Arranged marriages are matches in which a third party selects a prospective mate for a man and a woman. Instead of couples meeting and dating for a period of time, parents, relatives, matchmakers or religious leaders find a suitable mate. The practice still remains a major part of Indian, Middle Eastern and many African cultures. Some communities in North America, South America and Asia also arrange marriages. The advantages and disadvantages of arranged marriages offer insight into different cultures.
Men and women in arranged marriages often have similar cultural, social, linguistic and religious backgrounds. They share the same views of the role of husband and wives, as well as how any children will be raised and educated. A common belief system increases the chance that a couple is compatible and helps them build on their relationship and strengthen their marriage bond. Their compatibility may eventually grow into a friendship and a marriage based on love and respect.
Family and Community Support
Couples in arranged marriages get the support of an extended family and the neighbourhood in which they live. Parents work together to find suitable mates for their children, and many families are acquaintances before their children marry. In many of these communities, families still live in the same neighbourhood, sometimes next to one another or the same house. The close-knit family unit provides emotional support for a young couple. Grandparents help care for grandchildren, perhaps babysitting when both parents work.
In the Western world, couples meet by chance or with the help of friends, and love develops before they say “I do.” Feelings develop over the course of the courtship, and the man and woman know about each others' good and bad qualities. Couples embarking on a love marriage feel they know their new mate well. In arranged marriages, love takes a back seat to pragmatism.
While many cultures allow young people to opt out of an arranged marriage, there are some cases of young women being forced into arranged marriages. Parents sometimes push their daughters into these marriages because they receive financial restitution for the arrangement. According to the Tahirih Justice Center, girls between 10 and 17 years of age forced into arranged marriages face decreased educational opportunities, exploitation and violence, or may die in childbirth. Some have lost their lives trying to escape their situations.
Dowries for arranged marriages place financial burdens on poor families, especially if one family requests expensive gifts in order to continue with the union. In Hindu marriages, the dowry serves as a status symbol and causes financial hardships to the bride's parents, who often cover most of the wedding expenses.
Arranged marriages have changed with time because many couples share differing religious and social backgrounds, and have assimilated into Western society. Families no longer live close to one another because of economic circumstance, education and employment opportunities, thus limiting the influence of extended family. Some Americans, though, have opted for matchmakers to help them find mates. Select matchmakers cater to specific groups, including immigrant Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Christians and particular age groups.
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