Indian Culture And Arranged Marriages Cultural Studies Essay

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Joseph Addison (n.d) had once stated that "A happy marriage has in it all the pleasures of friendships, all the enjoyment of sense and reason - and indeed all the sweets of life".  Marriage is believed to be a sacred bond between two souls, an intense passionate relationship wherein a male and female take an oath to be companions for a lifetime after tying the nuptial knot. It brings about significant constancy and security among two human beings, which is otherwise lacking. The idea of love marriages as opposed to arranged marriages is a hotly debated topic especially in the Indian culture where most of the couple prefers arranged marriages. Love marriages are often considered better than arranged marriages due to various reasons such as level of comfort, understanding, and bond of love, no sexual discrimination, and compromises made equally etc.

A pragmatic marriage, very popularly known as an arranged marriage is incredibly common in many parts of the world due to the common notion that relying on the family to select a potential spouse is considered an advantage as they have years of wisdom and experience. The biggest plus point is that there is a intentional attempt taken to match the two families which includes the bride and groom on the wide ranging parameters of social status, financial strength, background, educational opportunities and similar lifestyles as well as the physical appearances of the bride/groom as every family will want to provide their offspring with protection, happiness and a secure life. This concept is thought to tremendously increase the probability of the marriage succeeding. On the contrary, the two people are complete strangers to each other when their marriage is arranged by their family, thus they might take time to develop a level of comfort and understanding after marriage. Getting to know each other before marriage allows partners to have better respect and perception for each other's needs and desires. The advantage being that ample time is achieved to explore both the positive qualities and the negative qualities about each other and learn to deal with it, well in advance before marriage thus, creating a satisfactory level of comfort after marriage effortlessly.  Love marriages are ideally based on many factors such as friendship, respect, familiarity and understanding. Whereas in arranged marriages, one is forced to marry a stranger with whom they have no history or bond with.  In most cases, the parents and relatives are often domineering and try to compel their child into a relationship he/ she doesn't agree with. This creates a complicated situation that may compel the partners to live together lifelong in a marriage that they are not content with.

Besides popular love lore like Heer Ranjha and Sohni Mahiwal, India has always followed a long tradition of arranged marriages. In the Indian society, love marriages are considered taboo and Indian weddings are often associated with arranged marriages. Statistics reveal that the divorce rate in India is only 2% as compared to the other parts of the world such as United States with a divorce rate of 50%. This cannot be considered as a reliable statistical figure due to the fact that in India divorce is also considered taboo. Therefore, whether they like being with their spouse or not isn't the priority. They are just forced to stay in that relationship for the rest of their lives. Women have been known to become a victim and to stay on and bear a violent relationship for the sake of respect in society, family pride, parent's self esteem etc. Compromise and amendments form the foundation for a woman in an arranged marriage, mainly because the married couple does not have any fixed notions or expectations from one another and they are not provided with any alternatives. Women continue to remain in sadistic relationships to maintain their family's dignity and respect and also have to be incredibly selfless and surrender to his/her fate. The woman is regarded as a means to the continuation of the family name as well as a willing slave to her husband. According to the Press Trust of India (2010), "Marriage can be forced to save honour, and women can be murdered for rejecting a forced marriage and marrying a partner of their own choice who is not acceptable for the family of the girl."

Therefore arranged marriages tend to be sexist.

Being in the 21st century, arranged marriages are now considered as an outdated notion. These days' individuals believe that no third party can understand the workings of a person's heart other than them themselves. Love can also cloud ones mind and keep them from seeing the faults of their potential mate making it easier to compromise.

In some parts of the world, arranged marriages should be completely outlawed as parents tend to take wrong use of it. Arranged marriages are considered as an illegal activity as this archaic method benefitted the aren't more than their offspring. Some parents arrange marriages for their children within social circles itself. Others did it for the monetary rewards offered by the other family. Therefore, arranged marriage is sometimes considered as a business deal between two families as they look into the property, wealth and status of the family in the society and then finalize the relationship. Also, some of these pre-planned marriages were used as a bargaining chip to cease a war between opposing family feuds. For example, throughout history as far back as the Romans and the Greeks, the war was sometimes averted by the marriage of opposing cultures as a means to peace and prosperity.

In an arranged marriage there are different sorts of pressures faced by the girl and the boy to be fair-skinned and physically attractive. In India the evil of dowry system, concept of matching horoscopes and the caste and community issues, is sometimes taken to its extreme levels and has greatly contributed to the argument against arranged marriages.

Getting to know the spouse before marriage is what plays the most prominent role in marriage satisfaction, but fulfilling this requirement depends on how much freedom we're given to know our opposite sex, before marriage. Unlike our prospects of the ongoing transition from "arranged marriage" to "freedom of mate choice", position of parents in selecting children's mates has not really subsided. According to a research done by Xu Xiaohe and Martin King Whyte (1990), in 20th century, China's communist initiated supporting freedom of mate choice for young people, while they were also opposing dating culture (Xiaohe and Whyte, 1990). Although this research solely includes Chinese society during 20th century, middle easterners have faced rather similar situation even in 21st century. When parents and the society support this type of strategy, parents can actually put the title of "arranged marriage" away, as well as keeping their authority vital. Meanwhile, they don't let their children date anyone, unless they meet the person in person. In this case, they are actually letting their children meet and know their future spouse before marriage, so they have given them the opportunity to get to know that specific person before marriage, which could be considered an opportunity to fall in love or to develop bonds, but they aren't actually letting them know the opposite sex. They are so worried that they prefer to keep their children naïve, rather than letting them risk their relationships, dating wrong people. Some people may think as long as you get to know your partner before marriage, it's enough. But we believe in this case, you haven't married the person you were in love with; you've just found a decent partner to marry, because you were supposed to marry someone eventually. In arranged marriage, the importance of getting to know your partner before marriage is completely overlooked, which leads marriages to failure. Besides, when you don't know how people from your opposite sex behave, think, talk or react to specific matters, and what are the things that they care about, misunderstanding is the first burden which will add to discontentment of your arranged marriage.

It's not deniable that the ones who are forced to arranged marriages find ways to compromise with their spouse; because the criterions of knowing a marriage as satisfying are not simply limited to how couples get married. When couples are younger, they tend to assess level of their marriage satisfaction by their wealth or even political status. As time goes by, even presence of grand children can affect their evaluation of their marriage. For instance, our own grandparents got married when they didn't even know what marriage is; so they were never asked about who they prefer to choose as spouse; However, if you ask them whether they were satisfied with their marriage or not, they wouldn't express discontentment. Because if they had had dreams about marriage, they had put them aside to reach a compromise with the life they were forced to have, and if they didn't have an idea of marriage, they never found out what love match is. This doesn't mean that couples who get married with love matches always stay as content as they'd been at the first place, but it does confirm the fact that normally, the ones who marry their love of their life, are more satisfied with their marriage, than couples who are already content of their current life, but got married based on arranged marriage.

In the survey done by by Xu Xiaohe and Martin King Whyte (1990), it is stated that "variations of mate selection" do not involve just two categories, but "a continuum from total parental control to total freedom of choice "Along with this continuum. So basically, when we oppose arranged marriage, we're not just against the gist of arranged marriage, but also against the strong authority that parents have over the procedure of getting married. Arranged marriage must be banned, because the ideology behind this type of marriage follows extremely dogmatic patterns regarding parental authority that make lives of couples miserable.

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