Very few people in Western cultures enforce or even endorse arranged marriages. The thought of having your spouse picked out by your parents can be repulsive to many young adults. They often view the opportunity to sow their own oats and experience the rush of first love as a fundamental rite of passage into adulthood. It is a process that is born of free will, choice and many believe, should be the sole privilege and right of the individual seeking a partner. But for Eastern societies, arranged marriages are not only encouraged, they are required. It is when Eastern and Western cultures clash that the problems arise.
A recent article describes some of the benefits and pitfalls to arranged unions. First, parents who favor arranged marriages believe that they are more experienced and objective than their children. They will be able to make better, less impulsive choices regarding a compatible, and often financially supportive mate than their child will. In many cultures, disobeying the arrangement can lead to disownment and exile from the family. But for the children, arranged marriages can cause fear and resentment. Many young people long for the chance to find their perfect soul mate, the one who makes their heart flutter and their palms sweat. They want to experience intimacy on many levels with that person before they make the commitment to spend the rest of their lives with them.
But do parents know best? Parents often arrange marriages for their children because doing so will ensure that their child stays vigilant in their religious beliefs. People from different cultures often see freedom of religion as a threat and are afraid of the varying views in Western societies. “The human mind finds security in habit so adjusting is hard and change is frightening,” says psychologist Jade Caton. That is why, according to Caton, many parents insist on arranged marriages. And maybe they are on to something. According to some research conducted in India, couples in arranged marriages have more extended periods of being in love than partners who choose their own mates. And arranged marriages end in divorce about 10 times less often than nonarranged marriages. But for young adults who cannot see past the pursuit and passion that come from falling in love, these statistics are often merely academic.
Han, Mayzin. (2013). First comes marriage, then comes love. Spark Magazine (n.d.): n. pag. Web. http://www.sparksunderland.com/featured/2013/04/first-comes-marriage-then-comes-love/
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