In a Cosmopolitan article titled What It’s Really Like to Have an Arranged Marriage, Sandhya described her marriage this way: “It’s like falling in love each day with him.” Her husband, Ankur, lived in America and she lived in India. They met when the parents of Sandhya placed a newspaper ad looking for potential husbands for their child.
Both didn’t feel it strange to start a relationship in such manner. For one, Sandhya’s parents were married the same way and so were her cousins. Ankur, on the other hand, said that “There’s no pressure on you that you have to date…There’s no worry that I’m going to end up alone!”
The courtship didn’t even take that long. They talked for a couple of hours before meeting each other in person, and Ankur told his parents that he liked Sandhya and he was interested. What followed was a communication between the parents and when they liked everything, Ankur flew from the US to meet his future bride. That meeting lasted for about 15 minutes and when Ankur returned home and told his parents he wanted to marry Sandhya.
So, after an engagement that lasted a month and a half, Ankur and Sandhya got married.
The story of Ankur and Sandhya is just one of the many arranged marriages that worked. But there are stories like those of Fraidy Reiss which was a whole lot different.
Fraidy was married when she was 19 years old to an abusive husband. As a member of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community, her marriage had been arranged for her. She only knew her husband for three months before they were married. Her mother’s cousin was the one who arranged the union. During that time, they were never allowed physical contact or to spend time alone together.
In the first weeks of their marriage, signs of abusive behavior showed up. Her husband woke up late and was infuriated and ended up punching a hole in the wall. But the marriage lasted for 12 years and resulted in two daughters. However, those years were filled with days when her husband would detail how he was going to kill her.
Once she got a college degree and a job, she was able to support herself and her two daughters. She then left her husband but her family shunned her. She filed for divorce and left the religion because as she put it “I’d already lost my entire family.”
But even with cases like Fraidy’s increasing these days, the tradition of arranged marriages is still in place. There are supporters of it, and there are those who oppose it as well.
List of Pros of an Arranged Marriage
1. You grow in love with the person each day
Mira Jacobs detailed told the story of how her parents fell in love nearly three decades after getting married in Vogue. The marriage between her parents was arranged in India in 1968 but they settled in Mexico where Mira and her brother were raised.
For Mira, her parents’ marriage “lacked the palpable electricity I saw between some American couples, but so what? Who said all that hugging and kissing was a good thing? Too many of my friends’ once-affectionate parents were splitting up. My parents, in contrast, were remarkably solid, a well-thought-through match of religion, goals, and socioeconomic standing, clearly in it for the long haul.”
Mira’s father believes that “when you don’t have passionate feelings to glaze over your partner’s flaws in early marriage, you are less likely to be undone by inevitable disappointments later on.” And for Mira, she has never seen her parents look into each other so dreamily. Then again, she has also never heard them threaten divorce.
In her mid-20s, Mira started living in New York. When she was 24, she noticed that her parents had somehow become closer. But it wasn’t just a fluke, it continued on. She began to wonder, “Why now? Why this sudden attraction to someone who had been there the whole time?”
So yes, it took 30 years for Mira’s parents to truly fall in love. But that’s what supporters of arranged marriages feel: you get to know each other each day not come into the marriage already knowing flaws and such. It’s like discovering each other, so to speak. And from there, the love will grow.
Aziz Ansari is another celebrity whose parents were brought together through an arranged marriage. And in an essay in Time, Aziz told of how his father chose a bride in less than an hour and decades later, they are still together.
2. You have stability
Divorce rates are ever increasing in Europe and the US. On the other hand, lower divorce rates in the world are from cultures with high rates of arranged marriages such as the Amish of the US, Hindus of India and the Ultra-Orthodox Jews of Israel.
Some do question this level of stability because we have seen examples of people not being able to divorce because of what the community might think of them. So they choose to live in a dysfunctional marriage instead rather than face the consequence of divorce.
3. It removes the anxiety of finding the right person
Arranged marriages happen through the parents and even relatives and friends. So the other person is scrutinized through the eyes of these people – everything from their behavior, past history and the mutual compatibility between the couple is observed.
Just like the saying goes, “parents know best.” Apparently, this is mostly true of arranged marriages.
List of Cons of an Arranged Marriage
1. It is a violation of human rights
People have the right to choose whom they love and want to spend the rest of their life with. They should be allowed to make their own choices and not have a pre-selected list of people to gloss over. Besides, how can you really gauge a person’s behavior in just a few weeks or even just a few hours?
There are tales of women like Fraidy who have been beaten by their husbands. And in some cases, arranged marriages of children often end up in the child suffering at the hands of their spouse.
2. It creates distrust among couples
Zarghuna Kargar was in an arranged marriage. On her wedding night, she wished that consummating the marriage would lead to her bleeding – taken as a sign that she is indeed a virgin when they married. However, that didn’t come.
She said, “As a result, my married life had begun with my husband failing to trust me. Whenever he spoke unkindly to me after that, I thought it was because he didn’t believe I’d been a virgin on my wedding night.”
3. It can still lead to divorce
Despite some communities shunning the idea of divorce, some people in arranged marriages do decide to call quits on their relationship. When some do, they are disowned by their family but they are willing to take the risk rather than suffer in an unhappy marriage.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.