Definition of marriage has changed faces over the years as culture and beliefs got eroded by ‘modernism’. The marriage definition has changed faces from institutionalized marriage, companionate marriage, individualized marriage to deinstitutionalized marriage (Lamanna & Riedmann, 1988). Each of these faces has different definitions and platforms for marriage. In the modern time, all the faces of marriage are accepted in some societies. The acceptance of marriage face in many societies is dependent with the society’s culture and religious regard for marriage, under the importance and history of marriage to the society. Most religious teachings have a concept where in the beginning of creation, it was God who arranged the first marriage. Perhaps it is under these that most societies practice arranged marriage, whereby couples are decided for on who to marry without their knowledge. Such marriages are based on institutionalized marriage, where marriage is seen as “a social institution based on dutiful adherence to the time honored marriage premise, particularly the norm of permanence” (Lamanna & Riedmann, 1988). Arranged marriages achieve this goal by having the parents choose the ‘best mannered’ spouses to get into the marriage institution and ensure the permanence of the marriage. However, permanence of marriage can only be guaranteed by two people who understand and love each other to withstand woes in marriage. Arranged marriages do more harm than good to the marriage institution as they are not based on love and understanding, and hence should not be encouraged.
Background Information on Arranged Marriage
Arranged marriage is derived from traditional cultural practices, especially in societies that were extremely conservative in regard to religious teachings and discipline. However, a number of arranged marriages were also done for the purposes of increasing influence, favors, financial stability and history. The arranged marriages are limited to the parents of the couple making negotiations of how well their children are suited for the marriage from their own perspectives. The potential couple has no say in regarding the partner they would wish to marry. The parents make the search and negotiations for the ‘suitable’ partner that suits their child, unlike in the individualized marriage where choice of spouse is under the individual wish. The arranged marriages were done with the sense that marriage is an institution that requires well behaved or wealthy partner in order to soar high in regard to success of power, off spring rearing and behavior. The parents believe that their children have the best behaviors or status, and, therefore, can not allow anyone with lower behavior or class statuses marry their children.
Why Forced Marriage is not Recommendable
Arranged marriage is based on concepts that cannot guarantee a healthy marriage. Typically, the matchmakers of the arrange marriage look into details such as financial, health, power status and social wellbeing of the spouse to fit their children. These factors do not guarantee any source of sustaining the marriage between the arranged couple. For example, looking at the power status of the couple only means that the match makers are seeking their own happiness and goals. Sustainability of a marriage is dependent on the relationship the couple has. For a strong marriage relationship, the couple should have an understanding of their partner’s needs desire and their way of life in order to make a decision if they will be in a position to accommodate the above. Otherwise, arranging for someone on who to get married to is not recommendable, as people can lie about their behavior. A couple, firstly, should court for a certain time period and see if indeed the partner’s behavior can be accommodated or as they wish their partner to be. It is true that people will never have the same desires, but people can accommodate some other people behavior, even if it is not their way of life. The accommodation is based on love and understanding between the couple. Money, social status and power cannot buy the understanding and love. What happens when the social status, money and power disappear? The couple will only be forced to separate or live a marriage of hardship and regret because their basis of marriage has disappeared (Darcy & Joyce, 2003). However, love and understanding can guarantee that the relationship remains strong even when money, power and social status disappears. However, those that support arranged marriage claim that the arranged marriages are not similar to forced marriages because the couple has the final decision of consenting on the arranged marriage. Whether the couple has a the final power or not, of consenting on the marriage, does not matter as long as the partners are chosen by someone else on the basis of something else rather than love and understanding. Love and understanding are the only factors that should matter in a marriage. If love and understanding are not the first factors to consider in a marriage, then there is no difference between arranged marriage and forced marriage. Despite the couple having the final consent of the marriage progress, it will be an influenced or rather forced love (Darcy & Joyce, 2003).
It is thought that arranged marriages guarantee that there is no happy life after the marriage. Supporters of arranged marriage claim that divorce rates are high in the western world comparing to the eastern world because in the eastern marriages are arranged. However, divorce cannot be the ideal measure of happiness or healthy relationship. There are so many couples who are unhappy in their marriage, but do not divorce. The same people exist in arranged marriage, but due to the strict culture in the eastern world, where arranged marriages is common they do not ask for divorce because it is against their religion or culture to do so. Perhaps the divorce rates are so high in the western parts of the worlds due to the freedom and exercising of individual’s rights that exist in those parts of the world. The reason why couples in arranged marriages do not have a happy and healthy marriage is because the couple might live together as total strangers. Since, before they married they never got a chance to live together and see how possible it is for them to accommodate each other as couples (Darcy & Joyce, 2003). Due to the loopholes of not knowing each other desire and needs before marriage the couple in the long run, the marriage ends up not being able to accommodate to each other.
Arranged marriage is not secure source of future sustainable family. Arranged marriages are made form the point of how a couple parents status, financial and social, rate rather than how the marriage spouse rate in the society (Lamanna & Riedmann, 1988). Before the parents approach a certain potential partner for marriage, they first scrutinize the spouse parents before scrutinizing the spouse. Therefore, the matchmakers rely on the parent’s information first, before considering the potential candidate for marriage. If the parents rate low and the potential spouse rate high, the matchmakers will not cast their net there. The matchmakers will cast their net only where the potential in-laws rate high in the society. Due to this factor, it is always difficult to establish the security that the arranged marriage will offer. This is because the arranged marriages are based on the surety that the parents of potential couple rate exceptionally well and thus the potential spouse will also rate high (Manderson & Bennett, 2003). Some behaviors cannot be inherited. For example, a hardworking mother cannot assume that her daughter is also hard working. On the same note, a wealthy father cannot guarantee that his sons will be rich because wealth is a physical entity and is prone to so many problems.
Arranged marriages might cause more wrangles in the marriage than in individualistic marriages. Research shows that, in countries where the arranged marriages are practiced, such as Kuwait and Pakistan, domestic violence is on the range of 70% to upwards of 90%. The high percentage of domestic violence is as a result of the couples not loving each other and only stays in marriage to satisfy their parent’s wishes (Manderson & Bennett, 2003). In the western world, domestic violence is not high because couples have a legal way top sort out their issues through the divorce system. However, in nations that observe arranged, marriages, the couples, when in conflict, are reluctant to turn to the divorce system because they are afraid that they will be the laughing stock of the society (Chowdhury, 2010). On the same note, the religious and cultural factors make the couples a bit conservative about divorcing. However, some cultures allow adaptation of the arranged marriage problem by recognizing polygamy, thus only favoring the male gender. If only the culture allowing arranged marriages allowed divorce, they would probably record 90 to 100 percent divorce rates. However, due to inability to access divorce, the arranged marriage couple just in the marriage just for the sake of preserving their ‘dignity’ as per their culture and religious teachings.
Opposing Argument and Rebuttal
Supporters of arranged marriages argue that the biggest benefit of arranged marriage is minimal divorce cases that rise from financial instability and moral related cases. Match makers target financially and morally stable families to ensure that there are minimal cases of divorces. The proponents of arranged marriage argue that the parents, having had a lot of experience in life, are better positioned to know which family can avail a suitable spouse. At the same time, the proponents hold on to the belief that marrying people with the same culture and religion ensures that the spouses understand and respect each other’s lifestyles, and it gives familiar ground and belonging to the engaged. Now, the proponents are suggesting that arranged marriage is the ideal way to escape the spread of major diseases such as HIV infection; this is after considering that arranged marriage keep off the many years that a person can waste looking for an ideal spouse by dating multiple persons.
There is probably nothing good that comes from an arranged activity that one is not aware of its nature or operations. Marriages are commitments that should last for the time that a couple is alive, from as low as one year to hundreds of years. It is quite difficult to adjust automatically to a stranger and offer love to the stranger when he/she is not the ideal dream and no one is. Before a person chooses the best friend, they scrutinize them for a period; therefore, marriage should be no exception.