Arranged Marriage Secrets
Get Advice on Why Arranged Marriages Have a Success Rate That Westerners Only Dream of Having
Dear April Masini,
I come from a country where arranged marriages are the norm. And when I immigrated to America, I was so excited to get away from that so I could marry someone because of love! But now I don't know. I look around and see everyone here getting divorced, or having a lot of relationship problems- much more than I ever saw in my home country. I still want to choose the person I marry, but I'm wondering: Do you have any advice for what we can learn from arranged marriages about how to stay together and make our relationships stronger?"
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Making Arrangements,
They may not be what most of the west thinks of as a "romantic” way to start off a relationship, but arranged marriages have a success rate that Westerners could only dream of! This isn’t to say, though, that arranged marriages don’t come without their fair share of problems, or even that their low divorce rate is a sign of a good marriage; every arranged marriage is not perfect.
But out of all the possible reasons sociologists speculate these arranged marriages stay together - from religion and law to family and money, there are two that we can most definitely learn from...even right here in the good ol’ US of A.
Set-up Secret #1: Commitment
Let’s face it - we here in the land of wealth and opportunity are pretty spoiled when compared to the rest of the world. We’re told from a young age that our dreams can come true, that we can have careers instead of jobs, that bigger really is better, that you can Date Out of Your League, and that we should wait and marry the person who we love the most...our "soul mates.” Oh, and if that whole soul mate thing doesn’t work out, well, there’s always divorce. And thank the heavens for all of them. I would certainly never advocate that you don’t follow your dreams, always strive for more, or stay in a marriage that ultimately makes you unhappy.
But, for a people who are so lucky and successful and (seemingly) smart, the ever-increasing divorce rates, and lack of faithfulness in many marriages beg the question - what are we doing wrong?
The answer, I think, comes in the form of commitment...or our lack thereof. Because we, unlike our arranged marriage friends, choose to marry for love, we also can very easily feel that when that love fades, so too should the marriage. It seems like it just makes sense. The problem, though, is that love always changes. It ebbs. It flows. It fades...and it can come back, too.
The advantage that arranged marriages have is that there is no illusion of love to begin with. There is a shared idea that the marriage will work because they are going to make it work. And in so doing, love often arises. Love, for them, is not a lightning bolt that hits you from the sky, or the sweet sting of cupid’s arrow. Love is a result of being committed to each other through thick and thin. Love is...commitment.
Set-up Secret #2: Community
Another important advantage that cultures based around arranged marriages have is the support of their community - both immediate and more wide-reaching. In fact, in most of these cultures, the entire community is set up to support the success of the married couple, from the family to the laws of the society.
We, on the other hand, are more geared toward supporting the wedding day than the marriage itself. We place emphasis - and lots of money - on the white dress, and the perfect bouquet, and significantly less on making it work once the big day is over. Just look at all of the couples who go into financial debt trying to pay for a huge wedding that lasts a few hours, then have no savings to start off the marriage!
But again, all of this isn’t to say that I would ever want to have an arranged marriage, or be forced into that situation, as many people are. We do have the advantage to marry for love, and it’s one I plan on keeping. It just wouldn’t hurt us to learn a few lessons from arranged marriages. They’ve been around a lot longer than our romantic ones, and, if we keep divorcing at the same rate and going about our marriages with the same careless attitudes, they might be around long after ours are gone.