If someone were to suggest in the West that arranged marriage is a great method of matchmaking, they would be probably be met with scorn and criticism. This is because in the west it is viewed as a tool focused solely on the oppression of women. Many believe that there is no possible way a woman would enjoy such a great decision forced on her, and would hate her chosen husband. In “Arranging a Marriage in India,” by Serena Nanda, we see that the opposite is the case.
The notion of true love in the west is also challenged by the process that western couples must endure to find that perfect someone. Many men and women become jaded in their search, as is shown in “Love in the Time of Darwinism,” by Kay S. Hymowitz. In these works, the institution of arranged marriage is actually beneficial to couples as there is less risk involved than with the western tradition of dating due to the intervention of family.
In the movie Monsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair, though the bride to be is in an arranged marriage, she chooses instead to continue an affair with her boss.
Her affair nearly gets her caught by the police because the man she thought she loved more than her arranged husband, cared more for not getting caught by his current wife. When she explained herself to her husband to be, he was completely understanding of what she had done, and appreciated her honesty as well. They decided to continue with their marriage as well because they knew it would be the best thing for their families. As revealed in “Love in the Time of Darwinism,” the average western man, after finding out that their love was in an affair, would not act in such selfless manner as seen from the groom in Monsoon Wedding. The groom, while angry at first, decided they would continue their marriage and deal with her issues as mature adults, thus keeping their families intact. The average western man however, would break up with their love, and cause as much drama as they possibly can. They would spread news of her deceit to her friends, family, and co-workers, all in an effort to cause as much pain to her as she did to him. Even if the western man did decide to forgive her, he would most likely be forever mistrustful of her.
If such an affair did cause a western couple to break up, the man and women both must enter the dating scene once again to try and find another suitable partner. In countries that practice arranged marriage though, this work load is handled by the family, leaving the suitor to focus their energies elsewhere. Another story from India “Arranging a marriage in India,” shows the incredible amount of work that typically goes into arranging a marriage. When arranging a marriage, a family researches countless things about a potential bridal candidate to see if they will integrate well their son and family as a whole. Researching all the things about a candidate can take months, even years. The most important thing at first is social status, as a richer family does not want to sully their standing. Next they find what their candidate’s educational and job status is. The groom is expected to be college educated with a stable job that doesn’t require him to move away from the family. The bride is also expected to be educated but they prefer her to not have a job so that she may help more at home. Last they discern the looks of the candidates, to ensure that the most attractive looking one is chosen.
The average western couple though, as seen in “Love in the Age of Darwinism,” typically navigates the minefield of love by themselves instead of relying on family help as Indian couples do. Many western men and women are content with simply doing first date after first date with random people they meet in clubs and bars. Some may even subscribe to online dating services to make a choice for them such as E-Harmony.com. While going through this dating process, men and women alike may go through hundreds of partners, trying to find a gem amongst the sand. This may take years or even a lifetime, with some even not finding love at all. Indian couples benefit from their family shielding them from this search, as they are able to focus time that western couples lose into other activities.
A story from Africa, “trial marriages” tells of the Bush people’s unique view on marriage. While the parents arrange marriages for their child, the child is free at anytime to cancel it if they feel if they are not being treated correctly. This is unique among cultures that practice arranged marriage, in that usually once a marriage was arranged, for better or worse the bride and groom would have to deal with their problems, and come closer together for it. Here though the bride may leave at whenever time until she truly falls in love with someone. Arranged marriage may be viewed in a grim light in the west, but as seen here, it is actually a just and fair ritual. It brings families much closer together than typical dating does in the west, as both families are intensely invested into the wedding and the couple’s happiness.
It causes less stress to its practitioners as well, as each arranged marriage is the best one that both families can afford. In western dating a man or woman would know absolutely nothing about their dating partner beyond their name when they first meet. They know nothing about their true desires, or if they’re harboring something horrible within them. With arranged marriage though, a bride or groom might also know nothing about their chosen partner, but they can be confident that their arranged partner is truly for them. This is because they know that their partner has been under the scrutiny of their family for months, maybe even years, and passed their expectations, so they should have no problem ensuring that they have a happy life together.
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