In the U.S., individuals think that marriage should involve courtship prior to marriage and that
the two individuals should be in love prior to marriage. However, in many countries that
practice arranged marriages love is expected to follow after marriage, if at all.
Arranged marriage is a fairly “fluid” term that refers to a marital union that is formed by
someone other than the potential bride and groom. People who play a role in the arrangement
may include (among others): parents, extended family, religious leaders, and political or tribal
Traditional arranged marriages are often believed to involve a potential bride and groom who do
not meet until the day that they are to be married. While this may still happen today, it is far
more likely for some courtship to take place prior to the selection of a mate in an arranged
marriage. To learn more about arranged marriages we need to look at the different types of
Arranged marriages worldwide often vary in terms of procedures, cultural customs, length of
courtship, as well as the practical and spiritual reasons for the matching of the partners.
Generally, such a match is based on considerations other than pre-existing mutual attraction.
In some cultures, marriage takes place at or even before the onset of puberty. In child marriage,
the parents of a small child (even infants) arrange a future meeting with another child’s parents.
The children are betrothed or promised to each other. When both individuals have reached a
culturally acceptable age, which differs based upon custom, they get married. Often the two
individuals have never met each other prior to the wedding ceremony. Many people who have
been married in this way do grow to love and cherish their spouse after the marriage.
One form of arranged marriage is exchange marriage. This form of marriage involves a
reciprocal exchange of spouses between two nations, groups, or tribes. For example, among the
Australian Aborigines, the ideal model of any marriage contract is that two men of different
groups should marry each other's sisters. This creates a completely symmetrical arrangement,
strengthened by the implicit threat that if one husband abuses his wife, the other husband may
retaliate against his sister.
In some rural areas of Pakistan if a family is to arrange a marriage for their son, they must also
have a daughter to be married in return. If there is no sister to exchange in return for a son's
spouse, a cousin, or more distant relative is acceptable.
Diplomatic marriage refers to marriages that are arranged for political reasons in order to
cement alliances between families or groups.
For example, the monarchs of Europe were often related by blood due to frequent diplomatic
Traditional arranged marriages became less common during the twentieth century. Today
modern arranged marriage is becoming more common. In these marriages, parents may
choose several possible mates for the child, sometimes with the help of the child (who, for
example, may indicate which photos he or she likes).
The parents will then arrange a meeting with the family of the prospective mate, and the two
children will often have a short unsupervised meeting, such as an hour-long walk around the
neighborhood. The child then chooses who he/she wishes to marry (if anyone), although parents
may exert varying degrees of pressure on the child to make a certain choice.
Modern Arranged Marriage with courtship is similar to the modern arranged marriage, except
that the children have a chance to get to know each other over a longer period of time via e-mail,
phone, or multiple in-person meetings, before making a decision.
By the end of the twentieth century in Japan, approximately 30 percent of marriages continued to
be the traditional arranged marriages called omiai (Japanese: お見合い). Those seeking an
arranged marriage enlist the help of a nakōdo (Japanese: 仲人), "go-between" or matchmaker.
After being matched, the couple meets and decides if they feel suitable for each other. The
parents are usually present at the first meeting. The couple continues to meet socially over a
period of time before deciding to marry.
The Internet also has made an impact, not only through e-mail but also through sites like
Shaadi.com ("shaadi" means "wedding" in Hindi) and BharatMatrimony.com. There, parents can
create a profile for their child (the site usually indicates who posted the profile).
Since marriage is considered a marriage of the families rather than just the individuals, the
process involved in an arranged marriage can be different depending on the communities and
families. Generally, the search for a suitable match involves an exchange of information,
background checks, determining the marriage logistics (dowry, house, wedding expenses etc.),
arrangement of acceptance, and the beginning of an engagement period.
Considerations may also include: age, religion, educational levels, social class or caste, family
and community, lineage, dowry, bride price, wedding expenses, diet (vegetarian), and the
Arranged marriages also existed in the United States during the 1700s and 1800s. It occurred,
predominantly, in the southern states and often involved first or second cousins. This was
thought to help maintain the purity of the blood lineage of an aristocratic family. Today it is less
common but with such a high level of cultural diversity we do still see some subcultures and
racial/ethnic groups turning to arranged marriages within the U. S. Arranged marriage is
common in less Westernized parts of Europe, Asia (e.g., India), Africa, and the Middle East.
Functions of arranged marriage include the following: Affirms parents’ power over their
children. Helps keep family traditions and value systems intact. Helps consolidate and extend
family property. Helps young people avoid the uncertainty of searching for a mate. The
marriage unites two kinship groups as well as two people.
It should be noted that arranged marriages are less likely to end in divorce because of the many
similarities the bride and groom share in their upbringing. They typically have the same
religious background, share a common culture and similar expectations in their marriage, and in
some cases, they grew up together.
It would appear that the more industrialized a nation is, the more Westernized it becomes and
consequently the more likely it is to use romantic love as a basis for forming a marital union.
A key similarity between the traditional and modern versions of arranged marriage is that there is
no expectation that the couple will be in love at the time of their marriage. This highlights a
critical difference between marriages based on romantic love and arranged marriages. That is, an
arranged marriage is more of a practical partnership than a romantic fantasy. If love grows over
time, that is wonderful; if it does not, the hope is that the couple will at least form a strong
partnership and build a life together. It should come as no surprise that modern arranged
marriages are most prevalent in countries where family and society are more important than