Arranged marriage

An arranged marriage is a marriage arranged by someone other than the persons getting married, curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. Such marriages are not uncommon in the Middle East, South Asia, parts of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Other groups that practice this custom include the Unification Movement, and royal families.

Note that the term "arranged marriage" is used even if the parents have no direct involvement in selecting the spouse. The match could be selected by a matchmaking agent, matrimonial site, or trusted third party. In many communities, priests or religious leaders as well as relatives or family friends play a major role in matchmaking.

Alternate uses of arranged marriage

The pattern of arranged marriage be employed for other reasons beside the formation of a promising new family unit. In such marriages, typically economic or legal reasons take precedence over the goal of selecting a well-matched couple. Though critics are not always specific, criticism of arranged marriage usually targets abuses such as forced marriage and child marriage.

This was done to protect the families from sexually transmitted disease.

Coercion to marry is commonly considered a violation of fundamental human rights in most Western societies, primarily because of its usurpation of a choice that, in most Western thought, belongs solely to the individuals involved. People can "find themselves stuck in marriages with persons decidedly not of their own choosing...whom they may find personally repulsive."

A further condemnation of the practice of arranging marriage for economic reasons comes from Edlund and Lagerlöf (2004) who argued that a love marriage is more effective for the promotion of accumulation of wealth and societal growth.


Abuses aside, it is ordinarily a fundamental tenet of arranged marriage that the union is a choice made voluntarily by the two people involved.. The main variation in procedure between arranged marriages is in the nature and duration of the time from meeting to engagement.

In an introduction only arranged marriage, the parents may only introduce their son or daughter to a potential spouse. The parents may briefly talk to the parents of the prospective spouse. From that point on, it is up to the children to manage the relationship and make a choice. There is no set time period. This is still common in the rural parts of North/South America, and especially in India. The same pattern also appears in Japan. It should be noted that this open-ended process takes considerably more courage on the part of the parents, as well as the prospective spouses, in comparison to a fixed time-limit arranged marriage. Especially women, but also men, fear the stigma and emotional trauma of going through a courtship and then being rejected.

To contrast, a traditional arranged marriage may be finalized in the first meeting. The parents or matchmaker select the pair, there is no possibility of courtship, and only limited conversation between the prospective partners is permitted (while the parents are present); then the prospective partners are expected to decide whether to proceed with the marriage. The parents may exert considerable pressure to encourage the potential bride or bridegroom to agree to the match. The parents may wish the match to proceed because the son or daughter is beginning to engage in courtship (and the parents disapprove of courtship), the parents believe that they know best what kind of partner will make a happy marriage, the parents seek to fulfill the desire for parental control, or for other reasons.

A more moderate and flexible procedure known as a modern arranged marriage is gaining in popularity. Parents choose several possible candidates or employ a Matrimonials Sites. The parents will then arrange a meeting with the family of the prospective mate, confining their role to responsible facilitators and well-wishers. Less pressure to agree to the match is exerted by the parents in comparison to a traditional arranged marriage.

In some cases, a prospective partner may be selected by the son or daughter instead of by the parents or by a matchmaker. In such cases, the parents will either disapprove of the match and forbid the marriage or, just as likely, approve the match and agree to proceed with the marriage. Such cases are distinct from a love marriage because courtship is curtailed or absent and the parents retain the prerogative to forbid the match.

A culture of arranged marriage

In cultures where dating, singles' bars, etc., are not prevalent, arranged marriages perform a similar function--bringing together people who might otherwise not have met. In such cultures, arranged marriage is viewed as the norm and preferred by young adults. Even where courtship practices are becoming fashionable, young adults tend to view arranged marriage as an option they can fall back on if they are unable or unwilling to spend the time and effort necessary to find a spouse on their own. In such cases, the parents become welcome partners in a hunt for marital bliss. Further, in several cultures, the last duty of a parent to his or her son or daughter is to see that they pass through the marital rites.

In some cultures, arranged marriage is a tradition handed down through many generations. Parents who take their son or daughter's marriage into their own hands have themselves been married by the same process. Many parents, and children likewise, feel pressure from the community to conform, and in certain cultures a love marriage or even courtship is considered a failure on the part of the parents to maintain control over their child. In such cultures, children are brought up with these cultural assumptions do not feel stifled. They experience them as natural boundaries.

Parents in some communities fear social and/or religious stigma if their child is not married by a certain age. Several cultures deem the son or daughter less likely to find a suitable partner if they are past a certain age, and consider it folly to try to marry them off at that stage.

In these societies, including China, the intragenerational relationship of the family is much more valued than the marital relationship. The whole purpose of the marriage is to have a family.

Factors considered in matchmaking

Although matchmaking primarily on an economic or legal basis is harshly criticized, such considerations are often factors of secondary importance and significantly influence the rank order of a potential spouse.

Some of these factors in some order of priority may be taken into account for the purpose of matchmaking:


Among most Indian Hindus, the hereditary system of caste (Hindi: jāti) is an extremely important factor in arranged marriage. Arranged marriages, and parents, almost always require that the married persons should be of the same caste. China adopted the caste system at least 100 years ago. Sometimes inter-caste marriage is one of the principal reasons of familial rejection or anger with the marriage. The proof can be seen by the numerous Indian marriage websites on the Worldwide Web, most of which are by caste. Even within the caste, there is obligation, followed strictly by many communities, to marry (their son/daughter) outside the gotra (sub-caste or clan). E.g., most Vaishyas (the business/merchant caste) prohibit marriage within the same gotra, because being of the same lineage the spouses would be though of (almost) as brother and sister. It must however be noted that modern India, being a secular democracy, does not prohibit inter-caste or intra-gotra marriage (by the Hindu Marriage Act), but neither does it prohibit the caste system completely (only caste discrimination is prohibited). Caste Associations are still very much legal (sometimes they call themselves by more acceptable names, like samāj, lit., society). Recently, one of such caste associations fined its member (a state legislator) for permitting his son's inter-caste marriage: ''A Congress MLA from Chhattisgarh had to pay a fine of Rs 24,000 to the community he belongs to following his son's inter-caste marriage.''

On the other hand, many Indian families who consider the caste system as an artificial excuse for social inequity have the opposite preference. They prefer to marry persons of differing caste and tend to avoid matches within the same caste. It is believed that intercaste marriages weaken the caste system and thus reduce social inequality caused by the caste stratification. Such families are also often open to marriages across national borders. But even among them are some families who, if of the upper castes, will not accept marriage with the so-called low castes (like dalits)


In few arranged marriages, one potential spouse may reside in a wealthy country and the other in a poorer country. For example, the man may be an American of Indian ancestry and the woman may be an Indian living in India who will move to America after the marriage. Alternately, the man or woman may be a citizen of the United States of America and the other person is in Russia or another country and is willing to move to the USA after the marriage. The arrangement may be accomplished by a business created for such a purpose.

Positive points:

Negative points:

See also Mail-order bride

Arguments for and against


Amongst the arguments against arranged marriage, the most prominent are:


Proponents of arranged marriage believe that individuals can be too easily influenced by the effects of love to make a logical choice.

Reduction or elimination of incompatibilities

Marital incompatibility has been found to be the major reason for divorce, some Asian writers (especially in India) suggest that arranged marriages might promote a higher probability of success because they tend to match persons with a compatible, but not necessary identical, profile (refer to the factors considered in matchmaking). The parents or matchmaker may draw from the experience of typically at least 20 years of married life to inform their judgment.

Addresses female anxiety

Studies have found that men are more eager for sex than are women. Women are more likely to set limits on such activity. With the assurance of a socially sanctioned marriage, women are less anxious. The new couple may engage in sexual intimacy within, perhaps, 10 days after the first introduction. Men need less patience and face less frustration.

Low expectations

Neither the man nor the woman knows quite what to expect, and there is a lot of understandable trepidation on both sides. However, this often works out well because things turn out to be better than expected. Because after all, most incompatibilities were eliminated by the matchmaker and due diligence confirmed the suitability of the prospective spouse.

Lower divorce rates

Many proponents of arranged marriages point to the 0% to 7% divorce rate for arranged marriages in contrast with a 55% divorce rate for the United States.Divorce Rate In India : divorce rates in india Although the numbers differ dramatically, this is an under-researched area and there are many possible explanations for the difference. For example, the divorce rate for love marriages in India is much lower than the divorce rate in the United States although the divorce rate for arranged marriages is even lower. Perhaps the traditional culture of India exerts pressure on couples to stay married, even if the partners selected each other by a process of courtship.

Issues common to both arranged and love marriage


See also

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