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Are Arranged Marriages ALL bad? Everything You Need To Know

Are Arranged Marriages ALL bad? Everything You Need To Know

Updated on Jun 23, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Arranged Marriage - Definition, Types, Causes, Advantages and More

Can you find romantic love in an arranged marriage? Well, this question might haunt you, but yes, love is possible in an arranged marriage.  

Marriage involves two people, and the relationship can thrive only if these two are happy with each other.

But then, if love is possible in an arranged marriage, then why does Gen Z not agree with the concept of traditional arranged marriages?

A marriage doesn’t mean marrying each other. You marry each other’s family and fulfill your duties towards them.

At times, parents involved in the marriage have expectations higher than they can fulfill. Their expectations can cause stress between married couples, and hence, the majority of youth today want to escape this type of marriage.

But every concept comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages. While the children run away from this concept, the parents prefer culturally arranged marriages.

What brings this shift between the two generations? Read on and we’ll answer all of your questions.

Arranged Marriage Infographics

Arranged Marriage - Meaning, Types & Causes
Arranged Marriage – Meaning, Types & Causes
Arranged Marriage - Advantages & Disadvantages
Arranged Marriage – Advantages & Disadvantages

What is Arranged Marriage?

An arranged marriage is based on the concept of love after marriage. While love marriages have love as the first step, arranged marriages have marriage. It is considered that elders are more qualified in the job of choosing a life partner for the children in their family.

An arranged marriage is when your parents or relatives choose a suitable match for their children. So, they look for all the desirable factors in a prospective groom or bride before agreeing to marriage.

Usually, middlemen, parents, or guardians select a few prospects first and then show their pictures to the one who is to be married.

When they like the pictures, the prospects communicate and decide to meet up. The youth today don’t opt for arranged marriages because they feel a third person isn’t capable enough to find them their “perfect match”.

The tradition of arranged marriages is fading with each passing day. However, it is still prevalent in countries like India and Pakistan, where the parents decide who their children should marry.

Often, people misunderstand arranged marriages as forced marriages. In forced marriages, the child has to marry whoever their parents decide.

But in arranged marriages, the children get a chance to accept or reject a marriage proposal brought forward by their parents. The culture of forced marriages is only prevalent in some rural regions now.

But what brought in the concept of arranged marriages?

History of Arranged Marriages

The beginning of arranged marriages dates way back in history. It still exists in a modified version today, with lesser divorce rates than love marriages. From America to Antarctica, arranged marriages have been happening everywhere.

If you travel down the path of history, you will find arranged marriages in every corner of the world until the 18th century.

In arranged marriages, the parents, grandparents, family friends or other trusted nearby people helped find suitable matches.

However, history has also witnessed some exceptions like courtship and betrothal rituals during the time of Renaissance in Italy. There was also a period when Gandharva Vivah was too common in the Vedic period of India.

Before the mid-20th century, the concept of arranged marriages was known as ‘blind marriages’ in China because the decision was made by the elders, and children were asked to marry the selected prospect.

Even if the children had never met each other, they were still supposed to marry the one chosen by the elders.

Even in the United States, arranged marriages were common until the first half of the 20th century among migrant families.

In fact, Japanese-American immigrants called these marriages ‘picture-bride marriages’ because the bride and groom only saw pictures of each other before the marriage. Their parents handled the remaining formalities.

Later, the concept shifted to introducing the bride and groom to each other before marriage. After which, the individuals were given the choice to decide if they wanted to marry each other.

Hence, with time and rising social mobility, the pattern of arranged marriages evolved over time.

Love Marriage vs Arrange Marriage

I see marriage as a lifelong bond with your partner which completely changes your life. I feel if you are going to spend your entire life with a person, it is very important to know the person very well.

Only love cannot result in a beautiful marriage. Compatibility, trust, adjustment, and sacrifices are also extremely essential to build a strong connection.

Although love marriage and arranged marriage are both ways to build a bond forever, which of the two is the more accurate way? Let us see the differences in detail.

Basis of comparisonLove marriageArranged marriage
BondIn love marriages, the couple has a strong emotional bond with each other already.In arranged marriages, usually, the prospects are strangers to each other who try to make a bond to get married.
Role of eldersIn this case, the partners have fallen in love and decided to get married, the elders just have to accept their decision.On the other hand, the elders of the family members look for a prospective bride or groom and initiate the proceedings to bring the two in contact.
SocietyIn many orthodox societies, people see love marriage as a symbol of disrespect towards families.This is still considered an ideal way to find a potential partner as this involves the approval of the elders.
CompatibilitySince the couple has stayed together for a long time, they are much more compatible and have full knowledge of their partner’s habits and interests before the wedding.The couple is barely compatible because they do not have much time to know their partner before the wedding.
Love Marriage vs Arrange Marriage

Looking at the differences, I would like to say that love marriages are way more beneficial for the couple because that involves their love and interests, whereas in an arranged marriage it kind of seems to be an arranged set up for two people to marry.

But obviously, it depends on an individual’s way of thinking, and both ways ultimately lead us to find a perfect life partner.

Forced Marriage vs Arrange Marriage

Arranged marriage and forced marriage are completely different things. There are various reasons why people find arranged marriages to be a disaster, but when you learn the difference, it is forced marriages that are the real problem.

Arranged marriage is intended to have a happy future whereas forced marriages have selfish interests of one of the parties like maintaining their status or keeping the wealth in the family, or taking care of a physically challenged kid.

Basis of differenceArranged marriageForced marriage
ConsentIn an arranged marriage, the consent of both the bride and the groom is involved.In a forced marriage, the consent of the couple is not considered.
ReasonThe families want their son or daughter to have a successful and happy marriage.The families usually are not interested in the happiness of the kids.
OutcomeIf the couple manages their relationship well, it might lead to a beautiful life for both.Since the bride or the groom is forced to marry, this does not lead to a happy marriage.
Risk involvedIn this case, the families agree and celebrate the bond. There is usually no violence taking place.In forced marriages, victims often use violence. This might include slavery, rape, or physical torture.
Forced Marriage vs Arrange Marriage

On seeing these differences, I highly prefer arranged marriages because here the parents intend to use their wisdom for their son or daughter to find a spouse that’s suitable for them.

In forced marriages, there is a lack of consent, violence, breakdown of mental health, and much more. It is quite clear that arranged marriages are not a problem but forced marriages are.

Arranged Marriage Types

Like everything else, arranged marriage also has its particular types. Let us understand how each type is unique in their own way.

1. Arranged exogamous marriage

When a mediator or a third person looks for the bride and groom and selects them without considering the economic, social, or religious barriers, it is known as arranged exogamous marriage.

2. Arranged endogamous marriage

‘Endo’ means within. So, if a middleman or third person is looking for brides or grooms within a specific social, cultural, or economic group, it is known as arranged endogamous marriage.

3. Consanguineous marriage

You might have heard of people marrying their relatives. These are known as consanguineous marriages.

It is a kind of arranged marriage in which the bride and the groom share an ancestor. For example, first-cousin marriages.

Now that you know the definition, history and types… it’s time to dive into…

Arranged Marriage Causes

There are many reasons behind arranged marriages. Specifically, if I give my point of view, arranged marriages give a sense of security that if the partner is chosen by the family members, he might be the best one.

But there are also other causes for the same. Let’s see what they are!

1. Child marriage

One of the major causes behind arranged marriage is child marriage. In recent times, the government has increased the legal age of marriage to 21 but in many such rural areas, the families tend to get their children to marry before the age of 12 itself.

They do not provide them with the choice of education, and this is mostly prevalent in uneducated families and areas of poverty.

2. Poverty

Poverty stands to be the second reason behind arranged marriages. In families that are not financially stable, every individual in the house has to earn their bread.

In many areas, it is difficult for women to find any work.

Thus, the girl child is mostly considered a burden, and her parents think that getting her married would reduce their stress. Thus, they are forced into an arranged marriage without much choice of their own.

3. Late marriage

Late marriage also leads to arranged marriage. People who do not marry till the age of 30 think they have a lesser chance at love marriage, and their extended family looks for a prospect suitable for the other person.

It has been seen that 40 percent of women in Japan are not married until the age of 29.

4. Limited choices

Many people have limited choices of partners mainly because they belong to the minority population and are stereotyped by the majority population. It encourages arranged marriages within particular groups.

For example, Sikh marriages between 1910 and 1980 in Canada. There was also a practice back in 1960, where the groom would travel to Japan where he would marry a girl arranged by his family so that a girl from Japan would arrive in the United States as a picture bride.

The groom and the bride did not have a chance to meet each other before the marriage.

5. Customs

Moving on, some customs lead to arranged marriages. For example, in a few rural parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, disputes are settled by the council of village elders.

They tend to announce a very typical punishment which involves the guilty family to marry their virgin girls who are between the ages of 5 to 12 to the other family.

Another such custom in the Islamic culture is to swap a brother-sister duo from one family to the sister and brother duo from the other family and make them marry each other. All such customs have contributed to arranged marriages.

6. Politics

Politics also leads to arranged marriages. Arranged marriages across different kingdoms were usually intended to create political alliances and peace in history.

When a king allows his daughter to marry the son of the king of the neighboring kingdom, it states that both the kingdoms remain at peace. It signifies the superiority of the former state.

7. Wealth issues

Historically, it is seen that marriage is used to produce children so that the wealth of the family remains inherited.

They consider marriage as a weapon that will lead to bigger families. Hence, an organized inheritance shall take place. Many royals believed in arranged marriages to keep their wealth in their own families.

8. Bridewealth

In many cultures, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, the groom and his family pay cash and property in exchange for permission to marry the daughter.

The wealth is kept by the bride’s family and is popularly known as the bride’s wealth. This wealth is also financial support for poor families.

Thus, the bride’s father or brother takes interest in well-to-do families to marry their daughter.

9.  Religion

Religion also stands to be a reason behind arranged marriages. Few religions do not permit inter-caste marriages, especially Islam which does not allow a girl to marry any man from a different religion.

The punishment for the ones who marry outside their religion is severe and thus encourages arranged marriages.

10. Family honor

Many families still have the mindset that their children must follow the concept of arranged marriages only. They find love marriages to be offensive and consider it as a disrespect to the family.

The family members believe in getting the younger ones married only with the permission of the elder ones and according to their choices.

But, unlike popular belief, arranged marriages are not ALL bad. Here are some…

Advantages of arranged marriage

Are arranged marriages legal? Yes, they are.

In fact, most communities prefer arranged marriages because of their success rate. People still see failed marriages as a taboo and hence, consider arranged marriages as a safer option.

If you are wondering what are the advantages of an arranged marriage apart from it, keep reading.

1. Lesser expectations

In arranged marriages, the bride and groom don’t know each other for a long time. Hence, they are unaware of their partner’s choices and habits.

When they are yet to discover more about their partner, they cannot expect anything from them. So, expectations in arranged marriages are less at the time of marriage and grow only at a later stage after marriage.

2. Easier adjustments

The bride and groom can adjust more in arranged marriages because they haven’t chosen your partner.

Thus, they are open to adjustments and let go of everything because they know there is no other alternative. Hence, compromises become easy in arranged marriages.

3. Lesser conflicts

Now, because the bride and groom are getting into the marriage without knowing each other, they are open to accepting each other’s flaws and behavior.

Thus, with acceptance and adjustments, there are fewer chances of landing in a marital conflict.

4. Family Support

The biggest reason behind the success rate of arranged marriages is family support.

Because the family is involved since the beginning of the marriage, they help to sort out all kinds of issues that are triggered in the later stages.  

5. Love grows with time

In love marriages, once you start living with each other, the love tends to fade with time because you landed into the marriage based upon a perception about your partner.

This perception fails to stand once you start living with your partner.

But in arranged marriages, you are open to accepting your partner because you are trying to know them, and so the love keeps on growing with time.

Along with some advantages, arranged marriages can be hard because…

Disadvantages of arranged marriage

If there are so many advantages of an arranged marriage, why do some people still want to go for a love marriage? Well, these disadvantages will give you the answer.

1. It’s a risk of life!

Arranged marriages are like taking the biggest risk of life. A person doesn’t know if they will be able to love their partner in the future, and yet steps into the biggest phase of life called marriage with them.

They are well aware that there are chances that compatibility issues may arise, yet they take a leap of faith.

2. There are so many differences of opinion

Since the couple doesn’t know each other, there are possibilities of differences arising between the two in the later stages of marriage.

If they belong to different perceptual categories, then it may not be possible for them to live together.

3. Restrictions have no end

Since the entire family is involved in the marriage, it becomes difficult to call off the marriage.

A couple has to suffocate and still stick together in the bond because of the restrictions of the elderly people. It often becomes a loveless marriage.

4. The undue pressure gets unbearable

Arranged marriage also comes with a lot of pressure about society, children, and other factors. It is because the couple constantly has to care for the respect of others more than thinking about them and their future.

Hence, it leads to an unhappy marriage.

5. There’s some discomfort

Couples in love marriage are friendly with each other and can discuss any topic easily. However, it is not the same for arranged marriages.

A partner may feel uncomfortable discussing some vulnerable topics before starting their married life. And post marriage, this partial transparency may affect the marriage.

You wouldn’t believe it, but there are some worldly renowned celebrities who opted for an arranged marriage.

Celebrities who had an arranged marriage

Here are a few celebrities who chose arranged marriage over love marriage.

1. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

They were one of the most iconic couples of Hollywood and were married to each other from 2006 to 2012.

They seemed like a simple and happy family when people saw them in their fairy tale wedding and many such red-carpet appearances. Or, they have a daughter together but are now divorced.

2. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries

The couple reminds the world of the number 72. They began dating in 2010 and soon tied the knot in August the next year.

Unfortunately, they separated only after 72 days of their marriage. Kim claims that she handled their marriage in a very miserable way.

3. John Travolta and Kelly Preston

Preston and Travolta had chemistry right after they crossed paths and dated for some time. They got engaged on New Year’s Eve in 1990 and got married the next year.

They have three children together. Travolta definitely misses her after she died in 2020 because of breast cancer.

4. Prince Charles and Diana Spencer

The royal couple’s wedding is said to be “the wedding of the century” as they tied the knot in a cathedral in London where over 750 million people watched it on global television. They got married in July 1981 after 6 months of engagement.

5. Rock Hudson and Phyllis Gates

Gates met Hudson in 1954 and they soon started dating each other. They were married in 1955 and had a brief honeymoon.

Their marriage was not a happy one, and soon Gates filed for a divorce on the grounds of ‘mental cruelty’ as there were rumours of Hudson being gay.

6. Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson

Lisa and Michael became friends, but their relationship did not progress much. Shockingly, Lisa had announced to the media that she was then Mrs. Lisa Marie parsley- Jackson and that she had fallen in love with him in 1994.

Unfortunately, the couple got divorced in January 1996.

7. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

The couple spent 17 years of marriage and was blessed with nine kids. Their marriage was not so happy as Albert had to take up most of Victoria’s work as a queen because of the multiple pregnancies.

Victoria seemed to be a grief-stricken figure for the public after the king died of typhoid, but the truth was something different.

8. Brooke Astor and John Dryden Kuser

Brooke married John at a very early age, and although they lived in luxury, their marriage was a miserable one.

Their only child Anthony was born in 1924, and the couple soon got divorced in 1930 Brooke claimed that her husband beat her numerous times.

9. Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI

This royal couple’s marriage was planned since the early 1760s but did not occur until 1770. Their marriage went unconsummated for years due to the difference of interest in sex.

France wanted their alliance to strengthen with Australia because of this marriage.

10. Madhuri Dixit and Dr. Sriram Nene

Madhuri, a Bollywood actress got married to a cardiovascular surgeon in the year 1999. The couple settled down in the US after marriage and now have two boys named, Arin and Ryan.

After knowing about these few famous couples, let us find answers to questions about arranged marriages.

FAQs about arranged marriages

Here are a few questions that might be rolling in your mind, but you may have nobody around who can answer these questions.

Don’t worry, I have picked up the most common questions around arranged marriages and answered them for you.

1. How long does it take to love a partner in an arranged marriage?

Indian society finds arranged marriage as the appropriate way to get married. However, the youngsters are curious to know how long it takes for the couple to fall in love with each other.

It is practically seen that the couples who opt for arranged marriage are more romantic because both the partners are new to it and they try to gain knowledge about each other in a very short period of time. They make adjustments and sacrifices so that their partner is comfortable around them.

To be specific, there is no such time period in which they fall in love. It differs from couple to couple. For some couples, it might be love at first sight and some might take about years to fall in love.

But rest assured that if you have the commitment for each other, you will fall in love with each other.

2. Do arranged marriages work?

For some people marrying without already loving the person is a matter of question. But there are also many advantages linked with an arranged marriage.

Since the arranged marriage is usually within the same caste and culture, the couple is likely to be more compatible as their family backgrounds and beliefs are quite similar.

Couples who marry just because they are madly in love with each other later find they are not very compatible. It depends on the situation and on how the couple invests in their marriage. The key to happiness forever is not just love.

It’s how you can mutually come to a common ground after every disagreement and argument… without hampering your bond.

3. Can people in arranged marriages actually fall in love?

In today’s world, it is believed that love comes first and marriage is the next step. But why are we forgetting the saying “love takes all kinds of shapes and forms.”

Studies have also proven that the divorce rates in arranged marriages are as low as 6 percent which proves that eventually, the couple falls in love with each other.

Although the couples in arranged marriages do not know each other for a very long time we all know that it takes time to build chemistry. They might not share the love while taking vows but when they share their lives, they start knowing each other and eventually fall in love.

The success of marriage does not depend on how the couple meets; it depends on how they carry it forward. Apart from love, it takes respect and trust to make a marriage beautiful.

4. What Do modern arranged marriages really look like?

While you typically think of arranged marriage as seeing your spouse at the altar for the first time, let me bring you the modern twist in it.

Earlier, the concept used to be that the family members choose the partner and the couple agreed to marry just after looking at each other’s photographs, but now things have completely changed.

It is like the family finding a prospective bride or a groom, but you have full rights to say no to the prospect if you do not like their choice. You are invested with the power of veto. You can select the one you want to marry after seeing multiple people and put your own choices at priority.

5. Why are arranged marriages always seen as bad?

Many people think that marrying someone you barely know is quite frightening but trust me, it is not that bad. It is not the arranged marriage that is scary but forced marriages.

Nowadays, you get the choice of saying no to any prospect that you don’t find good enough. It is like your parents’ finding prospects for you and you have the right to choose amongst them.

The elders of the family think that we are quite immature to choose a life partner and thus, they decide on our behalf but they can turn out to be the most beautiful marriages. 

Arranged marriages get criticism when an individual’s choices are not respected.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

The religious leaders in the past taught that marriages must adhere to the caste system. However, young men and women today do not agree with this ideology. 

No, today’s generation doesn’t see arranged marriages as a bad practice. But they would rather like to choose someone they are compatible with. It makes no sense to risk your remaining life only to please society.

Whereas, there’s another section of youth who believes arranged marriages are more successful than love marriages. Or they will agree to arranged marriages for their parent’s happiness and accept the partner as they are.

Well, none of these ideologies are wrong. It is an individual’s thought process that leads to love marriage and arranged marriage. And as long as the couple is happy in a marriage, it hardly matters what type of marriage they chose.