Arranged marriages are, simply put, marriages arranged by one’s parents or family members. Unlike love marriages where two people meet, fall in love, understand each other and know each other well before they decide to get married, arranged marriages involve meeting one’s future partner at a formal occasion in the company of friends and family members, interacting a few times and then, deciding to get married to have respectful relationships. Here are more details on the intricacies of an arranged marriage.
Finding the Future Life Partner
The process of finding the appropriate partner or matchmaking and to have respectful relationships is usually undertaken by the parents, who would normally place an advertisement in the papers, spread the word around in their social circle and these days, place ads online too. There may be some instances where either the boy or the girl themselves decide to place the ad and shortlist and interview potential candidates. However, parental involvement plays a strong role in the entire process.
Meeting the Future Husband or Wife
In arranged marriages, meeting one’s future life partner is usually done in the midst of family and a few close friends. If, after the first meeting, the couple feels that they have something in common with one another and can give it shape of respectful relationships, talks between the families progress. The boy and girl in question meet a few more times and then make a decision. However, there are occasions when the decision to marry is made right after first meeting itself.
Involvement of the Family
Arranged matrimonial alliances involve a great deal of participation from most family members. Parents, uncles, aunts and even cousins are usually consulted and introduced to the other family. Their advice and guidance is treated with seriousness and although the final decision rests with the couple, they are encouraged to heed the advice of the elders of the family.
Dependence on Astrology and Religion
In most Asian cultures, marriages are finalized based usually on the religious and astrological signs of the boy and the girl. Their birth charts are discussed with a priest or astrologer and talks move forward if the birth charts synchronize well and are favorable for both. Certain rites and rituals also precede the marriage in order to make the alliance more blessed for the couple.
While arranged marriages are considered traditional and stereotypical of certain Asian cultures, they are quite an interesting phenomenon with a great deal of uniqueness and a high level of familial involvement. The whole process is filled with a flurry of activity, anticipation and enthusiasm, making the act of getting married and choosing a life partner a family affair rather than an individual one.
Arranged Marriage on the Rise in America
Arranged marriage as a way of finding one’s partner for life is usually associated with traditional Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist culture. Especially in India, Indonesia and some African and Middle Eastern countries, it is common for parents and family to be involved in a single’s search for the perfect match, often using the services of a professional matchmaker, online dating or matrimonial websites to find a suitable spouse.
The Rise of Arranged Marriage in the USA
Assisted Marriage for respectful relationships is certainly not something one would expect in the United States with its permissive dating culture, strong emphasis on personal freedom and individuality. However, prearranged partnerships are on the rise in the US due to its immigrant communities.
Arranged Marriage Among Indian Americans
One factor in the rise of prearranged marriages in the US is the growing (Asian) Indian American community, which presently accounts for roughly 0.6 percent of the American population, according to the 2000 U.S. census. Although assisted marriage may not be the only option for American Hindus – due to cultural influences in the US – it is still more or less the norm for various reasons.
Why People Choose a Prearranged Marriage
For one, family is still regarded as highly important by Indian Americans and parents generally have a much stronger influence on their kids than white American parents would. There is also a desire to preserve one’s own culture and religion and resist assimilation and secularization.
More Reasons for Having an Arranged Marriage
To have respectable relationships arranged marriages are seen as more stable than love marriages, since almost half of the latter end in divorce in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention faststats on marriage and divorce. Finally, many of the more conservative immigrants have strong reservations about the American dating scene, often regarding it as promiscuous or even immoral.
Marriage among Muslim Americans
Many Muslim Americans are also practicing some form of assisted marriage, for reasons very similar to those mentioned above: reservations about the American dating culture, a desire to preserve one’s faith and raise one’s own children in the same religion. Most other reasons mentioned before do also apply.
Biblical Betrothal – A Christian Form of Arranged Marriage
Recently, a rare form of assisted marriage among American Christians has developed. It is called Biblical Betrothal and favors a conservative approach, where two young people get to know one another in the company of a chaperone and with the sole objective of finding a marriage partner and have respectful relationships. Dating and even courtship are being discouraged.
Marriage Habits of Orthodox Jews and Arranged Marriage
As mentioned by Williams and De Paul in their already cited article, there is also a trend towards arranged marriage among the Orthodox Jewish community in the US. This is encouraged by Jewish leaders concerned about the survival of their faith in the face of dwindling marriage rates among American Jews.
Marriage in the Hare Krishna Movement
People in the Hare Krishna Movement who come from different races and ethnic groups also practice arranged marriage for religious and cultural reasons. The special characteristic here is that a marriage is often arranged by one’s guru. Following the Indian Vaishnava belief, Hare Krishnas usually have a Vedic wedding ceremony.
Arranged Marriage on the Rise
Although stemming from a very different cultural environment, arranged marriage is clearly on the rise in the USA. This is mainly due to growing immigrant communities such as (Asian) Indian American and Muslim communities, but is also practiced among Orthodox Jews, Hare Krishnas and even some Evangelical Christians.
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