 4) 150.

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Arranged Marriages’ Advantages and Disadvantages

Welcome to our argumentative essay sample on arranged marriage: advantages and disadvantages. Here, you’ll find the disadvantages and advantages of arranged marriage, discussion, statistics, and other aspects of the debate.

Arranged Marriage: Essay Introduction

Arranged marriages in the modern society, arranged marriage advantages and disadvantages, advantages of arranged marriages, disadvantages of arranged marriages, arranged marriage: essay conclusion, works cited.

Arranged marriages were very popular in traditional societies across the world. Arranged marriage was considered the best way through which a man or woman of the right age could get the right life partner for the continuity of a given lineage. However, modernization and Westernization have changed this mindset about arranged marriages not only in Western countries but also in various parts of the world.

Inasmuch as arranged marriages are still common all over the world. Many people now prefer selecting their life partners through unarranged processes. The debate about the relevance of arranged marriages is still raging in various societies across the world.

The practice is still common among Muslim communities, but the current generation is very keen on selecting their life partners based on love other than through arranged processes. This does not mean that arranged marriages are non-existence in the modern society. According to Tseng (127), arranged marriages are still common in the current society. The researcher seeks to determine the benefits and shortcomings of having arranged marriages.

Arranged married were very common in past societies. Many factors made arranged marriages to be very important in traditional societies. Entezar (52) gives an example of a typical Muslim society in Saudi Arabia, where arranged marriages were very common in the past.

In this society, morality was highly valued. As children grew up, they had to understand and appreciate their identity. Boys had to grow up knowing that they would be heads of their families and had to work hard towards making their future life as good as they desired. On the other side, girls had to grow up knowing that they were responsible for household chores. They had to know how to prepare their homes and take care of their children.

At the adolescent stage, there were strict rules concerning the manner in which adolescent boys and girls were expected to interact. At this delicate stage of development, boys were not expected to mingle freely with girls (Lamanna and Riedmann 33). This was important because the elders knew that if this happened, then these teenagers might find themselves engaging in irresponsible behavior that may ruin the future of the girls. Society highly cherished the virginity of a woman at marriage, and this was one of the ways of protecting it.

In this kind of social setting, it was very difficult for young adults planning to marry to mingle with the members of the opposite sex so that they could understand each other and determine whether they were in love and could live together. This made it necessary for the parents or the society to arrange the marriages for their children.

With all the experience they had and knowledge about other families, parents could determine the appropriate life partner for their children. In most cases, they would conduct an investigation on the family and the man or woman who is planned to be the life partner of their children.

When they were satisfied, they would inform their children about the intended union. According to Roberts (78), although the two who were to be unionized were given the liberty to give their verdict over the issue, especially the man, they were expected to respect their parents’ opinion. However, rejecting a partner that the parents had approved was considered rude and unethical. For this reason, the parents’ decision would prevail, and the marriage would proceed with the blessings of parents from both sides.

The social structure of many communities around the world is changing very first due to the changes brought about by science and technology. It is common for an Emirati girl to travel to the United Kingdom or the United States at a tender age for further studies. Similarly, people from other parts of the world are flocking to the United Arab Emirates for various reasons, from tourism to trade. For instance, Dubai is currently one of the most diversified cities on earth because of its relevance as a strategic business hub.

As Tseng (43) puts it, the current society is a global village. The emergence of modern technologies and the relevance of the Western education system have redefined the social structure of society not only in the Middle East but also in the entire world. A child does not need to leave Abu Dhabi for the United States in order to be Westernized. The movies they watch and the music they listen to make them question some of the established systems in their traditional setting.

In the current society, it is not possible to prevent close interactions between adolescent girls and boys in Muslim communities. Parents have realized that the best gift they can give to their children is formal education, irrespective of their gender. For this reason, boys and girls will mingle freely at school.

They share classrooms, and sometimes, they are assigned tasks together. According to Lamanna and Riedmann (33), teachers have been forced to bear the pressure from human rights activists who insist on giving both boys and girls equal opportunities at school. This involves treating them equally in every activity, especially at higher levels of learning.

In this highly integrated setting, young adults can get to understand each other. A young man planning to marry should know that different women behave differently. The same case will apply to a woman. She will know the kind of man she would want as a life partner. Entezar (39) calls this liberation. The education system liberates the mind of the younger generation from tight control from their parents.

They can look at the world from their own perspective to determine what they want in life. The main question that many people have been asking is the relevance of arranged marriages in the current liberated society. In the past, young adults would not mingle easily, and this made it difficult to choose the right life partner. In the current society, this has changed as the education system makes it possible for these people to interact very closely.

In the past, knowledge and wisdom were believed to rest with the elders, and their views were almost considered a sacred command that was not to be questioned, even if it was apparent that they were in error. In the current society, the younger populations have been liberated, and they have the capacity to advise the elders about the future.

Despite these facts, a number of people still find arranged marriages very important for the well-being of the couple and the community at large. At this stage, it will be important to analyze the benefits and shortcomings of arranged marriages.

Arranged marriages remain popular not only among Muslims but also in other societies around the world. According to Tseng (81), even in the West, it is common to see parents trying to influence the choice of life partners for their children.

This is an indication that even with all the education that their children may have and the westernizations- having been born and brought up in the West, the parents always have the feeling that their children could make a mistake when choosing their life partners. This creates a feeling that they should play a role in making this important choice. This is a strong suggestion that arranged marriages have benefits that should not be ignored.

One of the biggest advantages of arranged marriages is that the partners will have a perfect match when it comes to culture, religion, social status, lifestyle, and many other factors that always affect the compatibility of couples. As Browne (83) notes, basing marriage on love is great, but sometimes when love defines everything, then one would be blinded to some of the social incompatibilities that may make life difficult for the couple after marriage.

It will force the partners to make compromises, some of which may go against one’s own beliefs and customs. At the early stages of life, making such compromises may be simple because of the infatuation brought about by the feeling of love.

However, as the couple settles down in marriage, these realities start setting in, and it may cause serious strains in the relationship. Unless the couple is strong-willed and determined to make everything work in their favor, the marriage can be brought to an end after a short while. The following figure shows the rising cases of divorce in the UAE from 1960 to 2008.

Rates of Divorce from 1960 to 2008

This problem can easily be solved when the marriages are arranged. The people arranging the marriage will ensure that the couple is perfectly compatible before they can be allowed to marry.

It is a fact that in arranged marriages, the couple gets to benefit from the support they get from their parents and family members. When parents and members of the community are allowed to play a part in arranging the marriage, they will feel honored. They will take all the responsibilities in the entire marriage process. The parties who are getting into this union will be relieved of the financial burden that is involved in organizing the marriage.

Members of the community will ensure that all the expenses are addressed because it is their responsibility. All the tasks will be addressed from the communal level, meaning that the couple will get maximum support when organizing the wedding. The feeling that family members are happy with the marriage also has a positive psychological impact on the partners.

They will start life knowing that they have the full support of members of their communities. In such weddings, people will come and celebrate together as they witness the union. Given the fact that they were the organizers, make feel responsible. They will bring many gifts to help the couple start life without struggling much.

Marriages are designed to last forever, whether it is in the traditional setting or in modern Westernized society. When two people come together in marriage through the support of the parents and community members, they get a wide base of moral support whenever they have problems in their families.

Given the fact that members of the society organized their marriage, they have the moral authority to go back to them in case they are experiencing problems. Parents from both sides can be called to help solve the problem, and they will feel obliged to extend their help. The two will realize that their union is not limited to their family. Such unions bring together the entire community, and this minimizes the chances of divorce.

Every member of the community will try to help the couple work out their way in life, even in the face of challenges. The partners from both sides will also find themselves with a moral obligation to the community. They will know that their families and society cherish their marriage. This will make them determined to find solutions to the problems that may affect their marriage as a way of respecting their family members. In such unions, even children group up knowing the importance of love and family ties.

According to a survey conducted by Roberts (2), arranged marriages are becoming less common in modern society. This is so because people have come to realize that arranged marriages have a number of flaws that make them undesirable. Below are the results obtained from the survey in four countries about the attitude of members of society towards arranged marriages.

Attitude towards Arranged Marriages

From the statistics shown above, it is clear that most of the participants in this survey noted that they do not have favorable attitudes toward arranged marriages. They noted a number of factors that make them feel that arranged marriages are a practice that should not be encouraged in modern society. The following are some of the specific disadvantages of arranged marriages. According to Browne (73), in arranged marriages, the decision to choose one’s partner is taken away from one’s hands.

The elders have the sole discretion of choosing a life partner for an individual who plans to marry. Marriage is a complex process that involves bringing together two completely different individuals into a lifetime union. The personality of the life partner will define the quality of life one has.

Given the sensitivity of this issue, one should be allowed to take time to understand the other person who is supposed to be the life partner. This would require a long time of interaction, trying to understand the personality of the person to determine if a life together can be a personality. The opportunity is denied to people who engage in arranged marriages.

According to Lamanna and Riedmann (33), in most cases, couples in arranged marriages find themselves in union with people who have contrasting personalities. It is important to appreciate that sharing religious beliefs, cultural practices, or social status may not necessarily make them compatible. The personalities of an individual may not be rigidly defined using demographical factors. Sometimes people of a completely different caste may find themselves more compatible than those that share their caste.

What makes the whole system very complex is the attachment that members of the family will have to that marriage. The two couples may be forced to stay together even if they find fundamental contrasts in their personalities simply because their parents and community members arranged their marriage. Such people will stay in their marriages because of the wish of their parents. As Entezar (67) notes, the marriage will cease to be blissful, and it will turn into a prison, as demonstrated in the figure below.

As demonstrated in the above figure, the partners will have more questions than answers in their union. Happiness will be gone, and in most cases, they will regret why they accepted the union in the first place. According to Lamanna and Riedmann (33), love in arranged marriages takes a secondary position. The partners are not given time to bond and develop love towards each other before their marriage.

Those who are involved in arranging the marriage always assume that the two will develop an attraction and love towards each other once they are in a marriage. However, this fallacy should be avoided. Chances are high that if the two entered into a marriage without love, then they may spend their entire lives without loving each other.

Entezar (56) describes such unions as marriages of convenience. The parties involved in the marriage will not be doing it for their own sake and for the sake of love. They will be doing it for the sake of their parents. They will be trying to please people around them, disregarding the importance of a strong bond that is always created by love. This weakens the foundation of their marriage.

The research by Browne (47) shows that arranged marriages are vulnerable to interferences from external forces. When family members participate in bringing the couple together, they will develop a feeling that they have the right to define the way the family is run. Each of the family members will make an effort to define the way the couple will be leading their lives. In some cases, these family members may find themselves positions in the newly created family.

They will want to visit the new family at wish, and whenever they have a personal problem, they will demand help from the couple simply because they participated in bringing them together. As Tseng (112) says, such environments are not good for the growth of the new family. Sometimes the demands of these family members may be unrealistic. Such negative forces are uncommon when the couple makes their own decisions when marrying.

Arranged marriages are still commonly practiced in the modern society. It is clear from the above discussion that this form of marriage was more common in traditional societies than it is in the current society. However, even in the current society, it is clear that one cannot dismiss the relevance of arranged marriages.

These marriages help in bringing family members together when choosing a life partner. This research reveals that despite these advantages, arranged marriages also have shortcomings that should be considered before a family can subject one of their own to it. Based on this discussion, using a blend of arranged and unarranged marriages may be of great benefit to the members of the family and, most importantly, to the couple.

Browne, Ken. An Introduction to Sociology . Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011. Print.

Entezar, Eshan. Afghanistan 101: Understanding Afghan Culture . New Jersey: Xlibris Corporation, 2008. Print.

Lamanna, Mary, and Agnes. Riedmann. Marriages & Families: Making Choices and Facing Change . Belmont: Wadsworth, 2006. Print.

Roberts, Kathleen. Communication Ethics: Between Cosmopolitanism and Provinciality . New York: Lang, 2008. Print.

Tseng, Wen-Shing. Handbook of Cultural Psychiatry . San Diego: Academic Press, 2001. Print.

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Model Essay

The essay provided below adheres to all benchmark of Writing Task requirements for Essay. You can also practice this question and get in-depth evaluation from IELTS24

Some people believe that arranged marriages lead to more stable relationships, while others argue for the importance of love-based marriages. Discuss both perspectives and give your opinion.


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Pamela Regan, Ph.D.

  • Relationships

Arranged vs. Love-Based Marriages in the U.S.—How Different Are They?

Not as different as you might think..

Posted August 1, 2012 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

This month, my research assistant, Carlos Anguiano, heads off to Washington State University to begin a Ph.D. program. He’s been an important part of my lab for two years now, and it seems only fitting that I dedicate this month’s entry to him and the collaborative research project we’ve completed this past school year.

Using data collected by a former thesis student, we sought to determine whether the relationship experiences of people in arranged marriages differed significantly from those of people in love-based (free-choice) marriages.

This wasn’t an easy study to conduct. Arranged marriage — a form of marriage in which partners are selected by family members or professional matchmakers — is not the norm in our contemporary Western culture, and so it's fairly challenging to find people in the U.S. who have entered into that type of marital arrangement. And even in societies with a longstanding tradition of arranged marriage (for example, south and east Asia, the Middle East, and South America), prevalence rates have been on the decline for years, making it increasingly difficult for researchers interested in arranged marriages to find participants for their studies.

Nonetheless, one of my intrepid thesis students managed to find a sample of adults living in the U.S. who were in arranged marriages contracted by their family members or professional matchmakers. She also identified a comparison sample of adults in love-based, free-choice marriages in which they had personally chosen their spouses on the basis of love.

On average, these men and women were 35 years old and had been married for 10 years; all were of Indian descent and most were Hindu. Each marriage had been contracted and had taken place in the U.S.

Now, because we were interested in comparing the relationship outcomes and experiences of men and women in these two types of marriage, we asked each participant to complete four commonly used questionnaires: (1) the Passionate Love Scale created by Dr. Elaine Hatfield (University of Hawaii) and Dr. Susan Sprecher (Illinois State University), which assesses the essential features of passionate, romantic love ; (2) the Companionate Love Scale created by Dr. Sprecher and myself, which captures feelings of affectionate, friendship -based love; and (3) the Satisfaction and (4) the Commitment scales created by Dr. Caryl Rusbult , which assess people’s satisfaction with and commitment to their spouses and marriages.

Once we had collected the data, it was time for Carlos and me to analyze the results. First, we found that men and women in both types of marriage reported high levels of satisfaction, commitment, and passionate and companionate love. This result didn't really surprise us — surveys conducted in the U.S. consistently find high levels of satisfaction and well-being among most married individuals. That is, most married people are pretty happy with their marriages and their partners, most of the time — and our study participants were no different.

What did surprise us was the number of sex differences we found. Specifically, despite the uniformly positive experiences reported by our participants, the men in our sample reported significantly higher levels of passionate and companionate love for their spouses and commitment to their marriages than did the women.

This finding was unexpected; other researchers generally have not found the same pattern of results. We have no real explanation for this — all we know is that for whatever reason, our male participants loved more passionately and affectionately, and felt more committed to their marriages, than our female participants. (Keep in mind, though, that all participants scored fairly highly on those measures — it's just that men scored higher.)

Our final — and most important — finding also was unexpected. We found absolutely no difference between participants in arranged marriages and those in free-choice marriages on the four measures we included in our study. Regardless of the nature of their marriage — whether their spouse had been selected by family members/matchmakers or had been personally and freely chosen — the participants in our study were extremely (and equally) happy with their relationships.

The bottom line? Love, satisfaction, and commitment appear to be common outcomes in both arranged and free choice, love-based marriages, at least among Indian adults living in the U.S.

This study, like all research investigations, is not without limitations. It’s important to keep in mind, for example, that these marriages were contracted in the U.S. by men and women living in an urban, industrialized environment. The dynamics of marriage (arranged or otherwise) in other countries, in other environments, involving other people, might be very different.

arranged marriage discussion essay

In the U.S., the line between "arranged" and "free choice" is probably a blurry one. People entering arranged marriages here may have veto power or the ability to say "no" to a potential spouse who doesn't please them or for whom they feel no attraction or affection, and people entering free-choice marriages often are influenced by the wishes and feelings of their friends and family. Thus, there is an element of choice in arranged marriages contracted in the U.S., and an element of social influence in U.S.-made free choice marriages. We might expect to find greater differences in love, satisfaction, and commitment in cultural contexts that support a clearer division between the two types of marriage.

I hope that our findings (which were published this year in the journal Psychological Reports ) offer some insight into an important and little-studied type of marriage. I invite you to read more here .

And to Carlos — you’ll be missed. Good luck in graduate school and best wishes to you and your family as you enter this exciting new chapter in your life. You’ve made me very proud.

Pamela Regan, Ph.D.

Pamela Regan, Ph.D. , is a professor of psychology at Cal State Los Angeles. She is the author of Close Relationships (Routledge).

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The Decline of Arranged Marriage? Marital Change and Continuity in India

Keera allendorf.

Department of Sociology, Indiana University, 1020 E. Kirkwood Ave Bloomington, IN 47405 (812)855-1540

Roshan K. Pandian

Department of Sociology, Indiana University

This article evaluates whether arranged marriage declined in India from 1970 to 2012. Specifically, the authors examine trends in spouse choice, the length of time spouses knew each other prior to marriage, intercaste marriage, and consanguineous marriage at the national level, as well as by region, urban residence, and religion/caste. During this period, women were increasingly active in choosing their own husbands, spouses meeting on their wedding day decreased, intercaste marriage rose, and consanguineous marriage fell. However, many of these changes were modest in size and substantial majorities of recent marriages still show the hallmarks of arranged marriage. Further, instead of displacing parents, young women increasingly worked with parents to choose husbands collectively. Rather than unilateral movement towards Western marriage practices, as suggested by theories of family change and found in other Asian contexts, these trends point to a hybridization of customary Western and Indian practices.

Modernization theory predicted that the great diversity of family behaviors found in non-Western countries would converge towards the Western nuclear model under the influence of industrialization and urbanization ( Adams 2010 ; Goode 1963 ; McDonald 1993 ). Following this prediction, arranged marriage – a practice found largely in Asia and Africa in which parents and other family members select their children’s spouses – was expected to be replaced by Western style marriage, in which young people choose their own spouses.

This predicted decline of arranged marriage is usually conceptualized as a change in spouse choice, but it also points to other marital changes. In arranged marriages, parents customarily choose a spouse based on the caste/ethnicity, religion, and social and economic standing of the prospective spouse and their family and there is little to no contact between the prospective spouses prior to marriage. In the Western model of marriage, young people choose their own spouses on the basis of individual compatibility or love, usually gained through interactions before marriage ( Macfarlane 1986 ; Thornton 2009 ). Thus, a decline of arranged marriage likely signals declines in the importance of ethnicity/caste, religion, and other aspects of the status of a prospective spouse and their family. It also implies increases in contact between prospective spouses before marriage and the importance of love or interpersonal compatibility.

Many predictions of family change found within modernization theory have been discredited, yet the theory continues to be influential. Non-western families have not uniformly converged towards the Western model and the Western nuclear family itself has undergone substantial changes in recent decades ( Cherlin 2012 ). Yet, in many places, some of the family changes predicted by modernization theory have occurred, including widespread increases in age at marriage and declines in fertility ( Bryant 2007 ; Ortega 2014 ; Raymo et al. 2015 ). Further, recent research on family change, including assessments of transitions from joint to nuclear families and early to late marital timing, is shaped by modernization theory ( Bongaarts and Zimmer 2002 ; Buttenheim and Nobles 2009 ; Niranjan, Nair and Roy 2005 ; Ruggles 2009 ).

A more recent theory of family change, developmental idealism theory, suggests that modernization theory itself is a driver of family change ( Thornton 2001 , 2005 ). According to developmental idealism theory, the values and beliefs found in modernization theory – including the valuation of Western family behaviors as good and modern and the beliefs that such behaviors are causes and consequences of development – have spread around the world. As people encounter and endorse these schemas, known collectively as developmental idealism, they increasingly adopt the Western family practices that match those schemas. Thus, while modernization theory points to economic drivers and developmental idealism highlights ideational forces, both predict the decline of arranged marriage.

An important first step in evaluating these theories relevance to marital change is establishing the extent to which arranged marriage has declined around the world. The existing empirical record suggests that parts of Asia and Africa have experienced substantial declines in arranged marriage. A small set of survey-based studies document declines in Kyrgyzstan ( Nedoluzhko and Agadjanian 2015 ), Nepal ( Axinn, Ghimire and Barber 2008 ; Ghimire et al. 2006 ), China ( Xu and Whyte 1990 ; Zang 2007 ), Taiwan ( Thornton, Chang and Lin 1994 ), Japan ( Retherford and Ogawa 2006 ), Indonesia ( Malhotra 1997 ), Malaysia ( Jones 1994 ), Sri Lanka ( Caldwell 1999 ), and Togo ( Meekers 1995 ). For example, in Japan, the percent of women who had an arranged marriage fell from 60% among those married in the late 1950s to nearly zero in the early 2000s ( Retherford and Ogawa 2006 :17). Similarly, in Togo, the percent of women who had an arranged marriage fell from 46% among those married in the 1960s to 24% among those married in the 1980s ( Meekers 1995 ). More broadly, ethnographic studies indicate that the valuation of love and choice, which are hallmarks of Western marriage, are increasingly salient to marriage in a wide range of settings ( Cole and Thomas 2009 ; Harkness and Khaled 2014 ; Hirsch 2003 ; Hirsch and Wardlow 2006 ; Marsden 2007 ; Rebhun 1999 ; Yan 2003 ).

However, it is difficult to rigorously evaluate the extent of change in arranged marriage at global, regional, and even national scales. Measures of spouse choice and related behaviors are not standardly included in nationally representative surveys, such as the Demographic and Health Surveys. In turn, there are many countries for which no data are available. Further, many of the studies listed above use samples that are representative of cities or other localities within countries. Thus, many of the trends documented with available data cannot be generalized to countries as a whole.

This article aims to contribute to the empirical record by assessing whether arranged marriage has declined in India. Specifically, we examine changes from 1970 to 2012 in spouse choice, intercaste marriage, consanguineous marriage, and the length of time spouses knew each other prior to marriage. We examine trends in each of these behaviors at the national level, but also investigate variation by region, urban residence, and religion/caste. To our knowledge, this is the first study to assess the extent of change in arranged marriage at the national level in India.

India is a profoundly important context for understanding trends in arranged marriage. The kinship system, particularly among Hindus in the North, is strongly tied to arranged marriage, which sustains the patrilineal and patrilocal family system and the caste system ( Karve 1965 ; Kolenda 1987 ). In fact, Jones (2010) classifies North India as the region that is most tied to arranged marriage in all of Asia. In addition to its theoretical relevance, the size of the population makes India a dominant force in broader regional and even global patterns. The Indian population numbers 1.3 billion, making it home to 18% of the world’s population ( United Nations 2015 ).

Research on India itself further points to the need for better understanding of marital trends. Many studies suggest that the institution of arranged marriage may be under threat or is at least perceived to be so. Apparent growth in what are known colloquially as “love marriages” are described in ethnographic studies from Haryana ( Chowdhry 2007 ), Delhi ( Mody 2008 ), West Bengal ( Allendorf 2013 ), Ladakh ( Aengst 2014 ), Gujarat ( Netting 2009 ), and Andhra Pradesh ( Still 2011 ). In summarizing a collection of marriage ethnographies, Kaur and Patliwala (2014 :9) conclude that “the articulated rules of partner selection have become muddied with the espousal of new ‘modern’ values of ‘love’ and ‘choice.’ Further, in keeping with developmental idealism theory, Uberoi (2006) notes that it is widely anticipated that arranged marriage will inevitably decline with India’s modernization. One Indian journalist was so convinced that the Indian family is growing to resemble the Western family that she travelled to Great Britain to witness there the supposed future of the Indian family up close ( Prasad 2006 ). Young people choosing their own spouses for love is also commonly depicted in the mass media and popular Bollywood movies ( Dwyer 2000 ; Uberoi 2006 ).

Other studies indicate that there are few, if any, changes in the dominance of arranged marriage in India. In an ethnography from Tamil Nadu, Fuller and Narasimhan (2008) suggest that the potential for interpersonal compatibility is now taken into account by parents when choosing spouses, but the broader practice of arranged marriage remains intact. In their classic article on the causes of marital change in South India, Caldwell and colleagues (1983) did not include a decline of arranged marriage among the titular changes, which instead comprised a growing surplus of brides, transition from bridewealth to dowry, and rise in women’s age at marriage. While they did describe a decline in consanguineous marriage at their fieldsite in Karnataka, they emphatically noted that “there is no claim of any decline in the significance of arranged marriage” ( Caldwell, Reddy and Caldwell 1982 :706). Most compellingly, less than 5% of women surveyed in the 2005 Indian Human Development Survey had the “primary role in choosing their husbands” ( Desai and Andrist 2010 :675). This measure of the stock of arranged marriages in 2005 does not directly assess the flow of arranged marriages in recent decades, but it does illustrate that arranged marriage must still be highly relevant in India.

Our data comprise the only source of nationally representative data on arranged marriage, the Indian Human Development Survey (IHDS). Specifically, we draw on both waves of the IHDS, the first collected in 2004–05 (IHDS-I) and the second in 2011–12 (IHDS-II) ( Desai et al. 2007 ; Desai, Vanneman, and NCAER 2015 ). Together, these two waves comprise a panel study. The IHDS-I sample comprised 41,554 households, 83% of which were re-interviewed in IHDS-II. IHDS-II covered 42,152 households, including original IHDS-I households, households that split from original households, and a replacement sample of an additional 2,134 households.

Retrospective reports of marriage were collected in both waves from ever married women aged 15–49 residing in the selected households. Our analytical sample comprises 46,010 of these women, including 32,280 interviewed in IHDS-I and 13,730 interviewed only in IHDS-II. Since higher order marriages are rare in India and can differ in important ways from first marriages, we restricted our analysis to first marriages to ensure that trends over time are unaffected by changes in the composition of the sample by marriage order. Thus, we dropped the 988 women who had been married more than once and whose marriage reports referred to higher order marriages. We also restricted our analysis to those married in 1970 or later, dropping 270 women who married before 1970. An additional 365 women were excluded from the analytical sample because they were missing information for key variables. We should also note that the variable denoting if women were related to their husband by blood was missing in 1,258 cases. Thus, our analytical sample is further limited to 44,752 women for consanguineous marriage.

The absence of men in the sample may present a bias for estimates of spouse choice and possibly intercaste marriage. Surveys from other parts of Asia show that women exercise lower levels of spouse choice than men ( Allendorf and Thornton 2015 ; Malhotra 1991 ). Ethnographic studies also suggest that men have more choice over their marriage in India as well ( Allendorf 2013 ; Caldwell et al. 1983 ). Thus, our results likely underestimate the amount of choice exercised by the population of women and men as a whole. The other behaviors we examine, namely intercaste marriage, consanguineous marriage, and how long spouses knew each other before marriage, should be couple-level characteristics. Thus, using only women’s reports should not present a bias for the other behaviors. However, in a survey in neighboring Nepal, women reported substantially lower levels of intercaste marriage than men ( Allendorf and Thornton 2015 ). If this finding is indicative of a broader regional pattern, the results presented here would also underestimate intercaste marriage.

Our measure of spouse choice is based on two questions. Women were first asked, “Who chose your husband?” with response options: 1) respondent herself, 2) respondent and parents/other relatives together, 3) parents or other relatives alone, or 4) other. Women who said their parents/other relatives alone chose their husband or chose the “other” option were also asked a yes or no, follow-up question: “Did you have any say in choosing him?” Using responses to both questions, we divided women’s choice spectrum into three categories. At one end of the spectrum are self-choice marriages, comprising all women in the “respondent herself” category for the first question. At the other end, are women who had no say in the choice, instead their parents (and/or others) chose their husbands by themselves. This category includes all women who said their parents/relatives or someone else chose their husband in the first question and said they had no say in response to the follow-up question. The third category includes all women between these extremes of choosing by themselves and having so say at all. This intermediate category includes the women who said that both they and their parents (or someone else) chose their husband together, as well as women who initially said that their parents (or someone else) chose, but when asked the follow-up question said they did have a say.

Our measure of length of acquaintanceship is taken verbatim from one question: “How long had you known your husband before you married him?” Response options included: 1) [met] on wedding or gauna (day of cohabitation) only, 2) less than one month, 3) more than one month, but less than one year, 4) more than one year, and 5) since childhood. We collapsed those who said “since childhood” into the “more than one year” category, but otherwise retained all response options.

It is important to note that there is ambiguity in this measure of length of acquaintanceship. We presume that most women interpreted “knowing” as meeting their (future) husband in person, but the interpretation may well have varied. As seen below, relatively large numbers of women reported meeting on their wedding day, even when they also said they chose their husbands by themselves. Thus, some women may have had more stringent interpretations of knowing, such as spending time in person without other people present or having some type of sustained contact. This ambiguity may also have been compounded by the translation of the questionnaire into several different languages; some languages may have had different implications for the meaning of “knowing.” It’s also possible that social desirability motivated some women to report meeting on their wedding day when they actually met earlier. Some evidence supporting this ambiguity and social desirability is found in the second round of the IHDS. In IHDS-II, women were also asked about additional contact with their (future) husband, including whether they had a chance to meet their husband before the marriage was fixed. Some responses to this question and the other question on how long they knew their husband before marriage appear to conflict. Specifically, 12% of the women who said they met on their wedding day, also said they did meet their husband before the marriage was fixed.

We should also emphasize that even if they did meet only on their wedding day, women may still have seen their husbands before marriage and had contact by email, letter, or phone. In the additional questions that appeared only in IHDS-II, women were asked whether they had talked on the phone, seen a photograph, or sent an email or internet chat before the marriage was fixed. Of those who said they met on their wedding day, 8% talked on the phone, 1% exchanged e-mail or internet chat, and 18% had seen his photo. Thus, some of the women who met on their wedding day may have developed feelings or expectations about their husband before marriage based on this type of contact.

Consanguineous marriage is the marriage of blood relatives. Thus, the measure is based on the question, “Are you related to your husband by blood?” All women who said yes are categorized as having a consanguineous marriage. Unlike the other marital behaviors we examine, consanguineous marriage is not customary across India. A preference for cross-cousin marriage, as well as marriage to uncles or other blood relatives, is only part of the southern kinship system ( Dyson and Moore 1983 ; Karve 1965 ; Trautman 1981 ). Conversely, in the North, a blood relative is customarily not an acceptable spouse.

The measure of intercaste marriage is women’s subjective assessment that the two castes are different. Specifically, all women who said “no” to: “Is your husband’s family the same caste ( jati ) as your natal family?” It’s important to note that assessments of whether two castes ( jatis ) are the same can and does vary across individuals ( Allendorf 2013 ; Beteille 1969 ). One person may say that two castes of similar origin and/or rank are the same, while another would say they are not. Thus, as noted above in the discussion of gender differences in Nepal, there is some ambiguity in this measure. Women may also under report intercaste marriage because of social desirability. These two limitations should work in opposite directions, however. We expect that women would take larger-grained views of caste for more recent marriages, which would reduce reporting of intercaste marriage for more recent marriages. At the same time, if the stigma of intercaste marriage is lessening over time and social desirability bias is declining, we would expect reporting of intercaste marriage to be higher for more recent marriages.

We measure change over time with marriage cohort. Specifically, we categorize women into four groups based on the calendar year in which their marriage took place, including 1970–79, 1980–89, 1990–99, and 2000–12. This approach can pose a truncation problem because survey data are limited to marriages experienced by women captured in the survey ( Thornton 1994 ). In a context like India, with a relatively young age at marriage, the earliest marriage cohorts are missing women who married at younger ages. We dropped the women who were married prior to 1970 to reduce this truncation. We also use marriage cohort, rather than birth cohort, because it is a better approximation of a period measure and is subject to less truncation. However, we present national level results for both birth and marital cohorts in an appendix .

Connections among Marital Behaviors

Before examining trends over time, we first investigate the connections between spouse choice and the other three marital behaviors. As described above, while arranged marriage is often conceptualized as spouse choice, it is connected to caste endogamy, consanguineous marriage (in some contexts), and interaction prior to marriage. If these behaviors are tightly connected, a change in one behavior would inevitably result in a corresponding change in another. Conversely, if they are only loosely related, then changes in one may lead to little or no change in another. Thus, understanding the connections among the marital behaviors informs understanding of marital trends.

The distribution of spouse choice by the length of time women were acquainted with their husbands prior to marriage appears in Figure 1 . As expected, women with more choice were acquainted with their husbands for longer periods of time. 42% of women who chose on their own met their husbands more than a year before marriage. In contrast, only 13% of women who chose jointly with their parents and 5% of women whose parents chose met their husbands more than a year prior to marriage. There are also striking differences between women who selected jointly with their parents and those who had no say in the intermediate categories. 88% of women whose parents alone chose met their husbands only on their wedding day, while 58% of women who chose jointly did so. Further, even over a third of women who chose by themselves only met on their wedding day. Thus, little to no interaction with husbands prior to marriage appears to be common among all women.

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Distribution of length of acquaintanceship by spouse choice

The distribution of intercaste and consanguineous marriage by spouse choice appears in Figure 2 . Spouse choice is closely connected to caste endogamy with self-choice marriages standing out markedly from the other two categories. 17% of self-chosen marriages are intercaste, while less than 5% of marriages in which parents were involved are intercaste. Thus, as expected, parents are much more likely than their daughters to follow the custom of caste endogamy when selecting husbands. Women may also be less likely to approach their parents for approval of a potential marriage when they have an intercaste partner.

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Distributions of intercaste and consanguineous marriage by spouse choice

Consanguineous marriage, on the other hand, does not show the expected pattern. We expected consanguineous marriage to be more common when parents chose husbands. However, women who chose husbands jointly with their parents are the most likely to be related to their husbands at 13% ( Figure 2 ). Only 5% of women whose parents chose and 11% of women who chose husbands by themselves are related to their husbands by blood. Thus, marriages in which women chose by themselves are more likely to be consanguineous than marriages in which parents alone selected the husband. We also examined whether the expected connection between spouse choice and consanguineous marriage did appear in the South, the only region where consanguineous marriage is customary. Even in the South, however, we did not find the expected pattern.

National Trends

Next, we use marriage cohort to examine national trends in the four marital behaviors. National trends in spouse choice appear in Figure 3 . Overall, there is a striking decline in parents alone choosing husbands for their daughters. The percent of marriages in which parents alone chose husbands fell from half in the 1970s to one-third in the 2000s. At the other extreme, self-choice marriages doubled from 3% in the 1970s to 6% in the 2000s, but remained rare in absolute terms. Instead of women choosing husbands on their own, the increasingly dominant pattern was for parents and daughters to both be involved in the selection. In the 1970s, 47% of women chose their husband jointly with their parents. Thus, at the beginning of the period, marriages in which parents alone chose outnumbered those in which women and their parents chose together. By the end of the period, however, joint selection was dominant, comprising two-thirds of marriages and outnumbering marriages in which parents alone chose by two to one.

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Spouse choice by marriage cohort

The trend in the length of time spouses knew each other prior to marriage appears in Figure 4 . As expected, women did know their husbands for longer periods in the more recent cohorts, but the extent of change is modest. The percent of marriages in which women met their husbands only on their wedding day declined by 10 percentage points from 74% in the 1970s to 64% in the 2000s. Thus, even in the most recent cohort, the majority of women had little to no interaction with their husbands before marriage. Further, there was no increase in women knowing their spouses for long periods of time. The percentage of women who met their husband more than a year before marriage remained stable at 10–12% across cohorts. Similarly, the percentage who knew their husbands less than a year, but more than a month, remained stable at 9–10%. The only category that increased over time is meeting husbands less than a month before marriage, which rose from 5% in the 1970s to 14% in the 2000s. Overall, there was movement from meeting on the wedding day itself to meeting a few days or weeks before the wedding, but lengthy acquaintanceships remained rare.

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Length of acquaintanceship by marriage cohort

Trends in consanguineous and intercaste marriage also show changes in the expected directions ( Figure 5 ). Consanguineous marriage declined by almost a third, from 12% in the 1970s to 9% in the 2000s. Conversely, intercaste marriage increased by nearly half, rising from 4% in the 1970s to 6% in the 2000s. However, like self-choice marriage, intercaste marriage shows a large relative change, but remained rare in absolute terms. Further, unlike consanguineous marriage, the trend in intercaste marriage was not constant throughout the period. Rather than consistently increasing, intercaste marriage held steady at 5% in 1980 and 1990.

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Consanguineous and intercaste marriage by marriage cohort

Regional Trends

India is a large and diverse country with variation in family behaviors and kinship systems across regions. Thus, understanding Indian marital trends requires going beyond the national level. Geographically, the most notable difference is the divide between the North and South ( Dyson and Moore 1983 ; Karve 1965 ; Kolenda 1987 ). As noted above, consanguineous marriage is only customary in the South, while exogamy is customary in the North. Further, in the North, sexual purity and the seclusion of women are more highly valued and practiced and the custom of arranged marriage is customarily stronger ( Jones 2010 ). The Northeast also differs markedly from the rest of India, but receives little attention due to its small population and peripheral location. The Northeast is inhabited by ethnic groups who have much in common with neighboring populations in Bhutan, Myanmar, and Southwestern China and the custom of arranged marriage is generally weaker there. It should also be noted, however, that there are indications that kinship practices have changed in recent decades and regional differences are breaking down ( Rahman and Rao 2004 ). Moreover, even when famously dividing India into North and South demographic regimes, Dyson and Moore (1983) were not sure where the borders were located.

To evaluate the extent of regional diversity, we examine marital trends across six regions. We divide states and union territories into North (n=14,783), Central (n=7,261), East (n=4,906), West (n=6,176), South (n=10,810), and Northeast (n=2,074). The North includes Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkand. Central includes Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. East comprises West Bengal and Orissa, while the West includes Gujarat, Goa, and Maharashtra. South includes Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Finally, the Northeast includes Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Assam.

A limitation of this analysis is that a few marriages may be categorized into the wrong region. Ideally, marriages should be matched to the region where the wedding took place or where the bride and/or groom were living at the time of marriage. However, we only observe the region in which the woman resided at the time of the survey, which is several years after marriage in many cases. Thus, the marriages of women who migrated across regions in the period between marriage and the survey are misclassified. We expect that this limitation should only present a slight error. While it is common for women to migrate for marriage, it is rare for them to migrate across regions after marriage ( Rao and Finnoff 2015 ).

Spouse choice

Every region shows a decline in parental control, but the extent of decline, as well as initial levels, differs dramatically across regions ( Figure 6 ). The North and Central regions stand out with high and declining parental control. Marriages in which parents alone chose comprise a dominant majority in the 1970s in these regions, at 72% and 66% respectively, and retain their majority status until the 2000s. Among the most recent cohort, choosing jointly rises substantially to roughly half of marriages, edging out those that are fully parentally controlled in the Central region and reaching parity in the North. Self-chosen marriages are also extremely rare. Self-choice marriages comprising less than 4% of marriages across the period, although there is a small rise in the 2000s.

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Spouse choice by marriage cohort and region

The South and Northeast have substantially lower levels of parental control and greater continuity over time, but still show substantial change. In these regions, marriages in which only parents only chose the husband comprised just over 15% of the total in the 1970s and fell by roughly half by the 2000s. Marriages in which parents and daughters choose jointly were the dominant majority throughout the period, comprising over 80% of marriages in the South and 60–70% of marriages in the Northeast. There is a striking difference in self-choice marriages between the South and Northeast however. In the South, self-choice marriages match the national trend of a large relative change, but consistently low absolute levels. The Northeast, on the other hand, stands out as the only region with a sizeable percentage of self-choice marriages, rising from 15% in the 1970s to 34% in the 2000s.

The trends for the East and West are in-between these extremes. Like the South, jointly chosen marriages comprise the majority across cohorts in these regions. The level of self-choice marriages is also similar overall to that of the South. However, the East shows a comparatively dramatic rise in self-choice marriages, tripling from 3% to 12%, while the West is stable at around 5%.

Other Marriage Behaviors

Next, we examine regional variation in the length of acquaintanceship. To ease comparison across regions, we examine only one indicator: the percent of women who reported meeting their husbands on their wedding day ( Figure 7 ). We chose this category because it represents an extreme end of the spectrum and includes the majority of women at the national level. We should again note, however, that even if they met on their wedding day, women may still have communicated with and seen their husbands before marriage.

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Length of acquaintanceship, consanguineous marriage, and intercaste marriage by marriage cohort and region

The trends in acquaintanceship show greater homogeneity across regions than spouse choice. The North, Central, East, and West regions all show modest declines in meeting on the wedding day. Specifically, the percent of marriages in which the couple met on their wedding day fell from 80–90% in the 1970s to 70–80% in the 2000s. The South and Northeast stand out with markedly different trends. The Northeast shows a steep decline in meeting on the wedding day, falling from 59% in the 1970s to 24% in the 2000s. In the South, meeting on the wedding day was stable at around a third of marriages.

In keeping with the regional differences in the kinship systems, consanguineous marriage was rare and stable in most regions, but not the South and West ( Figure 7 ). Across the period, marriages between blood relatives range from 1–6% of all marriages in the North, Central, East, and Northeast regions. By contrast, the South and West had high and declining levels of consanguineous marriage. However, these regional trends mask further heterogeneity at the state level. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharshtra, and Goa experienced large declines in consanguineous marriage, but still had much higher levels than the rest of India even in the 2000s. The remaining Southern and Western states, namely Kerala and Gujarat, match the national trends with rare and stable levels of consanguineous marriage.

Intercaste marriage is the only behavior without any clear regional outliers, although the Northeast comes close ( Figure 7 ). The trends, as well as the levels, are similar across regions and dovetail relatively closely with the national trend. At the start of the period, in the 1970s, intercaste marriage varies from a low of 2% in the Central region to a high of 8% in the Northeast. By the 2000s, these levels have only increased to 3% in the Central region and 11% in the Northeast. The Northeast’s relatively high level of intercaste marriage is in keeping with its high level of self-choice marriage. The generally low levels of intercaste marriage are also consistent with low levels of self-choice marriages across regions.

Trends by Urban Residence

Next, we investigate marital trends by urban residence. Both modernization theory and developmental idealism theory suggest that arranged marriage should decline first, or be less common, in urban areas. Modernization theory views arranged marriage as structurally incompatible with urban life, while developmental idealism theory suggests that urban residents encounter and adopt developmental idealism before rural residents.

We divide women into three categories by their place of residence at the time of survey: metro urban (n=3,944), other urban (n=12,372), and rural (n=26,694). Metro urban refers to the six largest metropolitan areas in India, comprising Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. Since place of residence is measured at the time of survey, this categorization does include some error. As noted above in reference to region, marriages of women who changed their place of residence between the time of marriage and the survey are misclassified.

Parents alone choosing husbands uniformly declined for urban and rural residents, but the levels differed substantially ( Figure 8 ). As predicted by theory, parents only choosing husbands was highest among rural residents (53–36%), lowest among metro urban residents (26–14%), and in-between these extremes for other urban residents (44–20%). Further, women and their parents jointly choosing husbands show the inverse pattern. Choosing jointly uniformly rose across all places of residence, but was at a substantially higher level among metro urban and, to a lesser extent, other urban residents. Contrary to expectations, however, both the trends and levels of self-choice marriages did not differ by place of residence. Metro urban, other urban, and rural residents all match the national trend with the percent of marriages in which women alone chose their husbands rising from around 3% in the 1970s to 6–8% in the 2000s.

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Spouse choice by marriage cohort and urban residence

The trends in meeting on the wedding day are broadly similar across places of residence, but there were notable, albeit modest, differences ( Figure 9 ). Across the period, rural residents were slightly more likely to meet their husband on their wedding day, than urban residents. Both rural and other urban residents also show slight declines over time. Meeting on their wedding day declined from 76% to 67% among rural residents, while it declined from 68% to 56% among other urban residents. Metro urban residents were stable with roughly 60% of women from all marital cohorts meeting husbands on their wedding day.

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Length of acquaintanceship, consanguineous marriage, and intercaste marriage by marriage cohort and urban residence

There are also modest differences in trends in consanguineous marriage ( Figure 9 ). Rural residents show the national pattern of a slight decline in consanguineous marriage from 12% to 8%. Urban residents, on the other hand, are stable over time. Other urban residents hold at around 12% for most of the period, but decline slightly in the 2000s. Metro urban residents, show a slight increase in consanguineous marriage, from 8% in the 1970s to 11% in the 1990s and 2000s, but this difference is not statistically significant.

The trends in intercaste marriage are virtually identical across rural and urban residents ( Figure 9 ). Metro urban, other urban, and rural residents all show the national pattern; intercaste marriage remains rare across the period, but does suggest slight increases from 4–5% in the 1970s to 5–7% in the 2000s. These rises are statistically significant for the rural and other urban residents, but not for the smaller metro urban sample.

Trends by Religion/Caste

Finally, we examine trends in marital behaviors by religion/caste. Specifically, we divide women into six groups: Upper Caste Hindus (n=10,344), Other Backward Castes (OBCs) (n=15,429), Dalits (n=9,462), Adivasis (n=3,635), Muslims (n=5,501), and other religions (n=1,639), which are composed largely of Christians, Sikhs, and Jains. The small number of women who are both Adivasi and Christian are placed in the Adivasi category. Adivasis are also known as Scheduled Tribes, while Dalits are also termed Scheduled Castes. Other Backward Castes, as well as Scheduled Tribes and Castes, are officially recognized by the Indian government as socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. We should emphasize that these categories contain multiple castes ( jatis ).

Ethnographic literature suggests that arranged marriage and accompanying practices are followed more closely by higher caste groups ( Grover 2011 ; Saavala 2001 ). Lower caste groups tend to have looser marriage practices, including greater choice among young people and fewer restrictions on women’s sexuality. Ethnographic studies also indicate that Muslims prefer, or are at least less averse towards, marriages among relatives and within villages ( Jeffery and Jeffery 1997 ; Kaur and Palriwala 2014 ).

Before describing trends by religion/caste, it is important to reflect on the extent to which these trends may be driven by an association with regional trends and vice versa. There are notable patterns in the distribution of religion/caste groups across regions. For example, Upper Caste Hindus and other religions are concentrated in the North, the Northeast has a relatively large population of Adivasis, and the South has a relatively large population of Other Backward Castes. For the most part, however, groups are spread across regions and there is not a strong overlap between region and religion/caste. For example, while 39% of Upper Caste Hindus in the sample reside in the North, only 27% of the sample from the North is comprised of Upper Castes. Similarly, while 29% of the sample from the Northeast are Adivasis, only 16% of the Adivasis in the sample reside in the Northeast. In turn, the associations between region and religion/caste are not strong enough for regional trends to markedly affect trends by religion/caste and vice versa. When we adjust for region, the bulk of the estimates for religion/caste differ by only a few hundredths and, at most, they differ by a couple percentage points. The reverse also holds; regional trends are consistent when adjusted for religion/caste.

Overall, the trends in spouse choice are similar across religion/caste groups. Every group shows a steady decline in parents alone choosing husbands and a corresponding rise in parents and daughters jointly choosing husbands ( Figure 10 ). Every group, except other religions, also has a slow and steady rise in self-choice marriages. While change over time is relatively uniform, the levels are also similar. Jointly choosing husbands is not only increasing over time, but is the most common experience for all groups during most of the period. The only exception to this statement is the 1970s cohort for which parents only choosing is nearly as common as joint selection among Muslims and Dalits and parents only choosing is more or equally common among Upper Caste Hindus, Other Backward Castes, and Adivasis. Further, self-choice marriage is a distant third spouse choice category among all groups from the 1970s to the 1990s. In the 2000s, parents alone choosing declined so substantially that it was close to, or even at, the low level of self-choice marriages among Upper Caste Hindus, Advasis, and other religions.

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Spouse choice by marriage cohort and religion/caste

There are still important differences among religion/caste groups however. First, self-choice marriages are more common among Adivasis. Although the other religion category is somewhat of an exception with a high level of self-choice marriages in the 1970s. The other religion group also shows consistently high levels of joint choice and correspondingly lower levels of parents alone choosing spouses. However, the pace of change over time among other religions is comparable to other groups. Upper Caste Hindus also show higher levels of joint choice, but they do not stand out as much as other religions. Thus, in contrast to the ethnographic literature, parents alone choosing husbands is more common among Dalits and Other Backward Castes than it is among Upper Caste Hindus.

The trends in length of acquaintance are also similar among religion/caste groups ( Figure 11 ). For Upper Caste Hindus, Other Backward Castes, Adivasis, and other religions, meeting on the wedding day declined by 10 to 18 percentage points from 59–81% in the 1970s to 46–67% in the 2000s. Muslims and Dalits, on the other hand, are stable over time at just under two-thirds and nearly three-quarters respectively. Overall, the majority of women in all groups report meeting their husbands on their wedding day throughout the period. (The only exception is the other religion group, which dips just below half in the 2000s.)

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Length of acquaintanceship, consanguineous marriage, and intercaste marriage by marriage cohort and religion/caste

Consanguineous marriage has a clear outlier among religious/caste groups ( Figure 11 ). As expected, Muslims have substantially higher levels of consanguineous marriage and experience a steady decline over time. The proportion of Muslim marriages that are consanguineous drops from just over a quarter in the 1970s to 17% by the 2000s. Even in the 2000s though, the level of consanguineous marriage among Muslims is roughly twice that of other groups. There is also notable variation among the other groups. Like Muslims, Dalits and Other Backward Castes show steady declines in consanguineous marriage, but they start and end at much lower levels. Adivasis, Upper Caste Hindus, and the other religions, on the other hand, show low and stable levels of consanguineous marriage.

Intercaste marriage is rare and relatively stable over time among all groups ( Figure 11 ). In the 1970s, intercaste marriage ranges from 2% among Adivasis to 10% among other religious groups. In the 2000s, this range tightened to a low of 5% among Other Backward Castes to a high of 9% among the other religions. The proportion of marriages that are intercaste is significantly higher in the 2000s than it is in the 1970s for Upper Caste Hindus, Dalits, and Adivasis. However, even these statistically significant increases in intercaste marriage are small in size.

Discussion and Conclusion

We motivated this article by noting that the extent of marital change in India, as well as many other countries, is not well established. Theories of family change suggest that arranged marriage should decline in favor of Western marriage practices and previous studies do show such declines in other Asian contexts. In India, ethnographic studies suggest that marital change is afoot, yet other evidence points to little or even no change. Thus, an assessment of the extent and nature of marital change across India is needed. Having completed such an analysis, our answer to the titular question – is arranged marriage declining – is both yes and no.

We conclude that the practice of arranged marriage is shifting, rather than declining. Marriage behaviors did change in predicted directions from the 1970s to the 2000s. Young women became increasingly active in choosing their own husbands, spouses meeting before the wedding day became more common, consanguineous marriage declined, and intercaste marriage rose. However, the size of many of these changes is modest and substantial majorities of recent marriages still show the hallmarks of arranged marriage. Arranged marriage is clearly not headed towards obsolescence any time soon.

Further, the nature of the changes in spouse choice deviates profoundly from the prediction. Rather than displacing their parents, young women joined their parents in working together to choose husbands. While self-choice marriages increased over time, they are still rare, comprising less than a tenth of all marriages in the 2000s. Moreover, even in the 2000s, parents alone choosing husbands for their daughters was more than twice as common as daughters choosing by themselves. Overall, while most parents have lost complete control over marriage, the intergenerational nature of marriage remains intact.

Rather than unilateral movement towards Western practices, these trends point to a hybridization of Western and Indian practices. In India, the colloquial opposite of an arranged marriage is a “love marriage,” which refers to the Western practice of young people choosing their own spouses on the basis of love, attraction, or interpersonal compatibility. We do not have data on the extent to which women felt such emotions prior to marriage, but our results suggest that it is rare and directed along customary lines (cf. De Munck 1996 ; Harkness and Khaled 2014 ). While intercaste marriage is more common among self-choice marriages, still less than a fifth of self-choice marriages are intercaste. Thus, it appears that, like their parents, most women follow the rules of caste endogamy. Even more strikingly, many women who choose by themselves still report meeting their husband on the wedding day or slightly before. Thus, self-arranged or jointly-arranged marriage seem more accurate than the commonly used term “love marriage” when characterizing these marriages.

Many of these national trends held across India. All regions show declines of parental control over spouse choice and, apart from the South, modest increases in spouses meeting prior to marriage. Further, all regions experienced only slight increases or no change at all in intercaste marriage. However, our findings also reinforce the value of going beyond the national level. Trends for the South, as well as the Northeast, depart markedly from some national trends. The South is the only region to experience a substantial decline in consanguineous marriages from previously high levels and the decline of parental control was much more muted. The Northeast stands out as the only region in which self-choice marriages rose to substantial levels. In keeping with high levels of self-choice marriages, intercaste marriage was also more common in the Northeast and, like the South, meeting only on the wedding day was not common as it was elsewhere. Thus, we conclude that regional differences, in particular the well-known North/South regimes and lesser known Northeastern exception, remain important demographic divides. The findings also support Jones’ (2010) identification of North India as the bastion of arranged marriage.

Differences by urban residence were far more muted. Women living in urban areas, in particular those residing in the largest cities, were substantially more likely to choose husbands jointly with their parents. In rural areas, on the other hand, parents were much more likely to choose husbands without their daughters input. However, self-choice marriages were uniformly rare across urban and rural areas. Further, trends in the length of acquaintanceship prior to marriage, consanguineous marriage, and intercaste marriage showed only slight, or even no, differences between rural and urban residents

Variation among religious/caste groups was also less than that found among regions, but there were meaningful departures from national trends. The most striking departure was found for Muslims, who like the South, show a marked decline in consanguineous marriage from previously high levels. Adivasis also stood out; like the Northeast, Adivasis had a comparatively high level and more substantial rise in self-choice marriages. Some expected differences among castes did not materialize however. As noted above, the ethnographic literature suggests that lower castes are less observant of arranged marriage. Apart from the exception of high levels of self-choice marriage among Adivasis, however, Dalits, Adivasis, and Other Backward Castes did not differ substantially and systematically from Upper Castes.

These trends have important implications for global theories of family change, which predict that arranged marriage declines in favor of Western marriage practices. Our results suggest that this prediction was only partially accurate for India. It is likely that marriage will continue to change further in the future, but past trends suggest that marital change in India is at least slower, if not qualitatively different, from other Asian contexts for which we have data. Proponents of modernization theory might suggest that India has experienced less economic change than other contexts. However, the similarities across urban and rural residents suggest that modernization theory will not adequately explain India’s trends. We speculate that developmental idealism theory may fare better. Like other contexts, the values and beliefs of developmental idealism seem to be well-known in India, but their power to change marital behavior may be muted by powerful, counter-vailing values and beliefs. In particular, the incompatibilities of developmental idealism with gendered schemas about marriage for women may be a formidable barrier in India ( Allendorf forthcoming ; Desai and Andrist 2010 ). The power of India’s caste system, and its need for caste endogamy, may be another barrier ( Caldwell et al. 1998 ). These suggestions remain speculative, however. Future research should rigorously examine why India experienced the trends identified here.

Further research is also needed to better establish the extent and nature of marital change within and beyond India. In India itself, future research should examine men’s experiences. While it is highly likely that men have greater choice over their spouses than women, survey data on men’s experiences is needed to test that claim. Data on men is also needed to establish the extent of change in spouse choice among the population as a whole and identify whether men and women’s reports of couple-level behaviors, including consanguineous and intercaste marriage, provide comparable estimates. More importantly, similar studies are needed for other parts of the world. Establishing the extent and nature of marital change across regions and globally depends on having nationally representative data from more than a handful of countries. Luckily, given the centrality of marriage to individuals’ lives, retrospective reports of marriage behavior are likely to be very high quality. Thus, even a single, cross-sectional survey can provide valuable insights by drawing on marriage cohorts.


The authors would like to thank Arland Thornton for his helpful comments and Reeve Vanneman for providing access to data from the Indian Human Development Survey.

Change in Marriage Behaviors by Marriage Cohort (N=46,010)

Change in Marriage Behaviors by Birth Cohorts (N=46,010)

Contributor Information

Keera Allendorf, Department of Sociology, Indiana University, 1020 E. Kirkwood Ave Bloomington, IN 47405 (812)855-1540.

Roshan K. Pandian, Department of Sociology, Indiana University.

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Arranged Marriage Essay Questions

By chitra banerjee divakaruni, essay questions.

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Written by Ruchika Thukral

How do arranged marriages perpetuate patriarchy?

Arranged marriages usually favor the male side, by awarding the male a right to accept or reject a girl on the basis of her looks, education, or any other qualities. The girl usually has no say in her marriage, including the choice of her husband. She has almost no rights, and is usually supposed to be a domestic creature, irrespective of her personal aspirations. A boy child is favored over a girl child in case of a pregnancy, as a boy is meant to ring dowry in case of his marriage. Thus, the cycle is repeated again and this is how arranged marriages perpetuate patriarchy.

How is the identity of a woman is defined in a patriarchal society?

A woman, in a patriarchal society, is supposed to be a being who lives for others and not for herself and thus, as no identity of her own. With such ideas, she is almost dispensable. As Asha states in the affair, ‘Had I really been myself? I didn’t think so. All my energy had been taken up in being a good daughter. A good daughter, a good friend. And, of course, a good wife.’ This sentiment is reflected by many other characters in the book. Anju is worried if her husband’s love for her is for herself as an individual or as the mother of his child. Thus, the women are conflicted as to what their roles as defined by the society suppose them to be and what they was as individuals want to be.

Discuss the narrator’s mental makeup in the story The Disappearance.

The narrator is the only male character with a POV in the book. The narrator has been born in a privileged family feeling entitled to his position in the society. Such is his assumption for entitlement that he can’t fathom his wife having consent in their relationship. He treats her no as a sign of her modesty and her lack of response as her affirmation. He has very specific standards on how a woman should be. He has a child with her, because his mother wanted so not because of their will as a married couple. He doesn’t likes her wearing western clothes or studying further as he believes this would westernize his wife and a good Indian girl should be subservient and not have ideas of her own. He hardly misses her when she disappears, and most of his surprise at the end of the story is due to the fact that she dared to leave him and not that she could leave on her own.

Why is the narrator conflicted in the story The Word Love?

The narrator is metaphorically stuck in a tug of war between east and west and her inner conflict symbolizes that. She is torn between her good traditional Indian values as imbibed by her mother and the wish to be free and to do what she wants as her boyfriend wants. Neither understands her struggle and she is left to cope alone. While her mother is a strict foreboding figure who wants her to settle with a boy with the blessings of the society, an honorable task, the boyfriend seems to be jealous and insecure of her relationship with her mother and wants her to get more private and respectful of her own space. In the end, both of them abandon her and she, after initial thoughts of suicide, decides to leave her mother and boyfriend for good and live the way she wants irrespective of anyone’s expectations from her.

Do you think that the stories are biased?

The stories revolve around women and are a reflection on the judgment and expectations society imposes on women in a patriarchal environment. Keeping in mind that arranged marriages are more strict on women and men usually have a free reign, but the stories portray th men as one-dimensional characters with little motivation and no insights. I believe, that the stories have been biased as far as men are concerned. Women have been on the receiving end of patriarchy, but one can’t deny that men have been made victims too by denying them any sensitivity or feminity. Similarily, while women are made to question their ideas of sexuality, we don’t see any mention of men questioning their sexuality or lack thereof. Thus, the stories are biased.

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Arranged Marriage Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Arranged Marriage is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Study Guide for Arranged Marriage

Arranged Marriage study guide contains a biography of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis of select short stories.

  • About Arranged Marriage
  • Arranged Marriage Summary
  • Character List

Wikipedia Entries for Arranged Marriage

  • Introduction
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arranged marriage discussion essay

Arranged Marriage Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best arranged marriage topic ideas & essay examples, 🔎 interesting topics to write about arranged marriage.

  • 👍 Good Essay Topics on Arranged Marriages
  • Cultural Differences in Arranged Marriages All the expenses of the marriage are taken care of by the parents of the couple. The reason why arranged marriages are encouraged among the Hindus is that there is utmost respect compared to marriages […]
  • Cultural Traditions: Arranged vs. Autonomous Marriage Given the aforementioned reasons, this is possible to convince people that pre-arranged marriages can be admitted as culturally permissible, and the concept of cultural relativism is an objective tool. We will write a custom essay specifically for you by our professional experts 808 writers online Learn More
  • Arranged Marriages: A Critical Analysis While discussing the points in favor of arranged marriage, the writer does not seem to have taken a stand in favor yet he has provided evidence to show that arranged marriage is an outlet for […]
  • Arranged Marriages in India According to Bertolani, marriage in Indian society is strictly arranged by the parents of potential marriage partners and does not necessarily have to involve love. Thus, arranged marriage in the context of Indian society is […]
  • Social Issues: Arranged Marriages Even though research has shown that some arranged marriages result in loving and stable relationships, I think it is important to give individuals the freedom to choose their partners and decide whether they are prepared […]
  • Arranged Marriages are Less Successful This research aims to establish the reasons why arranged marriages are less successful when compared to love unions in the realms of commitment, passion, intimacy, and marital satisfaction.
  • Early Arranged Marriages in Indonesia The parents and families of the children were directly responsible for the marriage. The increase in the age of marriage started in the second half of the twentieth century.
  • Arranged Marriage and Its Ethical Dilemma His family would be happy to see him married to the person they chose, and his father would save his reputation.
  • Arguments for and Against the Practice of Arranged Marriage
  • Correlation of Arranged Marriage and Marriage With Limitations
  • Comparison of Arranged Marriage and Other Types of Marriage
  • Arranged Marriage – A New Indian Generation Moves Away
  • Overview of the Practice of Arranged Marriage Around the World
  • Arranged Marriage Between Hinduism and Islam
  • The Case of Arranged Marriage Within the United States
  • Arranged Marriage, Education and Dowry: A Contract-Theoretic Perspective
  • Marital Relationships, and Cross-Cultural Concerns in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s “Arranged Marriage”
  • Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s “Arranged Marriage” Analysis
  • Arranged Marriage Should Not Be Allowed
  • Comparison and Contrast Between Arranged Marriage and Love Marriage
  • Arranged Marriage’s Psychological and Physical Perils
  • Comparison Between Arranged Marriage and Western Dating
  • Arranged Marriage vs. Free-Choice Marriage: Comparative Analysis
  • How Arranged Marriage Bring Nightmares
  • Internet Dating for Arranged Marriage
  • How Lindo Jong Has Escaped an Arranged Marriage
  • Marital Processes, Arranged Marriage, and Contraception to Limit Fertility
  • Mediator Learning and Dowry Determination in an Arranged Marriage Setting

👍 Good Essay Topics on Arranged Marriage

  • Meetings and Exposure Before an Arranged Marriage: A Probabilistic Analysis
  • The Problem of the Arranged Marriage and Gender Roles
  • The Bridge Between Love and Arranged, Semi-arranged Marriage
  • The Eastern Cultural Practice of Arranged Marriage
  • The Pros and Cons of Arranged Marriage
  • Arranged Marriages v. Traditional Dating: Comparison
  • Analysis of Arrange Marriage Among Adolescents
  • Arranged Marriage in India vs Traditional American Marriage
  • Modern Arranged Marriages in Indian Community
  • Arranged Marriages’ Advantages and Disadvantages
  • Two-Lives, One Partner: Indo-Canadian Youth Between Love and Arranged Marriages
  • The Popularity of Arranged Marriage in Saudi Arabia
  • Analysis of Arranged Marriages in the Sikh Diaspora
  • Arranged Marriages Problem: Women for Sale
  • Overview of the Negative Effects of Arranged Marriage
  • The Perspective of Arranged Marriage in Western Civilization
  • Culture of Arranged Marriages in Islam
  • Arranged Marriage – An Archaic and Wrong Institution
  • The Normality of Arranged Marriage in Regency Era Portrayed in “Emma”
  • An Arranged Marriage in Indian Culture
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

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The Sitting Bee

Short Story Reviews

The Arrangers of Marriage by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In The Arrangers of Marriage by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie we have the theme of marriage, control, change, independence and language. Taken from her The Thing Around Your Neck collection the story is narrated in the first person by a woman (girl) called Chinaza (Agatha) and after reading the story the reader realizes that Chinaza has no control when it comes to her arranged marriage. Ofodile (or Dave) throughout the story controls what Chinaza does and how she acts. He tells her where to do the groceries what to wear and generally takes control of every aspect of Chinaza’s life. What is interesting is that Chinaza allows for Ofodile to take control of her life viewing herself, on the instruction of Aunty Ada, that she is lucky to be married to a doctor that lives in America. If anything Chinaza in Aunty Ada’s eyes has opportunities she would not have in Nigeria. If anything Aunty Ada and Uncle Ike are stuck in the viewpoint that an arranged marriage is traditional and as such is positive for the woman. This is unlike Chinaza who wanted to go to university to study rather than get married but because she didn’t want to be seen as ungrateful she agreed to marry Ofodile.

The theme of change is self-evident in the story with there being a lot of things that change for Chinaza. She has to learn to speak like Americans (language), something that is alien to her but she obliges Ofodile in order to keep the peace. It is also noticeable that everything Nigerian about Chinaza is being removed by Ofodile who himself has changed completely to adapt to life in America. Simple things like the names of things like lift (elevator), biscuits (cookies) and jug (pitcher) become a hindrance for Chinaza as she is putting the spotlight on the fact that she is a foreigner. Something that displeases Ofodile.

There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The blue Burton’s Rich Tea package can be seen to represent home for Chinaza. It is the only packaging that she knows having seen it at home and also bought the biscuits in Nigeria. Nia who acts as a beneficial or enabling character to Chinaza can be seen to represent freedom and independence. She is not reliant on a man nor is she dependent on one. She is also a business owner who is proud of her African heritage, as Chinaza would like to be. The love making or rather the sex that Ofodile has with Chinaza on two occasions can also be seen as Ofodile controlling Chinaza. If anything he is not a generous lover and is thinking only of himself and his own satisfaction. The seeds and spices that Chinaza brings with her from home are also important as they symbolize Nigeria for Chinaza. The fact that one of them is taken by the customs officer suggests that Chinaza is losing a part of herself. Just as she is by having to change the language she is using.

The end of the story is interesting as Chinaza is beginning, through the anger of knowing Ofodile was previously married, to reclaim her life. She may not have permanently left Ofodile but she is in the process of leaving him. It will only be a matter of time before she divorces him and starts her life afresh. Here is where Nia plays an important role. She is supportive of Chinaza’s actions but also knows that change and divorce will take time. Nonetheless Chinaza has made up her mind that she will resurrect her life and live with someone she really knows and loves. The fact that Chinaza only took the clothes she had on arrival from Nigeria when she first decides to leave Ofodile is significant as it looks like Chinaza is partially beginning to reclaim her life. Again she will be assisted by Nia a proud African-American.

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Essay on Arranged Marriage

Students are often asked to write an essay on Arranged Marriage in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Arranged Marriage


Arranged marriage is a tradition where families choose the life partners for their children. It’s a practice common in many cultures worldwide.

Understanding Arranged Marriages

In arranged marriages, parents or elder family members select the spouse based on shared values, culture, and compatibility. It’s not about forcing children but about helping them find a suitable partner.

Benefits of Arranged Marriages

Arranged marriages often result in strong bonds as they bring two families together, not just individuals. They also ensure cultural continuity, and compatibility is often high.

Challenges in Arranged Marriages

Sometimes, individuals may feel pressured or unhappy if they don’t share a connection with the chosen partner. It’s important to ensure mutual consent in these marriages.

Also check:

  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Arranged Marriage

250 Words Essay on Arranged Marriage

Arranged marriage, an age-old tradition practiced in several cultures worldwide, is a marital union where the bride and groom are selected by a third party rather than by each other. This essay explores the concept, its pros and cons, and the cultural significance of arranged marriages.

Arranged marriages are often confused with forced marriages, but there’s a clear distinction. Arranged marriages involve consent from both parties, while forced marriages don’t. In arranged marriages, families take the lead in choosing potential partners, but the final decision rests with the individuals.

The primary advantage of arranged marriages is compatibility in terms of culture, religion, and socioeconomic status, reducing potential conflicts. Moreover, arranged marriages often foster a deeper sense of family unity and commitment.


However, arranged marriages have drawbacks. They often limit individual autonomy in choosing a life partner, potentially leading to marital dissatisfaction. Also, they can perpetuate harmful societal norms, such as casteism and sexism.

Cultural Significance

Despite these issues, arranged marriages remain prevalent due to their deep-rooted cultural significance. They symbolize the merging of two families rather than just two individuals and are seen as a means of preserving cultural heritage and values.

In conclusion, arranged marriages are a complex phenomenon, with both merits and demerits. While they can foster stability and cultural continuity, they can also limit personal freedom. As society evolves, so too does the concept of marriage, and it’s crucial to balance tradition with individual rights and happiness.

500 Words Essay on Arranged Marriage

Arranged marriages, a traditional form of matrimony where families or matchmakers select partners, have been practiced for centuries across various cultures. Despite the increasing shift towards love marriages, arranged marriages continue to hold significance in many societies. This essay explores the nuances, merits, and demerits of arranged marriages.

Arranged marriages are often misunderstood as forced marriages. However, they are fundamentally different. In arranged marriages, the consent of the individuals getting married is paramount. The families or matchmakers merely introduce the potential partners, and the final decision rests with the individuals. This practice is prevalent in many parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East and is deeply rooted in cultural, social, and economic contexts.

Merits of Arranged Marriages

Arranged marriages have several merits. They foster a sense of community and shared responsibility as the union is not just between two individuals but also their families. This can provide a strong support system for the couple, especially during challenging times.

Furthermore, arranged marriages often take into account compatibility in terms of social status, religion, caste, and economic background, which can lead to less conflict and more harmony. The partners enter the relationship with realistic expectations, understanding that love and affection develop over time.

Demerits of Arranged Marriages

However, arranged marriages have their share of criticisms. The most significant concern is the potential lack of freedom for the individuals involved. Often, societal and familial pressure can influence the decision, leading to a compromise on personal happiness and compatibility.

Additionally, the emphasis on social and economic compatibility might overshadow personal compatibility, leading to an unhappy marriage. The notion of love and affection developing over time might not always hold true, resulting in a lack of emotional intimacy.

Arranged Marriages in the Modern Context

In the modern context, arranged marriages are evolving. The advent of matrimonial websites and dating apps has transformed the traditional process into a more individual-centric one. These platforms allow individuals to have a say in choosing their partners while still considering important compatibility factors. This shift represents a blend of traditional values with modern aspirations, offering a new perspective on arranged marriages.

Arranged marriages are a complex phenomenon that cannot be wholly labelled as good or bad. They are deeply intertwined with cultural norms and societal structures. Their merits and demerits vary across different contexts, and they continue to evolve with societal changes. Understanding this complexity is essential in appreciating the relevance of arranged marriages in today’s world.

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Love Marriage vs. Arranged Marriage: Is There a Clear Winner?

Love marriage or arranged marriage? It’s the eternal debate, a heated tug-of-war that’s played out in bedrooms, living rooms, and dinner tables, generation after generation, across the globe. But before we declare one as the champion of marital bliss, let’s ditch the rose-tinted glasses and peek at the cold, hard truths.

(Success) Rate It

Which one is better? Scratch that, you must be tempted to ask which is best? Studies show that while arranged marriages have a higher initial success rate, love marriages do tend to have a higher long-term satisfaction rate. Not a shocker, right? Turns out, love isn’t a lifelong guarantee, and the right wellwisher’s matchmaking skills might just take you by surprise. So, it’s never really about the origin story, but the quality of the partnership itself.

Love marriages do boast a slight edge in the “till death do us part” department. Studies suggest they last a smidge longer. It could be attributed to how a couple builds their relationship on shared chemistry and understanding, instead of prioritising family compatibility. But arranged marriages have their fair share of long-lasting romances too. It’s all about nurturing that spark, regardless of its ignition source.

Divorces? Love The Arranged

The divorce statistics paint a more nuanced picture. Arranged marriages, especially in certain cultures, see lower divorce rates. Could be the strong family support system, the emphasis on compromise, or simply the societal commitment to long-term stability. Why? Because in love marriages, people do have the freedom to walk away if things get bumpy (and no family pressure to “make it work”).

Do note that even though arranged marriages might have a lower divorce rate initially, this gap shrinks over time. This also doesn’t mean that all love marriages are doomed. Open communication, shared values, and a healthy dose of ‘I do’s’ not just for each other, but to get through the inevitable rough patches– it simply means both partners choose to work harder.

Arranged, With Love: Advantages & Disadvantages of Arranged vs. Love Marriage

Arranged marriage is better than a love marriage in the sense that it lets you bypass dating anxieties and offers built-in family support for conflicts. You’ve a whole set of family mediators ready to chaperone your disagreements– for better or for worse! But they are a gamble on compatibility, not passion. Since you do also skip the crucial “getting to know your person” bit. Think of it as a surprise vacation– you might land in paradise, or you might find yourself sharing a bed with a stranger. The better news? Lower expectations from the start mean less room for disappointment. And when the honeymoon phase inevitably melts into the daily grind, the transition is swift.

In contrast, love marriages offer freedom, compatibility, and flexibility, letting you choose your partner based on shared ideas of life and break societal barriers. You know each other’s quirks and can set your own timelines. But beware: passion can blind, cultural clashes can sting, and family support can be scarce. Choose wisely, as

alone doesn’t guarantee a smooth ride in the long haul.

Beyond Binaries: The Art of “Arranged Introductions”

The binary of arranged versus love marriages often overlook a nuanced, modern-day alternative: Enter the “arranged introduction.’

This approach, pioneered by Vows For Eternity , harnesses the wisdom of family networks while fostering genuine connections before marriage. It allows two like-minded people to navigate the often-daunting task of finding a compatible partner with the benefit of shared values and familial support, all while avoiding the pitfalls of societal pressures and impulsive decisions. Think of it as a bridge between tradition and modern sensibilities– a fulfilling journey built on both reason and genuine connection. In this age of meticulously planned lives, why leave your love lives entirely to chance? Take the reins and embrace the guidance of relationship experts, your loved ones, and above all, your gut.

Introspection, not just Instagrammable proposals.

After all, shouldn’t finding a life partner be as thoughtfully planned as any other life-defining decision? Remember, it’s not about how you met, but how you grow together. Now, go forth, be bold, and write your own happily-ever-after, arranged or otherwise!

arranged marriage discussion essay

Home — Essay Samples — Sociology — Interpersonal Relationship — Arranged Marriage

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Essays on Arranged Marriage

Arranged marriages, a practice steeped in tradition across various cultures worldwide, present a rich field of study that spans sociology, psychology, and cultural anthropology . Recognizing the multifaceted nature of arranged marriages, GradesFixer offers an extensive array of essay samples on the subject. These essays provide critical insights, personal reflections, and in-depth analyses, making them an indispensable resource for anyone looking to delve into the nuances of arranged marriage.

A Diverse Spectrum of Perspectives on Arranged Marriage

Our collection features essays that examine arranged marriages from multiple angles, including their historical roots, cultural variations, and modern-day implications. By presenting perspectives that both critique and celebrate this practice, we aim to foster a balanced understanding of arranged marriages. Essays explore themes such as consent, autonomy, family dynamics, and the evolution of arranged marriages in the context of global modernity.

Guidance for Crafting Your Own Arranged Marriage Essay

For students embarking on writing an arranged marriage essay, our collection serves as a valuable repository of ideas, arguments, and stylistic approaches. These essays demonstrate how to effectively navigate complex cultural discussions, integrate scholarly sources, and articulate nuanced viewpoints. Students can leverage these samples to enrich their essays, whether their focus is on defending, questioning, or simply exploring the practice of arranged marriages.

Encouraging Critical Engagement and Cultural Sensitivity

Beyond academic exploration, our arranged marriage essay samples encourage readers to engage critically with cultural practices and consider the diverse experiences of individuals within arranged marriage systems. They challenge readers to think deeply about the intersection of tradition, personal choice, and societal change. Engaging with these essays promotes cultural sensitivity and a deeper appreciation for the complexity of human relationships.

Join Our Academic Community in Understanding Arranged Marriages

At GradesFixer, we're committed to facilitating scholarly discourse on significant cultural and social issues like arranged marriages. We invite students, educators, and curious minds to explore our essay samples, draw upon them for academic and personal growth, and contribute to the ongoing dialogue about marriage practices across cultures.

Navigating the Intricacies of Arranged Marriages Through Essays

The discourse on arranged marriages is rich and diverse, reflecting deep-seated cultural values and evolving societal norms. With our curated collection of essay samples, you are well-equipped to engage with this discourse, offering fresh insights and expanding your understanding of arranged marriages. Dive into our collection today to enhance your research, writing, and critical thinking on this compelling topic.

Arranged Marriage Advantages

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An Arranged Marriage Issue

The issue of gender inequality in the field of education in africa, arranged marriage: exploring tradition and modern realities, combatting forced marriage: upholding human dignity, love marriage vs arranged marriage, child marriage as a violation of human rights, an examination of child marriage impact and eradication, child marriage devastating impact on education, relevant topics.

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Arranged Marriage Essays Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Social Issues , Freedom , Marriage , Love , Arranged Marriage , Family , Children , Relationships

Published: 02/21/2020


Marriage is one of the critical issues in society. As a matter of fact, the roles and functions of marriage make it one f the important union in human race. Those who are religious will assert that marriage was actually instituted by God and this makes it a crucial issue. Arranged marriage is one of the types of marriage, but in this case the marital union is decided by third parties. It is a type of marriage where the groom and the bride are selected by other people rather than making their own decision on who to marry. In the past, this seemed to be the norm but the trend seems to behave continued in some culture or societies. The family members in most cases become part of those bringing the couples together. The parents are in the forefront in approving the potential partner for their children. In fact, the couples may even marry without knowing each other expecting that love will develop and become the best. In general perspective, this is unrealistic situation and brings out various reasons why being against arranged marriage is justified. Regardless of the religion that we belong, arranged marriage is not good. One of the main reason that drives many people to be against arranged marriage is the fact that there is no chemistry and physical attraction between the couples (Hylton, 2013). Research shows that in a marriage there should be bio-chemically compatibility between the two partners who want to get married. Hence, there is no need of putting people at risk. Marriage is actually a life time commitment and arranged marriages id putting the couples on a life time situation against their will. The chemistry between people who want to get married must grow and flourish automatically (Divakaruni, 2011). In arranged marriages love may not grow forever. There is a possibility that the partners do not like each other and focus more on their personalities. This means that the intimacy and the chemistry between the couples will never grow. An arranged marriage is not good because people have no time to learn various characters of the other partner. In most cases, people hide their personalities that may be abusive or flawed in nature. The abusive personality will come into play when individuals are already married, leaving one of the partner in marriage stressed (Hahn, 2011). Arranged marriage does not give the couples an opportunity to learn and tolerate each other characters and personality before getting married. This issue can also be said in non-arranged marriage but it becomes more harmful in arranged marriages due to the fact that you never made the choice. Arranged marriages denounce divorce leaving room for no easy escape. It is worth noting that divorce in arranged marriages comes with very severe penalties. The political, social and religious focus on divorce seems to be complex (Hylton, 2013). People focus more on the arranged marriage rather than focusing on the personal situation of an individual. In fact, people believe that abandoning arranged marriage can lead to lifetime problems. Arranged marriages have no room for free will and free decision making. Regardless of the fact that the couples are given an opportunity to meet before giving consent sound better, but if the couples refuse to consent the relatives go ahead and make the marriage official. In the 21st century, there are various risks associated to marriage, which may include STD and one could want to be tested before marriage. Arranged marriage leaves no room for this cautious and reasonable process. Arranged marriages have lead to abusive and exploitation, especially on the state of guise arranged marriage. In some occasions, arranged marriage may involve underage children, immigration fraud, and other forms of forced marriages. Therefore, the arranged marriages may be carried out in unlawful circumstances (Divakaruni, 2011). There are communities that arrange marriage for their children regardless of age, education schedule or other programs that individuals wish to accomplish before marriage. The arranged marriages violate the rights and freedom of people as stated by the law. Everyone has the right and freedom to choose who they want to get married to. The couples who are victims of forced marriage did not get an opportunity to enjoy this right and freedom. Those who arrange marriage for their children do not respect the desires and needs of their children. This means that the parents are nit sensitive to the desires of the children, which is not fair to the children (Hahn & Austen, 2011). Parents should be in the forefront on protecting the desires and needs of their children. Arranged marriages mostly driven by financial gain and social status at the expense of the happiness of children. There is a big possibility that arranged marriages will bring people who are not compatible. On the other hand those in support of arranged marriages have come up with reasons to support it. These include cultural and religious issues, financial and dynastic gain, and more so the parents take full control of their children life. In general perspective, arranged marriages are bad and should not be supported. Marriage should be a decision made by the couples in free will.

Divakaruni, C. (2011). Arranged Marriage. New York: Wadsworth Hahn, J. (2011). An Arranged Marriage. California: Wiley Hahn, J., & Austen, J. (2011). An arranged marriage. Oysterville, WA: Meryton Press. Hylton, S. (2013). An Arranged Marriage. London: Wiley


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Group Discussion Ideas

Love Marriage vs Arranged Marriage

arranged marriage discussion essay

  • . Update: Oct 24, 2023 9:37 am

Love Marriage vs Arranged Marriage

Table of Contents

Love Marriage vs Arrange Marriage:

  • Some people prefer a love marriage, whereas others are in favour of an arranged marriage. So, love marriage vs arranged marriage is an evergreen topic for discussion and debate.

Advantages of Love Marriage:

  • Marriage is a life-long commitment. So, the decision to choose a life partner should be in one’s own hands .
  • Love is the basis of any marriage. In love marriages, there will be no question of whether love happens or not.
  • In Love marriages, the couple knows each other very well and most probably they already understand each other fully . Hence, there won’t be many conflicts.
  • Those who want to go for a love marriage have more choices than those who go for an arranged marriage because arranged marriages mostly happen with people of the same caste/class/religion.
  • Planned love lives result in happy families.
  • Generally, equality prevails in love marriages.

Disadvantages of Love Marriage:

  • The couple who go for a love marriage is mostly independent. If they want to get out of the relationship, they do not consider relatives’ opinions and society much . So, they tend to go for divorce for even small reasons.
  • Love marriages are still socially unacceptable in some parts of India . That is the reason we are witnessing honour killings . So, it is quite risky for some people to go for a love marriage.
  • Youngsters may confuse attraction with love .
  • Love is not the only thing we need in life . One should also check the reality like the family background, economic conditions, the environment they grew up in, the person’s behaviour etc. to live a peaceful life and to avoid conflicts beforehand.

Advantages of Arranged Marriage:

  • In arranged marriages, parents do inquire about each other’s family and their circle . So, there is a high probability that one will get into a relationship with a similar kind of family as theirs. This prevents trusting people blindly, which happens in some love marriages.
  • Parents or well-wishers think about future and economic conditions .
  • The couple most likely thinks about both of their families. So, they will learn to adjust, which is a very good quality for any relationship .
  • According to research conducted by Dr Robert Epstein, an American psychologist, love in love marriages tends to fade away with time, whereas love in arranged marriages grows with time .

Disadvantages of Arranged Marriage:

  • An arranged marriage is like a lottery. Love may or may not blossom between the couple . Some couples will face compatibility issues .
  • The couple does not know each other well if they spend less time together before marriage. If they have many differences to the extent that they cannot live together, marriage will break .
  • Too much submissiveness to elders may restrict couples from divorcing, even if they do not have love between them anymore.
  • Though the divorce rate is lower in arranged marriages compared to love marriages, it cannot be said that they are happily married . In general, some people who are living in unhappy marriages but are not able to divorce due to several reasons such as children, and societal pressure tend to opt for suicide.
  • People who go for arranged marriage may not be that comfortable discussing everything in detail before marriage . This may cause problems after marriage.
  • In the name of arranged marriages, forced marriages are still prevalent in many parts of India.


Whether it is a love marriage or an arranged marriage, the relationship will work only if both the partners are serious and honest in the relationship. Life partner must be selected according to their own will and not by force. These days, people are taking time to learn about each other before marriage even in arranged marriages. This is a sign of a progressive society.

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arranged marriage discussion essay

gourav singh bhadoriya, Aug 1, 2023 @ 6:16 pm Reply

from my point of view love marriage or arrange marriage are two way of marry i can not say that which one is better way of marry .because in arrange marriage your parents find your partner and may be you never meet 1before to that person on the other hand in love marriage you find a partner for you .From whom you meet before you know him well but it doesn’t clarify that love marriage is better than arrange marriage because in some case your partner whom you love a lot may cheat on you future and give you a divorce . On the other hand a partner who is chose by your parents will never give you divorce by family pressure or may be you are connected to that person most or may you both will understand each other feeling habits like dislike .

i think the most important thing is that what you doing it doesn’t matter which marriage are you doing you have to choose the right partner for you . A partner who really care about you who gives attention to you and the main thing who respect you and you should do the same things to him/her

Juwairiya, Nov 1, 2023 @ 7:55 am Reply

Yes obviously true

Anna, Jun 28, 2023 @ 1:58 am Reply

For me, I prefer love marriage. But, I will choose a person who has personality and qualities can be accepted my parents and me. Also, we must have a mutual understanding and respect, because I reckon that these things are crucial to get a healthy and happy marriage.

Nawaz Sharif, Sep 25, 2023 @ 10:50 pm Reply

I think, arrange marriage are good because arrange marriage gives us gethered, happy and joy. In arrange marriage both parents their children best wishes for long life . So according to my point of view arrange marriage are good.

Anna, Jun 28, 2023 @ 1:30 am Reply

Whether it’s a love marriage or an arranged marriage, we need to take time to learn about each other. Also, We must have an understanding and respect with our partners. These things are essential to get a happy marriage. On top of that, you should a person who has personality and qualities can be accepted by your parents and you, but it’s just my opinion.

Sarika gupta, Sep 16, 2020 @ 1:36 am Reply

I liked this page very much as it allows us to discuss freely on the topics which are very common in our lives…. When it comes to my comments on love vs arrange marriage… I would like to say that it depends on the compatibility between two of them and honesty towards each other… which can bring harmony to ur life nd if these two things are not there,then the marriage will surely suffer problems whether its a love marriage or arranged marriage…

Sukla das, Sep 4, 2020 @ 9:47 am Reply

Those who love each other before marriage they are called love marriage . Initial stages they had romantic idias about life after marriage when they face the practical world there love became very hazy . Arrange marriage are organised by their guardians . Both of them are unknown person and their love attraction and commitment starts after marriage in their future life both of them face different type of problems in their life . Every solution of marriage is bondage between two person that is male and female . With out bondage marriage life can’t be successful .

arranged marriage discussion essay

Badari Annapareddy, Apr 16, 2021 @ 11:34 am Reply

You are right. Success and failures are depending on their understanding and patience towards each other. Many more parents are interested in selecting the right way with the consent of the bride or groom.

Sakshi, Jun 3, 2020 @ 1:27 pm Reply

No matter what type of marriage you want to marry. I think, it depends on your partner’s nature. The main point is how long will your partner will love you.for me, both the marriages have their own importance.but..i want to tell everyone that the selection of the lyf partner should be done carefully whether you have selected your partner yourself or by your parents. Bczzz… it’s not at all the selection of your business partner, room partner and so on It’s the selection of your lyf partner.🤗

Abhishek Shukla, Jul 21, 2020 @ 11:00 am Reply

I really like your opinion it’s good though

Kalyani Gupta, Oct 14, 2020 @ 5:51 am Reply

I really agree you dear,, because , it’s not matter of purchasing anything from the market .. if , this thing is not good for us ,, I can change and buy new thing ,,, It’s a matter of soul .. which is connected from your heart . If, any function will not contact properly and not work well . It will definitely fail.

Rasheeda, Dec 31, 2020 @ 7:21 pm Reply

Ya I also agree with u because love whether arrange marriage their should have understood each other and have to be the trust

Pavithra, Jun 2, 2020 @ 7:32 pm Reply

I prefer love marriage because i know my partner very well.. In every marriage their must be an adjustment in love marriage we can see that adjusting in love taking care of each other but in some arrange marriage fails… Mostly arranged marriage husband will be dominating but in love marriage we can see equality… But in India love marriages because of social circumstance.. Many people can’t marry their loved one this is the worst part ever… Girl or a boy should decide with whom they gonna live their rest of their life but in India deciding factor are taken by parents and family.. Over 90%of people sacrificing their love because of their family and force ably getting into arrange marriage

Sakshi, Jun 3, 2020 @ 12:47 pm Reply

Yeah… I agree with you

Rasheeda, Dec 31, 2020 @ 7:26 pm Reply

See i also agree with u but arrange marriage is also better option because I don’t care about the society because it is my life my choice if the patner is understandable and giving equal status to us and respecting our thoughts and choices it is not at all bad thing of arrange marriages .

Rasheeda, Jan 1, 2021 @ 9:22 pm Reply

Yaa , Love marriage is better choice than arrange marriage owing to self identification of life partner, her ideology on different aspects and most importantly self adjustment with her make us more resilient than arrange marriage.

Deepa Ramanathan, Jan 14, 2020 @ 2:22 pm Reply

Whether love or arranged it has to be a happy marriage.

Balwant, Jan 13, 2020 @ 3:12 pm Reply

Nice article most helpful for everyone.

Shivam kushwaha, Nov 13, 2019 @ 5:40 pm Reply


Vibhanshu Lodhi, Feb 9, 2021 @ 2:11 pm Reply

ahahaha, jarur hoga vro….. Bas Bhagwaan Ji ki kripa bani rahe

Kartik, Sep 19, 2019 @ 9:56 pm Reply

I Have favor in arrange marriage and i have not support to love marriage

Sakshi, Jun 3, 2020 @ 12:48 pm Reply

What’s the reason behind your opinion

Gaurav Pandey, Aug 30, 2019 @ 11:28 pm Reply

Love Marriage is understand the people each other, because each of the person has different Mind different thoughts, before Marriage there is no restriction between boy and girl, if the girl is 10 kilometres away boy still will come but after marriage, it will not be happened, when girls comes in boys house, she feels restrictions like she can not wear dresses of her own choice and she had to sit with every one that she does not want. there are many things all kind of.

Sakshi, Jun 3, 2020 @ 12:53 pm Reply

Puneet, dec 24, 2020 @ 8:52 am reply.

Love marriage has less disadvantage

Sameer, Aug 27, 2019 @ 12:38 am Reply

Arrange marriage is better than love. Because when a woman and a man live together love starts automatically. When we get arrange marriage all family members and relatives enjoy well. But totally different in love marriage. All family members live in fear. What neighbours will say. Sometimes parents die in shock by their boy/girl.

Sneha Jaiswal, Aug 29, 2020 @ 7:01 pm Reply

I believe you are saying this because maybe you have not met a person, who is capable to understand you. When you will know what kind of partner you need, you won’t care about others. Lets suppose you have a wife and it was an arrange marriage. But after 2-3 years it turns out that she thinks in totally different ways and there is nothing you can talk to her or discuss with her. Would your family and neighbors will be able to help you or can you change your life? It is not about love marriage or arrange marriage. It is always about knowing what kind of person you can spend your life with.

Betty, Aug 6, 2019 @ 7:23 pm Reply

Love marriage can able to understand equally

Reet vish, Jul 13, 2019 @ 11:42 pm Reply

I think that arrange marriage is much better than love marriage… I would like to explain this in Hindi.. So. Aaj kal k zamaane m love mrrg ka trend h… Abhi ko lagta h ki wow love mrrg hua h but aisa nhi h backs agr aap love marriage kr rhe ho apni marzi se maa baap ke khilaaf to wo v shi nhi h…bas no one can live without their mother and father … Aur agr aapne abhi meri se kiya h to bhi Aage jaakr koi problem hoti h to… Uss pr bhi maa baap bolenge… Aur love marriage ka ek sbse bda disadvantave yeh h ki aap love karke shaadi kiye ho to.. Shaadi k baad koi maza nhi reh jaata kuchh nya nhi reh jata within 1 year relationship m problem aane lagte h so.. That’s why i love arranged marriage … Its just opposite of love marriage 😃😃😃😃 thanks.. N haa we should do arrange marriage bcos hm iss duniya mein just bcos of our mother and father Aye h ye hamare upr ek ke h to ise hme zarur pura karna chaiye unke mann k ladke ya ladki se shaadi karni chaiye…

Ananya, Apr 13, 2021 @ 8:19 pm Reply

Parents give us life but before parents GOD give us life, GOD select our parents as a path for us to coming into the earth but it doesn’t mean they have the right to control our lives. Marriage is a big decision and this decision should be taken by the one who is going to marry. Doesn’t matter it’s a love marriage or arrange marriage, it should be done by the person’s choice. Because after marriage that person has to live with his/her partner, not to parents.

Chetan, Apr 29, 2019 @ 6:30 pm Reply

Love marriage is best because before marriage both partners know each other very well

anil joshi, Apr 4, 2019 @ 5:08 pm Reply

As we all know love marriage very much successful in India but divorce as you heard in news and in society and the main reason is that no family support in difficult situations whereas in arrange marriage we not know each other but the complication not arise after marriage and parents of both the couple also happy and support comes in the difficult situation. but the last and not least, love marriage is one of the method which reduce the caste system in India and change the Indian minds from the casteism.

Raju, Apr 30, 2019 @ 9:23 pm Reply

Ya u r ri8 i saupported of love maairage and change the india mind

rohit, Jul 12, 2019 @ 1:03 pm Reply

well said bro….

Puja singh, Mar 23, 2019 @ 8:24 am Reply

Love marriage is better than arrange marriage because know each other and understand each other and helpfull survive and any situation support each other and respect each other

B R Singh, Jul 18, 2020 @ 4:38 pm Reply

Both marriages are good but depend upon person.

Beauty singh, Mar 23, 2019 @ 8:17 am Reply

I prefer arrange marriage because parents are support any problems arrange marriage love each other and support eachother any situation are enter in arrange marriage family support

Mahendra Bhamu, Jan 20, 2019 @ 10:21 am Reply

Marriage means union of two people along with their family. In broad perspective marriage means two different family comes together to make a new relationship with each other and accepting each others customs, culture, thoughts and feelings. Now In my views in love marriage, first two person make love and than arrange themselves but in arrange marriage first two person are arrange and after tha t they make love. Now question is which one is more desirable love or arrange. So in my views at this putting the thought of what society accept. We have what is the perspective of that person. So if two people are in love and they think that they can continue this for forever, accepting all the flaws of each other than they should marry each other. If some other person think that I can and I will love the for forever irrespective of knkwing his flaws later with the person who is arranged for me, than arrange marriage is preferable.

Tinku Paul, Jan 15, 2019 @ 7:13 am Reply

According to me love marriage and arrange marriage both are good but it depends on both partners. In love marriage both partners choose each other and arrange marriage it depends on both families their background , educational qualification, financial status etc if both families have consent then marriage happens. Marriage means bondage each other. In love marriage partners don’t care of family consent. They know each other and every people have some good and some bad quality . In love marriage before the marriage they meet each other , they spend little time each other I e they think they are made for each other but after marriage when they stay together then some drawbacks comes from any partner and they don’t want to accept each other because their relationship gets older and in most cases they don’t want to stay together , they go for divorce , but in arrange marriage it depends on family if any problem happens they talk to their parents and as they have a new relationship they want to adjust each other. Marriage means bondage both partners have to adjust each other and little sacrifice and dependency and they have to accept each other. Otherwise they will not be able to stay together.If it is unbearable I e different

Daya, Dec 28, 2018 @ 6:41 am Reply

Love is gift of god so i am in favour of love marriage because in love marraige both partners known each other and they are spend time easy with enjoy. And thier relationship make strong. in love marriage both partner are known like dislike and behaviour and they think about thier future. T. H. A. N. K. S

Gitika, Aug 17, 2018 @ 2:55 pm Reply

I think lovemrg is more successful bec both partner s knowing to each other. They knew d good or bad habits after marriage their relationship makes a strong bounding.

arranged marriage discussion essay

Lasya, Aug 23, 2018 @ 3:24 pm Reply

Mukesh, nov 19, 2018 @ 3:10 pm reply.

Yes, of course love marriage is more better than arrange. Im totally satisfied from your thought.

Aryan thakur, Mar 26, 2019 @ 7:02 pm Reply

U r wrongbecause youngsters may confuse attraction with love. Love is not only thing she need in life. One should also check the reality like the family background, economical conditions,the environment they grew up in

kirthika, Mar 3, 2020 @ 5:13 pm Reply

no matter is love marriage or arrange marriage. the couples had to live till the end successfully.

Archana chaturvedi, Jun 14, 2018 @ 2:07 pm Reply

First of all I would like to say both are right but I support arrange marriage . Because it’s long lasting. What a marriage needs ? Understanding compromise , transpracy and trust on each other . If we miss the any point in these we loss our respect . Because it’s arranged by our parents and it’s more successful . If any person do arrange marriage then family ,relatives and good society respect you . I just stay with arranged marriage because , our parents keeping a lot of hopes on our marriage .so I don’t want dissapoint my parents . As our parents will love so much to us , they will choose a right person for is and if any difficulty comes also our parents can be supporting To us .

Sharanjeet kumar, Oct 22, 2018 @ 4:45 pm Reply

Life doesn’t end on compermise mam. And you say about trust there is also trust in love marriage. Why do you think that when a person do love marriage then he commit any type of crime . I think u see love marriage like a nuclear family but there are no any issues , persons having love marriage also live in combine family . Then there is his and her friends are available for moral support.

Shivam tiwari, May 11, 2018 @ 9:17 am Reply

Both type marriage is good.,but love marriage depends on you and your partner,and arrange marriage depends on your fImly members and relative and every type of members of our society because love depends maturity and in this type of marriage u know very well each other .So I want to say that I accept love marriage and arrange marriage because arrange marriage like our society too much in future time and l understand very well in arrange marriage each other with time .,arrange marriage increases love in time…So love marriage increase divorce too much in our partner because in this type of marriage I know each other very well done time and after a long time we do not understand eachother and quarrel with each other so maximum time I divorce in time each other…

kavyajo, Mar 4, 2018 @ 2:23 pm Reply

marriage is only depends upon both genes….they are going live together..no one should interfere in that…it is only how they forwarding nd facing their life in difficult situation..

komal, Dec 2, 2017 @ 11:46 am Reply

yes you are right

Ankit Patel, Nov 15, 2017 @ 8:19 pm Reply

Both types of marriages are good. but if couple get arranged marriage so they will have family support, community support and relatives support. but couple needs some time to understand each other, after marriage they don’t give more time for each other. And in love marriage couple don’t have any type of support. They support each other and they have lots of time for understanding each other. And after marriage thay give more time to each other. So both types of marriages are equal.

arranged marriage discussion essay

sawan, Nov 1, 2017 @ 10:44 pm Reply

Marriage is not only which happens between the two partners but its a journey of a new relationship between the two families. so mutual consent of a family plays a very important role in this. But for a sack of family one needs to sacrifice his/her whole life is not worth,because starting a new life with a big question mark will leads to a disaster.

arranged marriage discussion essay

Rajesh.T.V., Oct 31, 2017 @ 10:29 pm Reply

In conclusion we can say that marriage happens in heaven, whether it is love or arranged marriage doesn’t matter, what is important is blessings from the couples’ parents, mutual understanding between the couples and transparency both before and after marriage eventually leading to trust and finally leading to love and equality. What also matters is the consciousness regarding the difference between infatuation and real love, love for flesh will fade away and love for the development of both couples not only mentally but also spiritually will lead them to a successful and prosperous life.

arranged marriage discussion essay

Nagendra Kumar, Jul 2, 2017 @ 1:20 am Reply

Both marriage are good but depend upon person

Santosh verma, Jul 21, 2018 @ 12:12 pm Reply

yes you are correct sir

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  1. Arranged Marriages: Free Essay Example

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