Is arranged marriage the next big relationship trend? And could it be right for you?
You've tried online dating, blind dating, speed dating. You've tried following The Rules and breaking them. You've patiently pressed snooze on your biological clock, but you're ready to find your husband and start a life together already. Only let's face it: With our current marriage-seeking methods and mindset, the odds of relationship success seem mediocre at best. Extended courtship the Western way hardly guarantees lasting love. It just may be time to try something new…rather, something old: arranged marriage. Sound crazy? Couples who've been there don't think so. Arranged Marriage: Not So Bad?
What Is Arranged Marriage?
An arranged marriage is set up not by the couple, but by their families. The parents meet first and then coordinate the initial introduction between their children. In Western arranged marriages the potential bride and groom are offered a few opportunities for conversation before they're expected to decide whether they want to commit to the marriage. That's a drastic change from traditional arranged marriages where the bride and groom were entitled to less input, if any at all, and often met at the altar.
In some cases couples genuinely get to know each other before they wed. They do, however, commit before things advance, not after. Deven Vora, who lives in NYC and has been married for 16 years, says that he and his wife dated for a year prior to marriage, but, he says "Once we declared that we liked one another, the intent was always to be married."
First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Love?
One arranged bride I spoke to, Rahel Abraham, describes herself as a very practical person and says she didn't have any Hollywood romance expectations. "I knew before I met him that it wasn't going to be love at first sight. I was too busy thinking about the future and what it would be like if I married him. There wasn't much time to think about love!" Before Ruchi Gadia, who's been married in New York City for four years, met her now-husband, she wondered, "Will I have enough time to decide if I like him? Will bells ring? Will it be easy to talk to him?" She says she was pleasantly surprised.
But despite the unlikeliness that the couple will have fallen for each other prior to tying the knot, "it's not that romantic love isn't valued," according to Jayamala Madathil, Ph.D., who wrote her dissertation on arranged marriage and whose own marriage was arranged. She stresses that it's just a more practical approach: "A person enters an arranged union knowing that there are many unknowns, and that adjustments will be necessary to make the relationship work.
Compromise and dealing with the unexpected are necessary in love marriages, too, but the love part can make it harder to consider practical concerns before the wedding. "[Arranged marriages are] not about finding the 'perfect mate,'" says Madathill. "The emphasis is on making the relationship a success."
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