Vora adds that dating in the West often weighs attraction too heavily. "Your parents look more objectively at your compatibility in terms of shared values and priorities, at education, goals, family background—beyond the physical attributes." What Arranged Marriage Can Teach Us
You're Not Alone
Another factor that typically differentiates arranged marriages from conventional Western ones is the omnipresence of family. Since your parents and other relatives are so involved in finding your mate, they feel invested in the success of your marriage, which can be good and bad.
"When you get married this way, it's not so easy to get divorced," Abraham says. "Very often you find yourself being emotionally blackmailed. Your parents will directly or indirectly tell you that you would be letting them down."
Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., a University of Washington professor of sociology, says this is why arranged marriages would be unlikely to work for most Americans. "For an East Indian living in America whose parents are going to do it anyway? No big deal," she says. "But for an American? I could only see it working if you come from an environment where you're accustomed to parental control—and that's hardly the average American. An American in an arranged marriage sounds like a recipe for disaster." Vora agrees, but for a different reason: "I just don't see the level of commitment here that is required for an arranged marriage to work."
Could Arranged Marriage Be Right For You?
But Dr. Madathil underlines that if you trust in your family, the arranged-marriage process can run smoothly. Both families typically have to endorse the union, and, from there, Rahel Abraham believes attitude is everything: "Your mindset is most important. The higher your expectations, the more difficult it will be to find a spouse."
No matter how frustrated with dating you might be, Dr. Schwartz, doesn't recommend turning to arranged marriage. "Being fixed up into a marriage, as opposed to being fixed up with someone to date, is not a cure. It's not going to defeat all the problems you've had with dating in the past." If you're finding dating difficult, she says you're just picking the wrong men to date: "Maybe you just need some therapy." Running From Mr. Right
And, as for the CBS show Arranged Marriage that's scheduled for 2010 and casting now? Steer clear, says Dr. Schwartz. "I bet there will be all sorts of prenuptial agreements. I bet they'll have very few people who go through with it and, if they do, the marriages won't last." And arranged-marriage brides agree. "It will be entertaining for all the wrong reasons," says Das Gupta. "The pressure of being on a reality TV show will add a level of complexity that will make these 'arranged marriages' very different from real ones." Gadia adds, "I hope the show is realistic so that people know it's serious stuff."