Thursday, December 10, 2009

Arranged Marriages Make Sense?!

I was talking about "the future" (in terms of families, careers, education, etc.) with a full-timer at work and we sort of went off on a tangent when he mentioned that his marriage was arranged. I've only actually known a couple of people who got an arrange marriage (and the shift just begun), so I figured I'd ask him everything that I've always wanted to know about arranged marriages.

The whole concept of arranged marriages didn't sit with me. It also didn't help that my westernized mind wasn't really cultured to accept it.

Basically, your parents choose who YOU'RE going to spend the rest of YOUR life with. It sound's absurd, doesn't it? I was actually really surprised when thought about it... 'cause it makes a lot of sense.

Would YOU want an arranged marriage? Why or why not?

Is it even really "love" if the arranged marriage is actually successful?! If "love" can come out of two random people chosen by one's parents, then how is choosing (ourselves) any more different or real?

Arranged marriages make so much sense, once you actually think about it. I realized a couple of things after our discussion...

The North American population places so much importance on the self. It's all about the "me". Everything about North America stresses the importance of the self before others (not that I'm against it :D). Now, contrast that with the south-Asian cultures - they place much more importance on collectivity, community, and family. From those points, it would be safe to assume that their culture deems it more important for a family to be generally happy, than just the couple by themselves. My co-worker even demonstrated this by using the hand analogy: (bend one finger back. Does it hurt? Now bend four fingers back at the same time. The pain is drastically reduced).

If the primary goal is to create a family, then maybe "love" is only a by-product that may or may not come out of the marriage. In other words, love isn't exactly the point of getting married (*gasp!*). The purpose of marriage (for them) is primarily to establish their future (through children) with the creation of a family. In our society, it's the other way around - we marry for love, and eventually want to get settled down & start a family.

If we look into it, the Canadian track record of marriages hasn't been so great (1222 divorces for ever 100 000 marriages). India hasn't been doing too bad (at about 1100 for every 100 000 marriages). Keep in mind that India also has a significantly higher population - Canada has 33 311 389 vs. India's 1 139 964 932 (millions vs. a billion+ ).

Cultural values have a HUGE influence on this, so I can't really say that it's being an arranged marriage (by itself) that makes it work. BUT, for the most part, the Western society is more likely to get divorced (regardless of whatever reasons may factor in). I'd also like to point out that there's a big difference in the value of marriages between Canada and India. Canada, for the most part, is accepting of divorces (since it was made legal in 1968)'s not even really frowned upon by society ("oh, you got divorced? It's cool, I got a friend that I'd like you to meet and no, it's not me.") In India, on the other hand...getting married and divorced ruins a woman's reputation. It's sad to say...but they sort of become like "damaged goods" that no one wants (for the people who need an analogy: think of any electronics that you returned because there was something wrong with it. Now, best buy has to sell it as an open-boxed item which no one really wants...unless that "thing" makes good sandwiches. I'm joking)

I know that there are too many factors to consider but the idea still can't be completely discredited because it's still a fact that a Western marriage is less likely to be successful than an Eastern one might be.

My co-worker also said that arranged marriages often have extensive background checks - that makes sense too. Why give the pride of your life (your daughter/son) away to someone you can't trust, doesn't have a good history, is a known goat-stealer, has taken water from your well when you weren't looking, etc. What's interesting is that when I thought about it, this ALSO makes more sense than us randomly dating someone - we meet people to take them out on a date and get to know them little by little. Who knows? They might even turn out to be a little bit crazy. My co-worker's family does the background check before deciding whether they should even begin to see each other. Once that got okay'd, he flew over to Canada & married her 20 days later.

Arranged marriages also try to minimize baggage: all the cards are laid out on the table - the family basically picks the criteria and weeds out the "unworthy" or unsuitable person for you ("oh, she once picked her nose in public when she was 3? Next!") In the western world, this is like the trial & error until finding someone that you want to marry, except our feelings get involved and we risk getting hurt. Years could even be said to be wasted if it doesn't work out.

I think that it's also important to note that feelings cloud our judgment. We all know that when feelings get involved, we tend to make mistakes because we can't choose or decide objectively. Parent's aren't emotionally involved with the actual partner they're setting you up with, so it can be argued that they're more likely to see things objectively than you can. If they're not choosing based on the reputation or money that it'll bring, then they're truly from the "outside looking in."

My co-worker says that it turned out well. He also says that most of them turn out well. He even says that he loves her. In the end, it's just another method - and it can be argued that it works just as well as dating to eventually get married.

I never used to think that arranged marriages were justified, but as of now... I'm pro-arranged marriages (given the right premises & intents). Would I personally want one? HELL NO. I'd rather do the choosing myself...but at least I can sort of understand them now. I hope you can too.


- knowledge


  1. marraige is dumb, plain and simple

  2. I, don't know. I always thought arranged marriage made sense. Unless of course one already has feelings for another in that case it wouldn't work. But if two people predicted to be compatible are emotionally unattached and open it could totally work and it would probably turn out great


  3. Why did you point out the population gap between the two countries?
    Isn't the purpose of the ratio to adjust for the gap in populations? This seems like I'm ripping on you. I'm NOT! Good piece!

  4. @ Martone:

    Good question. The only reason I pointed out the huge gap is because more people = more outside variables for each person. As the gap between populations increases, the more explanations/possibilities/reasons arise. The statistic could even be completely bogus.

    - knowledge

  5. @Jojo:

    I'll give him one more week to answer (he's commented on a newer post, but I don't think he went back to this). If he doesn't, I'll personally list all the reasons why it is. :D

    - knowledge

  6. because men and woman arent ment to be kept together for the rest of their lives. its a death sentence.


  7. @ knowledge
    so knowledge, if you refer to your response to jojo, do you believe that marraige is just dumb because you seem to have your own reasons as to why it is? just something that interested me.

    what are the statistics like for suicides and homicides in correlation or causality to arranged marriages? or are the arranged marriages that you are reffering to ones that don't require women to give dowries and all that to the men? It may be a misconceptualized idea but i always thought that the qualifications that parents used for arranged marriages ARE based on materialistic things like looks, money, profession. I'm saying this knowing that this is only something that I picked up off the media so I am aware that i could be wrong and if i am then i can see how it can work out well. it def wouldn't fly in our Western society but if it works for others then there isn't much to complain about.


  8. @ Jen:
    do you believe that marraige is just dumb because you seem to have your own reasons as to why it is?
    I'm not saying that I wouldn't do it...but aside from tax breaks and all the symbolic stuff it stands for...what else is it good for?

    what are the statistics like for suicides and homicides in correlation or causality to arranged marriages?
    I'm not sure, but in very extreme cases "honor killings" do happen, when a woman refuses to be married.

    It may be a misconceptualized idea but i always thought that the qualifications that parents used for arranged marriages ARE based on materialistic things like looks, money, profession
    It is, in conservative/traditional families. It's important to note that this isn't always the case, though. There are variations & degrees of arranged marriages going from traditional criteria to more modern criteria.

    - knowledge



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