I can just imagine many of your reactions as you read the above resolution; how dare I, in this era of liberty and independence, dare to advocate that one of the most fundamental aspects of our lives (love!), be controlled by a third party. Well, my dear romanticists, it’s time to wake up and realize that free marriages are failing us.
First of all, let’s clarify what an arranged marriage is. Arranged marriages, for the purposes of the debate, are not when underage girls are forced to marry older men. Arranged marriages are when one’s family members choose, with at least the acknowledgement and consent of the person in question, who that person will marry. So let’s not bring up extreme examples of abuse, incest, or infringement on rights.
To the real issue; when we think of marriage, it usually isn’t a temporary or fleeting experience. Instead, marriage is meant to be a permanent bond and commitment to another person. Dating, hooking up—these are things we do with people we may not intend to be with forever. You might even live with your significant other, but marriage is really another step. It seems intimidating, especially considering how ubiquitous divorce is. After all, you wouldn’t want to get married and then suddenly find yourself falling out of love, right?
Strangely enough though, Dr. Robert Epstein of Harvard found that in self-arranged marriages, couples’ feelings of love “fade by as much as half in 18 months.” On the other hand, couples in arranged marriages surpass their “autonomous” counterparts in feelings of love within five years.
This finding shouldn’t surprise us. After all, how quickly do you marry someone after you first meet them? Perhaps much too soon. In fact, it seems as though Western “love” is great for a few years, and eventually, when you’re ready for a lifelong teammate, your parents and your extended family can help you find an actual, stable match.
At this point, it’s valuable to think of what a good marriage actually provides. Is it a fiery, incredibly passionate romance? Or is it a partnership that seeks economic stability, constant companionship, and emotional support? In that case, you should probably marry a person that could qualify as your best friend (but please don’t go propose to them right now). If you do, then you will not only enhance your love, but by spending so much time together, you will be inherently inclined to lean on each other and grow in love.
The beauty of an arranged marriage is that though it may not start off as the ideal form of love, it provides that by the end. Because rue love is hard. It isn’t easy to be with someone for entire days on end without anybody else to mediate the experience. You have to be willing to nurture a relationship, especially when it seems like you’re “bored” of the person. Arranged marriages could very well be successful because of that, rather than in spite of it. When you are both working actively to mature in love, it makes it that much more satisfying and binding.
Lastly, nobody knows you better than your family—especially in cultures in which arranged marriage is most practiced. As such, when your family finds your match, they don’t just look for a trophy partner, but someone that is compatible with your interests, your passions, and your beliefs. They find you someone who has a similar worldview, and who can provide for you in a loving way. And don’t worry about not knowing his or her background; parents are great for conducting surprisingly thorough background checks and being particularly curious about their in-laws backgrounds as well. Isn’t it nice to have a significant other that your family instantaneously approves of?
Arranged marriages aren’t just created for convenience. They are made to succeed, throwing wisdom and long-sightedness at us during the times of our lives when we don’t necessarily have it.
Rosa Cuppari is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. Resolved appears every other Wednesday at thehoya.com. Join the Philodemic Society this Thursday at 8 p.m. in Healy 208 as they debate “Resolved: Marriages should be arranged.”