Are arranged marriages really a bad thing?


Okay, before anyone gets all hot and bothered, :slight_smile: let me put some presumptions, parameters and limits in place.

First we must presume that no one is forced to marry. A person always has the right to say “no way”.

Second, a person has the right to marry another person who they are really in love with, over-riding any other arrangements.

Next, the person has at least some input as to who they are going to marry or whom they will not.

Of course, I am also presuming that everyone involved is an adult, no child brides or grooms.

One final assumption. Each person has the full understanding of the Catholic definition of marriage and has every intent to live it out.

So, with these safeguards in place, is an arranged marriage that bad?

If you want some food for thought on this, watch the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof.

A wise bit advice that was given at a singles retreat once, if your family and friends are all telling you this person is wrong for you - LISTEN TO THEM. They know you, they love you, they have your best interests at heart and you are most likely blinded by hormones.

It would seem that entering marriage based on the advice of those who love and care for you worked for hundreds and hundreds of years. Seems logical to me!

In looking at Japanese marriages–they seem to last a long time, not sure how happy the couple is. My Italian relatives had arranged marriages back in Italy, and they lasted for years without divorcing either…I think that sometimes, parents might know better than their kids, who would be best suited for their children. (I think I would know that with my kids, but they most likely won’t go for the arranged marriage thing):blush: :smiley:

I have a few muslim friends, who although have been living in America a good long time, they still believe in their parents arranging their marriages, for the most part. To the point of the groom’s family offering a dowry to the bride’s family…I found that to be interesting, but as long as there is an oppty to say no, then I suppose it isn’t bad. But, I don’t think back in the old days, that ‘no’ was an option.

As long as there’s the will to marry and the choice is there…

I doubt I’d go that route, though I’d listen to any advice.

I have been thinking about something but wherever I’ve asked this, I’ve never got a straight answer (I haven’t asked this here, by the way)

I’m not saying that every single arranged marriage is miserable or anything, but something has made me ponder regarding strictly arranged marriages where the partners did not have any (or much of a) say in choosing one another or did not see each other til the wedding day or night.

Our society (well, many a few other societies), no matter what the era in history was, necessitates the need for physical attraction, and various levels of intimacy: whether it be sex, or “peripheral” acts of love like kisses, embraces, and cuddling. A lot of our hunger for a relationship lies in desires for this kind of fulfillment. That should not be the only basis for marrying someone, but by the same token, if this attraction is not there at all, it is a problem. The overwhelming majority of songs written in any era are to do with romantic love, or emptiness from missing someone they love, etc. I’m not talking about today’s stuff on the radio with crude sexual inuendos and stuff, lol. I’m talking about classic songs, from all genres and classic artists, etc.

I wonder how people who are in marriages in which they did not marry for love but had their spouses chosen by someone else, deal with the inability to receive intimacy from their spouse in the way we receive it. If the marriages are loveless (I’m not trying to generalize but anyway), what does one do when you want sexual love and the other peripheral acts of intimacy but the only spouse you have is someone you don’t really love?

People have said that they had arranged marriages and it worked out just fine, but what about the ones that did NOT work out fine? I’m a very affectionate person. I long for someone who I can yearn to come home to every day, and sit on the couch and cuddle and kiss and laugh together…how can I get that with a spouse I don’t feel anything for? I’m starving to “death” without that kind of desire fulfilled.

Some people who advocate this kind of marriage may say that chemistry “dies” over time anyway, so there are other factors to consider (well of COURSE there are many other factors to consider…but love is definitely an ingredient one needs too…it’s like a cake without eggs…Ok I know some of you may eat cake without eggs)

Maybe it’s just me but I wonder about this all the time…but as I said before, I never get a straight answer…

If people behaved as they should and marriage prep was adequate and faithful to the Church, there’d be no need to ask this. It’s a sad state when we can’t even be trusted to make such a crucial decision for ourselves.

Love is a choice. We choose to love someone.

Given these conditions, I don’t think it’s that bad. It’s not for everyone, sure, but I don’t see how this scenario is so different from using a dating service like eHarmony. Maybe it’s better because (hopefully) you can trust your family to choose wisely when scouting out potential partners.

One of the post-doctoral fellows- not Catholic, but I still think this is a good example- in my department is engaged to a woman in his home country and is expected to go home to marry her this summer (they will come back and live here in the USA after the wedding). He’d met her a couple of times while growing up, as she is from a nearby village, but his and her parents arranged the courtship as the families have known each other for years. Like you suggested, proceeding with the courtship was optional for both him and the woman in question. He talks to her every night and seems very happy with the engagement. The only trouble I can foresee is with him adjusting to having a wife in his home. He’s very set in his ways and has an insane advisor. We’ve been giving him lots of advice on how to adjust and how to treat her so that she doesn’t feel lonely in this new country. :slight_smile:

Under those conditions, I don’t think it would be awful. My mother’s parents were in an arranged marriage, which was not uncommon in that country at that time. Modest women didn’t go around trawling for husbands…their future mother-in-laws picked them out. :wink: But I would not want my grandmother’s life. My grandfather could be very generous and funny, but he also had an awful temper at times and could be physically abusive. She misses him a lot now that he is gone and feels very lonely without him, however.

I think our society puts way too much emphasis on the “chemistry.” Being a virgin before marriage is often greeted with incredulity - your’e viewed as hopelessly naive if you didn’t give your beloved a “test drive.” That attitude really repulses me. That said, the prospect of a passionless marriage does seem bleak. But I suspect it has a lot to do with what your “love language” is. It seems that someone who needs a lot of touching and physical intimacy would have an especially hard time in this type of marriage.

Depends on the generation with the older folks more likely to have been married through an omiai. An omiai, these days, is not a forced arranged marriage where they dont see each other until the ceremony. It is not that common these days but what happens is more like a date where the man and woman and their parents, and a go between or matchmaker, meet and discuss how suitable they are for each other. After the initial meeting they can choose to go out on their own or never see each other again.

How happy are marriages resulting from omiai is a hard one to answer. As I said it was more common among older generations but now people in their 50s, 60s, 70s are getting divorced in increasing numbers. One reason is that after years of rather neglecting each other they retire and realize they dont know or love each other anymore. Plus the pension system has recently been changed so that wives can get a fair equal amount of the pension payments which has been a big factor in people deciding to divorce. In the past if the wife left she would get very little since there isnt really alimony here. So even if an omiai marriage started off happily it may not stay that way.

I have Indian friends, Christian and non, who have arranged marriages. Seemed to work out for them so far.

The spouses could say yes or no. So maybe that’s more like a matchmaker type thing?

An arranged marriage could be good, could be bad. Sorta like a grab bag, or maybe a gift from your grandma.

I’m not so desparate to get married that I would settle for something like that. I’ve experienced what it is like to be in a bad sham of a marriage, and I would rather spend the rest of my life single than to gamble on something that I consider so important.

I would want someone intellectually interesting. Someone who is not like everyone else. Someone that makes me think and makes me smile. Someone who will take risks and willbe totally open, who will give me their real unfiltered self and who takes the time to understand who I am as a unique person. Someone who appreciates the odd little bits of me that aren’t like everyone else. Some who would be amused even when they are totally aggravated with me, and vice-versa. Someone where we could always count on each other to be there, really, for the rest of our lives.

I mean, I guess there are many happy people who have entered into arranged marriages. For me though, with something so important as marriage, I think I want better than grab bag odds. Probably even better than Grandma present odds too.

Under the OP’s description, arranged marriage sounds like a good idea. I would be more enthusiastic if the parents had no financial incentive to send the kids off, because that incentive would confuse their judgment, as much as the young couple’s own desire to get away from the folks would confuse their own judgment.

I think it is not entirely bad. I’m not 100% against arranged marriage. To a certain degree, it makes sense. And yes, I think Fiddler on the Roof is a prime example of what I think would be a good system (the situation between Tzeitel and Motel, for example). But I think our society will never be that way again.

I wanted to clarify that I’m against the type of arranged marriages that I described in my post, but that does not mean by a longshot that I like the modern dating scene where people have little to no networking in finding someone (except dating sites and stuff). It seems like in this day and age, finding someone is a matter of chance, completely on your own. In the end, no one is really going to help you. If you find someone, you find someone. If you don’t, you don’t. That can leave many people who truly feel called to marriage feel miserable.

I really don’t like the current dating system. It is terrible. I wasn’t speaking against the OP’s ideas by the way. I would gladly undertake the OP’s idea of marriage provided that my family were not Muslim.

Under those rules, then no, it doesn’t sound that bad. If parents have a very strong relationship with their children, then they would know who their child needs, and what their child is looking for in a marriage partner. Presumably it would have been a topic that has already come up in discussion. It would never work for me, because I don’t trust my family nearly enough for something like that, but in general I think having family involvement and discussion is a positive thing to have in marriage discernment.

The reason it wouldn’t work in today’s world is that we don’t trust and share our beliefs with our parents as much as people used to. Of course arranged marriages were never guaranteed to be done according to the OP’s rules, unfortunately. I have family members who were forced into marriage for their parents’ reasons. It was a disaster. It didn’t last.

Ha, I hear ya on that one. I do NOT share the same beliefs and ideas on what goes into a marriage as my parents did. In an ideal world though, I would like the OP’s scenario but in a world where a person may be a convert and their family is not Christian, that would be a colossal disaster waiting to happen.

The pension factor played an important part in keeping many couples together and also the stigma attached to divorce. Living in a rural area of Japan, arranged marriages (omiai) are relatively common even among the younger generations. A lot of these marriages seem more like business arrangements then marriages and once the 1 or 2 children arrive, there is little or no interaction between the husband and wife. They often seem more like housemates than married couples. Some of the women I know, mostly in their late- 30s to mid-50s, often quote the old Japanese saying, “A good husband is one who is healthy and absent”. I wonder what will happen when these couples are older, retired and no longer “healthy and absent”? Of course, not all arranged marriages are like this and I know some couples that seem to have a real relationship and genuine affection.
BTW, my grandparents on both sides had arranged marriages. On my father’s side, they met for the first time on their wedding day. Over time they grew to hate each other and lived apart from most of their lives but never divorced. My maternal grandparents had an arranged marriage with conditions more like the ones the OP outlined and had a wonderful relationship. My parents were the first generation in my family not to have arranged marriages.

It could work but it would never work for me. I’m way too independent and have vastly different ideas about life than my parents do. I chose my own religion, moved five hours away,and from then on, made most of my own decisions.

Of course, my dad would be perfectly happy if I chose the convent, then it means he won’t have to go after any boys (and pretend he’s Don Corleone;) I love my dad). No, my parents were huge on us making our own decisions, simply because they didn’t have the same opportunities growing up. My mom told me that I’m much more independent than she was at my age and that basically, how she was able to get out on her own was getting married. She doesn’t want me to do the same. These conditions don’t sound too bad, but arranged marriages would never work in our family.

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