To Love or to Arrange?
If you're from a Western society, and a family with Western values, chances are you think love is the most important factor to consider when choosing a prospective spouse. But, if you're from a culture that typically arranges marriages, you probably have a different perspective.
Is a love marriage better than an arranged marriage?
A recent study examining Indian couples in arranged marriages, and U.S. couples in marriages of choice (love marriages), revealed that in terms of marital satisfaction, the two groups are very similar.
However, their views on "love wellness" were different. The U.S. couples said that being in love was a strong indication of whether their marriage was good- or going to be good. The Indian couples expected love to grow as they got to know each other. Being in love was not how they measured marital satisfaction- or future marital satisfaction. (5)
According to Dr. William Cornell, a Marriage and Counselor professor at the University of Florida, culture plays a large role in deciding whether a love marriage is better than an arranged marriage- it is all a matter of perspective.
U.S. culture tells us that "love will conquer all." But if that isn't your expectation, then the lack of love is not going to be a reason for the marriage not to work, said Cornell.
In fact, he says, "Being in love is not a good reason to get married. It's about the long haul." Arranged marriage is based on the concept that love is a fleeting emotional response, so it deliberately brings a whole range of factors into the equation.
In an arranged marriage, says Cornell, "you love the person who is in that position." So, you love your wife because she is your wife, and because she is the mother of your children.
Low divorce rates in countries with arranged marriages points to the success of the arranged marriage. High divorce rates in countries with love marriages indicate that perhaps this form of marriage does not work.
Yet, they persist. And in India, where arranged marriages are the "norm," love marriages are becoming increasingly popular. (4)
Because of cultural differences, it is difficult to say which form of marriage is the best, but here is an attempt to compare the benefits of an arranged marriage versus the benefits of a love marriage.
Benefits of an Arranged Marriage
- Reduction of incompatibilities- same religion, caste, dietary preference, linguistic group, socioeconomic background, etc.
- Following one's heart is often wiser than following one's head- love can just be an infatuation.
- Lower divorce rates.
- Low expectations- neither spouse knows exactly what to expect, so they are often pleasantly surprised by how good their marriage is.(1)
Benefits of a Love Marriage
- Individual autonomy- it's your life, so you should choose who you want to spend it with.
- Informed decision- you know your partner well on a personal level, so you know what to expect.
- Love- "love will conquer all."
- Individual interest- Your family might choose you a partner based on what is best for the family, but you can choose a partner who is best for you. (1)