In what aspects are Western love marriages different than Eastern arranged marriages? By: Moneka Jani
This research question interested me because when ever I would tell anyone that I was Indian, one question would be asked immediately.
The question would always be “Does that mean that you have to get an arranged marriage?”
I never understood why Westerners always looked down on the concept of arranged marriages until I began my research and came upon all the negative things said about arranged marriages.
I realized that people had many different and wrong ideas about arranged marriages and I felt a strong urge to shed light on the truths about both, love and arranged marriages.
Doing research on love and arranged marriages turned out to be very difficult because many sites were bias; favoring one over the other.
The main idea of my paper was to thoroughly explain the traditions of both Western and Eastern society marriages and not to place a value on one over the other.
Even the definition I found for the word “arranged marriage” turned out to be bias.
Arranged marriage was defined as: “a marriage in which neither the bride or groom has any official say over the selection of their future spouses.”
This definition is wrong because times have changed and this is not the case anymore, but that definition is the closest I found that was the least bias.
Research was the hardest part in the whole process and I searched for countless hours until I found websites that contained unbiased info on both types of marriages.
I did all of my research online because there were not many books on love or arranged marriages and the one I did find and used had very little information I could actually use.
But over the course of writing the paper I came across many websites that gave excellent views of both marriages and beautifully shaped my paper.
The Paper Itself
I posed a lot of questions in my paper but I also answered them throughout the paper.
In my paper I showed how in Western societies, like in the United States, arranged marriages are seen as being backwards and not as successful, yet arranged marriages, as in India, are reported to have fewer divorce rates than love matches.
There are 3 main aspects that Westerners are most likely to focus on when looking for a significant other:
-the strength of the physical attraction
-the quality of the sex
These criteria are shaped by the media by advertising a certain type of couple in the entertainment industry and burying it deeply into people's brains.
Physical attraction is a major role in deciding if a person is even “worth the time” and there is countless time wasted by men and women to meet the standards of beauty set by society.
In western societies it is important for two persons to be romantically involved with one another, meaning the time spent with each other should be enjoyable and romantic.
In shows like “Sex and the City”, sex is greatly emphasized and every relationship each woman has starts with sex, making them sexual partners first and then actually “love” partners after which only takes place after many months of intercourse.
Being romantic with a person “emphasizes passion and intimacy with lower emphasis on commitment” making a relationship difficult to last long if the romanticism dies.
The characteristics of relationships in the western society derive from the medieval roots of “courtly love”.
A "courtly love" relationship is not between the husband and wife “…because it was an idealized sort of relationship that could not exist within the context of "real life" medieval marriages”.
During the middle ages, marriages “amongst the nobility were typically based on practical and dynastic concerns rather than on love”.
This is evidence that marriages started out as pragmatic marriages (arranged marriages) that were practical and not based on love or attraction, but slowly evolved into marriages based solely on love.
Physical attraction, romanticism, and sex are all connected by each other in many ways; if there is a physical attraction it will follow being romantically involved, and that will lead to passionate sex.
But how can one just focus on three things when looking for a companion and still expect for the relationship to last forever?
There are many aspects that Easterners focus on when choosing a spouse; his or her religion, his or her values and beliefs, education, social and financial status, and family background.
An Eastern marriage is an “Athenic” weaving together of families, when you marry someone, you’re also marrying their family and they yours.
An important aspect of choosing a suitable spouse is the bond between the two families and therefore requires numerous checks on his or her background.
Shaadi , meaning marriage in almost all Indian languages, is like a “karmic destiny” and Indians believe that a lot of work should go into finding the perfect spouse marriage because it is one of the most “important decisions a person will ever make” and therefore the marriage choice is carefully “thought out and planned” even if it takes years to do.
In contrast to the Western world’s idea of a perfect marriage which consists of a boy meeting a girl, the boy falling in love with the girl, and the boy and girl getting married, in an Eastern society it would be a family finding a boy or girl with a culture that matches with theirs, matching levels of education, matching religions, someone who has a very good social and financial status, and a good family background.
There are many misconceptions regarding arranged marriages; people believe that the marriage is “forced” upon the boy and girl which whom did not meet beforehand and had no say in the final decision.
But arranged marriages are not forced marriages, times have changed and so have the processes of arranging marriages in Eastern societies.
Decades ago in the past when families were setting up their sons and daughters in arranged marriages they did not let the boy or girl have any say in the marriage process what so ever.
In most cases, families did not allow the boy or girl to talk to one another or even let them see one another before the day of the wedding.
But now in modern times, parents make “lists” of potential grooms who they think would be “good matches for their children, and introduce the children to each spouse individually” and “before the marriage becomes official” the boy and girl are given many chances to meet and talk to one another.
Eventually after many meetings, both the girl and boy decide if they would like to pursue the relationship or not, resulting that in fact the children do “choose for themselves”.
Another main difference between traditional arranged marriages and new modern arranged marriages is that parents are now willing to accept refusal from their children instead of forcing them to wed.
Indian parents have realized that family indeed plays a huge role in arranging the marriage, but the children do as well.
Love matches do “give us time to know the person with whom we have decided to spend the entire life but we start liking each other the way we want to see him or her” and once married when they “behave the way they are, it becomes difficult for us to accept”.
Families play a role in arranging the marriage as well as in keeping the marriage going, therefore a woman does not have to worry about her husband going off with a more attractive woman or other problems arising in the marriage.
Even when small conflicts between the married couple arise, families from both the husband and wife’s side are there to resolve the issues and calm down both parties.
Divorces and separations are very rare in India; divorce rates are only 1.1% compared to the United States 50% divorce rate .
Because of how similar the two persons are and how many things match between them, “divorce is more unlikely to happen due to irreconcilable differences or disputes”, as in all arranged marriages they both have the same views on almost everything, like marriage and family- and even share the same culture, and religion.
Many very important factors are met equally; equality/similarity in education, financial situation, and other things is very good.
Also by matching two persons based on their level of education, help both husband and wife feel equal in intelligence, therefore “eliminating a stress or pressure of being 'dumb' or illiterate”.
Furthermore by being their intelligence level being equally matched the spouses are most likely to be “equally rational and sensible in raising children or dealing with some issues” .
Resulting in very little things left to dispute and differentiate about and the “spouses can focus on each other rather than their
Can love grow out of an arranged marriage?
The answer is, yes of course it can in the “same way that love can grow in romance novels from a marriage of convenience”.
Love isn’t just finding someone who matches perfectly with you, love grows over time with the efforts of both the bride and groom.
“ All happy families are happy alike, all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way”, Leo Tolstoy's quote flawlessly says that every family has its own problems which make them happy; parallel to saying that every marriage has its imperfections.
Many parents comfort their children by saying that “its not that there isn’t love. It’s just that it comes after the marriage”; this encourages children to think clearly with their head and not with their heart.
But spouses who think “only with their head even after marriage may end up realizing there is no emotional compatibility, and those who think only with their heart may end up realizing they do not have a stable future”.
Can love grow out of an arranged marriage?
Love is said to blossom later and when it does, it only strengthens the marriage and make the spouses happier.
But in some rare cases when love does not blossom, help can be sought- and if nothing can be done , then the spouses turn to divorce.
“ Marriage is a very special and joyous part of many people's lives”, it brings entire families together or even nations- “as it has done and kept doing so in the past and into the future”.
Yet no marriage comes without hardships; effort and commitment from both the husband and wife are needed to keep the marriage strong.
Arguments and fights are inevitable, but the amount of differences that may lead to those fights between the persons can be controlled by finding someone with similar beliefs as yours.
Yet there are problems even when Sikhs wed Sikhs, or Christians wed Christians.
Each person is made for a certain type of marriage, either it being a love marriage or an arranged marriage; the choice at the end of the day is yours.
Independent Research Paper
Writing this paper has helped me manage my time wisely and use all of my resources.
It has showed me that to write an independent research paper you have to have a great amount of interest in it so you can put forth all of your energy and time into it.
These time management skills will be very useful next year when I am writing papers in ever class.