Marriage: Love or Arranged?

1 10 2009
Marriages can be broadly classified as Love or Arranged on the basis of how they are initiated. A Love Marriage is one in which two people meet, fall in love with each other and marry eventually. An Arranged Marriage is one in which two people are brought together into wedlock by the elders concerned – mostly parents, based on various criteria like religion, caste, family reputation, economic status, height, complexion, dowry, education, income etc among other things.
If you look at the big picture, different cultures favor/follow different marriage systems.  As one can see today, in the Western countries like America or European countries, love marriages are the norm, while it is otherwise in the countries like India, Japan, China or even Islamic countries.  But a culture is an ever evolving and ever transforming thing like anything else in this world. And you can see the trend towards growing preference to the love marriages in many countries (might be one of the dimensions of westernization).
In India too the picture is changing but the pace is not so alarming. Nevertheless, it has its own repercussions. More often than not, love marriages here happen with the hard-gotten approval of the parents of both sides. One can observe tremendous cultural/social turmoil as parents find it very hard to relinquish their power on their children on the most important event in the latter’s life, which they have taken for granted until now. And other things like different religion or caste, severe economic or cultural differences make the older generation’s task of blessing its offspring’s love even harder.
Ever since I understood the concept of marriage and love, I’ve been a fan of love marriage. The main reason is not because I believe love marriages are the best, (I have no reason to think so as I didn’t have any role models in that aspect), but my observation and conviction that arranged marriages are usually not happy marriages, that arranged marriage is a gamble and there is more than a fair chance that you could end up with a wrong person. I’ve also observed that while arranged marriages are stable (of course in India, all marriages are relatively more stable compared to some other cultures), most couples only stay together only because of cultural and social reasons.  And there are always countless incidents all over the country of domestic violence and abuse of wives in particular (the other case is a rare exception), sometimes resulting in murder. I used to wonder what makes a man to hate his wife so much. All I saw between most couples was hatred or fear or disgust or dispassion or indifference. I’ve noticed only a sense of duty and responsibility. I attributed all the unhappiness of a marriage to lack of love. And I was convinced that love usually doesn’t happen in arranged marriages, where two people are brought together by the families.
Even though I later learned that many couples who underwent an arranged marriage lead really happy married lives and in some cases find love in each other, my initial impression never managed to change and I continued dreading an arranged marriage. Any my equally rosy perception of love marriages might as well be buoyed up by the media’s and literature’s glorifying love stories.
However, I realize that love marriages too go through the tests of the marriage as in arranged marriages, and that just being in love doesn’t mean that they live happily ever after. But my argument is that, when there is love, all difficulties pass and the couple can conquer any differences and issues that arise between them. My motto is: Love makes all the difference. But this is only my imagination for I have no experience to draw from.
When you look at the global picture, as per my theory, marriages in the West must be happier. And I have no doubt they are, however long they last.  But why aren’t a large portion of them lasting forever? Why is the divorce rate so high? Clearly love isn’t enough for a marriage. This is not just my opinion but the observation made by researchers.
Studies were made over the decades on what people think are important in a marriage. While love was only one of the top 5 criteria a few decades ago – 3rd or 4th place specifically – , it has been placed at the top for a number of years recently. And this change of priority coincided with the huge increase in the divorce rate.
Talking about love, I feel that ‘all’ love is not the same. Love based on just superficial things like physical attraction, common hobby etc might not be strong enough to stand the test of time.  Given the complexity of the concept of love, I can’t really say what works or what doesn’t, but clearly we can see that some love last and some do not. But when we talk about marriages, only those which consider things other than love have greater chances of lasting. Because passion is something which diminishes or loses its luster with time and you must have something more to rely on to stay in a relationship. And the nature of love itself changes as it culminates into a deep, intense bonding. But it can be otherwise too.
Of course, love marriages in India are relatively much more stable than those in Western countries, because of the country’s culture and family system. But still the divorce rate is higher compared to the arranged marriages.
A small digression:
I read once in a book called “Sthree” (Woman) by Venkatachalam that an ideal marriage is one which is initiated usually by the passion between two people and in which the initial passion gives way to a deeper understanding and love for each other as the years go by. He also says that the attachment we usually see in long-time couples, the way they are dependent on each other for little and big things, how they miss each other when they are apart, should not always be mistaken as love. It’s just an effect of habit. He says that people get used to people, just like they get used to an old house or furniture etc. Any change in the familiar settings or schedule or absence of the partner makes people uncomfortable and even vulnerable.
Now, addressing the question in the title, which marriage is really better? How right are my assumptions and preferences? I don’t have any intellectual answers. J
But I guess I would like to keep my illusions or otherwise about and preference for love marriage as long as I can.

Marriages can be broadly classified as Love or Arranged on the basis of how they are initiated. A Love Marriage is one in which two people meet, fall in love with each other and marry eventually. An Arranged Marriage is one in which two people are brought together into wedlock by the elders concerned – mostly parents, based on various criteria like religion, caste, family reputation, economic status, height, complexion, dowry, education, income etc among other things.

If you look at the big picture, different cultures favor/follow different marriage systems.  As one can see today, in the Western countries like America or European countries, love marriages are the norm, while it is otherwise in the countries like India, Japan, China or even Islamic countries.  But a culture is an ever evolving and ever transforming thing like anything else in this world. And you can see the trend towards growing preference to the love marriages in many countries (might be one of the dimensions of westernization).

In India too the picture is changing but the pace is not so alarming. Nevertheless, it has its own repercussions. More often than not, love marriages here happen with the hard-gotten approval of the parents of both sides. One can observe tremendous cultural/social turmoil as parents find it very hard to relinquish their power on their children on the most important event in the latter’s life, which they have taken for granted until now. And other things like different religion or caste, severe economic or cultural differences make the older generation’s task of blessing its offspring’s love even harder.

Ever since I understood the concept of marriage and love, I’ve been a fan of love marriage. The main reason is not because I believe love marriages are the best, (I have no reason to think so as I didn’t have any role models in that aspect), but my observation and conviction that arranged marriages are usually not happy marriages, that arranged marriage is a gamble and there is more than a fair chance that you could end up with a wrong person. I’ve also observed that while arranged marriages are stable (of course in India, all marriages are relatively more stable compared to some other cultures), most couples only stay together only because of cultural and social reasons.  And there are always countless incidents all over the country of domestic violence and abuse of wives in particular (the other case is a rare exception), sometimes resulting in murder. I used to wonder what makes a man to hate his wife so much. All I saw between most couples was hatred or fear or disgust or dispassion or indifference. I’ve noticed only a sense of duty and responsibility. I attributed all the unhappiness of a marriage to lack of love. And I was convinced that love usually doesn’t happen in arranged marriages, where two people are brought together by the families.

Even though I later learned that many couples who underwent an arranged marriage lead really happy married lives and in some cases find love in each other, my initial impression never managed to change and I continued dreading an arranged marriage. Any my equally rosy perception of love marriages might as well be buoyed up by the media’s and literature’s glorifying love stories.

However, I realize that love marriages too go through the tests of the marriage as in arranged marriages, and that just being in love doesn’t mean that they live happily ever after. But my argument is that, when there is love, all difficulties pass and the couple can conquer any differences and issues that arise between them. My motto is: Love makes all the difference. But this is only my imagination for I have no experience to draw from.

When you look at the global picture, as per my theory, marriages in the West must be happier. And I have no doubt they are, however long they last.  But why aren’t a large portion of them lasting forever? Why is the divorce rate so high? Clearly love isn’t enough for a marriage. This is not just my opinion but the observation made by researchers.

Studies were made over the decades on what people think are important in a marriage. While love was only one of the top 5 criteria a few decades ago – 3rd or 4th place specifically – , it has been placed at the top for a number of years recently. And this change of priority coincided with the huge increase in the divorce rate.

Talking about love, I feel that ‘all’ love is not the same. Love based on just superficial things like physical attraction, common hobby etc might not be strong enough to stand the test of time.  Given the complexity of the concept of love, I can’t really say what works or what doesn’t, but clearly we can see that some love last and some do not. But when we talk about marriages, only those which consider things other than love have greater chances of lasting. Because passion is something which diminishes or loses its luster with time and you must have something more to rely on to stay in a relationship. And the nature of love itself changes as it culminates into a deep, intense bonding. But it can be otherwise too.

Of course, love marriages in India are relatively much more stable than those in Western countries, because of the country’s culture and family system. But still the divorce rate is higher compared to the arranged marriages. I also came across an argument about why arranged marriages are more stable – Without given much choice, people are forced to make the best of what they have and all turns out well in the end.

A small digression:

I read once in a book called “Sthree” (Woman) by Venkatachalam that an ideal marriage is one which is initiated usually by the passion between two people and in which the initial passion gives way to a deeper understanding and love for each other as the years go by. He also says that the attachment we usually see in long-time couples, the way they are dependent on each other for little and big things, how they miss each other when they are apart, should not always be mistaken as love. It’s just an effect of habit. He says that people get used to people, just like they get used to an old house or furniture etc. Any change in the familiar settings or schedule or absence of the partner makes people uncomfortable and even vulnerable.

Now, addressing the question in the title, which marriage is really better? How right are my assumptions and preferences? I don’t have any intellectual answers. 🙂

But I guess I would like to keep my illusions or otherwise about and preference for love marriage as long as I can.

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One response

5 10 2009
sindhu

hi,
coming to which marriage is good arranged or love ,i think love is better. i say that because in my opinion marriage depends mainly on understanding, and i think understanding comes with how long we know the person …how well we know about the person..how much faith we have in the person. so in arranged marriage unless you have time to know each other better you can’t know all these about a person in some days. but tats not in love marriage. i am not saying arranged marriages are bad or love marriages are totally good, both of them have their drawbacks. but in my opinion love marriage is good..

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