5 Myths and Facts About Arranged Marriages

Arranged marriages may not be common in western culture, but they're still popular worldwide Learn five myths and facts about arranged marriages.

December 16, 2015
By: Mara Betsch

In TLC's new show "Married By Mom and Dad," individuals allow their parents to choose their spouses. Though this seems completely crazy to most westerners, who, for better or worse, usually pick their own spouses, arranged marriages are quite common in other cultures and areas of the world. Why? The general belief is that young adults are too emotionally mature and impulsive to pick a good mate and parents, guardians, or wise elders are much better at finding a partner with the characteristics of a caring spouse. And there are even some surprising statistics that point to the fact that these arranged marriages are actually happy ones, too. Read on to get five myths and facts about arranged marriages.

Myth: Arranged marriages only happen in third-world countries

Yes, there are some horrible issues associated with arranged marriages, like child brides and women who are forced to marry as a source of money for their family, but arranged marriages exist everywhere are often pretty run-of-the-mill.

Often the reasons for arranged marriages are cultural and/or religious, and arranged marriages are quite common between the Amish, Muslims, Hindus, and even certain royal families. There have been essays after essays of modern men and women defending their choice to have an arranged marriage.

Fact: Dating "resumes" are totally a thing

Love may be the only thing you think about when choosing a mate, but for those involved in arranged marriages, many factors come into play. Everything from an individual's horoscopes to his socioeconomic class to religion are considered, often before physical attractiveness. Most potential suitors create a resume -- a summary of employment, caste, and academic and birth details -- that is distributed to partner-seeking families.

Myth: All arranged marriages are the same

Depending on the culture and area, parents choose the spouse and the individual has no say in his or her match. However, plenty of others, like Orthodox Jews, have parents select a mate, but the individual is consulted and has the right of refusal. And, in some cultures, consanguineous marriage, or a marriage between two individuals who share a relative, is the norm.

Fact: Arranged marriages have a lower divorce rate than love marriages

In 2011, the divorce rate was 3.6 divorces per 1,000 people. Of course, the marriage rate is falling, too, but this is still significant. Put another way: About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 90s will reach their 15th wedding anniversary, according the New York Times, which means the divorce rate is really closer to 30 percent. And though it's difficult to really track arranged marriage rates, one study found that the average rate of divorce in arranged marriages is 6.3 percent worldwide.

But a lower divorce rate doesn't necessarily mean the marriage is happy. Many of the cultures that believe in arranged also have a stigma against divorce. However, a 2012 study looked at both arranged and loved-based Indian-American marriages and found that there was no difference in the love, satisfaction, and commitment levels of both types of marriages.

Fact: The process is getting more modern

Whereas arranged marriages before were set up through family connections and word of mouth, now, like American millennials, young Indian men and women are finding mates on the more than 1,500 matchmaking sites. Even though parents are often involved in narrowing the pool of prospective partners, weeding out men and women who aren't in the proper caste or who have different religious beliefs, most young men and women get veto power. Though dating in the sense that we know it is still rare, this change is significant for many cultures who believe in arranged marriages.

To see modern American couples let their parents play matchmaker, watch "Married by Mom and Dad" Sundays at 10/9c and follow along with our digital exclusive series (episode one is below).

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