Are All Arranged Marriages Bad?

I was having the good old love vs arranged marriage debate with a friend a few days back (Yes. Again.) His point was – isn’t dating similar to arranged marriages? A modern arranged marriage is about meeting different people shortlisted by your parents based on certain preset criteria, getting to know them over a period of time and finally selecting one of them. How different is that from inputting certain criteria on a dating website, meeting people based on these and selecting one of them finally?

Not very, I conceded.

But that’s not the image that comes to my mind when I think of arranged marriages. I’m reminded of young girls forced out of jobs and into marriages they weren’t ready for. I’m reminded of young couples forced out of their existing relationships into marriages they never wanted. I’m reminded of incompatible matches made on the basis of castes, religions, gotras and kundlis.

Clearly he and I couldn’t possibly be talking about the same thing even though we both thought we were describing “arranged marriages”. That’s when I realised we need to reclassify marriages.

So what are the different types of arranged marriages?

arranged marriagePhoto by The People Speak!

#1. Guided marriages

In this case a man or a woman willingly allows their parents to look for possible matches for them, at a time when he or she is ready for marriage (not at a point of time chosen unilaterally by the parents). The parents then shortlist a set of possible matches as per criteria jointly decided by the parents and the child (again, not unilaterally dictated by the parents). The child then meets and spends time with the selected people over months/years. They start “dating” the ones they like. Eventually they get married after a year or so of knowing each other, if everything goes as per plan.

A minuscule but increasing proportion of modern, ultra-urban arranged marriages are done this way nowadays. As you can see, this is a win-win solution for everyone. This doesn’t, in any way, sacrifice anyone’s freedom and no one – leave alone me – can possibly have anything against a spontaneous exercise of free will by every individual concerned. I’m all for guided marriages.

#2.  Forced marriages

This, on the other hand, is a decision  on a person’s marriage taken unilaterally by their parents and extended family. Usually it’s the family which decides the timing of the marriage. They select a set of potential matches. The final selection might be made by the guy/girl themselves. But the base criteria for selection are laid out by the parents (including caste, religion etc.).

Sadly, forced marriages often involve coercing a guy/ girl OUT of an EXISTING relationship into an unwanted marriage. It can also involve getting a daughter, or even son, married off at a much earlier life stage than they’re ready for.

Now this, as we all know, is a kind of marriage that doesn’t recognise the concept of individual freedom. By failing to take individual choice into account, this sometimes sacrifices the happiness of the new couple.

wife sex before marriagePhoto by VishalSinghx

Unfortunately, a significant proportion of Indian arranged marriages end up going down the forced route. I’m sure you’ll agree – no rational person in their right mind can support such coercion of innocent individuals into a life they never wanted. Neither do I.

Have you had an arranged marriage? Have you observed one from close quarters? Was it guided or forced? Share the experience with us by leaving a comment. 

5 thoughts on “Are All Arranged Marriages Bad?”

  1. Didn’t you miss
    #3. Duped arranged Marriage ?
    Considering that this topic brings the most traffic to your website, it is not possible that you did not include this due to ignorance.

    Allow me
    #3. Duped marriages
    In this case, not a whole lot of time is given by parents to date. But neither is any one forced. So, with the less amount of time available, men and women choose to go with trusting each other. This increases a chance of duping the other party via lies, in order to successfully get married. And sadly that’s what happens.

  2. “Unfortunately, a significant proportion of Indian arranged marriages end up going down the forced route. ” nope, not at all. All my cousins, me my sister, and truckload of my office friends and literally my whole Facebook friends list ( including boys ) have had arranged marriages and I am sure ALL of them had option 1. Girls and guys forced into marriages, guy’s side acting all high and mighty, girl terrified to bits etc. they are things of long gone past. Things have radically changed and as far as I know nearly all arranged marriages are done in these ways. Sure option 2 may exist in remote desolate villages but for majority it is option 1. All you need is to be brutally honest and things work out.

  3. “But that’s not the image that comes to my mind when I think of arranged marriages. I’m reminded of young girls forced out of jobs and into marriages they weren’t ready for. I’m reminded of young couples forced out of their existing relationships into marriages they never wanted. I’m reminded of incompatible matches made on the basis of castes, religions, gotras and kundlis.”
    same way thinking of love marriages I am reminded of a pair off immature, starry eyed adults whose ability to think rationally is blinded by lust, infatuation and hormones. Who think “love” and strictly believe in “love conquers all”. They only in present even thought their future is bleak. After marriage when the hammer of reality knocks them they fight amongst and finally conclude that the world is too hard on them.
    But fortunately that is NOT the case in a lot of love marriages. However this is the perspective of average Indian towards love marriages, a completely biased, Victorian-era mindset just as you seem to have towards arranged marriages.
    /“Guided marriages” are NOT minuscule, they are majority among urban marriages. Just look at all the matrimonial sites, each one of them arranges people to meet and them see how things turn up. I would say forced marriages are minuscule in urban. semi-urban and developed rural areas. Nowadays people are already so apprehensive about getting a good life partner no one even bothers to look at “troubled” families. Google arranged marriages and see the Wikipedia page.

  4. Hai guys , sorry to pop my question in the middle of this discussion , but im so desperate that i dont know where else to go, hope u understand my situation and help me out
    So here it goes, Me and my gf have been in this relationship for 5 months now she is 17 and im 20, my parents know about my relationship and they are happy with it too. we have been very happy even tough we had small fights, but one thing was bugging me from our very 1st fight, that is when ever a fight some she is just stops talking irrespective of whose mistake its is, she never try’s to solve the problem she just quits then i would just spend hours trying to get her to talk. this same scenario continued for all the fights, i would tell her to talk about the fight so that we can solve and prevent it too, but she never listened to me, she would just turn silent when ever i try to make her understand, its like she doesn’t wanna listen to the advice, and sometimes she would get angry on me and speak harshly, at that time also ill only convince her and make her understand. i know she loves me but some times i feel so depressed thinking about my future with her. she is also concerned about my looks and keeps reminding that looks my are also important for her. its like she has two faces when she is happy she would be so sweet to me but when she isn’t its completely ah different story. she has even told me that our relationship has come this far only because of my understanding and adjustment but at the same time she bolts when a fight come, its like she doesn’t wanna fight for my love. now im worrying about our relationship all the and gets sad when ever she says something harsh. please tell me how to make her understand and solve this
    To be frank i am very she guy i dont speak to girls very often and she is my first love and i dont wanna loose her and i have already faced a lot life and i don’t i can survive a heart break now. On the contrary my gf is very cute and confident girl and unlike me she gets a lots of proposals
    I hope atleast you guys would help me
    vijay

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