How Does a Modern Indian Arranged Marriage Work?
This is how a typical contemporary arranged marriage operates. Both men and women have older family members or parents who screen potential partners and find them for further consideration through their social network, community, or by placing advertisements on matrimonial websites or newspapers. A family gathering serves as the couple's first encounter, and several opportunities for chaperoned courtship follow. They may now spend some time alone together if they choose to do so and if neither party has objected to the match at this point. The decision-making process then begins. The entire process, from the initial introduction to the final yes/no choice, typically takes a few days. According to a 2013 IPSOS survey, 74% of young Indians (18–35 years old) favor arranged marriages over free-choice unions. According to other sources, up to 90% of all marriages in India are arranged.
In this article, I'd like to look at two dependable statistics about arranged marriages in India. The first is that the divorce rate among Indians is incredibly low. Although divorce rates have doubled in urban areas since 2007, only about 1 in 100 marriages in India end in divorce. The divorce rate in this country is among the lowest in the world. The second statistic, which speaks to the high levels of satisfaction experienced by those in arranged marriages over a longer period of time, is even more impressive.
There were no differences in the relationships between Indian-American couples who were married for about ten years in either free-choice or arranged marriages, according to a recent study. Arranged couples experienced the same levels of marital satisfaction and ardent love for their spouse as couples who chose to get married on their own. Similar findings have been made by other studies. The best available evidence indicates that Indian arranged marriages are at least as successful as free-choice ones, despite criticisms of self-selection and small sample sizes leveled against some of these studies.
How is this possible? How can two people who hardly know one another decide on something so crucial that will affect their futures together so soon? How, even more astonishingly, can a choice made in this manner result in happy endings for so many couples?
I'd like to suggest three elements that might aid in explaining this conundrum. These have to do with giving up challenging decision-making factors, making decisions quickly, and setting lower expectations at the beginning of a relationship. Let's examine each of these elements in more detail.