What is an arranged marriage? Well in the Webster’s dictionary it is defined as a marriage where the marital partners are chosen by others based on considerations other than the pre-existing mutual attraction of the partners.
This habit has been very common in noble families, especially in reigning ones, at the scope of combining and perhaps enforcing the respective strengths of originary families (and kingdoms) of the spouses. A relevant part of history has been influenced by these unions. Arranged marriage is also the marriage concluded with the help of a middleman, once frequent in less cultivated social classes. In some areas it is the man who chooses his wife, often paying some money for her, to her family and was common in many countries until the 19th century (and is still the habit in use in some areas), but an increasing number of young people today refuse arranged marriage.
Now that some of the basic history of arranged marriages has been defined and taken care of, let’s move onto localized areas of arranged marriages
Japan – In modern Japan, more than 70% of all marriages are referred to as “love marriages,” the rest are the more traditional arranged marriages (omiai). When an arranged marriage is desired, the man and woman, who are seeking a marriage partner, enlist the help of a go-between (nakodo). This allows the couple to meet and get to know each other and decide if a marriage is suitable. It is quite common for the parents of the man and woman to be present at the first meeting. Afterwards the couple meets socially over a period of time and then decides, if both are acceptable, to marry. This may seem a little clinical in the west, but in Japan, with its high work ethic, and large population, it is hard for some people to meet someone of the opposite sex. Now some may believe that these types of marriages does not last when in fact they have a higher success rate then those who go out and find someone to date and then get to know and marry. The success rates of a tradition arrange marriage is around 80% more likely to succeed then in a love marriage.
England – For England we will refer to mid-evil England as to current time arranged marriages are not held in such high regard as it did then, even the current kings and princesses of England are not based on arranged marriage but of a process that narrows down possible candidates that could pose as proper heads to be seen by others but did not have to be of royal blood. Now during mid-evil England, Woman’s out look on marriage was based on social status and they believed that they should marry higher class in order to be recognized in society. While as the men during this era looked at women as more of an object designed for their amusement and didn’t hold women in high regard, this of course was different when referring to the King, he held his queen with the highest respects and didn’t lower himself to such acts. Also arranged marriages were also used in a manner of keeping peace among enemies by offering their daughters to the opposing enemy in marriage to keep the peace. This also plays to Royalty as well when it came to neighboring countries to help keep the alliance strong among countries. Of course by current times much of this has long been forgotten and is no longer practiced.
India/Middle East – In India arranged marriages are still done today and with strict rules and beliefs behind them most couples are forced by there parents to marry, some practices still in use is the marriage of twins to another set of twins. Also most marriages done are to better the existing family in wealth and in social status but like all systems, the arranged marriage can be abused. There have been a few highly publicised cases of harassment for bigger dowries; of fathers with daughters becoming financially stripped by endless demands for expensive gifts, of tyrannical interfering in-laws. And it goes without saying, no marriage, not even an arranged one, and is inured from basic incompatibility or abuse. It can go wrong in other ways. Also men in India are able to take on multiple wives and this is even true in the US and if the wife was to leave the man and return to India she would be looked badly and could even be killed for her actions and thus of all the arranged marriages still being done in the world it appears that India has the highest forced marriage ratio compared to the other countries.
United States of America – Western style marriages begin with dating with its attendant excitement, of spontaneity, of a challenge, of tender moments and the pleasure of companionship without heavy commitment. Then there’s the painful side. The elaborate ritual of dressing to kill, of having your worst childhood insecurities surface as you approach a prospective partner: Does he/she think you are fat, stupid, ugly or all three? Of wondering if she will expect you to marry her because you invited her to your mother’s birthday party? Of agonising after a nine year relationship and two children if he will ever pop the question, of biological clocks and fear of commitment, of the brittle smiles as you fail to capture someone’s attention. Of the two in the morning loneliness. These are all common fears with the current styles of relationship and marriage. During the colonel era and of the era of slave labour many women were arranged and courted to be married of high families to increase social status and wealth but this is true among many countries but with the US views on marriage being of a sacred ordeal arranged marriage wasn’t look upon as favoured and has slowly disappeared over the years for a more open and free arrangements of marriage.
In conclusion I don’t believe arranged marriages will ever go away but just altered slightly to go along with the current times but it my belief that in most cases the role of marriage will still be that of trial and error.
Definition of “Arranged Marriage”
OMIAI by Yuriko Takayama
Marriage with the proper stranger: arranged marriage in metropolitan Japan.
Defying arranged marriage becomes a life-and-death decision
Arranged Vs Love Marriage
Legal Commentary – Forced Marriage
How to find a compatible match – Looking for love in all the right places
Women in Anglo-Saxon England
Marriage – arranged and forced
A Choice by Right