In Western society, the concept of arranged marriage may be an unfamiliar, seemingly outdated idea. Most Americans would bristle at the thought of their parents trying to set them up with a partner with whom they are expected to spend the rest of their lives. In other cultures, however, arranged marriages are a social norm and, in fact, a rather stable institution. When compared to non-arranged or “love” marriages, the divorce rate worldwide for arranged marriages is significantly lower. However, cultural differences regarding the acceptance of divorce in general may contribute to such a disproportionate comparison.
Arranged marriages are prevalent throughout much of the world, including countries India, Afghanistan, Japan, Iraq, and Iran. It is rather unsurprising, then, that families with roots in such cultures may seek to continue the practice even after moving to the United States. Many Americans struggle with this idea, due in large part, to the misperception that arranged marriages are equivalent to forced marriages. While forced marriages strike many as unacceptable in today’s American culture, arranged marriages are often very different.
Parents seeking to arrange their child’s marriage are obviously much more involved in the matchmaking process than they might otherwise be. However, they most typically narrow down the dating pool to include potential spouses for their child who share similar interests, values, traditions, and religion, in addition to the ability to provide a stable life and home. They encourage their child, then, to meet the potential partners and decide if a marriage should be pursued. It is expected that love will follow similarity and the relationship will heat up as time goes on, as opposed to the Western concept of romance, which starts hot and cools into reality over the years.
For the individual expecting his or her marriage to be arranged, he or she is often able to better focus on developing as a successful individual. Many have grown to trust their parents’ judgment more than their own and do not consider their arranged marriage to represent forsaking their own identity. Duana C. Welch, author and Texas psychology professor, recalled what an Indian female physician once told her, “You see I am doctor. Nobody chained me to a sink. I could have chosen my own husband, but I was busy and thought my parents would do a better job. When they introduced me, I was attracted to my husband. They’d done all the ground work so it could work.”
In a large number of countries and cultures where arranged marriages are customary, divorce is very rare. While it is possible arranged marriages are more stable than “love” marriages, the social stigma associated with dissolving the marriage may overshadow the low quality of the marriage. Additionally, such cultures may also define “quality of marriage” differently than modern America.
If you are living unhappily in an arranged marriage in Illinois, you should know that you have options. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney today for a consultation. We are sensitive to the cultural pressures involved and will work hard to make the experience as easy as possible for you throughout the process.