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Arranged marriages Document Transcript

  • 1. Student’s Name 1 Student’s name Instructor’s name Course Date Arranged Marriages Changes which have appeared during the last two hundred years in human lifestyle have been extremely diverse. Not only has the visible part of our lives drastically changed. The most deeply personal and intimate aspects of our daily existence have changed too. Let us refer to some examples. The ideals of romantic love changed dramatically due to the transition from rural to urban industrial society. Ever since people began to move to cities and work in the industrial production, they have not had the necessity of getting married due to some economic reasons. There is no longer need to control hereditary ownership of land or cultivate the allotment of the family. Arranged marriages, which are the result of negotiations between parents and relatives, have become rarer. People have begun to enter marital relations on the basis of emotional attachment and desire to find personal realization. It is the context in which the idea of “love” emerged as the basis for marriage. However, arranged marriages still exist. Arranged marriage is a practice in which someone other than the couple selects a bride or groom, shortening or even omitting the process of courtship. Just a couple of centuries ago, a marriage of agreement was quite normal. Parents or special people chose a suitable partner for a child to marry him or her. The main purpose of this research is to study whether arranged marriages are worth organizing and whether they are proper enough to be held in modern society. In many parts of the world, traditionalists take into consideration the high divorce rate in modern society, which, as they think, is connected with freedom of mate choice. They
  • 2. Student’s Name 2 consider that arranged marriages are undervalued and not appreciated by people in Western countries. The practice of arranged marriage is quite common in several parts of the world. Not all cultures in the world have a tradition of courtship, as it is adopted in modern North America and European countries. Sometimes it is rather difficult for young people to meet each other. Today arranged marriages are popular in Asian and African countries and in many parts of the Middle East. Also, such marriages are held among European monarchical dynasties. Such arranged marriages can be observed in societies with a high level of hierarchy and awareness of social ranking. In Asia, arranged marriages are popular in western and southern parts, in Japan, and in rural areas of Asia. This means that nearly a third part of Asians prefer arranged marriage. Supporters of arranged marriages have some arguments in their favor. Thus, according to them, young people are too inexperienced and naive to properly choose a future husband or wife, so the task of parents is to find a partner for their child themselves or to ask a professional matchmaker for help. A matchmaker is usually an intermediary who highlights positive sides of a young man or woman to parents and offers them several options to choose from. There can be financial arrangements between two families. Arranged marriages vary in their nature and the duration of meetings from the first date to engagement. In an arranged marriage with only a limited acquaintance, parents introduce their son or daughter to a potential bride or groom. After that, children have the right to start the relationship and make their choice. This phenomenon is common in rural areas of North America, South America, Korea and Japan, and especially in India and Pakistan. This type of arranged marriage is common in Iran under the name of hastegary. This process without time limits takes more courage on the part of parents, as well as the future bride and groom, as compared to an arranged marriage with a time limit. Men and
  • 3. Student’s Name 3 women are afraid of shame and emotional traumas, which can be caused by a possible failure, and therefore avoid the process of courtship. In some cases, a potential marriage partner can be chosen by children themselves, not parents or a matchmaker. In this case, parents can reject their children’s choice and not allow the marriage to take place or agree with the choice and approve the marriage. Arranged marriages differ from marriages for love, as the process of courtship is shortened or absent, and parents have the prerogative to disagree with the choice. It was historically determined that arranged marriages were important among the highest ranks of European aristocracy (despite the consent of both parties being one of the main tenets of Christian marriage). Such marriages were arranged in order to forge family alliances. This kind of marriage is not appropriate in Christianity, but still it could ensure that estates and fortunes will not be lost because of a wrong life partner and would be kept inside the family. This was a guarantee of developing alliances for political and financial security. For example, in the 15th century in France, a daughter was part of the estate, which could be used as her father deemed to his best advantage. A daughter was given in marriage for a kind of service; such a marriage position is still evident in a lot of fairytales, in which a young hero wants to marry someone’s daughter in return for some service or favor (Monger, 2004, p.14). Nevertheless, there is the right of veto in several cultures. Thus, even in many African and Nomadic tribes, people are allowed to make a decision concerning their marriage. Also, there can be cases when a partner is chosen not only by parents, but by all relatives. For example, the traditions are stricter in Hindu culture. Sometimes the partner is chosen when the bride or the groom is a child. In Chinese culture, the partner is chosen according to the material status of the family. Rich and poor people do not marry among each other. Like the Chinese proverb says, “Bamboo door is to bamboo door as wooden door is to wooden door.”
  • 4. Student’s Name 4 It is believed that an arranged marriage is stronger than a marriage for love, because parents are likely to choose a better partner for their child. An arranged marriage is not considered to be a forced marriage, which can cause social tragedies inside and outside the family. This kind of marriage is the way to show parents’ values. Children respect their parents enough to allow them to choose a partner for themselves. Also, an arranged marriage can be suitable when there are fewer opportunities for social interactions between people of opposite sexes at a marriageable age. The statistics say that the divorce rate among South Asians who practice arranged marriages is low. This means that arranged marriages allow building stable families. A survey was held in the department of Neurology, G. B. Pant Hospital, a tertiary care university hospital, New Delhi, India. Three hundred people (including inpatients, outpatients, their caregivers, and hospital staff) were interviewed. The majority of the participants (77%) were male. The religions were Hinduism (75%), Islam (22%), Sikhism (2.5%), and Christianity (0.5%); 61% had an educational level above 12 years; 71% of the participants were married. Most of the people interviewed (85%) had or would like to have an arranged marriage. The main reasons for such a choice were to accept their parents’ choice and to follow the tradition (Mehndiratta, Paul, 2007, p. 15). Because of changes in modern society, American and European tradition of marriage influences Asian young people and changes their opinion on arranged marriages. Today a lot of people move to developed countries from India, and they change their idea of marriage under the influence of the European marriage and courtship tradition. Recently, there have been a lot of articles in newspapers, which describe some cases when young Asian women run away from home because they are forced into arranged marriages. Young people who see modern American and European marriage traditions try to stand against their parents, who
  • 5. Student’s Name 5 consider themselves to be more experienced than young people who do not know enough about this world and life. In Asian countries, running away is a disgrace for the family. In 1994, a survey was held, which studied the opinion of Sikhs and Hindu people at the age between 16 and 25 years who were born in Britain. Sixty percent of them rejected the idea of an arranged marriage (Monger, 2004, p.13). Other 40% accepted the idea of an arranged marriage, but would like to have a final word as to whether the marriage would be held. Traditionally, the couple is not allowed to meet until the wedding day, so they do not have any rights to express their opinion. Opponents of arranged marriages believe that such a marriage is an encroachment on the natural right of a person to choose a mate. In other words, it is very difficult to love a person whom you see for the first time only on your wedding day. An arranged marriage has both positive and negative sides. Nevertheless, this kind of marriage is more suitable for parents because they can arrange the life of their children and control it. It is no secret that parents in South Asia, especially in rural areas, want their married sons to stay with them and live in a subordinate capacity. They expect that the family of their child will submit to parental authority in domestic decision-making. Such a co- residence within a hierarchical system provides significant benefits to parents, both material and emotional. Parents feel more confident because of controlling the life of their children and receiving certain benefit from them. Such a marriage is like a contract negotiated between parents. Parents are able to search for a polite and obedient bride or groom, who will not object to parental control. There should be certain features of character which would reduce the prospect of future conflicts inside the family (Caldwell at al., 1983, p. 359). Lack of education is one of these features. This is why parents prefer choosing an uneducated wife instead of an educated one, even if she brings in significantly more dowry. Low levels of female schooling create one of the main social problems in South Asia, where governments,
  • 6. Student’s Name 6 multilateral aid agencies, and non-governmental organizations try to pay more attention to fixing this issue. At the same time, not much attention is paid to this issue in the case of arranged marriages, so a lot of females remain uneducated. Nevertheless, there is another problem which comes out of the previous one. Parents’ significant control and their direct participation in their children’s family life have negative impacts on health and fertility inside the young family (Dasgupta, 1995, p. 489). Joint families do not give much freedom for young couples, so there can be conflicts between children and parents. There is a greater risk of the son separating from his parents after marrying an educated bride. The educational level of a groom also plays a great role. There are more chances for the family to be separated from parents when the groom is more educated. There is one more consequence for parents. While co-residence brings benefits, married sons need more parental financial support if they live in the household of their parents. Co-residence deprives a young family of the opportunity to have their own households, where they can be free from parental control. Also, returning to the problem of uneducated female population, families of brides do not benefit from providing their daughters with education, because it is commonly known that better educated brides provide a new family with higher dowry. Nevertheless, the process of choosing a partner by one’s parents has a somehow beneficial character, when not only the needs of their son or daughter are taken into consideration, but their own ones too. This is why sometimes they do not consider a partner’s appearance or character. Also, there are cases when parents have no opportunity or wish to look for a husband or wife. There is an emotional side of the problem, when an arranged marriage can turn into a forced marriage. A forced marriage is a term used to describe a marriage in which one or both parties marry without their consent or against their will, with the assistance of their parents or
  • 7. Student’s Name 7 a third party (a matchmaker) while choosing a spouse, although the difference between the last two can be small. The practice of forced marriages was very common among the upper- classes in Europe before the 20th century. Moreover, it still occurs in some parts of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Forced marriages are held in the West mostly between people from these countries. In almost all marriages, a bride (rather than a groom) becomes a wife (or a husband) without any choice. The United Nations Organization sees forced marriages as a form of violation of human rights, because they do not comply with the principle of freedom and independence. The Roman Catholic Church believes that the grounds for the annulment of such a marriage are quite compelling. In this case, for the validity of a marriage, both parties must give their consent freely, without any pressure (Gong-Gershowitz, 2009). It is very important for a couple to understand that they do not know each other at all. Perhaps, there will be no romantic feelings, so after the wedding, partners do not know what to do together, while their parents are happy. In this case, the couple is trying to find common interests and ideas of life. This kind of marriage can be considered as a mature form of love, in which partners are not blinded with infatuation, so their relationships are stable enough. This is a kind of marriage for traditionalists who consider that it will contribute to better relationships in the future. Figure 1 (Xiaohe and Whyte, 1990, p.710) shows a hypothetical picture of trends in marriage satisfaction that might be found for love matches and arranged marriages. Still, we can consider that spouses chosen by parents have no real basis for developing a compatible relationship.
  • 8. Student’s Name 8 Figure 1. Hypothetical trends in marriage satisfaction in love matches and arranged marriages. As it can be seen from the graph, at the beginning of an engagement, love matches are highly satisfied with their common life. However, in the course of time, satisfaction fades away. There is an opposite situation in arranged marriages. In the beginning, people do not know each other well, but soon their life is more stable and their satisfaction grows with each year. This graph shows that arranged marriages have fewer reasons for divorce, so they continue living together, while love matches are destroyed. Nevertheless, love matches take their place in countries where arranged marriages are traditional. Figure 2 (Xiaohe and Whyte, 1990, p.717) shows that from 1955 with the development of industries, free choice score has raised up.
  • 9. Student’s Name 9 Figure 2. Freedom of mate choice in Chengdu, 1934-1987. Still, after the wedding, a couple has to face the reality. It brings a combination of domestic chores, childcare burdens, and financial anxieties. As a result, this real life with a less-than-ideal partner does not bring so many romantic feelings as it was before, so satisfaction with the relationship fades with years. While searching for an ideal partner, a person can be blinded with love. In this case, they will not be able to rationally evaluate real features of their partner. Moreover, the person might not find a partner at all and stay lonely for the rest of their life. Finally, when they find somebody they consider to be their ideal partner, they are overwhelmed with feelings and cannot clearly understand whether they are in love or not. This can be a kind of fake love, which a person has always wanted to feel, but had no opportunity. There are a lot of cases when we cannot clearly state whether we are in love or not, but still marry the person because there are no other choices. Arranged marriages are a kind of marriages for fatalists. People live together because they believe that it was their destiny to be chosen by their parents; still, they may never feel love for each other. Research has shown that arranged marriages have both advantages and disadvantages. In conclusion, I must admit that our understanding of arranged marriages is based on which culture we belong to. This means that arranged marriages may be appropriate in countries
  • 10. Student’s Name 10 where such a practice is traditional. On the other hand, an arranged marriage may seem somehow weird and violating human rights for people in countries with a more democratic lifestyle. It seems that an arranged marriage deprives us of the opportunity to select a partner for our own life. Parents are not to live with the person they choose, while we are. It seems to me that it is important to find a partner the relationships with whom could become the foundation for a happy family life. Generally, in our culture both males and females have their own images of an ideal partner, which they keep in their minds and use to choose a wife or a husband. Thus, it seems rather strange for us that somewhere people may see their husband or wife on the wedding day for the first time. In our culture, we all want to find our real love and be responsible for our own decisions and choices. Thus, with the development of the modern world with its democratic views and struggles for human rights, arranged marriages become less popular.
  • 11. Student’s Name 11 Works Cited Caldwell, J., P. Reddy and P. Caldwell (1983): “The Causes of Marriage Change in South India”, Population Studies, p. 343-61. Dasgupta, M. (1995) “Life Course Perspectives on Women’s Autonomy and Health Outcomes”, American Anthropologist, 97, p. 481-491. Gong-Gershowitz (2009) “Forced Marriage: A “New” Crime Against Humanity”, Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights, Volume 8, Issue 1 (Fall, 2009). Mehndiratta, M. M; Paul, B.; Mehndiratta P. (2007) “Arranged marriage, consanguinity and epilepsy”, an article from Neurology Asia, 2007, 12 (Supplement 1): 15-17. Monger, George (2004) “Marriage Customs of the World: From Henna to Honeymoons”, ABC-CLIO, 327 pages. Xiaohe, Xu; Whyte, Martin King (1990) “Love Matches and Arranged Marriages: A Chinese Replication”, Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 52, No. 3 (August, 1990), pp. 709-722, National Council of Family Relations.