Marriage is considered an important and indispensable stage in the life of every person. Men and women dream about making a successful career and having a happy family. Regardless of the part of the world people have one and the same notion of the significance of a family as of a unit of society. However, approaches to the marriage as well as wedding traditions and customs are different all over the world. The variety of views upon marriage depends on the culture and history of a nation. The most remarkable difference in approach to marriage is between Eastern and Western cultures. Historical background of these nations conditioned different views upon happy marriages. While man and women in Western countries struggle for independence and liberty while choosing their partner, in the Orient people tend to enter into marriage, being guided more by the person’s circumstances than by emotions and feelings.
The issue of love marriages and arranged marriages has always caused heated disputes as both types of marriage have their pros and cons. Thus, if you ask an inhabitant of the East, especially a Muslim, and a representative of western civilization, they will find a lot of arguments in favor of their views and against the opposite opinion.
To begin, it is necessary to consider history of marriage and its different forms both in the West and in the East. It is necessary to note that in the past centuries arranged marriages were much widespread in the West. It is enough to remember European kings and queens, whose marriages were planned by their parents and very often were simply the political instruments. The followers of arranged marriage can advance different arguments in favor of its reliability, in particular low divorce rates. In fact, arranged marriages presuppose that people marry according to their parents’ wish. It happens in the oriental countries and sometimes in the European ones that the decision of parents of both families becomes crucial in the future life of a couple. In the East marriage is perceived as a union of both two future spouses and their families. Therefore, for them it is quite logically that they need to arrange the future of their family to the best advantage. For them marriage is not simple a consequence of falling in love, they take it very seriously, choosing a partner for the rest of their life and being aware of the importance of this marriage for the future generations. Thus, they do not consider that it is necessary to know the person before the marriage. It is enough to know his reputation, status, his family, etc. (Mackey & O’Brien, 1995)
What is more remarkable is that such outlook is brought up in children since their childhood, therefore, few of them decide to contradict ages-old traditions and rebel against their parents. Besides, in my opinion, their confidence in the righteousness of arranged marriages help them to fall in love with those who are chosen for them by their parents. It is this mentality that dominates and supports this tradition for centuries (Mijar, 2002). People, who are sure that their future spouses are their partners for the rest of their life, do not think about another variant of the development of their life. It is freedom-loving and independent Europeans that need to choose always themselves, to take lumps before they can make the choice that seems right to them. Eastern women are much more straitened in this question. Domination of men does not give them much choice. The main advantage of arranged marriages is their longevity. “The young people also recognize that arranged marriages – in which similar education and income levels, religious beliefs and character outweigh the importance of physical attraction – can well outlast love marriages”¯ (Alvarez, 2003).
Certainly, there are different situations when an arranged marriage might be caused not by the desire of parents to unite families but by the necessity to legalize relations in case of pregnancy or the desire of one of the partners to have some concrete privileges, in other words when somebody wants to get a residence permit or citizenship.
Arranged marriages in Western countries might be very useful in different circumstances.
However, arranged marriages contradict the natural desire of people to love and to be loved. Those who speak about arranged marriages as of marriages without love forget about the impossibility for a person to live without love.
Certainly very often people’s feelings, emotions, passion prevent them from seeing all the shortcomings and the problems that might be in future. Nevertheless, love marriages are the most natural marriages in our society. Very often in all spheres of life people are guided by their feelings, they are not robots to estimate every their step and its consequences. There is no surprise that people who fall in love are eager to get married. Still, nowadays, there is a tendency in modern western world to live in common-law marriage. This form of marriage is the logical consequence of love marriages. Proponents of common-law marriages argue that for those who love each other there is no need in the record in the passport. Thus, today in Europe and in the USA civil marriages become widespread and more and more young people tend to check their relations in cohabitation before entering into the marriage. In fact, common-law marriages can also be regarded as prearranging procedure before the marriage as its main aim is to know the person better.
In my opinion, marriage is the most significant event in people’s life. Very often it is the beginning of a new stage in person’s life. Therefore the approach to this event should be very serious. Marriage is the foundation of our future life and of our future generations. Thus, I might agree with the followers of arranged marriages that it is important to choose the right partner. We should know everything about the person, his or her past and family. However, at this point the power of mind should be limited and it is the heart that should speak. Anyone will tell you that love and loyalty is the basis of any marriage. Even the adherents of arranged marriages say that love appears after the wedding, still it appears ”“ married life is impossible without it.
I believe love should be the first cause of the marriage. Love does marvels. Before speaking in support of arranged marriages, we should remember those couples where one of the partners or both of them are disabled people, we should remember about people who do not think about the income and social status of their future spouses because they are guided by sincere emotions. It is impossible to base all our decisions on selfish ends and to act reasonably in all situations. If all our decisions were perfectly rational and well-judged, our life would lose its sense and interest.
Since the question of the rightness of arranged marriage is disputable, there has been research that compared wellness and satisfaction in arranged marriages in oriental countries and in love marriages in the USA. Jane E. Myers (2005) and her colleagues give the results in their article “Marriage Satisfaction and Wellness in India and the United States: A Preliminary Comparison of Arranged Marriages and Marriages of Choice”¯. The research shows that there is no significant difference in the satisfaction with marriage between people living in arranged marriage in India and people living in marriage of choice in the USA. In my perspective this is the most important factor that does reconcile adherents of arranged marriages and love marriages.
To make a conclusion, in both cases the most important feature of a successful marriage is the satisfaction of both spouses. If they are happy in marriage, it does not matter how they came to it, either with the help of their parents or by their own choice. Perhaps the main conclusion that can be made of the research and all the given arguments is that people should not rationalize their behavior and try to act always according to some practical reasons. There should place for our feelings and emotions, then it is possible to find the inner harmony (Baer, 2006). Let people choose what is more convenient for them. Traditions that have been formed throughout centuries cannot and shouldn’t be abolished. Both types of marriages have their advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, all people should choose what is better for them.