Arranged Marriages – What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Some people believe in love at first sight, while others believe it takes time to love someone. In life having a companion is a very important factor. It’s hard to form a good relationship right when you meet that person. A marriage is a way for two people that are in love to show everyone, family and friends that they plan on being fully committed to one another for the rest of their lives. Typically marriages are left up to the two people that are getting married, but in special cases it is ultimately the parents’ decision.

In the United States we have a general outlook on how life should be which when compared to another society can be completely different. In Katie Chase’s story Man and Wife an arranged marriage is set up between a nine year old girl and a middle-aged wealthy man. The modern versions of arranged marriages are generally set up between a young girl and a middle-aged wealthy man where the parents of the girl usually receive some type of benefit. These types of marriages do not need consent from the bride-to-be in order to take place.

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Though arranged marriages are not typical in the U. S, in this story it was normal, whereas arranged marriages are common in other countries- China, South Korea, Japan, and India. Katie Chase uses a pop culture references such as Barbie dolls to show that this story takes place in the United States. In many cultures where dating is not prevalent, arranged marriages perform a similar function, bringing together people who may have not met otherwise. In Man and Wife the arranged marriage was set up to benefit the parents of Mary Ellen, “You’re going to be a wife. You’re going to live with Mr. Middleton, and he’s going to take care of you, for the rest of your life. And one day, when were very old, he’ll help your mother and me too” (53). Mary Ellen, the young girl who is set up to marry Mr. Middleton, is confused on how she got picked by a man she hardly remembers meeting, “Then I remembered. As I served other guests, he’d lingered with a glass of sweating ice water, talking about business” (52). Although Mary Ellen is uneasy about her new life she goes along with it anyways. Arranged marriages have been around in parts of the Middle East and Asia as long as the institution of marriage itself.

In the arranged world, they say marriage comes first and love later. Arranged marriages for the previous generations were arranged solely by the parents. The boy or girl probably wouldn’t even see each other before the wedding, depending on the parents. Arranged marriages are done all over the world, but were first introduced in the eastern countries. From data that was collected in 1989 from China found that, “The number of arranged marriages, in which parents have absolute control, has decreased” (Riley). Arranged marriages are not so prominent now how they were in the past.

Arranged marriages now-a-days mainly takes place between wealthy families to keep high status within. Western countries, such as Canada and the United States of America, believe In a dating system that consists of seeing many different people to choose a compatible mate which they will marry in the future (Sharma). Arranged couples living here in the United States see that Western societal and cultural pressures differ from their homeland, which is why some won’t ask their children to accept an arranged marriage. In western society of course, arranged marriages are often looked down upon as being “Old fashioned” or out of date.

With a number of traditional African cultures and Asian cultures, it is common for women to have their mates already selected for them by both the women’s and their mates’ parents. When it comes to the choice of marriage, the children don’t have much of it. Instead in this generation it is much more modern, the parents would decide first if this person would be the right person, then give the child the choice. In the view of the child, this would not be easy because some parents would persuade their child to marry this person even though they choose not to.

In India matrimony, or marriage, is one of the most sacred rituals and thus upholds great relevance among Indian cultures. “Arranged marriages consequently enjoy a clear edge over the love ones as most parents think that only they are competent in finding out the most suitable match for their beloved sons or daughters” (Sharma). India is one of the few countries, who have kept their traditions of practicing in arranged marriages, “Arranged marriages remain the norm and those who pursue pre-marital relationships not only run the risk of bringing dishonor to the family but also reduce the chances of a good marriage.

The hint of a pre-marital relationship can, moreover, hasten marriage for young women to a man not of their choice” (Alexander, Garda, Kanade, Jejeebhoy, Ganatra). In India pre-marital relationships are looked down upon. One of the reasons for arranged marriages in India is so that there is strict control over a woman’s sexuality. Women are by no means allowed to engage in pre-marital sex, whereas men are not criticized as much. When it comes to arranged marriages they are mostly common in the Arab areas of Africa, but it is gradually changing and today more young people are choosing their own partners.

In Kenya, “The Masai societies claim that women are having the same position and the same rights as children, who they on their part are considered as some kind of cattle (Vick, 1998:26). Marriage between two people are often arranged and it is common that brides get forced to marry her husband, which sometimes can be resulted in further consequences as sexual violation of cruel husbands” (www. eng. umu. se). In the Kalahari Desert community in Africa weddings and pre-marital rituals are different than in Egypt. In this community girls get married out pretty early, similar to Man and Wife where Mary Ellen was 9 years old at the time.

And boys get married off late, around 30-40 years old, which is age range Mr. Middleton is in. In the Kalahari Desert, “All first marriages are arranged by the parents and may involve a decade of gift exchange before the children are actually wed. But these gifts are no bride-prices; they are just exchanged primarily to celebrate the occasion. (Shostark, 1990:127). ” It is clear that in different parts of the world arranged marriages are carried out differently. There are some similarities such as age of girls and boys but mostly the traditions differ thought the world.

Love cannot be forced. Marriages happen millions of times everyday all over the world. The way cultures carry out a marriage or even participate in pre-marital traditions is different depending on which part of the world you are in. although the ways we get to the actual marriage are different, when it comes down to it a marriage is supposed to be a lifelong partnership of a man and woman. It cannot be determined which is better, an arranged marriage or “traditional American” marriage, as long as the two get along well and love each other unconditionally.

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