Arranged Marriage Around the World
Can you imagine not having any say in who you marry? Can you imagine your parents, another family member, or depending on the culture, a matchmaker choosing the person that you spend the rest of your life with? This is called arranged marriage, or a marriage planned and agreed to by the families or guardians of the bride and groom. These young people have little or no say in the matter themselves. Arranged marriages normally happen depending on a person’s culture, religion, and where they live in the world. Many people have preferences about who they want to marry in the future, but some people have no say in who they are marrying, when they will be married or where they will be married. This is very common in Eastern Cultures as opposed to Western cultures. The United States and Western Nations are pretty unfamiliar with this topic since this is more of an Eastern tradition in places such as South Asia and the middle east. Some of the largest culprits are Asia, Africa, India, China, Britain, France and Germany and some more (Penn 2011). In many places, arranged marriages are not allowed anymore and there are laws that ban it from occurring (Evans 1995). Overall, arranged marriages tend to be a more positive experience and will allow in a better marriage then a marriage of their choosing.
There are many forms of marriages around the world but there are predominantly only two today. The different forms of marriage are choosing their own spouse, arranged marriage, eloping, and forced marriage but we only today see own spouse and arranged marriage (Penn 2011). Many people today still have arranged marriages and many do not. Today, arranged marriages still account for half of the world’s population of marriage and will continue to be prevalent in the future in areas that have high rates of population growth (Penn 2011). These marriages are common in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the trans-Ural parts of Russia and Nigeria (Penn 2011). Arranged marriages were primarily active during the 19th and 20th centuries but they are still seen today. There is also such thing as forced marriage but the United Nations do not allow this anymore. This is because the bride and the groom have no say whereas in arranged marriages, the parents or family members decide but they have a mutual agreement in marrying the other person. According to Allendorf (2013), arranged marriages are a thing of the past but many people are eloping now (Allendorf 2013). Studies have shown that both types of marriages are perceived positively but an ideal marriage would be a combination of these two marriages (Allendorf 2013).
With Japanese marriages, there are more arranged marriages then there are regular marriages (Epstein, Pandit & Thakar 2013). It is said that these individuals from Japan had higher satisfaction with their marriage than Americans who were able to choose their spouse and who they marry (Epstein, Pandit & Thakar 2013). According to people who have experienced this, women said that they had lower satisfaction rates than men which was probably due to the division of labor. Women were compared to being “slaves” and that they did everything the men told them to do and they took care of all of the household chores and the children. In arranged marriages, people are not marrying for love, but love may eventually occur between the two. This might make it easier for the couples to stay together because there are not feelings and emotions attached to the relationship which could potentially cause problems to arise. Then again, arranged marriages could also cause problems if you want to be in love with and love your spouse so there could be just as many problems in a true love relationship.
Studies have proven that the quality of marriage correlates directly with “physical, mental, and spiritual well-being” (Family, faith, and happiness in arranged marriages in India 2013). Studies have also shown that there are less findings of divorce in arranged marriage as opposed to love marriages (Family, faith, and happiness in arranged marriages in India 2013). There was a study conducted by Madathil and Benshoff (2008) that compared Asian Indians who were in arranged marriages and Americans who were in a loving marriage where they got to choose who they marry. The three different groups that the study looked at were; Indians who were living in India and were in arranged marriages, Indians who were living in the United States and in arranged marriages and non-Indian Americans who lived in the United States and were in marriages of their choice. The results showed that Indians in arranged marriages that were living in the United States tended to be highly more satisfied with their marriages as a whole (Family, faith, and happiness in arranged marriages in India 2013). This shows that arranged marriages do work and are successful but does this only happen because these individuals are living in the United States?
Another study on India did a survey with spouses who were in arranged marriages. This looked at the couple’s satisfaction between the two in their marriage (Bowman & Dollahite 2013). Overall, results showed a high marital satisfaction. If studies show high marital satisfaction, wouldn’t it make you want to do that? If you are satisfied in your marriage, then why change the way your culture is based on the opinions of people who haven’t experienced it. It is working and allowing peoples marriages to be successful so it doesn’t make sense to not do it.
In Muslim culture they have arranged marriages, and they have to provide consent to the marriage (Gupta 1976). According to Gupta (1976), love is a weak basis for marriage. This is because your love may overshadow the qualities in that person that you’re not seeing but you would want in a marital relationship (Gupta 1976). Therefore, the two people within the marriage will be either more or less caregiving to the spouse and the family members, companionship, co-parenting growth, which will then all lead to love. It would be good for a relationship be pretty likely to be successful because the couple’s family did a lot of research and made sure that it would allow them to have a successful relationship (Myers, Madathil & Tingle 2005). Studies from Udry (1974) show that It would be a good thing to know that the family that your spouse is coming from has good health, wealth, subsistence skills, alliances between the two families, economic arrangements between the two families (Myers, Madathil & Tingle 2005). Therefore, these results show us that an arranged marriage could be more successful.
Xiaohe and Whyte (1990) says that arranged marriage was considered the “bad old days.” Many people find themselves in arranged marriages and say they were stuck in marriages and find themselves in a position of wishing they choose someone they loved instead of because of the basis of familial status, money or some other contributing factor (Xiaohe & Whyte 1990). This therefore states according to this source in China, the stereotype is that people would rather not be in an arranged marriage and would rather choose the person they want to spend their life with. This is just a stereotype that the Western culture has. Arranged marriages in China actually are more successful than loving relationships. Marriages of love start off “hot” and passionate bu then they from to become “cold” and start to become boring and are suffocating (Xiaohe & Whyte 1990). Do the Chinese think this is more successful because this is a common practice where they live and want to make it work because it is what they know of an it is what their religion says they should do so they make it work? You would think that this could be the case but studies show that since there are no romantic feelings between the couple, they might not know each other well or even at all that the partners can really go nowhere but up in the relationship (Xiaohe & Whyte 1990). This will lead to having the “hot” phase later in the marriage which will mean the feelings of love will start later in the marriage but should ultimately last longer. This will make the couple happier in the end than a couple who chooses their spouse depending on a Chinese culture.
On the contrary, arranged marriages can also cause problems between families and couples. If a person is in an arranged marriage and they are forced to separate due to work, school, family or other reasons this could really cause a toll on the relationship. (Binstock & Thornton (2003). At first even though the separation may not be permanent, it could be too much to bear and allow for a split in the marriage or in other words a divorce. Many people would look at this at being a potential problem and may not want to even be in an arranged marriage because they don’t want a possibility of separation from their spouse. This makes sense because in most cases people primarily in Western culture prefer to marry for love. But even if you are for arranged marriage, you would still want to be with your spouse and live with the because it is the person that you legally said you would spend the rest of your life with. People want the comfort of their spouse and it would also make things extremely difficult if you had to separate. Although arranged marriages do have negatives that come with it, there are a lot of positives as well. Happiness I think outshines love. If you are happy and living a happy life due to an arranged marriage, why would you not continue in this marriage? Of course arranged marriage really is only prevalent today in particular Eastern cultures so the Western culture has stereotypes and some negative views on the topic of arranged marriage.
In addition, since many cultures that have been pro arranged marriage have been coming up with laws that state that it is forbidden in those locations, for example in China. Even though it was once accepted in the culture and in many cultures, some have backed off on this being a way of marriage (Evans 1995). Lawmakers did not like how women and youth were being affected by arranged marriages negatively (Evans 1995).
Arranged marriages are still prevalent today in Eastern cultures like China, India, Japan. Although people may not believe in this, overall it is seen to be a positive thing in society. Satisfaction occurs in a lot of arranged marriages which is ultimately the goal of a marriage of your choosing which is typically seen in Western cultures. If you could almost be guaranteed to be just as happy and or happier in an arranged marriage as a person is in a marriage of their choosing, why would people be so against it? There are some cons to arranged marriage as well as there are negatives in marriages of their choosing but if the negatives out way the positives, why shouldn’t people want to have or be happy in an arranged marriage?
- Allendorf, K. (2013). Schemas of marital change: From arranged marriages to eloping for love.
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- Binstock, G., & Thornton, A. (2003). Separations, reconciliations and living apart in cohabiting and marital unions. Journal Of Marriage And Family, 65(2), 432-443.
- Bowman, J. L., & Dollahite, D. C. (2013). ‘Why would such a person dream about heaven?’
- Family, faith, and happiness in arranged marriages in India. Journal Of Comparative Family Studies, 44(2), 207-225
- Epstein, R., Pandit, M., & Thakar, M. (2013). How love emerges in arranged marriages: Two cross-cultural studies. Journal Of Comparative Family Studies, 44(3), 341-360.
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- Family, faith, and happiness in arranged marriages in India. Journal Of Comparative Family. Studies, 44(2), 207-225.
- Bowman, J. L., & Dollahite, D. C. (2013). ‘Why would such a person dream about heaven?’
- Gupta, G. R. (1976). Love, arranged marriage, and the Indian social structure. Journal Of Comparative Family Studies, 7(1), 75-85.
- Myers, J. E., Madathil, J., & Tingle, L. R. (2005). Marriage Satisfaction and Wellness in India and the United States: A Preliminary Comparison of Arranged Marriages and Marriages of Choice. Journal Of Counseling & Development, 83(2), 183-190.
- Penn, R. (2011). Arranged marriages in Western Europe: Media representations and social reality. Journal Of Comparative Family Studies, 42(5), 637-650.
- Xiaohe, X., & Whyte, M. K. (1990). Love matches and arranged marriages: A Chinese replication. Journal Of Marriage And The Family, 52(3), 709-722. doi:10.2307/352936
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