The culture of marriage is not a uniform affair around the globe

By Janine White: Culture Editor

Even though arranged marriages are traditionally considered an eastern and middle Asian tradition, they were equally popular in the UK during the Elizabethan era and are becoming the norm in Canada. With a global divorce rate of 6% for marriages that have been arranged, compared to 55% of those for love in 2012, what makes them so successful?

Standing in front of an official, making a promise to make a life-long commitment, where you will make a physical, emotional, financial and sexual union. You are forming a bond that is formally recognised, the start of a new future as two instead of one. This is one of the biggest days of your life, placing many expectations on you and encouraging you to move forward as a couple.

Nearly a quarter of people have used a dating app to find their long-term partner. Over 37 million users of one app have taken the chemistry tests, placing their potential future in the hands of a computer system. If we can trust dating apps and algorithms to find our future, why can we not trust the people who know us better than anyone else? 60% of people worldwide, allow their parents, cultural matchmakers, or other elders to do the work for them. No more random dates, no more letting people down gently and no more stressful breakups.

When searching for arranged marriage information it is almost guaranteed that search engines will put the benefits of arranged marriages at the bottom of the list, while placing forced marriages at the top. Publicity by the government and the media surrounding forced marriages have put arranged unions in a bad light. Cultures who do not understand the practice, are quick to categorise both forced and arranged under one umbrella, ignorant to the fact that a forced marriage is when pressure is put the candidate to get married via threats, violence, emotional or psychological strain.

In a matchmade agreement, on the other hand, you have the right to chose who you marry, when you marry and whether you marry at all. Consent is an important and graciously valued part of the highly structured process.

After a proposal is made, families are given the opportunity to understand the background, educational abilities, and compatibility of the potential couple; including interests, hobbies, and anything else that the bride or groom want to know. Great attention is paid to the commitment and expectations of each participant. The future is discussed in such fine detail that there are no surprises a few years on or expectations that have not already been accounted for.

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Theoretically, through the formalities of the meetings, a contract is created. Not much different to pre-nuptial agreements, which are on the rise. Within love-based marriages, there are many twists and turns as events are taken moment to moment. For example, once a spouse has a desire for children, it is then discussed. When they move in together, it is then discussed where. This timeline, the theme of life and the details have already been discussed in an arranged unison.

It is considered an honour to match make successfully, so those who are asked feel highly privileged and want to ensure they get it right.

When you get married, you gain in-laws who have a social and economic status. Not everyone can cope with the expectations of the culture that they are marrying into. This alone, is a good reason to make sure that all probabilities are known and prepared for in advance. One of the issues faced by royalty is the constant and overwhelming public attention. To combat the lifestyle change, offspring are groomed and coached about how to behave and rules are in place to encourage the best union.

The difficulties of marrying into a family that is so highly esteemed can be noticed in Meghan Markle and Princess Diana. Both of whom severely struggled. One a kindergarten teacher, one a model and actress. Although important events were the norm for each woman, they did not face the intensity of the media and the power of public scrutiny, until they experienced it as a royal. This eventually lead to the death of Princess Diana, and to Meghan Markle taking her husband to another country, giving up many of his royal duties, so that they could live a ‘normal’ life.

There are people who express that all marriages would be based on love if the participants had not been raised in certain cultures. They state that the importance of arranged marriages is stressed from such an early age that there is no known alternative. They give examples of cultures where partakers would be shunned for not following the norm, for denying the continuation of procreation and the culture of that society. This concept of pressure could have a bearing on whether consent is truly given.

Even taking this into consideration however, there is plenty of research to show that arranged marriages lead to a stronger love between one another in the long run. That there is a stronger sense of commitment to longevity and that the couple share an ‘it will work mindset’; If the match is successful.

With a low divorce rate, united love, strength and satisfied longevity, would you allow someone to find your future?

mackayan: arranged marriages

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