It binds two individuals into a strong relationship with well-defined rights and obligations. Marriage gives rise to families comprising man, woman and children, and thus helps create the basic building block of human society.
Marriages fulfil the primal human need for intimacy and emotional nourishment. The partners help each other emotionally and financially, and accept a functional division of responsibilities in the house to make the relationship successful. This is the reason why there is hardly any other human relationship that can match marriage in its scope and depth. Marriages are basically of two types arranged and those based on mutual attraction between the partners.
Arranged marriages were once common throughout the world, but today this institution mostly survives in the eastern countries such as India and China. These are formal affairs with the involvement of many other people apart from bride and groom. In this, the latter two are usually total strangers and have not even seen each other before the marriage is arranged.
The decision about the suitability of the partners for each other is a collective decision taken by their relatives such as parents, uncles, aunts and so on. The families hunt for a good match by asking other people, going through matrimonial websites and even giving advertisements in newspapers. Arranged marriages have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Pros: In arranged marriages, the decision whether to tie the knot with a particular individual is taken with the involvement of many people. The biggest benefit is that there is a conscious attempt to match the two families as well as the bride and groom on the parameters of social status, financial strength, background, educational opportunities and similar lifestyle. This is a cool-headed decision that is thought to tremendously increase the likelihood of the marriage succeeding.
Cons: In an ideal scenario, the partners have a major say in arranged marriage. They give the final nod as to the choice of their spouse. However, things do not always go like this. In many arranged marriages, the parents and relatives are often overbearing and try to force their child into a relationship he or she doesn’t agree with. This can be a very difficult situation that may condemn the partners to living lifelong in a marriage that they are not happy with.
Love marriages are the norm in western countries where individual freedom and aspirations are considered more important than what the society, parents or relatives expect from a person. In love marriages, the onus of choosing a spouse completely rests with the bride and groom.
It is a very personal decision in which nobody can claim the right to get involved. Whether the marriage turns out to be successful or a failure, the partners have no one else to blame. Typically, love marriages occur between childhood or college friends, office colleagues, neighbours and acquaintances.
Pros: The biggest benefit of love marriages is that they are based on the principle of individual freedom. There is no coercion or pressure involved. These relationships are a result of blood chemistry between two individuals. They meet each other, sparks fly and after a brief period of courtship, they get married. Such marriages have a good chance of success because they arise from mutual attraction. They are not an artificially created union as in an arranged marriage.
Cons: Love marriages are successful only if a person has chosen wisely. This is not often the case because many such marriages are not a result of any careful deliberation or insight but raging hormones. As a result, after some years when the novelty wears off, the partners begin to lose interest in each other and try to broaden their horizons with new love interests. Often, there is a mismatch between social status, educational qualifications, financial resources and life’s goals and aspirations of the two individuals, which after some time becomes a cause of friction and eventually leads to divorce.
Arranged Marriages and Divorce Rate
There is a widely held view that arranged marriages lead to a much lower divorce rate compared to love marriages. This is because historically, the divorce rate has been extremely low in societies where arranged marriages have been the norm. In contrast, western societies where love marriages prevail are now witnessing a divorce rate that is as high as 50 percent.
However, this statistic only reflects the attitude prevailing toward divorce in eastern countries. There, divorce is considered nothing less than a social stigma and divorced people find it difficult to remarry. This is actually the main reason for the low divorce rate as the unhappy marriage partners prefer to suffer quietly than to part ways due to the fear of social ostracism.